I applied my heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The reason of things.—The corresponding verb “to count” is common. This noun is almost peculiar to this book, where it occurs again in Ecclesiastes 7:27; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Ecclesiastes 9:10; save that in 2Chronicles 26:15 we have the plural in the sense of military engines.Ecclesiastes 7:25. I applied my heart to know — I was not discouraged, but provoked, by the difficulty of the work, to undertake it. To know, search, and seek out wisdom — He useth three words signifying the same thing, to intimate his vehement desire, and vigorous and unwearied endeavours after it. And the reason of things — Both of God’s various providences, and of the counsels and courses of men. To know the wickedness, &c — Clearly and fully to understand the great evil of sin.Ecclesiastes 7:27, "invention" Ecclesiastes 7:29, and "device" Ecclesiastes 9:10 : it is derived from a root signifying "to count."
wickedness of folly—He is now a step further on the path of penitence than in Ec 1:17; 2:12, where "folly" is put without "wickedness" prefixed.
reason—rather, "the right estimation" of things. Holden translates also "foolishness (that is, sinful folly, answering to 'wickedness' in the parallel) of madness" (that is, of man's mad pursuits).I applied mine heart; I was not discouraged, but provoked by the difficulty of the work to undertake it; which is an argument of a great and generous soul.
To know, and to search, and to seek out; he useth three words signifying the same thing, to intimate his vehement desire and vigorous and unwearied endeavour after it.
The reason of things, both of God’s various providences, and of the differing and contrary counsels and courses of men.
To know the wickedness of folly, that I might clearly and fully understand the great evil of sin, and all that wickedness and folly or madness which is bound up in the hearts of all men by nature, and which discovers itself in the course of their lives. Ecclesiastes 1:13;
and the reason of things; either in nature or providence: or the estimation (i) of them; the excellency of them, how much they are to be accounted of, esteemed, and valued; as Christ, the Wisdom of God, and all things relating to him, should;
and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness; the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the folly and madness that are in it; sin is the effect of folly, and the excess of it, and a spiritual madness; it is true of all sin in general, but especially of the sin of uncleanness, which Solomon seems to have in view by what follows; see Ecclesiastes 1:17; and may chiefly intend the wickedness of his own folly, and the foolishness of his own madness.I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)25. I applied mine heart to know] The present text and punctuation give, as in the marginal reading of the A. V., I and my heart. The expression has no exact parallel in O. T. language, but harmonizes with the common mode of speech, familiar enough in the poetry of all times and countries, furnishing a title (“My Soul and I”) to a poem of Whittier’s, in which a man addresses his heart or soul (comp. Luke 12:19), as something distinguishable from himself. So in ch. Ecclesiastes 1:13 we have “I gave my heart.” Here the thought implied seems to be that of an intense retrospective consciousness of the experience, or experiment, of life which the seeker is about to narrate. The words indicate another return to the results of that experience and the lessons it had taught him. He turned to ask the “reason,” better perhaps, the plan or rationale, of the prevalence of madness and folly. We note, as before in ch. Ecclesiastes 2:12, the Stoic manner of dealing with the follies of men as a kind of mental aberration.Verse 25. - I applied mine heart to know; more literally, I turned myself, and my heart was [set] to know. We have the expression, "tamed myself," referring to a new investigation in Ecclesiastes 2:20 and elsewhere; but the distinguishing the heart or soul from the man himself is not common in Scripture (see on ch. 11:9), though the soul is sometimes apostrophized, as in Luke 12:19 (comp. Psalm 103:1; Psalm 146:1). The writer here implies that he gave up himself with all earnestness to the investigation. Unsatisfactory as his quest had been hitherto. He did not relinquish the pursuit, but rather turned it in another direction, where he could hope to meet with useful results. The Septuagint has, "I and my heart traveled round (ἐκύκλωσα) to know;" the Vulgate, Lustravi universa animo meo ut scirem. And to search, and to seek out wisdom. The accumulation of synonymous verbs is meant to emphasize the author's devotion to his self-imposed task and his return from profitless theoretical investigation to practical inquiry. And the reason of things. Cheshbon (ver. 27; Ecclesiastes 9:10) is rather "account," "reckoning," than "reason " - the summing-up of all the facts and circumstances rather than the elucidation of their causes. Vulgate, rationem; Septuagint, ψῆφον. The next clause ought to be rendered, And to know wickedness as (or, to be) folly, and foolishness as (to be) madness. His investigation led him to this conclusion, that all infringement of God's laws is a misjudging aberration - a willful desertion of the requirements of right reason - and that mental and moral obtuseness is a physical malady which may be called madness (comp. Ecclesiastes 1:17; Ecclesiastes 2:12; Ecclesiastes 10:13). Psalm 31:3, the verbs עזז, to be strong, and עוּז, to flee for refuge; תּעז is the fut. of the former, whence מעז, stronghold, safe retreat, protection, and with ל, since עזז means not only to be strong, but also to show oneself strong, as at Ecclesiastes 9:20, to feel and act as one strong; it has also the trans. meaning, to strengthen, as shown in Psalm 68:29, but here the intrans. suffices: wisdom proves itself strong for the wise man. The ten shallithim are not, with Ginsburg, to be multiplied indefinitely into "many mighty men." And it is not necessary, with Desvoeux, Hitz., Zckl., and others, to think of ten chiefs (commanders of forces), including the portions of the city garrison which they commanded. The author probably in this refers to some definite political arrangement, perhaps to the ten archons, like those Assyrian salaṭ, vice-regents, after whom as eponyms the year was named by the Greeks. שׁלּיט, in the Asiatic kingdom, was not properly a military title. And did a town then need protection only in the time of war, and not also at other times, against injury threatening its trade, against encroachments on its order, against the spread of infectious diseases, against the force of the elements? As the Deutero-Isaiah (Isaiah 60:17) says of Jerusalem: "I will make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness," so Koheleth says here that wisdom affords a wise man as strong a protection as a powerful decemvirate a city; cf. Proverbs 24:5: "A wise man is ba'oz," i.e., mighty.
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