Ecclesiastes 12:13
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

King James Bible
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

American Standard Version
This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Let us all hear together the conclusion of the discourse. Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is all man:

English Revised Version
This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.

Webster's Bible Translation
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

A third 'ad asher lo now follows (cf. Ecclesiastes 5:1-2); the first placed the old man in view, with his dsagrment in general; the second described in detail his bodily weaknesses, presenting themselves as forerunners of death; the third brings to view the dissolution of the life of the body, by which the separation of the soul and the body, and the return of both to their original condition is completed. "Ere the silver cord is loosed, and the golden bowl is shattered, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel is shattered in the well, and the dust returns to the earth as that which it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." Before entering into the contents of these verses, we shall consider the form in which some of the words are presented. The Chethı̂b ירחק we readily let drop, for in any case it must be said that the silver cord is put out of action; and this word, whether we read it ירחק or ירחק (Venet. μακρυνθῇ), is too indefinite, and, supposing that by the silver cord a component part of the body is meant, even inappropriate, since the organs which cease to perform their functions are not removed away from the dead body, but remain in it when dead. But the Keri ירתק ("is unbound") has also its difficulty. The verb רתק signifies to bind together, to chain; the bibl. Heb. uses it of the binding of prisoners, Nahum 3:18, cf. Isaiah 40:19; the post-bibl. Heb. of binding equals shutting up (contrast of פתח, Pesikta, ed. Buber, 176a, whence Mezia 107b, שורא וריתקא, a wall and enclosure); the Arab. of shutting up and closing a hole, rent, split (e.g., murtatiḳ, a plant with its flower-buds as yet shut up; rutûḳ, inaccessibleness). The Targumist

(Note: Similarly the lxx understands ונרץ, καὶ συντροχάσῃ (i.e., as Jerome in his Comm. explains: si fuerit in suo funiculo convoluta), which is impossible.)

accordingly understands ירתק of binding equals lameness (palsy); Rashi and Aben Ezra, of shrivelling; this may be possible, however, for נרתּק, used of a "cord," the meaning that first presents itself, is "to be firmly bound;" but this affords no appropriate sense, and we have therefore to give to the Niph. the contrasted meaning of setting free, discatenare (Parchon, Kimchi); this, however, is not justified by examples, for a privat. Niph. is unexampled, Ewald, 121e; נלבּב, Job 11:12, does not mean to be deprived of heart (understanding), but to gain heart (understanding). Since, however, we still need here the idea of setting loose or tearing asunder (lxx ἀνατραπῇ; Symm. κοπῆναι; Syr. נתפסק, from פּסק, abscindere; Jerome, rumpatur), we have only the choice of interpreting yērathēq either, in spite of the appearance to the contrary, in the meaning of constingitur, of a violent drawing together of the cord stretched out lengthwise; or, with Pfannkuche, Gesen., Ewald, to read ינּתק ("is torn asunder"), which one expects, after Isaiah 33:20; cf. Judges 16:9; Jeremiah 10:20. Hitzig reaches the same, for he explains ירחק equals יחרק, from (Arab.) kharaḳ, to tear asunder (of the sound of the tearing);

(Note: Vid., my treatise, Psyciol. u. Musik, u.s.w., p. 31.)

and Bttcher, by adopting the reading יחרק; but without any support in Heb. and Chald. usus loq.

נּלּה, which is applied to the second figure, is certainly

(Note: The lxx, unsuitably, τὸ ἀνθέμιον, which, per synecdochen partis pro toto, signifies the capital (of a pillar). Thus, perhaps, also are meant Symm. τὸ περιφερές, Jerome vitta, Venet. τὸ στέφος, and the Syr. "apple." Among the Arabs, this ornament on the capital is called tabaryz ("prominence").)

a vessel of a round form (from גּלל, to roll, revolve round), like the נּלּה which received the oil and conducted it to the seven lamps of the candlestick in Zechariah 4:1-14; but to understand ותרץ of the running out of the oil not expressly named (Luther: "and the golden fountain runs out") would be contrary to the usus loq.; it is the metapl. form for ותרץ, et confringitur, as ירוּץ, Isaiah 42:4, for ירץ, from רצץ, cogn. רעע, Psalm 2:9, whence נרץ, Ecclesiastes 12:6, the regularly formed Niph. (the fut. of which, תּרוץ, Ezekiel 29:7). We said that oil is not expressly named. But perhaps it is meant by הזּהב. The gullah above the candlestick which Zechariah saw was, according to Zechariah 4:12, provided with two golden pipes, in which were two olive trees standing on either side, which sunk therein the tuft-like end of their branches, of which it is said that they emptied out of themselves hazzahav into the oil vessels. Here it is manifest that hazzahav means, in the one instance, the precious metal of which the pipes are formed; and in the other, the fluid gold of the oil contained in the olive branches. Accordingly, Hitzig understands gullath hazzahav here also; for he takes gullah as a figure of the body, the golden oil as a figure of the soul, and the silver cord as a figure of vital energy.

Thus, with Hitz., understanding gullath hazzahav after the passage in Zechariah, I have correctly represented the meaning of the figures in my Psychol. p. 228, as follows: - "The silver cord equals the soul directing and bearing the body as living; the lamp hanging by this silver cord equals the body animated by the soul, and dependent on it; the golden oil equals the spirit, of which it is said, Proverbs 20:27, that it is a lamp of God." I think that this interpretation of the golden oil commends itself in preference to Zckler's interpretation, which is adopted by Dchsel, of the precious fluidum of the blood; for if hazzahav is a metaphorical designation of oil, we have to think of it as the material for burning and light; but the principle of bright life in man is the spirit (ruahh hhayim or nishmath hhayim); and in the passage in Zechariah also, oil, which makes the candlestick give light, is a figure of the spirit (Ecclesiastes 12:6, ki im-beruhhi). But, as one may also suppose, it is not probable that here, with the same genit. connection, הכסף is to be understood of the material and the quality; and hazzqahav, on the contrary, of the contents. A golden vessel is, according to its most natural meaning, a vessel which is made of gold, thus a vessel of a precious kind. A golden vessel cannot certainly be broken in pieces, but we need not therefore understand an earthenware vessel only gilded, as by a silver cord is to be understood only that which has a silver line running through it (Gesen. in the Thes.); רצוּץ may also denote that which is violently crushed or broken, Isaiah 42:3; cf. Judges 9:53. If gullath hazzahav, however, designates a golden vessel, the reference of the figure to the body, and at the same time of the silver cord to the vital energy or the soul, is then excluded, - for that which animates stands yet above that which is animated, - the two metallic figures in this their distribution cannot be comprehended in this reference. We have thus to ask, since gullath hazzahav is not the body itself: What in the human body is compared to a silver cord and to a golden vessel? What, moreover, to a pitcher at the fountain, and to a wheel or a windlass? Winzer settles this question by finding in the two double figures only in general the thoughts represented: antequam vita ex tenui quasi filo suspensa pereat, and (which is essentially the same) antequam machina corporis destruatur.

Gurlitt also protests against the allegorical explanation of the details, but he cannot refrain from interpreting more specially than Winzer. Two momenta, he says, there are which, when a man dies, in the most impressive way present themselves to view: the extinction of consciousness, and the perfect cessation, complete ruin, of the bodily organism. The extinction of consciousness is figuratively represented by the golden lamp, which is hung up by a silver cord in the midst of a house or tent, and now, since the cord which holds it is broken, it falls down and is shattered to pieces, so that there is at once deep darkness; the destruction of the bodily organism, by a fountain, at which the essential parts of its machinery, the pitcher and windlass, are broken and rendered for ever useless. This interpretation of Gurlitt's affords sufficient support to the expectation of the allegorical meaning with which we approached Ecclesiastes 12:6; and we would be satisfied therewith, if one of the figures did not oppose us, without seeking long for a more special allegorical meaning: the pitcher at the fountain or well (כּד, not הכּד, because determined by 'al-hammabu'a) is without doubt the heart which beats to the last breath of the dying man, which is likened to a pitcher which, without intermission, receives and again sends forth the blood. That the blood flows through the body like living water is a fact cognizable and perceptible without the knowledge of its course; fountain (מקור) and blood appear also elsewhere as associated ideas, Leviticus 12:7; and nishbar, as here vetishshaběr, into a state of death, or near to death, Jeremiah 23:9; Psalm 69:21. From this gullath hazzahav must also have a special allegorical sense; and if, as Gurlitt supposes, the golden vessel that is about to be destroyed is a figure of the perishing self-consciousness (whereby it is always doubtful that, with this interpretation, the characteristic feature of light in the figure is wanting), then it is natural to go further, and to understand the golden vessel directly of the head of a man, and to compare the breaking of the skull, Judges 9:53, expressed by vataritz eth-gulgolto, with the words here before us, vatharutz gullath hazzahav; perhaps by gullath the author thought of the cogn. - both as to root and meaning - גלגלת; but, besides, the comparison of the head, the bones of which form an oval bowl, with gullath is of itself also natural. It is true that, according to the ancient view, not the head, but the heart, is the seat of the life of the spirit; "in the heart, Ephrem said (Opp. Syr. ii. 316), the thinking spirit (shuschobo) acts as in its palace;" and the understanding, the Arabians

(Note: Vid., Noldeke's Poesien d. alten Araber, p. 190.)

also say, sits in the heart, and thus between the ribs. Everything by which בשׂר and נפשׁ is affected - thus, briefly formulated, the older bibl. idea - comes in the לב into the light of consciousness. But the Book of Koheleth belongs to a time in which spiritual-psychical actions began to be placed in mediate causal relation with the head; the Book of Daniel represents this newer mode of conception, Daniel 2:28; Daniel 4:2; Daniel 7:10, Daniel 7:15. The image of the monarchies seen in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel 2:32, Daniel 2:28, had a golden head; the head is described as golden, as it is the membrum praecipuum of the human body; it is compared to gold as to that which is most precious, as, on the other hand, ראשׁ is used as a metaphorical designation of that which is most precious. The breaking to pieces of the head, the death-blow which it receives, shows itself in this, that he who is sick unto death is unable to hold his head erect, that it sinks down against his will according to the law of gravity; as also in this, that the countenance assumes the aspect which we designate the facies hippocratica, and that feeling is gradually destroyed; but, above all, that is thought of which Ovid says of one who was dying: et resupinus humum moribundo vertice pulsat.

If we now further inquire regarding the meaning of the silver cord, nothing can obviously be meant by it which is locally above the golden bowl which would be hanging under it; also הכסף גלת itself certainly admits no such literal antitype, - the concavity of the גלגלת is below, and that of a גלה, on the other hand, is above. The silver cord will be found if a component part of the structure of the body is pointed to, which stands in a mutually related connection with the head and the brain, the rending asunder of which brings death with it. Now, as is well known, dying finally always depends on the brain and the upper spinal marrow; and the ancients already interpreted the silver cord of the spinal marrow, which is called by a figure terminologically related to the silver cord, חוּט השּׂדרה (the spinal cord), and as a cord-like lengthening of the brain into the spinal channel could not be more appropriately named; the centre is grey, but the external coating is white. We do not, however, maintain that hakkěsěph points to the white colour; but the spinal marrow is related, in the matter of its value for the life of man, to the brain as silver is to gold. Since not a violent but a natural death is the subject, the fatal stroke that falls on the spinal marrow is not some kind of mechanical injury, but, according as ירתק is unbound is explained or is changed into ינּתק is torn asunder, is to be thought of either as constriction equals shrinking together, consuming away, exhaustion; or as unchanging equals paralysis or disabling; or as tearing asunder equals destruction of the connection of the individual parts. The emendation ינתק most commends itself; it remains, however, possible that ינתק is meant in the sense of morbid contraction (vid., Rashi); at any rate, the fate of the גלה is the consequence of the fate of the חבל, which carries and holds the gullah, and does not break without at the same time bringing destruction on it; as also the brain and the spinal marrow stand in a relation of solidarity to each other, and the head receives

(Note: Many interpreters (lately Ewald, Hengst., Zckl., Taylor, and others) understand the silver cord of the thread of life; the spinal marrow is, without any figure, this thread of life itself.)

continued...

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

fear

Ecclesiastes 5:7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear you God.

Ecclesiastes 8:12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God...

Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not your hand on the lad, neither do you any thing to him: for now I know that you fear God...

Deuteronomy 6:2 That you might fear the LORD your God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, you, and your son...

Deuteronomy 10:12 And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him...

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments...

Psalm 112:1 Praise you the LORD. Blessed is the man that fears the LORD, that delights greatly in his commandments.

Psalm 145:19 He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.

Psalm 147:11 The LORD takes pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 23:28 She also lies in wait as for a prey, and increases the transgressors among men.

Psalm 115:13-15 He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great...

Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the LORD tends to life: and he that has it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

Luke 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Cross References
Deuteronomy 4:2
You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.

Deuteronomy 6:2
that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.

Deuteronomy 10:12
"And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

1 Samuel 12:24
Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.

Job 28:28
And he said to man, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.'"

Psalm 111:10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

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