Ecclesiastes 2:12
New International Version
Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly. What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done?

New Living Translation
So I decided to compare wisdom with foolishness and madness (for who can do this better than I, the king? ).

English Standard Version
So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done.

Berean Study Bible
Then I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly; for what more can the king’s successor do than what has already been accomplished?

New American Standard Bible
So I turned to consider wisdom, madness and folly; for what will the man do who will come after the king except what has already been done?

King James Bible
And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done.

Christian Standard Bible
Then I turned to consider wisdom, madness, and folly, for what will the king's successor be like? He will do what has already been done.

Contemporary English Version
I asked myself, "What can the next king do that I haven't done?" Then I decided to compare wisdom with foolishness and stupidity.

Good News Translation
After all, a king can only do what previous kings have done. So I started thinking about what it meant to be wise or reckless or foolish.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then I turned to consider wisdom, madness, and folly, for what will the man be like who comes after the king? He will do what has already been done.

International Standard Version
Next I turned to examine wisdom, insanity, and foolishness, because what can a person do who succeeds the king except what has already been accomplished?

NET Bible
Next, I decided to consider wisdom, as well as foolish behavior and ideas. For what more can the king's successor do than what the king has already done?

New Heart English Bible
I turned myself to consider wisdom, madness, and folly. For what can the man who comes after the king do? Just that which he has already done.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Then I turned [my attention] to experience wisdom, madness, and foolishness. For instance, what can the man who replaces the king do? Only what has already been done.

JPS Tanakh 1917
And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness and folly; for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done.

New American Standard 1977
So I turned to consider wisdom, madness and folly, for what will the man do who will come after the king except what has already been done?

Jubilee Bible 2000
And I turned myself to behold wisdom and those who are mad, and folly; for what can the man do that comes after the king? even that which has already been done.

King James 2000 Bible
And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can a man do that comes after the king? even that which has been already done.

American King James Version
And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that comes after the king? even that which has been already done.

American Standard Version
And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been done long ago.

Brenton Septuagint Translation
Then I looked on to see wisdom, and madness, and folly: for who is the man who will follow after counsel, in all things where in he employs it?

Douay-Rheims Bible
I passed further to behold wisdom, and errors and folly, (What is man, said I, that he can follow the King his maker?)

Darby Bible Translation
And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly; for what shall the man [do] that cometh after the king? -- that which hath already been done.

English Revised Version
And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness and folly; for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done.

Webster's Bible Translation
And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done.

World English Bible
I turned myself to consider wisdom, madness, and folly: for what can the king's successor do? Just that which has been done long ago.

Young's Literal Translation
And I turned to see wisdom, and madness, and folly, but what is the man who cometh after the king? that which is already -- they have done it!
Study Bible
The Wise and the Foolish
12Then I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly; for what more can the king’s successor do than what has already been accomplished? 13And I saw that wisdom exceeds folly, just as light exceeds darkness:…
Cross References
Ecclesiastes 1:9
What has been is what will be, and what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:10
Is there a case where one can say, "Look, this is new"? It has already existed in the ages before us.

Ecclesiastes 1:17
So I set my mind to know wisdom and madness and folly; I learned that this, too, is a pursuit of the wind.

Ecclesiastes 3:15
What exists has already been, and what will be has already been, for God will call to account what has passed.

Treasury of Scripture

And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that comes after the king? even that which has been already done.

i turned

Ecclesiastes 1:17
And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

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:

even that which hath already been done

Ecclesiastes 2:25
For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I?







Lexicon
Then I
אֲנִי֙ (’ă·nî)
Pronoun - first person common singular
Strong's Hebrew 589: I

turned
וּפָנִ֤יתִֽי (ū·p̄ā·nî·ṯî)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Conjunctive perfect - first person common singular
Strong's Hebrew 6437: To turn, to face, appear, look

to consider
לִרְא֣וֹת (lir·’ō·wṯ)
Preposition-l | Verb - Qal - Infinitive construct
Strong's Hebrew 7200: To see

wisdom
חָכְמָ֔ה (ḥāḵ·māh)
Noun - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 2451: Wisdom

and madness
וְהוֹלֵל֖וֹת (wə·hō·w·lê·lō·wṯ)
Conjunctive waw | Noun - feminine plural
Strong's Hebrew 1947: Madness

and folly;
וְסִכְל֑וּת (wə·siḵ·lūṯ)
Conjunctive waw | Noun - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 5531: Silliness

for
כִּ֣י ׀ (kî)
Conjunction
Strong's Hebrew 3588: A relative conjunction

what [more]
מֶ֣ה (meh)
Interrogative
Strong's Hebrew 4100: What?, what!, indefinitely what

can the king’s
הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ (ham·me·leḵ)
Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 4428: A king

successor
שֶׁיָּבוֹא֙ (še·yā·ḇō·w)
Pronoun - relative | Verb - Qal - Imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 935: To come in, come, go in, go

do
אֲשֶׁר־ (’ă·šer-)
Pronoun - relative
Strong's Hebrew 834: Who, which, what, that, when, where, how, because, in order that

than what has already
כְּבָ֖ר (kə·ḇār)
Adverb
Strong's Hebrew 3528: Extent of time, a great while, long ago, formerly, hitherto

been accomplished?
עָשֽׂוּהוּ׃ (‘ā·śū·hū)
Verb - Qal - Perfect - third person common plural | third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 6213: To do, make
(12) This verse presents some difficulties of translation which need not be discussed here. The Authorised Version gives the following very good sense: If the king has failed in his experiment, what likelihood is there that a private person should be more successful? Yet bearing in mind that in Ecclesiastes 5:18 the "man that cometh after the king" means his successor, and also that the theme of the whole section is that in human affairs there is no progress, it is more simple to understand this verse: the king's successor can do no more than run the same round that has been trodden by his predecessor.

Verses 12-26. - Section 3. Vanity of wisdom, in view of the fate that awaits the wise man equally with the fool, and the uncertainty of the future of his labors, especially as man is not master of his own fate. Verse 12. - And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly (Ecclesiastes 1:17). He studied the three in their mutual connection and relation, comparing them in their results and effects on man's nature and life, and deducing thence their real value. On one side he set wisdom, on the other the action, and habits which he rightly terms "madness and folly," and examined them calmly and critically. For what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done. Both the Authorized Version and Revised Version render the passage thus, though the latter, in the margin, gives two alternative renderings of the second clause, viz. even him whom they made king long ago, and, as in the Authorized Version margin, in those things which have been already done. The LXX., following a different reading, gives, "For what man is there who will follow after counsel in whatsoever things he employed it?" Vulgate, "What is man, said I, that he should be able to follow the King, his Maker?" Wright, Delitzsch, Nowack, etc., "For what is the man that is to come after the king whom they made so long ago?" i.e. who can have greater experience than Solomon made king in old time amid universal acclamation (1 Chronicles 29:22)? or, who can hope to equal his fame? - which does not seem quite suitable, as it is the abnormal opportunities of investigation given by his unique position which would be the point of the query. The Authorized Version gives a fairly satisfactory (and grammatically unobjectionable) meaning - What can any one effect who tries the same experiment as the king did? He could not do so under more favorable conditions, and will only repeat the same process and reach the same result. But the passage is obscure, and every interpretation has its own difficulty. If the ki with which the second portion of the passage begins ("for what," etc.) assigns the reason or motive of the first portion, shows what was the design of Koheleth in contrasting wisdom and folly, the rendering of the Authorized Version is not inappropriate. Many critics consider that Solomon is here speaking of his successor, asking what kind of man he will be who comes after him - the man whom some have already chosen? And certainly there is some ground for this interpretation in vers. 18, 19, where the complaint is that all the king's greatness and glory will be left to an unworthy successor. But this view requires the Solomonic authorship of the book, and makes him to refer to Rehoboam or some illegitimate usurper. The wording of the text is too general to admit of this explanation; nor does it exactly suit the immediate context, or duly connect the two clauses of the verse. It seems best to take the successor, not as one who comes to the kingdom, but as one who pursues similar investigations, repeats Koheleth's experiments. 2:12-17 Solomon found that knowledge and prudence were preferable to ignorance and folly, though human wisdom and knowledge will not make a man happy. The most learned of men, who dies a stranger to Christ Jesus, will perish equally with the most ignorant; and what good can commendations on earth do to the body in the grave, or the soul in hell? And the spirits of just men made perfect cannot want them. So that if this were all, we might be led to hate our life, as it is all vanity and vexation of spirit.
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OT Poetry: Ecclesiastes 2:12 I turned myself to consider wisdom madness (Ecclesiast. Ec Ecc Eccles.) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools
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