Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
Ec 11:9, 10
showed what youths are to shun, so this verse shows what they are to
Creator--"Remember" that thou art not thine own, but God's property;
for He has created thee
Therefore serve Him with thy "all"
and with thy best days, not with the dregs of them
(Pr 8:17; 22:6;
The Hebrew is "Creators," plural, implying the plurality of
persons, as in
so Hebrew, "Makers"
while . . . not--that is, before that
the evil days come; namely, calamity and old age, when one can no
longer serve God, as in youth
(Ec 11:2, 8).
no pleasure--of a sensual kind
Pleasure in God continues to the godly old
2. Illustrating "the evil days"
"Light," "sun," &c., express prosperity; "darkness," pain and
(Isa 13:10; 30:26).
clouds . . . after . . . rain--After rain sunshine (comfort) might be
looked for, but only a brief glimpse of it is given, and the gloomy
clouds (pains) return.
3. keepers of the house--namely, the hands and arms which
protected the body, as guards do a palace
are now palsied.
strong men . . . bow--
(Jud 16:25, 30).
Like supporting pillars, the feet and knees
the strongest members
grinders--the molar teeth.
those that look out of the windows--the eyes; the powers of vision,
looking out from beneath the eyelids, which open and shut like the
casement of a window.
4. doors--the lips, which are closely shut together as
doors, by old men in eating, for, if they did not do so, the food
would drop out
in the streets--that is, toward the street, "the outer doors"
sound of . . . grinding--The teeth being almost gone, and the lips
"shut" in eating, the sound of mastication is scarcely heard.
the bird--the cock. In the East all mostly rise with the dawn. But
the old are glad to rise from their sleepless couch, or painful slumbers
still earlier, namely, when the cock crows, before dawn
[HOLDEN]. The least noise awakens them
daughters of music--the organs that produce and that enjoy music; the
voice and ear.
5. that which is high--The old are afraid of ascending a hill.
fears . . . in the way--Even on the level highway they are full of
fears of falling, &c.
almond . . . flourish--In the East the hair is mostly
dark. The white head of the old among the dark-haired is like
an almond tree, with its white blossoms, among the dark trees
around [HOLDEN]. The almond tree flowers on
a leafless stock in winter (answering to old age, in
which all the powers are dormant), while the other trees are
flowerless. GESENIUS takes the Hebrew for
flourishes from a different root, casts off; when the old
man loses his gray hairs, as the almond tree casts its
grasshoppers--the dry, shrivelled, old man, his backbone sticking
out, his knees projecting forwards, his arms backwards, his head down,
and the apophyses enlarged, is like that insect. Hence arose the fable,
that Tithonus in very old age was changed into a grasshopper
"The locust raises itself to fly"; the old man about to
leave the body is like a locust when it is assuming its winged form, and
is about to fly [MAURER].
a burden--namely, to himself.
desire shall fail--satisfaction shall be abolished. For "desire,"
Vulgate has "the caper tree," provocative of lust; not so well.
(Job 16:22; 17:13).
hired for the occasion
6. A double image to represent death, as in
old age: (1) A lamp of frail material, but gilded
over, often in the East hung from roofs by a cord of silk and
silver interwoven; as the lamp is dashed down and broken, when
the cord breaks, so man at death; the golden bowl of the lamp answers
to the skull, which, from the vital preciousness of its
contents, may be called "golden"; "the silver cord" is the spinal
marrow, which is white and precious as silver, and is attached to
the brain. (2) A fountain, from which water is drawn by a
pitcher let down by a rope wound round a wheel; as, when the
pitcher and wheel are broken, water can no more be drawn, so life
ceases when the vital energies are gone. The "fountain" may mean
the right ventricle of the heart; the "cistern," the left; the pitcher,
the veins; the wheel, the aorta, or great artery
[SMITH]. The circulation of the blood, whether
known or not to Solomon, seems to be implied in the language put
by the Holy Ghost into his mouth. This gloomy picture of old age
applies to those who have not "remembered their Creator in youth." They
have none of the consolations of God, which they might have obtained in
youth; it is now too late to seek them. A good old age is a blessing to
Pr 16:31; 20:29).
7. dust--the dust-formed body.
spirit--surviving the body; implying its immortality
8-12. A summary of the first part.
Vanity, &c.--Resumption of the sentiment with which the book began
9. gave good heed--literally, "he weighed." The "teaching the
people" seems to have been oral; the "proverbs," in
writing. There must then have been auditories assembled to
hear the inspired wisdom of the Preacher. See the
explanation of Koheleth in the
that which is written, &c.--rather, (he sought) "to write down uprightly (or, 'aright') words of truth"
"Acceptable" means an agreeable style; "uprightly . . . truth," correct
11. goads--piercing deeply into the mind
(Ac 2:37; 9:5;
evidently inspired words, as the end of the verse proves.
fastened--rather, on account of the Hebrew genders, (The words)
"are fastened (in the memory) like nails" [HOLDEN].
masters of assemblies--rather, "the masters of collections (that is,
collectors of inspired sayings,
are given ('have published them as proceeding' [HOLDEN]) from one Shepherd," namely, the Spirit of Jesus
However, the mention of "goads" favors the English Version,
"masters of assemblies," namely, under-shepherds, inspired by
the Chief Shepherd
SCHMIDT translates, "The masters of assemblies are
fastened (made sure) as nails," so
12. (See on
many books--of mere human composition, opposed to "by these";
these inspired writings are the only sure source of "admonition."
(over much) study--in mere human books, wearies the body, without
solidly profiting the soul.
13. The grand inference of the whole book.
Fear God--The antidote to following creature idols, and "vanities,"
(Ec 7:16, 18),
or wicked oppression and other evils
(Ec 8:12, 13),
or mad mirth
(Ec 2:2; 7:2-5),
or self-mortifying avarice
(Ec 8:13, 17),
or youth spent without God
(Ec 11:9; 12:1).
this is the whole duty of man--literally, "this is the whole man,"
the full ideal of man, as originally contemplated, realized wholly by
Jesus Christ alone; and, through Him, by saints now in part, hereafter
14. For God shall bring every work into judgment--The future judgment
is the test of what is "vanity," what solid, as regards the chief good,
the grand subject of the book.