Ecclesiastes 7:6
For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.
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(6) There is again a play on words, which German translators represent by “the crackling of nettle under the kettle,” and Plumptre “the crackling of stubble which makes the pot bubble.” The reference plainly is to the quick blazing up and quick going out of the flame.

7:1-6 Reputation for piety and honesty is more desirable than all the wealth and pleasure in this world. It will do more good to go to a funeral than to a feast. We may lawfully go to both, as there is occasion; our Saviour both feasted at the wedding of his friend in Cana, and wept at the grave of his friend in Bethany. But, considering how apt we are to be vain and indulge the flesh, it is best to go to the house of mourning, to learn the end of man as to this world. Seriousness is better than mirth and jollity. That is best for us which is best for our souls, though it be unpleasing to sense. It is better to have our corruptions mortified by the rebuke of the wise, than to have them gratified by the song of fools. The laughter of a fool is soon gone, the end of his mirth is heaviness.As the crackling of thorns - Noisy while it lasts, and quickly extinguished. See Psalm 58:9 note. 6. crackling—answers to the loud merriment of fools. It is the very fire consuming them which produces the seeming merry noise (Joe 2:5). Their light soon goes out in the black darkness. There is a paronomasia in the Hebrew, Sirim ("thorns"), Sir ("pot"). The wicked are often compared to "thorns" (2Sa 23:6; Na 1:10). Dried cow-dung was the common fuel in Palestine; its slowness in burning makes the quickness of a fire of thorns the more graphic, as an image of the sudden end of fools (Ps 118:12). The crackling of thorns, which for a time make a great noise and blaze, but presently waste themselves, and go out without any considerable effect upon the meat in the pot.

So; so vanishing and fruitless. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool,.... As thorns are weak, useless, and unprofitable; yea, hurtful and pernicious, and only fit for burning; so are foolish and wicked men, 2 Samuel 23:6; and as the noise and sound of the one under a pot is very short, they make a blaze for a while, and is soon over; so though the laughter of a fool is loud and noisy, it makes no melody, no more than the noise of thorns; and is but for a moment, and will be soon changed for weeping and howling, which will last for ever; see Job 20:5;

this also is vanity; the carnal mirth of wicked men.

For as the crackling of {d} thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

(d) Which crackle for a while and profit nothing.

6. As the crackling of thorns under a pot] As in Ecclesiastes 7:1 the epigrammatic proverb is pointed by a play of alliterative assonance (sirim = thorns, sir = pot). “As crackling nettles under kettles,” “As crackling stubble makes the pot bubble” are the nearest English equivalents. The image is drawn from the Eastern use of hay, stubble, and thorns for fuel (Matthew 6:30; Psalm 118:12). A fire of such material, burnt up more quickly than the charcoal embers (Jeremiah 26:22; John 18:18), which were also in common use, but then it also died out quickly and left nothing but cold dead ashes. So it would be with the mirth which was merely frivolous or foul. That also would take its place in the catalogue of vanities.Verse 6. - For as the crackling of thorns under a pot. There is a play of words in the Hebrew, "The crackling of sirim under a sir," which Wright expresses by translating, "Like the noise of the nettles under the kettles." In the East, and where wood is scarce, thorns, hay, and stubble are used for fuel (Psalm 58:9; Psalm 120:4; Matthew 6:30). Such materials are quickly kindled, blaze up for a time with much noise, and soon die away (Psalm 118:12). So is the laughter of the fool. The point of comparison is the loud crackling and the short duration of the fire with small results. So the fool's mirth is boisterous and noisy, but comes to a speedy end, and is spent to no good purpose. So in Job (Job 20:5) we have, "The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless but for a moment." All this profitless mirth is again nothing but vanity. Man ought to fear God, and also, without dispute and murmuring, submit to His sway: "For who knoweth what is good for man in life during the number of the days of his vain life, and which he spendeth like a shadow? No one can certainly show a man what shall be after him under the sun." We translate אשׁר only by "ja" ("certainly"), because in Germ. no interrogative can follow "dieweil" ("because"). The clause with asher (as at Ecclesiastes 4:9; Ecclesiastes 8:11; Ecclesiastes 10:15; cf. Song, under Sol 5:2), according to its meaning not different from ki, is related in the way of proof to that beginning with ki. Man is placed in our presence. To be able to say to him what is good for him, - i.e., what position he must take in life, what direction he must give to his activity, what decision he must adopt in difficult and important cases, - we ought not only to be able to penetrate his future, but, generally, the future; but, as Tropfen drops in the stream of history, we are poor Trpfe simpletons, who are hedged up within the present. Regarding the accus. of duration, וגו מספּר, pointing to the brevity of human life, vid., at Ecclesiastes 2:3. With הבלו, the attribute of breath-like transitiveness is assigned to life (as at Ecclesiastes 7:15; Ecclesiastes 9:9) (as already in the name given to Abel, the second son of Adam), which is continued by כּ ויע with the force of a relative clause, which is frequently the case after preceding part. attrib., e.g., Isaiah 5:23. We translate: which he spendeth like the (1) shadow [in the nom.] (after Ecclesiastes 8:13; Job 14:2); not: like a shadow [in the accus.]; for although the days of life are also likened to a shadow, Psalm 144:4, etc., yet this use of עשׂה does not accord therewith, which, without being a Graecism (Zirkel, Grtz), harmonises with the Greek phrase, ποιεῖν χρόνον, Acts 15:33; cf. Proverbs 13:23, lxx (also with the Lat. facere dies of Cicero, etc.). Thus also in the Syr. and Palest.-Aram. lacad is used of time, in the sense of transigere. Aharav does not mean: after his present condition (Zckl.); but, as at Ecclesiastes 3:22; Ecclesiastes 7:14 : after he has passed away from this scene. Luzz. explains it correctly: Whether his children will remain in life? Whether the wealth he has wearied himself in acquiring will remain and be useful to them? But these are only illustrations. The author means to say, that a man can say, neither to himself nor to another, what in definite cases is the real advantage; because, in order to say this, he must be able to look far into the future beyond the limits of the individual life of man, which is only a small member of a great whole.
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