Ecclesiastes 7:25
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:
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(25) 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.

7:23-29 Solomon, in his search into the nature and reason of things, had been miserably deluded. But he here speaks with godly sorrow. He alone who constantly aims to please God, can expect to escape; the careless sinner probably will fall to rise no more. He now discovered more than ever the evil of the great sin of which he had been guilty, the loving many strange women,Reason - The same word is translated "account" Ecclesiastes 7:27, "invention" Ecclesiastes 7:29, and "device" Ecclesiastes 9:10 : it is derived from a root signifying "to count." 25. Literally, "I turned myself and mine heart to." A phrase peculiar to Ecclesiastes, and appropriate to the penitent turning back to commune with his heart on his past life.

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.

I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom,.... Or, "I and my heart turned about" (h); took a circuit, a tour throughout the whole compass of things; looked into every corner, and went through the circle of knowledge, in order to search and find out what true wisdom is; which is no other than Christ, and a spiritual knowledge of him; a variety of words is used to express his eager desire after wisdom, and the diligent search he made, from which he was not discouraged by the difficulties he met with; see 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.

(h) "circuivi ego et cor meum", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus. (i) "estimationem rerum", Mercerus.

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:
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). Ecclesiastes 7:25But, on the other side, he can bear testimony to himself that he has honestly exercised himself in seeking to go to the foundation of things: "I turned myself, and my heart was there to discern, and to explore, and to seek wisdom, and the account, and to perceive wickedness as folly, and folly as madness." Regarding sabbothi, vid., under Ecclesiastes 2:20 : a turning is meant to the theme as given in what follows, which, as we have to suppose, was connected with a turning away form superficiality and frivolity. Almost all interpreters-as also the accentuation does - connect the two words ולבּי אני; but "I and my heart" is so unpsychological an expression, without example, that many Codd. (28 of Kennicott, 44 of de Rossi) read בּלבּי daer )i with my heart. The erasure of the vav (as e.g., Luther: "I applied my heart") would at the same time require the change of סבותי into הסבּותי. The Targ., Jerome, and the Venet. render the word בלבי; the lxx and Syr., on the contrary, ולבי; and this also is allowable, if we place the disjunctive on אני and take ולבי as consequent: my heart, i.e., my striving and effort, was to discern (Aben Ezra, Herzf., Stuart), - a substantival clause instead of the verbal את־לבּי ונתתּי, Ecclesiastes 1:13, Ecclesiastes 1:17. Regarding tur in an intellectual sense, vid., Ecclesiastes 1:13. Hhěshbon, with hhochmah, we have translated by "Rechenschaft" account, ratio; for we understand by it a knowledge well grounded and exact, and able to be established, - the facit of a calculation of all the facts and circumstances relating thereto; נתן חשׁבין is Mishnic, and equals the N.T. λόγον ἀποδιδόναι. Of the two accus. Ecclesiastes 7:25 following לדעת, the first, as may be supposed, and as the determination in the second member shows, is that of the obj., the second that of the pred. (Ewald, 284b): that רשׁע, i.e., conduct separating from God and from the law of that which is good, is kěsěl, Thorheit, folly (since, as Socrates also taught, all sinning rests on a false calculation, to the sinner's own injury); and that hassichluth, Narrheit, foolishness, stultitia (vid., sachal, and Ecclesiastes 1:17), is to be thus translated (in contradistinction to כּסל), i.e., an intellectual and moral obtuseness, living for the day, rising up into foolery, not different from holeloth, fury, madness, and thus like a physical malady, under which men are out of themselves, rage, and are mad. Koheleth's striving after wisdom thus, at least is the second instance (ולדעת), with a renunciation of the transcendental, went towards a practical end. And now he expresses by ומוצא one of the experiences he had reached in this way of research. How much value he attaches to this experience is evident from the long preface, by means of which it is as it were distilled. We see him there on the way to wisdom, to metaphysical wisdom, if we may so speak - it remains as far off from him as he seeks to come near to it. We then see him, yet not renouncing the effort after wisdom, on the way toward practical wisdom, which exercises itself in searching into the good and the bad; and that which has presented itself to him as the bitterest of the bitter is - a woman.
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