Ecclesiastes 12:4
New International Version
when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when people rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint;

New Living Translation
Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint.

English Standard Version
and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low—

Berean Study Bible
when the doors to the street are shut and the sound of the mill fades away, when one rises at the sound of a bird and all the daughters of song grow faint,

King James Bible
And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;

New King James Version
When the doors are shut in the streets, And the sound of grinding is low; When one rises up at the sound of a bird, And all the daughters of music are brought low.

New American Standard Bible
and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly.

NASB 1995
and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly.

NASB 1977
and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly.

Amplified Bible
when the doors (lips) are shut in the streets and the sound of the grinding [of the teeth] is low, and one rises at the sound of a bird and the crowing of a rooster, and all the daughters of music (voice, ears) sing softly.

Christian Standard Bible
the doors at the street are shut while the sound of the mill fades; when one rises at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song grow faint.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
the doors at the street are shut while the sound of the mill fades; when one rises at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song grow faint.

American Standard Version
and the doors shall be shut in the street; when the sound of the grinding is low, and one shall rise up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low;

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And the gates of the streets will be shut by feebleness of the sound of the grinders, and he will rise to the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of song will be brought low

Brenton Septuagint Translation
and they shall shut the doors in the market-place, because of the weakness of the voice of her that grinds at the mill; and he shall rise up at the voice of the sparrow, and all the daughters of song shall be brought low;

Contemporary English Version
The noisy grinding of grain and the voices of singers will be shut out by your deaf ears, but even the song of a bird will keep you awake.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And they shall shut the doors in the street, when the grinder's voice shall be low, and they shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall grow deaf.

English Revised Version
and the door shall be shut in the street; when the sound of the grinding is low, and one shall rise up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low;

Good News Translation
Your ears will be deaf to the noise of the street. You will barely be able to hear the mill as it grinds or music as it plays, but even the song of a bird will wake you from sleep.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Remember your Creator when the doors to the street are closed, the sound of the mill is muffled, you are startled at the sound of a bird, [and] those who sing songs become quiet.

International Standard Version
The doors to the street will be shut when the sound of grinding decreases, when one wakes up at the song of a bird, and all of the singing women are silenced.

JPS Tanakh 1917
And the doors shall be shut in the street, When the sound of the grinding is low; And one shall start up at the voice of a bird, And all the daughters of music shall be brought low;

Literal Standard Version
And doors have been shut in the street. When the noise of the grinding is low, And [one] rises at the voice of the bird, And all daughters of song are bowed down.

NET Bible
and the doors along the street are shut; when the sound of the grinding mill grows low, and one is awakened by the sound of a bird, and all their songs grow faint,

New Heart English Bible
and the doors shall be shut in the street; when the sound of the grinding is low, and one shall rise up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low;

World English Bible
and the doors shall be shut in the street; when the sound of the grinding is low, and one shall rise up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low;

Young's Literal Translation
And doors have been shut in the street. When the noise of the grinding is low, And one riseth at the voice of the bird, And all daughters of song are bowed down.

Additional Translations ...
Context
Remember Your Creator
3on the day the keepers of the house tremble and the strong men stoop, when those grinding cease because they are few and those watching through windows see dimly, 4when the doors to the street are shut and the sound of the mill fades away, when one rises at the sound of a bird and all the daughters of song grow faint, 5when men fear the heights and dangers of the road, when the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper loses its spring, and the caper berry shrivels—for then man goes to his eternal home and mourners walk the streets.…

Cross References
Revelation 18:22
And the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will never ring out in you again. Nor will any craftsmen of any trade be found in you again, nor the sound of a millstone be heard in you again.

2 Samuel 19:35
I am now eighty years old. Can I discern what is good and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or drinks? Can I still hear the voice of singing men and women? Why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king?

Isaiah 47:2
Take millstones and grind flour; remove your veil; strip off your skirt, bare your thigh, and wade through the streams.

Jeremiah 25:10
Moreover, I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of the bride and bridegroom, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the lamp.


Treasury of Scripture

And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low;

all

2 Samuel 19:35
I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king?









(4) The first two clauses continue the description of the afflicted house; all communication with the outer world broken off: the double doors towards the street shut, the cheerful noise of grinding not heard without (Jeremiah 25:10-11; Revelation 18:22). If a more minute explanation of the double doors is to be given, we may understand the verse as speaking of the closing of the lips on the falling away of the teeth. (See Job 41:14; Psalm 141:3; Micah 5:7.)

He shall rise up.--No satisfactory explanation of this clause has been given. The following are three of the best interpretations that have been proposed: (1) The old man, whose state has been figuratively described before, is said to sleep so badly that the chirping of a bird will awake him. (2) His voice becomes feeble like the chirping of a bird (Isaiah 29:4). (3) The bird of ill omen raises its voice (Psalm 102:6-7; Zephaniah 2:14). Each of these interpretations is open to serious objections, which I do not state at length, having myself nothing better to propose. . . .

Verse 4. - The doors shall be shut in the streets. Hitherto the symbolism has been comparatively easy to interpret. With this verse inextricable difficulties seem to arise. Of course, in one view it is natural that in the bitter weather, or on the appearance of a tempest, the doors towards the street should be closed, and none should leave the house. But what are meant by the doors in the metaphorical house, the body of the aged man? Jewish expositors understood them to be the pores, or excretive apertures of the body, which lose their activity in old age - which seems an unseemly allusion. Plumptre will have them to be the organs which carry on the processes of sensation and nutrition from the beginning to the end; but it seems a forced metaphor to call these "double-doors." More natural is it to see in the word, with its dual form, the mouth closed by the two lips. So a psalmist speaks of the mouth, the door of the lips (Psalm 141:3; comp. Micah 7:5). As it is only the external door of a house that could be employed in this metaphor, the addition, "in [or, 'towards'] the streets," is accounted for. When the sound of the grinding is low. The sound of the grinding or the mill is weak and low when the teeth have ceased to masticate, and, instead of the crunching and grinding of food, nothing is heard but a munching and sucking. The falling in of the mouth over the toothless gums is represented as the closing of doors. To take the words in their literal sense is to make the author repeat himself, reiterating what he is supposed to have said before in speaking of the grinding-women - all labor is lessened or stopped. The sound of grinding betokened cheerfulness and prosperity; its cessation would be an ominous sign (see Jeremiah 25:10; Revelation 18:22). Another interpretation considers this clause to express the imperfect vocal utterance of the old man; but it is hardly likely that the author would call speech "the voice of the grinding," or of the mill, as a metaphor for "mouth." And he shall rise up at the voice of the bird. This is a very difficult sentence, and has been very variously explained. It is usually taken to mean that the old man sleeps lightly and awakes (for "rises up" may mean no more than that) at the chirrup of a bird. The objection to this interpretation is that it destroys the figurative character of the description, introducing suddenly the personal subject. Of course, it has another signification in the picture of the terror-stricken household; and many interpreters who thus explain the allegory translate the clause differently. Thus Ginsburg renders, "The swallow rises to shriek," referring to the habits of that bird in stormy weather. But there are grammatical objections to this translation, as there are against another suggestion, "The bird (of ill omen) raises its voice." We need not do more than refer to the mystical elucidation which detects here a reference to the resurrection, the voice of the bird being the archangel's trumpet which calls the dead from their graves. Retaining the allegory, we must translate the clause, "He [or, 'it,' i.e. the voice] rises to the bird's voice;" the old man's voice becomes a "childish treble," like the piping of a little bird. The relaxation of the muscles of the larynx and other vocal organs occasions a great difference in the pitch or power of tone (compare what Hezekiah says, Isaiah 38:14, "Like a crane or a swallow so did I chatter," though there it is the low murmur of sorrow and complaint that is meant). And all the daughters of music shall be brought low. "The daughters of song" are the organs of speech, which ere now humbled and fail, so that the man cannot sing a note. Some think that the ears are meant, as St. Jerome writes, Et obsurdescent omnes filiae carminis, which may have some such notion. Others arrive at a similar signification from manipulation of the verb, thus eliciting the sense - The sounds of singing-women or song-birds are dulled and lowered, are only heard as a faint, unmeaning murmur. This exposition rather contradicts what had preceded, viz. that the old man is awoke by the chirrup of a sparrow; for his ears must be very sensitive to be thus easily affected; unless, indeed, the "voice of the bird" is merely a note of time, equivalent to early cock-crowing. We must not omit Wright's explanation, though it does not commend itself to our mind. He makes a new stanza begin here: "When one rises at the voice of the bird," and sees here a description of the approach of spring, as if the poet said, "When the young and lusty are enjoying the return of genial weather, and the concert of birds with which no musician can compete, the aged, sick in their chambers, are beset with fears and are sinking fast." We fail altogether to read this meaning in our text, wherein we recognize only a symbolical representation of the old man's vocal powers. It is obvious to cite Juvenal's minute and painful description of old age in 'Sat.,' 10:200, etc., and Shakespeare's lines in 'As You Like It' (act 2. sc. 7), where the reference to the voice is very striking-

"His big, manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound."
Cox paraphrases, "The song-birds drop silently into their nests," alarmed at the tempest.

Parallel Commentaries ...


Hebrew
when the doors
דְלָתַ֙יִם֙ (ḏə·lā·ṯa·yim)
Noun - fd
Strong's 1817: Something swinging, the valve of a, door

to the street
בַּשּׁ֔וּק (baš·šūq)
Preposition-b, Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 7784: A street

are shut
וְסֻגְּר֤וּ (wə·sug·gə·rū)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Piel - Conjunctive perfect - third person common plural
Strong's 5462: To shut up, to surrender

and the sound
ק֣וֹל (qō·wl)
Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's 6963: A voice, sound

of the mill
הַֽטַּחֲנָ֑ה (haṭ·ṭa·ḥă·nāh)
Article | Noun - feminine singular
Strong's 2913: A hand mill, chewing

fades away,
בִּשְׁפַ֖ל (biš·p̄al)
Preposition-b | Verb - Qal - Infinitive construct
Strong's 8217: Depressed

when one rises
וְיָקוּם֙ (wə·yā·qūm)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Conjunctive imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's 6965: To arise, stand up, stand

at the sound
לְק֣וֹל (lə·qō·wl)
Preposition-l | Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's 6963: A voice, sound

of a bird,
הַצִּפּ֔וֹר (haṣ·ṣip·pō·wr)
Article | Noun - common singular
Strong's 6833: A little bird

and all
כָּל־ (kāl-)
Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's 3605: The whole, all, any, every

the daughters
בְּנ֥וֹת (bə·nō·wṯ)
Noun - feminine plural construct
Strong's 1323: A daughter

of song
הַשִּֽׁיר׃ (haš·šîr)
Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 7892: A song, singing

grow faint,
וְיִשַּׁ֖חוּ (wə·yiš·ša·ḥū)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Nifal - Conjunctive imperfect - third person masculine plural
Strong's 7817: To bow, be bowed down, crouch


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