Ecclesiastes 1:13
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.

King James Bible
And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

American Standard Version
And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven: it is a sore travail that God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And I proposed in my mind to seek and search out wisely concerning all things that are done under the sun. This painful occupation hath God given to the children of men, to be exercised therein.

English Revised Version
And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven: it is a sore travail that God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.

Webster's Bible Translation
And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this grievous labor hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised with it.

Ecclesiastes 1:13 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

"All rivers run into the sea, and the sea becomes not full; to the place whence the rivers came, thither they always return again." Instead of nehhárim, nehhalim was preferred, because it is the more general name for flowing waters, brooks, and rivers; נחל (from נחל, cavare), אפיק (from אפק, continere), and (Arab.) wadin (from the root-idea of stretching, extending), all three denote the channel or bed, and then the water flowing in it. The sentence, "all rivers run into the sea," is consistent with fact. Manifestly the author does not mean that they all immediately flow thither; and by "the sea" he does not mean this or that sea; nor does he think, as the Targ. explains, of the earth as a ring (גּוּשׁפּנקא, Pers. angusht-bâne, properly "finger-guard") surrounding the ocean: but the sea in general is meant, perhaps including also the ocean that is hidden. If we include this internal ocean, then the rivers which lose themselves in hollows, deserts, or inland lakes, which have no visible outlet, form no exception. But the expression refers first of all to the visible sea-basins, which gain no apparent increase by these masses of water being emptied into them: "the sea, it becomes not full;" איננּוּ (Mishn. אינו) has the reflex. pron., as at Exodus 3:2; Leviticus 13:34, and elsewhere. If the sea became full, then there would be a real change; but this sea, which, as Aristophanes says (Clouds, 1294f.), οὐδὲν γίγνεται ἐπιῤῥηεόντων τῶν ποταμῶν πλείων, represents also the eternal sameness. In Leviticus 13:7, Symm., Jer., Luther, and also Zckler, translate שׁ in the sense of "from whence;" others, as Ginsburg, venture to take שׁם in the sense of משּׁם; both interpretations are linguistically inadmissible.

Generally the author does not mean to say that the rivers return to their sources, since the sea replenishes the fountains, but that where they once flow, they always for ever flow without changing their course, viz., into the all-devouring sea (Elst.); for the water rising out of the sea in vapour, and collecting itself in rain-clouds, fills the course anew, and the rivers flow on anew, for the old repeats itself in the same direction to the same end. מקום is followed by what is a virtual genitive (Psalm 104:8); the accentuation rightly extends this only to הלכים; for אשׁר, according to its relation, signifies in itself ubi, Genesis 39:20, and quo, Numbers 13:27; 1 Kings 12:2 (never unde). שׁם, however, has after verbs of motion, as e.g., Jeremiah 22:27 after שׁוב, and 1 Samuel 9:6 after הלך, frequently the sense of שׁמּה. And שׁוּב with ל and the infin. signifies to do something again, Hosea 11:9; Job 7:7, thus: to the place whither the rivers flow, thither they flow again, eo rursus eunt. The author here purposely uses only participles, because although there is constant change, yet that which renews itself is ever the same. He now proceeds, after this brief but comprehensive induction of particulars, to that which is general.

Ecclesiastes 1:13 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

i gave

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 my heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly...

Ecclesiastes 8:9,16,17 All this have I seen, and applied my heart to every work that is done under the sun...

Psalm 111:2 The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

Proverbs 2:2-4 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding...

Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding.

Proverbs 18:1,15 Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeks and intermeddles with all wisdom...

Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.

1 Timothy 4:15 Meditate on these things; give yourself wholly to them; that your profiting may appear to all.

this sore

Ecclesiastes 3:10 I have seen the travail, which God has given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor...

Ecclesiastes 12:12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are...

to be exercised or to afflict them

Cross References
Job 28:3
Man puts an end to darkness and searches out to the farthest limit the ore in gloom and deep darkness.

Ecclesiastes 1:17
And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:23
For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 2:26
For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 3:10
I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.

Ecclesiastes 3:11
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Ecclesiastes 4:8
one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, "For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?" This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

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