Ecclesiastes 2:21
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.

King James Bible
For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

American Standard Version
For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, and with knowledge, and with skilfulness; yet to a man that hath not labored therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For when a man laboureth in wisdom, and knowledge, and carefulness, he leaveth what he hath gotten to an idle man: so this also is vanity, and a great evil.

English Revised Version
For there is a man whose labour is with wisdom, and with knowledge, and with skilfulness; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Webster's Bible Translation
For there is a man whose labor is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not labored in it, shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Ecclesiastes 2:21 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

"And I saw that wisdom has the advantage over folly, as light has the advantage over darkness. The wise man has eyes in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness." In the sacred Scriptures, "light" is generally the symbol of grace, Psalm 43:3, but also the contrast of an intellectually and morally darkened state, Isaiah 51:4. To know a thing is equivalent to having light on it, and seeing it in its true light (Psalm 36:10); wisdom is thus compared to light; folly is once, Job 38:19, directly called "darkness." Thus wisdom stands so much higher than folly, as light stands above darkness.יתרון, which hitherto denoted actual result, enduring gain, signifies here preference; along with כּיתרון

(Note: Thus written, according to J and other authorities.)

there is also found the form כּיתרון

(Note: Thus Ven. 1515, 1521; vid., Comm. under Genesis 27:28-29; Psalm 45:10.)

(vid., Proverbs 30:17). The fool walks in darkness: he is blind although he has eyes (Isaiah 43:8), and thus has as good as none, - he wants the spiritual eye of understanding (Job 10:3); the wise man, on the other hand, his eyes are in his head, or, as we also say: he has eyes in his head, - eyes truly seeing, looking at and examining persons and things. That is the one side of the relation of wisdom to folly as put to the test.

The other side of the relation is the sameness of the result in which the elevation of wisdom above folly terminates.

"And I myself perceived that one experience happeneth to them all. And I said in my heart, As it will happen to the fool, it will happen also to me; and why have I then been specially wise? Thus I spake then in my heart, that this also is vain." Zckler gives to גּם an adversative sense; but this gam ( equals ὃμως, similiter) stands always at the beginning of the clause, Ewald, 354a. Gam-ani corresponds to the Lat. ego idem, which gives two predicates to one subject; while et ipse predicates the same of the one of two subjects as it does of the other (Zumpt, 697). The second gam-ani serves for the giving of prominence to the object, and here precedes, after the manner of a substantival clause (cf. Isaiah 45:12; Ezekiel 33:17; 2 Chronicles 28:10), as at Genesis 24:27; cf. Gesen. 121. 3. Miqrěh (from קרה, to happen, to befall) is quiquid alicui accidit (in the later philosoph. terminol. accidens; Venet. συμβεβεεκός); but here, as the connection shows, that which finally puts an end to life, the final event of death. By the word יד the author expresses what he had observed on reflection; by בּל...אם, what he said inwardly to himself regarding it; and by דּבּ דל, what sentence he passed thereon with himself. Lammah asks for the design, as maddu'a for the reason. אז is either understood temporally: then when it is finally not better with me than with the fool (Hitz. from the standpoint of the dying hour), or logically: if yet one and the same event happeneth to the wise man and to the fool (Eslt.); in the consciousness of the author both are taken together.The זה of the conclusion refers, not, as at Ecclesiastes 1:17, to the endeavouring after and the possession of wisdom, but to this final result making no difference between wise men and fools. This fate, happening to all alike, is הבל, a vanity rendering all vain, a nullity levelling down all to nothing, something full of contradictions, irrational. Paul also (Romans 8:20) speaks of this destruction, which at last comes upon all, as a ματαιότης.

The author now assigns the reason for this discouraging result.

Ecclesiastes 2:21 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

whose

Ecclesiastes 2:17,18 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is worked under the sun is grievous to me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit...

Ecclesiastes 9:18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroys much good.

2 Chronicles 31:20,21 And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and worked that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God...

2 Chronicles 33:2-9 But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like to the abominations of the heathen...

2 Chronicles 34:2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father...

2 Chronicles 35:18 And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet...

2 Chronicles 36:5 Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem...

Jeremiah 22:15,17 Shall you reign, because you close yourself in cedar? did not your father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice...

leave

Cross References
Psalm 49:10
For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.

Ecclesiastes 2:18
I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me,

Ecclesiastes 2:20
So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun,

Ecclesiastes 4:4
Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man's envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

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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