Ecclesiastes 9:2
All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
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(2) He that sweareth.—Zechariah 5:3.

Ecclesiastes 9:2-3. All things come alike to all — The good and evil things of this world equally happen to good and bad men; as is the good, so is the sinner — As to all outward things. This is an evil, &c. — A great trouble and temptation to a considerate and good man; yea, also the heart of the sons of men — Of wicked men, such as the generality of mankind are; is full of evil — Of wickedness; and madness is in their heart — Upon this account they go on madly and desperately in evil courses, without any fear of an after reckoning; and after that they go to the dead — And after all they appear to die in the same manner as the best men do. So hitherto there is no difference. For Solomon here forbears to take into consideration the future life: he intimates, however, that as the madness, so the happiness of the wicked, is ended by death: which is more fully expressed in the following words.

9:1-3 We are not to think our searching into the word or works of God useless, because we cannot explain all difficulties. We may learn many things good for ourselves and useful to others. But man cannot always decide who are objects of God's special love, or under his wrath; and God will certainly put a difference between the precious and the vile, in the other world. The difference as to present happiness, arises from the inward supports and consolations the righteous enjoy, and the benefit they derive from varied trials and mercies. As far as the sons of men are left to themselves, their hearts are full of evil; and prosperity in sin, causes them even to set God at defiance by daring wickedness. Though, on this side death, the righteous and the wicked may often seem to fare alike, on the other side there will be a vast difference between them.Event - See Ecclesiastes 2:14 note.

Sweareth - i. e., Swears lightly or profanely.

2. All things … alike—not universally; but as to death. Ec 9:2-10 are made by Holden the objection of a skeptical sensualist. However, they may be explained as Solomon's language. He repeats the sentiment already implied in Ec 2:14; 3:20; 8:14.

one event—not eternally; but death is common to all.



sacrificeth—alike to Josiah who sacrificed to God, and to Ahab who made sacrifice to Him cease.

sweareth—rashly and falsely.

All things come alike to all; the good and evil things of this world do equally happen to good and bad men.

The clean; either,

1. Morally clean or holy men. Or,

2. Legally, who made conscience of keeping himself pure from all legal defilements, according to the law then in force, and consequently from all other sins upon the same ground.

That sacrificeth; that worshippeth God sincerely, though it be to his cost. As is the good, so is the sinner, as to all outward things.

That sweareth, to wit, customarily, unnecessarily, rashly, without due consideration and reverence, or falsely and wickedly. For otherwise that some swearing was then allowed, and in some cases required, none do or can deny.

That feareth an oath; who is afraid of offending God, or abusing his name, by vain, or rash, or false oaths.

All things come alike to all,.... That is, all outward things in this life, good and bad men share in alike; which proves that neither love nor hatred can be known by them: so the emperor Mark Antonine, in speaking of life and death, of honour and dishonour, of pain and pleasure, riches and poverty, says (s), all these things happen alike to good men and bad men;

there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; the same prosperous ones happen to one as to another, as riches, honour, health, wisdom and learning, fame and reputation: if Abraham was rich in cattle, gold, and silver, so was Nabal, and the rich fool in the Gospel; if Joseph was advanced to great dignity in Pharaoh's court, so was Haman in the court of Ahasuerus; if Caleb was as hearty and strong at fourscore and five as ever, it is true of many wicked men, that there are no bands in their death, and their strength is firm to the last; if Moses, Solomon, and Daniel, were wise men, and of great learning, so were the idolatrous Egyptians, and so are many God is not pleased to call by his grace; if Demetrius had a good report of all men, so had the false prophets of old: and the same adverse things happen to one as to another as the instances of Job, Lazarus, and the good figs, the Jews carried into captivity, show; of whom the Midrash, and Jarchi from that, interpret this and the following clauses: "to the righteous and to the wicked": to Noah the righteous, and to Pharaoh, not Necho, as Jarchi, but he whose daughter Solomon married, who, the Jews say, were both lame;

to the good, and to the clean, and to the unclean; who are "good", not naturally, and in and of themselves, but by the grace of God; and who are "clean", not by nature, nor by their own power, but through the clean water of divine grace being sprinkled on them, and through the blood and righteousness of Christ applied to them; and who are "unclean", through the corruption of nature, and the pollution of actual sins, they live in. Some understand this of a ceremonial cleanness and uncleanness. The above Jews apply these characters to Moses, who was good; to Aaron, who was clean; and to the spies, who were unclean; and the same thing happened to them all, exclusion from the land of Canaan;

to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: that serves and worships the Lord, and who does not, one branch of service and worship being put for all; and whether they offer themselves, their contrite hearts and spiritual sacrifices, or not. The Jews exemplify this Josiah, who sacrificed to the Lord; and in Ahab, who made sacrifice to cease; and both were slain with arrows;

as is the good, so is the sinner; alike in their outward condition and circumstances, whether as to prosperity or adversity;

and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath; the common swearer, or he that is perjured, and has no reverence of God, nor regard to truth, nor any concern to make good his oath; and he that is cautious about taking one does it with awe and reverence of the divine Being, and is careful of keeping, it, even to his own hurt. The Jews stance in Zedekiah and Samson; the former broke his oath with the king of Babylon, and the latter was a religious observer of an oath; and yet both had their eyes put out; but it does not appear that Samson ever took an oath: the opposition in the text seems to be between one that is ready to take an oath on every occasion, without considering the solemnity of one, and without due care of what he swore to; and one that is cautious about taking an oath, and chooses to be excused from taking one, on any account, could he be excused; preferring such advice as is given, Matthew 5:34, "swear not at all"; the counsel about swearing, which Isocrates (t) gives, seems worthy of notice;

"take an oath required on two accounts; either to purge thyself from a foul crime charged with, or to save friends in danger, and deliver them out of it; but on account of money (or goods) swear not by any deity, no, not even if thou canst take an oath safely; for by some thou wilt be thought to be perjured, and by others to be covetous.''

The word in Hebrew for swearing is always passive, because a man should not swear, unless obliged; and the same form of language is used by Latin writers (u); and the Hebrew word for it comes from a root which signifies "seven", in allusion, as some think, to seven witnesses required to an oath; the Arabians, when they swore, anointed "seven" stones with blood; and, while anointing them, called on their deities (w); see Genesis 21:30. It may be observed, that all men are here divided into good and bad; this has been the distinction from the beginning, and continues, and ever will.

(s) De scipso, l. 2. c. 11. (t) Paraenes Demonic. p. 10. (u) "Juratus sum", Plauti Corculio, Acts 3. v. 88. "Fui juratus", ib. Acts 4. Sc. 4. v. 10. "Non tu juratus mihi es? juratus sum", ib. Rudens, Acts 5. Sc. 3. v. 16, 17. (w) Herodot. Thalia, sive l. 3. c. 8.

All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
2. All things come alike to all] As before, the seeker sees no order or purpose in the chances and changes of life. Earthquakes, pestilences, tempests make no discrimination between good and evil. As with the melancholy emphasis of iteration, the various forms of contrasted characters are grouped together. “The righteous and the wicked” point to men’s conduct relative to their neighbours, the “good and pure” (the first word is probably added to shew that a moral and not merely a ceremonial purity is meant) to what we call “self-regarding” actions, the self-reverence of purity in act and thought. “Sacrifice” is the outward expression of man’s relation to God. “The good” and “the sinner” are wider in their range and express the totality of character. The last group is not without difficulty. As commonly interpreted, “he that sweareth” is the man who swears falsely or rashly, as in Zechariah 5:3, he “that feareth an oath” is either the man who looks on its obligation with a solemn awe, or one whose communication is Yea, yea, Nay, nay, and who shrinks in reverential awe from any formal use of the Divine Name. On this view, the words probably point to the tendency of thought which was developed in the teaching of the Essenes, who placed every oath on the same level as perjury (Jos. Wars, ii. 8, § 6), and was in part sanctioned in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:33-37). It may be noted, however, that in all the other groups, the good side is placed first, and I do not feel quite sure that it is not so in this case also. The man “that sweareth” may be he who does what most religious Jews held to be their duty, truthfully and well (comp Deuteronomy 6:13; Isaiah 65:16; Psalm 63:11), he who “fears the oath,” may be the man whose “coward conscience” makes him shrink from the oath either of compurgation on the part of an accused person (comp. Aristot. Rhet. i. 27), or of testimony. The former was in frequent use in Jewish as in Greek trials. Comp. Exodus 22:10-11; 1 Kings 8:31; 2 Chronicles 6:22; Numbers 5:19-22. It may be added that this view agrees better with the language about “the oath of God” in ch. Ecclesiastes 5:2.

Verse 2. - All things come alike to all; literally, all things [are] like that which [happens] to all persons. There is no difference in the treatment of persons; all people of every kind meet with circumstances of every kind. Speaking generally, there is no discrimination, apparently, in the distribution of good and evil. Sun and shade, calm and storm. fruitful and unfruitful seasons, joy and sorrow, are dispensed by inscrutable laws. The Septuagint, reading differently, has, "Vanity is in all;" the Syriac unites two readings, "All before him is vanity, all as to all" (Ginsburg). There is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked. All men have the same lot, whether it be death or any other contingency, without regard to their naomi condition. The classes into which men are divided must be noted. "Righteous" and "wicked" refer to men in their conduct to others. The good. The Septuagint, Vulgate, and Syriac add, "to the evil," which is said again almost immediately. To the clean, and to the unclean. "The good" and "clean" are those who are not only ceremonially pure, but, as the epithet "good" shows, are morally undefiled. To him that sacrificeth; i.e. the man who attends to the externals of religion, offers the obligatory sacrifices, and brings his free-will offerings. The good... the sinner; in the widest senses. He that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. He who takes an oath lightly, carelessly, or falsely (comp. Zechariah 5:3), is contrasted with him who regards it as a holy thing, or shrinks in awe from invoking God's Name in such a case This last idea is regarded as a late Essenic development (see Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 2:08. 6); though something like it is found in the sermon on the mount, "I say unto you, Swear not at all," etc. (Matthew 5:34-37). Dean Plumptre, however, throws doubt on the above interpretation, owing to the fact that in all the other groups the good side is placed first; and he suggests that "he who sweareth" may be one who does his duty in this particular religiously and well (comp. Deuteronomy 6:13; Isaiah 65:16), and "he who fears the oath" is a man whose conscience makes him shrink from the oath of compurgation (Exodus 22:10, 11; Numbers 5:19-22), or who is too cowardly to give his testimony in due form. The Vulgate has, Ut perjurus, its et ille qui verum dejerat; and it seems unnecessary to present an entirely new view of the passage in slavish expectation of a concinnity which the author cannot be proved to have ever aimed at. The five contrasted pairs are the righteous and the wicked, the clean and the unclean, the sacrificer and the non-sacrificer, the good and the sinner, the profane swearer and the man who reverences an oath. The last clause is rendered by the Septuagint, "So is he who sweareth (ὁ ὀμνύων) even as he who fears the oath," which is as ambiguous as the original. A cautious Greek gnome says -

Ὅρκον δὲ φεῦγε κᾶν δικαίως ὀμνύῃς

"Avoid an oath, though justly you might swear." Ecclesiastes 9:2"All is the same which comes to all: one event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the pure and the impure; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as with the good, so is it with the sinner; with him that sweareth, as with him that feareth an oath." Hitzig translates: "All are alike, one fate comes on all," adding the remark, that to make מקרה אחד at the same time pred. to הכל and subm. to כאשר לכל was, for the punctator, too much. This translation is indeed in matter, as well as in point of syntax, difficult to be comprehended. Rather, with Ewald, translate: All is as if all had one fate (death) but why then this useless hevel haasher, only darkening the thought? But certainly, since in הכּל

(Note: The lxx, Syr., and Aq. have read together the end of Ecclesiastes 9:1 and the beginning of Ecclesiastes 9:2. Here Jerome also is dependent on this mode of reading: sed omnia in futurum servantur incerta (הבל).)

the past is again resumed, it is to be supposed that it does not mean personally, omnes, but neut., omnia; and לכּל, on the contrary, manifestly refers (as at Ecclesiastes 10:3) to persons. Herein agreeing with Ewald, and, besides, with Knobel, Zckl., and others, we accept the interpunction as it lies before us. The apparently meaningless clause, omnia sicut omnibus, gives, if we separate sicut into sic and ut, the brief but pregnant thought: All is (thus) as it happens to all, i.e., there is no distinction of their experiences nor of their persons; all of every sort happens in the same way to all men of every sort. The thought, written in cyphers in this manner, is then illustrated; the lameds following leave no doubt as to the meaning of לכל. Men are classified according to their different kinds. The good and the pure stand opposite the impure; טמא is thus the defiled, Hosea 5:3, cf. Ezekiel 36:25, in body and soul. That the author has here in his mind the precepts of the law regarding the pure and the impure, is to be concluded from the following contrast: he who offers sacrifice, and he who does not offer sacrifice, i.e., he who not only does not bring free-will offerings, but not even the sacrifices that are obligatory. Finally, he who swears, and he who is afraid of an oath, are distinguished. Thus, Zechariah 5:3, he who swears stands along with him who steals. In itself, certainly, swearing an oath is not a sin; in certain circumstances (vid., Ecclesiastes 8:2) it is a necessary solemn act (Isaiah 65:16). But here, in the passage from Zechariah, swearing of an unrighteous kind is meant, i.e., wanton swearing, a calling upon God when it is not necessary, and, it may be, even to confirm an untruth, Exodus 20:7. Compare Matthew 5:34. The order of the words יר שׁב (cf. as to the expression, the Mishnic חטא ירא) is as at Nahum 3:1; Isaiah 22:2; cf. above, Ecclesiastes 5:8. One event befalls all these men of different characters, by which here not death exclusively is meant (as at Ecclesiastes 3:19; Ecclesiastes 2:14), but this only chiefly as the same end of these experiences which are not determined according to the moral condition of men. In the expression of the equality, there is an example of stylistic refinement in a threefold change; כּטוב כּח denotes that the experience of the good is the experience of the sinner, and may be translated, "wie der Gute so der Snder" as the good, so the sinner, as well as "so der Gute wie der Snder" so the good as the sinner (cf. Khler, under Haggai 2:3). This sameness of fate, in which we perceive the want of the inter-connection of the physical and moral order of the world, is in itself and in its influence an evil matter.

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