English Standard Version
There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.
King James Bible
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.
American Standard Version
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth, that there are righteous men unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.
There is also another vanity, which is done upon the earth. There are just men to whom evils happen, as though they had done the works of the wicked: and there are wicked men, who are as secure, as though they had the deeds of the just: but this also I judge most vain.
English Revised Version
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be righteous men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.
Webster's Bible Translation
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there are just men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.
Ecclesiastes 8:14 Parallel
CommentaryKeil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
Ecclesiastes 8:7 and Ecclesiastes 8:8 thus continue the For and For: "For he knoweth not that which shall be; for who can tell him who it will be? There is no man who has power over the wind, to restrain the wind; and no one has authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the war; and wickedness does not save its possessor." The actor has the sin upon himself, and bears it; if it reaches the terminus of full measure, it suddenly overwhelms him in punishment, and the too great burden oppresses its bearer (Hitzig, under Isaiah 24:20). This עת ומשׁ comes unforeseen, for he (the man who heaps up sins) knoweth not id quod fiet; it arrives unforeseen, for quomodo fiet, who can show it to him? Thus, e.g., the tyrant knows not that he will die by assassination, and no one can say to him how that will happen, so that he might make arrangements for his protection. Rightly the lxx κατηὼς ἔσται; on the contrary, the Targ., Hitzig, and Ginsburg: when it will be;
(Note: The Venet. ἐν ᾧ, as if the text had בּאשׁר.)
Now follows the concluding thought of the four כי, whereby Ecclesiastes 8:5 is established. There are four impossibilities enumerated; the fourth is the point of the enumeration constructed in the form of a numerical proverb. (1) No man has power over the wind, to check the wind. Ewald, Hengst., Zckl., and others understand רוּח, with the Targ., Jerome, and Luther, of the Spirit (חיים( tir רוח); but man can limit this physically when he puts a violent termination to life, and must restrain it morally by ruling it, Proverbs 16:32; Proverbs 25:28. On the contrary, the wind hrwch is, after Ecclesiastes 11:5, incalculable, and to rule over it is the exclusive prerogative of Divine Omnipotence, Proverbs 30:4. The transition to the second impossibility is mediated by this, that in רוח, according to the usus loq., the ideas of the breath of animal life, and of wind as the breath as it were of the life of the whole of nature, are interwoven. (2) No one has power over the day of death: death, viz., natural death, comes to a man without his being able to see it before, to determine it, or to change it. With שׁלּיט there here interchanges שׁלטון, which is rendered by the lxx and Venet. as abstr., also by the Syr. But as at Daniel 3:2, so also above at Ecclesiastes 8:4, it is concr., and will be so also in the passage before us, as generally in the Talm. and Midrash, in contradistinction to the abstr., which is שׁלטן, after the forms אבדן, דּרבן, etc., e.g., Bereshith rabba, c. 85 extr.: "Every king and ruler שלטון who had not a שולטן, a command (government, sway) in the land, said that that did not satisfy him, the king of Babylon had to place an under-Caesar in Jericho," etc.
(Note: Regarding the distinction between שׁלטון and שׁלטן, vid., Baer's Abodath Jisrael, p. 385.)
Thus: no man possesses rule or is a ruler ... .
A transition is made from the inevitable law of death to the inexorable severity of the law of war; (3) there is no discharge, no dispensation, whether for a time merely (missio), or a full discharge (dimissio), in war, which in its fearful rigour (vid., on the contrary, Deuteronomy 20:5-8) was the Persian law. Even so, every possibility of escape is cut off by the law of the divine requital; (4) wickedness will not save (מלּט, causative, as always) its lord (cf. the proverb: "Unfaithfulness strikes its own master") or possessor; i.e., the wicked person, when the עת ום comes, is hopelessly lost. Grtz would adopt the reading עשׁר instead of רשע; but the fate of the רשׁע בּעל, or of the רשׁע, is certainly that to which the concatenation of thought from Ecclesiastes 8:6 leads, as also the disjunctive accent at the end of the three first clauses of Ecclesiastes 8:8 denotes. But that in the words בּעל רשׁע (not בּעלי) a despotic king is thought of (בּעליו, as at Ecclesiastes 5:10, Ecclesiastes 5:12; Ecclesiastes 7:12; Proverbs 3:27; cf. under Proverbs 1:19), is placed beyond a doubt by the epilogistic verse:
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
there shall be just
Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power?
For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.
For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.
In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing.
Righteous are you, O LORD, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.'"
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ESV Text Edition: 2016. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.