Ecclesiastes 7:28
Which yet my soul seeks, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(28) One man among a thousand.—See Job 9:3; Job 33:23. The disparaging estimate of the female sex here expressed is common in countries where polygamy is practised. (See Ecclesiasticus 25:24; Ecclesiasticus 42:13.) It is credible enough that Solomon, with his thousand wives, did not find a good one among them; but see Proverbs 18:22; Proverbs 19:14; Proverbs 31:10.

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,One man - One whose good qualities quite satisfy our expectation. Compare the expression "one among a thousand" (marginal reference).

A woman - The number of Solomon's wives and concubines 1 Kings 11:3 was a thousand.

28. Rather, referring to his past experience, "Which my soul sought further, but I found not."

one man—that is, worthy of the name, "man," "upright"; not more than one in a thousand of my courtiers (Job 33:23; Ps 12:1). Jesus Christ alone of men fully realizes the perfect ideal of "man." "Chiefest among ten thousand" (So 5:10). No perfect "woman" has ever existed, not even the Virgin Mary. Solomon, in the word "thousand," alludes to his three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines. Among these it was not likely that he should find the fidelity which one true wife pays to one husband. Connected with Ec 7:26, not an unqualified condemnation of the sex, as Pr 12:4; 31:10, &c., prove.

My soul seeketh; it seemed so wonderful to me, that I suspected I had not made a sufficient inquiry, and therefore I returned to search again with more earnestness and accurateness.

I find not; that it was so he found out, as he now said, Ecclesiastes 7:27 but the whole truth and reason of the thing he could not find out.

One man; one worthy of the name of a man; a wise and virtuous man. Man is put for a worthy or good man, as name is put for a good name, above, Ecclesiastes 7:1, and wife for a good wife, as was noted before.

Among a thousand, with whom I have conversed. He is supposed to mention this number in allusion to his thousand wives and concubines, as they are numbered by parcels, 1 Kings 11:3.

A woman; one worthy of that name; one who is not a dishonour to her kind and sex, who is not brutish in her disposition and conversation.

Among all those in that thousand whom I have taken into intimate society with myself; whereby he also passeth a severe censure upon himself that he had associated himself with such persons, and not with the virtuous women, which doubtless there were in his time, as appears from Pr 31. It is not Solomon’s design to disparage this sex, nor to make a general comparison between men and women in all places and ages, but only to suggest his own experience concerning it. Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not,.... He was very earnest and diligent in his inquiry; he took a great deal of pains, and was exceedingly solicitous; he sought with great intenseness of mind, and with an eager desire, to find out a chaste and virtuous woman among them all, but could not;

one man among a thousand have I found; it is a great rarity to find a good man (n), truly wise and gracious; there are many that walk in the broad way, and but few that find the strait gate and narrow way, and are saved; they are but as one to a thousand; see Jeremiah 5:1. Or rather, by this one of a thousand, is meant the, Messiah, the Wisdom of God, he sought for, Ecclesiastes 7:25; and now says he found; to whom he looked for peace, pardon, and atonement, under a sense of his sins; who is the messenger, an interpreter, one among a thousand; yea, who is the chiefest among ten thousands, Job 33:23; who is superior to angels and men, in the dignity of his person; in the perfection, purity, and holiness of his nature; in the excellency of his names; in his offices and relations; and in his concern in the affairs of grace and salvation; and who is to be found by every truly wise and gracious soul that seeks him early and earnestly, in the word and ordinances, under the illumination and direction of the blessed Spirit. If it is to be understood of a mere man, I should think the sense was this; of all the men that have been ensnared and taken by an adulterous woman, but one of a thousand have I observed, and perhaps Solomon has respect to himself, that was ever recovered out of her hands;

but a woman among all those have I not found; that is, among all the harlots and adulterous women I ever knew or heard of, I never knew nor heard of one that was ever reclaimed from her evil ways, and reformed or became a chaste and virtuous woman: he may have respect to the thousand women that were either his wives and concubines, and, among all these, he found not one that deserved the above character; for this is not to be understood of women in general, for Solomon must have known that there have been good women in all ages, and perhaps more than men; and that there were many in his days, though those with whom his more intimate acquaintance was were not such, which was his unhappiness; and his criminal conversation with them is what he lamented and repented of. It may be interpreted thus, One man, the Messiah, among all the sons of men, have I found, free from original sin; but one woman, among all the daughters of Eve, I have not found clear of it. The Targum is,

"there is another thing which yet my soul seeketh, and I have not found; a man perfect and innocent, without corruption, from the days of Adam, till Abraham the righteous was born; who was found faithful and just among the thousand kings who were gathered together to build the tower of Babel; and a woman among all the wives of those kings, as Sarah, I found not.''

(n) "Vir bonus et sapiens, qualem vix reperit unum, millibus e multio hominum, consultus Apollo." Auson. Idyll. 16. v. 1, 2.

Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. one man among a thousand have I found] We have, in the absence of an adjective, to supply the thought “a man such as he ought to be, truthful and righteous.” The form in which the rare exceptional discovery is given is as an echo from Job 9:3; Job 33:23. It represents we cannot doubt the capacity of the writer for a warm and earnest friendship. It shews that he had found one such friend. But what the seeker found among men, he sought in vain among women. Corruption there was, from his point of view, absolutely without exception. The interesting parallelism of Heine’s language has been noticed in the Introduction, ch. iii. The words may be received as recording the writer’s personal experience of the corrupt social state under the government of Persian or Egyptian kings. One commentator (Hitzig) has even ventured to identify the “woman more bitter than death” with a historical character, Agathoclea, the mistress of Ptolemy Philopator. Justin (xxx. 1) describes the King’s life “Meretricis illecebris capitur … noctes in stupris, dies in conviviis consumit.”

Here also we have an echo of the darker side of Greek thought. The Debater catches the tone of the woman-hater Euripides.

ἀλλʼ ὡς τὸ μῶρον ἀνδράσιν μὲν οὐκ ἔνι,

γυναιξὶ δʼ ἐμπέφυκεν.

“But folly does not find its home with men,

But roots in women’s hearts.”

Eurip. Hippol. 920.

So a later Rabbinic proverb gives a like judgment: “woe to the age whose leader is a woman” (Dukes, Rabbin. Blumenl. No. 32).Verse 28. - Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not; or, which my soul hath still sought, but I have not found. The conclusion at which he did arrive was something utterly different from what he had hoped to achieve. The soul and the ego are separately regarded (comp. ver. 25); the whole intellectual faculties were absorbed in the search, and the composite individual gives his consequent experience. One man (Adam) among a thousand have I found. He found only one man among a thousand that reached his standard of excellence - the ideal that he had formed for himself, who could be rightly called by the noble name of man. The phrase, "one of a thousand," occurs in Job 9:3; Job 33:23; Ecclus. 6:6 (εϊς ἀπὸ χιλίων, as in the Septuagint here). Adam, the generic term, is used here instead of ish, the individual, to emphasize the antithetical ishah, "woman," in the following clause, or to lead the thought to the original perfection of man's nature. So in Greek ἄνθρωπος is sometimes used for ἀνήρ, though generally the distinction between the two is sufficiently marked, as we find in Herodotus, 7:210, Ὅτι πολλοὶ μὲν ἄνθρωποι εϊεν ὀλίγοι δὲ ἄνδρες. But a woman among all those have I not found; i.e. not one woman in a thousand who was what a woman ought to be. Says the Son of Sirach, "All wickedness is but little to the wickedness of a woman; let the portion of a sinner fall upon her" (Ecclus. 25:19). So the Greek gnome -

Θάλασσα καὶ πῦρ καὶ γυνὴ κακὰ τρία.

"Three evils are there - sea, fire, and woman." Solomon had a thousand wives and concubines, and his experience might well have been that mentioned in this passage. "Also give not thy heart to all the words which one speaketh, lest thou shouldest hear thy servant curse thee. For thy heart knoweth in many cases that thou also hast cursed others." The talk of the people, who are the indef. subj. of ילבּרוּ (lxx, Targ., Syr. supply ἀσεβεῖς), is not about "thee who givest heed to the counsels just given" (Hitz., Zckl.), for the restrictive עליך is wanting; and why should a servant be zealous to utter imprecations on the conduct of his master, which rests on the best maxims? It is the babbling of the people in general that is meant. To this one ought not to turn his heart (ל ... נתן, as at Ecclesiastes 1:13, Ecclesiastes 1:17; Ecclesiastes 8:9, Ecclesiastes 8:16), i.e., gives wilful attention, ne (לא אשׁר equals פּן, which does not occur in the Book of Koheleth) audias servum tuum tibi maledicere; the particip. expression of the pred. obj. follows the analogy of Genesis 21:9, Ewald, 284b, and is not a Graecism; for since in this place hearing is meant, not immediately, but mediated through others, the expression would not in good Greek be with the lxx ... τοῦ δούλου σου καταρωμένου σε, but τὸν δοῦλόν σου καταρᾶσθαι σε. The warning has its motive in this, that by such roundabout hearing one generally hears most unpleasant things; and on hearsay no reliance can be placed. Such gossiping one should ignore, should not listen to it at all; and if, nevertheless, something so bad is reported as that our own servant has spoken words of imprecation against us, yet we ought to pass that by unheeded, well knowing that we ourselves have often spoken harsh words against others. The expression וגו ידע, "thou art conscious to thyself that," is like פּע ר, 1 Kings 2:44, not the obj. accus. dependent on ידע (Hitz.), "many cases where also thou ...," but the adv. accus. of time to קּלּלתּ; the words are inverted (Ewald, 336b), the style of Koheleth being fond of thus giving prominence to the chief conception (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Ecclesiastes 5:18; Ecclesiastes 3:13). The first gam, although it belongs to "thine, thy," as at Ecclesiastes 7:22 it is also connected with "thou,"

(Note: גּם־אתּ, on account of the half pause, accented on the penult. according to the Masora.)

stands at the beginning of the sentence, after such syntactical examples as Hosea 6:11; Zechariah 9:11; and even with a two-membered sentence, Job 2:10.

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