The Book of Ecclesiastes translated by m. G. Easton introduction


(B.) FINALE, WITH AN EPIPHONEMA — 11:9-12:7, 8



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(B.) FINALE, WITH AN EPIPHONEMA — 11:9-12:7, 8

In 11:7, 8, having again reached the fundamental saying of his earthly eudaemonism, the author now discontinues this his ceterum censeo, and artistically rounds off his book; for having begun it with an ouverture, 1:2-11, he concludes it with a finale, 11:9-12:7. Man, in view of the long night of death into which he goes forth, ought to enjoy the life granted to him. This fundamental thought of the book, to which the author has given a poetic colouring, 11:7, 8, now amplifies itself into an animated highly poetical call to a young man to enjoy life, but not without the consciousness that he must render unto God an account for it. That the call is addressed not to a man as such, but to the young man, — including, however, after the rule a potiori fit denominatio, young women, — is explained from this, that the terminus a quo of an intelligent, responsible enjoyment of life stands over against the terminus ad quem, the night of death, with its pre-intimation in hoary old age. Without any connecting word, and thus as a new point of departure, the finale begins:



Ecc. 11:9.


“Rejoice, young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know, that for all this God will bring thee to judgment.” The parallel בּימי shows that the beth in בִּיַלְדי (with ד aspirated) does not introduce the reason of the joy, but the time suitable for it. Instead of veyithav libbe cha, “let thy heart be of good cheer,” as the expression might also be, the words are vithivecha libbe cha, “make thy heart of good cheer to thee,” — so, viz., that from this centre brightness may irradiate thy countenance (Pro. 15:13) and thy whole personality, vid., Psychologie, p. 249. Ve hhuroth, the period of youth, is here and at 12:1 = Num. 11:28, ve hhurim, as the only once occurring ne‘uroth, Jer. 32:30, is = the elsewhere generally used ne ‘urim; the form in oÑth is the more modern (cf. ke luloth, Jer. 2:2). “Ways of the heart” are thus ways into which the impulse of the heart leads, and which satisfy the heart.מַרְי עיני , at 6:9, designates the pleasure felt in the presence of the object before one; here, a sight which draws and fastens the eyes upon it. The Cheth•Ñb has the plur.מַרְאי , which is known to the language (Dan. 1:15; Song 2:14), and which would here designate the multitude of the objects which delight the eyes, which is not unsuitable; the Pih. הַלּךְ denotes also elsewhere, frequently, e.g., Psa. 131:1, walking, in an ethical sense; Hitz., Zöckl., and others interpret the first ב as specifying the sphere, and the second as specifying the norm (“according to the sight of thine eyes”); but they both introduce that wherein he ought to act freely and joyfully: in the ways of thy heart, into which it draws thee; and in the sight of thine eyes, towards which they direct themselves with interest. The LXX B. renders, “and not after the sight of thine eyes.” This “not” (μη), which is wanting in A.C., is an interpolation, in view of the warning, Num. 15:39, against following the impulse of the heart and of the eyes; the Targ. also therefore has: “be prudent with reference to the sight of thine eyes.” But this moralizing of the text is superfluous, since the call to the youthful enjoyment of life is accompanied with the nota bene: but know that God will bring thee to an account for all this; and thus it excludes sinful sensual desire. In the midst of an address, where a yet closer definition follows, בִּמשי is thus punctuated, 12:14, Job. 14:3, Psa. 143:3; here, in the conclusion of the sentence, it isבַמשי . Hitzig supposes that there is denoted by it, that the sins of youth are punished by chronic disease and abandonment in old age; Knobel and others understand by the judgment, the self-punishment of sins by all manner of evil consequences, which the O.T. looks upon as divinely inflicted penalties. But in view of the facts of experience, that God’s righteous requital is in this life too frequently escaped, 8:14, the author, here and at 3:17; 12:14, postulates a final judgment, which removes the contradiction of this present time, and which must thus be in the future; he has no clear idea of the time and manner of this final judgment, but his faith in God places the certainty of it beyond all doubt. The call to rejoice is now completed by the call to avoid all that occasions inward and outward sorrow.
[[@Bible:Ecclesiastes 11:10]]
Ecc. 11:10.

“And remove sorrow from thy heart, and banish evil from thy flesh: for youth and age, not yet grown to grey hairs, are vain.” Jerome translates: aufer iram a corde tuo, and remarks in his Comm.: in ira omnes perturbationes animi comprehendit; but כַּאַס (R.כס , contundere, confringere) does not signify anger, but includes both anger and sorrow, and thus corresponds to the specific ideas, “sadness, moroseness, fretfulness.” The clause following, Jerome translates: et amove malitiam a carne tua, with the remark: in carnis malitia universas significat corporis voluptates; but רעָה is not taken in an ethical, but in a physical sense: כעס is that which brings sorrow to the heart; andרעה , that which brings evil to the flesh (בשׂר, opp.לב , 2:3, Pro. 14:30). More correctly than the Vulgate, Luther renders: “banish sorrow from thy heart, and put evil from thy body.” He ought to free himself from that which is injurious to the inner and the outer man, and hurtfully affects it; for youth, destined for and disposed to joy, is heÔveÔl, i.e., transitory, and only too soon passes away. Almost all modern interpreters (excepting the Jewish), in view of Psa. 110:3, gives to שׁחֲרוּת the meaning of “the dawn of the morning;” but the connection with ילְדוּת would then be tautological; the Mishn.-Midrash usus loq., in conformity with which the Targ. translates, “days of black hair,” proves that the word does not go back toשׁחַר , morning dawn, morning-red, but immediately toשׁחוֹר , black (vid., above, p. 641), and as the contrast of שׂיבָה (non-bibl.סָבי ,סיבי ,שׂיבותת ), canities, denotes the time of black hair, and thus, in the compass of its conception, goes beyondילדות , since it comprehends both the period of youth and of manhood, and thus the whole period during which the strength of life remains unbroken.134


[[@Bible:Ecclesiastes 12]][[@Bible:Ecclesiastes 12:1]]


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