Ecclesiastes 9:3
This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
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(3) We have again the sentiments expressed in Ecclesiastes 2:14-16; Ecclesiastes 3:19; Ecclesiastes 5:15; Ecclesiastes 6:12.

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.Compare Ecclesiastes 8:11. The seeming indiscriminateness of the course of events tends to encourage evil-disposed men in their folly. 3. Translate, "There is an evil above all (evils) that are done," &c., namely, that not only "there is one event to all," but "also the heart of the sons of men" makes this fact a reason for "madly" persisting in "evil while they live, and after that," &c., sin is "madness."

the dead—(Pr 2:18; 9:18).

An evil; a great trouble and temptation to a considerate and good man.

The heart of the sons of men, of wicked men, such as the generality of mankind are,

is full of evil; either,

1. Of grief upon this occasion. Or rather,

2. Of wickedness, as appears from the next clause, and by comparing this place with Ecclesiastes 8:11.

Madness is in their heart; upon this account they go on madly and desperately in evil courses, without any fear of an after-reckoning.

After that the go to the dead; after all their mad and wicked pranks in the whole course of their life, they die in the same manner as the best men do. So hitherto there is no difference. For Solomon here forbears the consideration of the future life. Only he seems to intimate, that as the madness, so the happiness of the wicked is ended by death, which is more fully expressed in the following words.

This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all,.... A very great evil, a very sore one, the worst of evils. Not an evil, as the providence of God is concerned with it, who does no evil; nor is there any unrighteousness in him; he is righteous in all his ways: but this is an evil, and distressing thing, to the minds of good men; see Psalm 73:2; and is what bad men make an ill use of, to harden themselves in sin, and to despise religion as an unprofitable thing, Job 21:14;

yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil: they are naturally full of evil, of all unrighteousness and wickedness, what comes out of them show it; and because the same things happen to good and bad men, and the wicked pass with impunity, and are outwardly happy as others, or more so, their hearts are fully set in them to do evil, Ecclesiastes 8:11;

and madness is in their heart while they live; or "madnesses" (x): every sin is madness; for who but a madman would stretch out his hand against God, and strengthen himself against the Almighty, and run upon him? who but a madman would rush into sin in the manner he does, and expose himself to dangers and death, even eternal death? Wicked men are mad upon their lusts, and mad against the saints, and all that is good; this insanity is in their hearts, and shows itself in their lives, and continues with them as long as they live, unless called by grace;

and after that they go to the dead; after all the madness of their lives, they die and go into the state of the dead, and are among which refers not so much to the interment of bodies in the grave, as the company with which their separate spirits are; they go not to the righteous dead, but to the wicked; see Proverbs 2:18; so Alshech; they go to the dead; not to the righteous, who, in their death, or when dead are called living, but, as Jarchi observes, at their end they go down to hell. The Targum is,

"after the end of a man, it is reserved for him that he be corrected with the dead, according to the judgment (or desert) of sins.''

(x) "insaniae", Montanus, Mercerus, Drusius, Amama, Gejerus, Rambachius; "omnis insania", Junius & Tremellius.

This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one {b} event to all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

(b) In outward things, as riches and poverty, sickness and health, there is no difference between the godly and the wicked but the difference is that the godly are assured by faith of God's favour and assistance.

3. This is an evil among all things] The pessimism of the thinker returns once more upon him, and he falls into the strain which we have heard before in chs. Ecclesiastes 2:14-16, Ecclesiastes 3:19, Ecclesiastes 5:15, Ecclesiastes 6:12. The great leveller comes and sweeps away all distinctions, and there is no assured hope of immortality. Life is “evil” even while it lasts, and death is the same for all, when the curtain drops on the great drama.

madness is in their heart while they live] The “madness” is that of chs. Ecclesiastes 1:17, Ecclesiastes 2:12. All man’s life, in its vain strivings, its fond hopes, its wild desires, seems to the pessimist but as the “delirantium somnia.” The English version seems to imply that the writer laid stress on the fact that the evildoers did not continue in existence to bear the penalty they deserved, but rested in the grave like others;

“After life’s fitful fever they sleep well,”

but it is rather the Epicurean thought of death as the common lot, and the sigh with which it is uttered is, as it were, the unconscious protest of the philosophising Hebrew against the outcome of his philosophy. In what he heard of as a “short life and merry” he finds an insanity that ends in nothingness.

Verse 3. - This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun. The "evil" is explained in the following words, which speak of the common fate. The Vulgate (followed by Ginsburg and others) lakes the first words as equivalent to a superlative: Hoc est pessimum inter omnia, "This is the greatest evil of all that is done under the sun." But the article would have been used in this case; nor would this accurately express Koheleth's sentiments. He looks upon death only as one of the evils appertaining to men's career on earth - one of the phases of that identity of treatment so certain and so inexplicable, which leads to disastrous results (Ecclesiastes 8:11). That there is one event unto all. The "one event," as the end of the verse shows, is death. We have here the old strain repeated which is found in Ecclesiastes 2:14-16; Ecclesiastes 3:19; Ecclesiastes 5:15; Ecclesiastes 6:12; "Omnes eodem cogimur" (Horace, 'Carm.,' 2:3. 25). Yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil. In consequence of this indiscriminating destiny men sin recklessly, are encouraged in their wickedness. Madness is in their heart while they live. The "madness" is conduct opposed to the dictates of wisdom and reason, as Ecclesiastes 1:17; Ecclesiastes 2:2, 12. All their life long men follow their own lusts and passions, and care little for God's will and law, or their own best interests. This is well called "want of reason (περιφέρεια, Septuagint). And after that they go to the dead. The verb is omitted in the Hebrew, being implied by the preposition XXX, "to;" the omission is very forcible. Delitzsch, Wright, and others render, "after him," i.e. after man's life is ended, which seems rather to say, "after they die, they die." The idea, however, appears to be, both good and evil go to the same place, pass away into nothingness, are known no more in this world. Here at present Koheleth leaves the question of the future life, having already intimated his belief in Ecclesiastes 3. and Ecclesiastes 8:11, etc. Ecclesiastes 9:3"This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that one event happeneth to all: and also the heart of the children of men is full of evil; and madness possesseth their heart during their life, and after it they go to the dead." As זה, Ecclesiastes 9:1, points to the asher following, in which it unfolds itself, so here to the ki following. We do not translate: This is the worst thing (Jerome: hoc est pessimum), which, after Joshua 14:15; Judges 6:15; Sol 1:8, would have required the words בכל הרע - the author does not designate the equality of fate as the greatest evil, but as an evil mixed with all earthly events. It is an evil in itself, as being a contradiction to the moral order of the world; and it is such also on account of its demoralizing influences. The author here repeats what he had already, Ecclesiastes 8:11, said in a more special reference, that because evil is not in this world visibly punished, men become confident and bold in sinning. Vegam (referable to the whole clause, at the beginning of which it is placed) stands beside zeh ra', connecting with that which is evil in itself its evil influences. מלא might be an adj., for this (only once, Jeremiah 6:11), like the verb, is connected with the accus., e.. Deuteronomy 33:23. But, since not a statement but a factum had to be uttered, it is finite, as at Ecclesiastes 8:11. Thus Jerome, after Symm.: sed et cor filiorum hominum repletur malitia et procacitate juxta cor eorum in vita sua. Keeping out of view the false sed, this translation corresponds to the accenting which gives the conjunctive Kadma to רע. But without doubt an independent substantival clause begins with והו: and madness is in their heart (vid., Ecclesiastes 1:17) their life long; for, without taking heed to God's will and to what is pleasing to God, or seeking after instruction, they think only of the satisfaction of their inclinations and lusts.

"And after that they go to the dead" - they who had so given themselves up to evil, and revelled in fleshly lusts with security, go the way of all flesh, as do the righteous, and the wise, and just, because they know that they go beyond all restraining bounds. Most modern interpreters (Hitz., Ew., etc.) render aharav, after Jeremiah 51:46, adverbially, with the suffix understood neut.: afterwards (Jerome, post haec). but at Ecclesiastes 3:22; Ecclesiastes 6:12; Ecclesiastes 7:14, the suffix refers to man: after him, him who liveth here equals after he has laid down his life. Why should it not be thus understood also here? It is true בּחיּ precedes it; but in the reverse say, sing. and plur. also interchange in Ecclesiastes 9:1; cf. Ecclesiastes 3:12. Rightly the Targ., as with Kleinert and others, we also explain: after their (his) lifetime. A man's life finally falls into the past, it lies behind him, and he goes forth to the dead; and along with self-consciousness, all the pleasures and joy of life at the same time come to an end.

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