Ecclesiastes 6:2
A man to whom God has given riches, wealth, and honor, so that he wants nothing for his soul of all that he desires, yet God gives him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eats it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.
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(2) Riches, wealth, and honour.—The three words are used together regarding Solomon (2Chronicles 1:11).

6:1-6 A man often has all he needs for outward enjoyment; yet the Lord leaves him so to covetousness or evil dispositions, that he makes no good or comfortable use of what he has. By one means or other his possessions come to strangers; this is vanity, and an evil disease. A numerous family was a matter of fond desire and of high honour among the Hebrews; and long life is the desire of mankind in general. Even with these additions a man may not be able to enjoy his riches, family, and life. Such a man, in his passage through life, seems to have been born for no end or use. And he who has entered on life only for one moment, to quit it the next, has a preferable lot to him who has lived long, but only to suffer.Common among - Rather, great (heavy) upon people. 2. for his soul—that is, his enjoyment.

God giveth him not power to eat—This distinguishes him from the "rich" man in Ec 5:19. "God hath given" distinguishes him also from the man who got his wealth by "oppression" (Ec 5:8, 10).

stranger—those not akin, nay, even hostile to him (Jer 51:51; La 5:2; Ho 7:9). He seems to have it in his "power" to do as he will with his wealth, but an unseen power gives him up to his own avarice: God wills that he should toil for "a stranger" (Ec 2:26), who has found favor in God's sight.

Wealth; all sorts of riches, as gold and silver, cattle and lands, &c.

Of all that he desireth; which he doth or can reasonably desire.

Giveth him not power to eat; either because they are suddenly taken away from him by the hand and curse of God, and given to others; or because God gives him up to a base and covetous mind, which is both a sin and a place. Thereof, i.e. any considerable part of it; whereas the stranger eateth not thereof, but it, i.e. all of it; devoureth it all in an instant. A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour,.... By "riches" may be meant gold and silver, things which a covetous man is never satisfied with; and by "wealth", cattle, with which farms and fields are stocked: the wealth of men, especially in former times, and in the eastern countries, lay very much in these, as did the wealth of Abraham and Job, Genesis 13:2; and all these, as they are reckoned glorious and honourable in themselves; so they create honour and glory among men, and raise to high and honourable places; and these, as they go, they are usually put together, and are called by the name of honour and glory itself; see Proverbs 3:16. And they are all the gifts of God, which he either as blessings bestows upon men, or suffers men to attain unto, though a curse may go along with them; which is the case here, for no man whatever is possessed of them but by the will of God or his divine permission; see 1 Chronicles 29:12; and which a man may, and sometimes has, such a plentiful portion of;

so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth: he has not only for the supply of his wants, what is necessary for his daily use and service, but even what is for delight and pleasure; yea, as much as he could reasonably wish for; nay, more than heart could wish, Psalm 73:7;

yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof; the Targum adds, "because of his sin"; either he takes it away from him, he making no use of it; or his appetite is taken away, that he has no desire to it; or rather he has no heart to enjoy what he has, and scarce any part of it; not to eat and drink, and wear suitably to his circumstances, but grudges whatever he lays out on his back or belly, or in housekeeping in his family; for though God gives him a large substance, yet not a heart to make use of it, without which he cannot enjoy it; and therefore it would have been as good, or better for him, to have been without it; see Ecclesiastes 5:19;

but a stranger eateth it; the Syriac version adds, "after him"; enjoys it, not only a part of it, but the whole; one that is not akin to him, and perhaps was never known by him; and yet, by one means or another, either in a lawful or unlawful way, comes into the possession of all he has; this has been always reckoned a great unhappiness, Lamentations 5:2. Hence it follows,

this is vanity, and it is an evil disease; it is a vain thing to be possessed of great substance, and not enjoy anything of it in a comfortable way, through the sin of covetousness; which is a spiritual disease, and a very bad one; very prejudicial to the soul, and the state of it, and is rarely cured. Juvenal (w) calls it frenzy and madness for a man to live poor, that be may die rich; he is like the ass that Crassus Agelastus saw, loaded with figs, and eating thorns.

(w) "Cum furor dubius", &c. Satyr. 14. v. 136. exposed by Persius, Sat. 6. v. 69, &c. "unge puer caules", &c.

A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he lacketh nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet {a} God giveth him not power to eat of it, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.

(a) He shows that it is the plague of God when the rich man does not have a liberal heart to use his riches.

Verse 2. - A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honor. This is the evil to which reference is made. Two of the words here given, "riches" and "honor," are those used by God in blessing Solomon in the vision at Gibeon (1 Kings 3:13); but all three are employed in the parallel passage (2 Chronicles 1:11). So that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth. "His soul" is the man himself, his personality, as Psalm 49:19. So in the parable (Luke 12:19) the rich fool says to his soul, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years." In the supposed case the man is able to procure for himself everything which he wants; has no occasion to deny himself the gratification of any rising desire. All this comes from God's bounty; but something more is wanted to bring happiness. Yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof. "To eat" is used in a metaphorical sense for "to enjoy," take advantage of, make due use of (see on Ecclesiastes 2:24). The ability to enjoy all these good things is wanting, either from discontent, or moroseness, or sickness, or as a punishment for secret sin. But a stranger eateth it. The "stranger" is not the legal heir, but an alien to the possessor's blood, neither relation nor even necessarily a friend. For a childless Oriental to adopt an heir is a common custom at the present day. The wish to continue a family, to leave a name and inheritance to children's children, was very strong among the Hebrews - all the stronger as the life beyond the grave was dimly apprehended. Abraham expressed this feeling when he sadly cried, "I go childless, and he that shall be possessor of my house is Dammesek Eliezer" (Genesis 15:2). The evils are two - that this great fortune brings no happiness to its possessor, and that it passes to one who is nothing to him. An evil disease; αῥῤωστία πονηρά, Septuagint, an evil as bad as the diseases spoken of in Deuteronomy 28:27, 28. A transition is now made to rich men as such, and the registering formula which should go before Ecclesiastes 5:14 here follows: "And this also is a sore evil: altogether exactly as he came, thus shall he depart: and what gain hath he that laboureth in the wind?" Regarding זה; and regarding כּל־ע שׁ,

(Note: I n H. written as one word: כּלעמת. Parchon (Lex. under עמת) had this form before him. In his Lex. Kimchi bears evidence in favour of the correct writing as two words.)

The writing of these first two as one word [vid. note below] accords with Ibn-Giat's view, accidentally quoted by Kimchi, that the word is compounded of כ of comparison, and the frequently occurring לעמּת always retaining its ל, and ought properly to be pointed כּלע (cf. מלּ, 1 Kings 7:20). עמּה signifies combination, society, one thing along with or parallel to another; and thus לעמת bears no כ, since it is itself a word of comparison, כּל־עמּת "altogether parallel," "altogether the same." The question: what kind of advantage (vid., Ecclesiastes 1:3) is to him (has he) of this that ... , carries its answer in itself. Labouring for the wind or in the wind, his labour is רוּח (רעיון) רעוּת, and thus fruitless. And, moreover, how miserable an existence is this life of labour leading to nothing!

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