Ecclesiastes 8:13
But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.
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(13) As a shadow.—Ecclesiastes 6:12; Wisdom Of Solomon 2:5; see also Wisdom Of Solomon 4:8.

8:9-13 Solomon observed, that many a time one man rules over another to his hurt, and that prosperity hardens them in their wickedness. Sinners herein deceive themselves. Vengeance comes slowly, but it comes surely. A good man's days have some substance; he lives to a good purpose: a wicked man's days are all as a shadow, empty and worthless. Let us pray that we may view eternal things as near, real, and all-important.His days be prolonged - i. e., in his wickedness Ecclesiastes 8:8.

"I" is emphatic, as if to mark the opposition to the "sons of men" Ecclesiastes 8:11.

13. neither shall he prolong—not a contradiction to Ec 8:12. The "prolonging" of his days there is only seeming, not real. Taking into account his eternal existence, his present days, however seemingly long, are really short. God's delay (Ec 8:11) exists only in man's short-sighted view. It gives scope to the sinner to repent, or else to fill up his full measure of guilt; and so, in either case, tends to the final vindication of God's ways. It gives exercise to the faith, patience, and perseverance of saints.

shadow—(Ec 6:12; Job 8:9).

It shall not be well, i.e. it shall go very ill with him; great miseries are prepared for him; which is a figure oft used in Scripture, as hath been formerly and frequently observed.

Neither shall he prolong his days, to wit, very long, or for ever, as he desireth.

As a shadow; his life, though it may be or seem to be long, yet in truth is but a mere shadow, which will quickly vanish and disappear, and be as if it never had been; and many times, like a shadow, when it is longest, it is nearest to abolition.

Because he feareth not before God; this is the punishment of his wickedness, and his casting off the fear and service of God. For although the lives of good men upon earth are short, as well as the lives of the wicked, yet their days are not like a shadow, because they are prolonged far beyond this mortal state, even to all eternity, and death itself doth but open the way for them to an endless life.

But it shall not be well with the wicked,.... It shall be ill with him; more is designed than is expressed, Isaiah 3:11; in life they have no solid peace and comfort; at death they will be turned into at judgment they will hear the awful sentence, "Go, ye cursed", and will be in torment to all eternity, Matthew 25:41;

neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow: wicked men sometimes do not live out half their days, which, according to the course of nature, and common term of life, they might be thought to live; or if they prolong their days in wickedness, as sometimes they do, Ecclesiastes 7:15; yet their days at longest are but a shadow which declines, and is quickly gone; or, however, they do not attain to eternal life, which is sometimes meant by prolonging days, and is length of days for ever and ever, Isaiah 53:10; this they never enjoy; but when the righteous go into life lasting, they go into everlasting punishment. The reason of this is,

because he feareth not before God; the fear of God is not before his eyes, nor in his heart; he goes on in sin without fear of him, boldly and openly commits it, and instead of taking shame for it, or repenting of it, glories in it; stretches out his hand against God, and bids defiance to him, and desires not the knowledge of him, and refuses to obey him The Targum of the whole is,

"and it shall not be well with the wicked, and he shall have no space in the world to come; and in this world his days shall be cut off, and they shall flee and pass away as a shadow, because he fears not God.''

But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.
13. neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow] The words seem at first in direct contradiction to the admission of the previous verse. But it is of the nature of the method of the book to teach by paradoxes, and to let the actual contradictions of the world reflect themselves in his teaching. What is meant is that the wicked does not gain by a prolonged life; that, as Isaiah had taught of old, “the sinner though he die a hundred years old, is as one accursed” (Isaiah 65:20). His life is still a shadow and “he disquieteth himself in vain” (Psalm 39:6). So the writer of the Wisdom of Solomon (Ecclesiastes 4:8) writes, probably not without a reference to this very passage, that “honourable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by the number of the years.” In the “days which are as a shadow,” so far as they refer to the shortness of human life in general, we find, as before in ch. Ecclesiastes 6:12, echoes of Greek thought.

It is noticeable that in Wis 2:5, in accordance with what one may call the polemic tendency of the writer, the thought and the phrase are put into the mouth of the “ungodly, who reasoned not aright.” The universal fact, however, has become a universal thought and finds echoes everywhere (Psalm 102:11; Psalm 144:4).

Verse 13. - But it shall not be well with the wicked. If experience seemed often to militate against this assertion, Koheleth's faith prevailed against apparent contradictions. Neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow. Above we read of a wicked man enjoying a long, untroubled life; here the contrary is stated. Such contradictions are seen every day. There are inscrutable reasons for the delay of judgment; but on the whole moral government is vindicated, and even the long life of a sinner is no blessing. The author of the Book of Wisdom writes (4:8), "Honorable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by number of years;" and Isaiah (Isaiah 65:20), "The sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed." Man's life is compared to a shadow because it passes away with the setting sun (see on Ecclesiastes 6:12). The Vulgate, in order to obviate the apparent discrepancy between this and the preceding verses, renders the verb in a precatory form: Non sit bonum impio, etc., "Let it not be well with the wicked, and let his days not be prolonged; but let them pass away as a shadow who fear not the Lord." This is quite unnecessary; and the words, "as a shadow," according to the accents, belong to what precedes, as in the Authorized Version. Hitzig and others have adopted the Vulgate division, and render, "Like a shadow is he who fears not God." But there is no sufficient reason for disregarding the existing accentuation. Septuagint, "He shall not prolong his days in a shadow (ἐν σκιᾷ)." Because he feareth not before God. This is the reason, looking to temporal retribution, why the wicked shall not live out half their days (Ecclesiastes 7:17; Proverbs 10:27; Psalm 55:23). Koheleth cleaves to the doctrine received from old time, although facts seem often to contradict it. Ecclesiastes 8:13"Because a sinner doeth evil an hundred times, and he becometh old therein, although I know that it will go well with them that fear god, that fear before Him: but it will not go well with the wicked, and he shall not live long, like a shadow; because he feareth not before God." Ewald (whom Heiligst., Elst., and Zckl. follow), as among the ancients, e.g., Mendelssohn, translates Ecclesiastes 8:12 : "Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and live long, yet I know," etc. That an antecedent may begin with asher is admissible, Leviticus 4:22; Deuteronomy 18:22; but in the case lying before us, still less acceptable than at Ecclesiastes 8:11. For, in the first place, this asher of the antecedent cannot mean "although," but only "considering that;" and in places such as Ecclesiastes 6:3, where this "considering that" may be exchanged with "although," there follows not the part., but the fut. natural to the concessive clause; then, in the second place, by this antecedent rendering of asher a closer connection of Ecclesiastes 8:12 and Ecclesiastes 8:12 is indeed gained, but the mediation of Ecclesiastes 8:12 and Ecclesiastes 8:11 is lost; in the third place, גם כי, in the meaning "however" (gam, ὃμως, with affirmative ki), is not found; not asher, but just this ki gam,

(Note: That גּם is pointed גּם, has its reason in the disjunctive Jethîb with כי, which is not interchanged with the conjunctive Mahpach. Thus, Ecclesiastes 8:1, כּ מי, and Ecclesiastes 8:7, כּ כּי.)

signifies, in the passage before us, as at Ecclesiastes 4:14, εἰ καί, although, - only a somewhat otherwise applied gam ki, Ewald, 362b, as כי על־כן is a somewhat otherwise applied על־כן כי. Rightly, Hitzig: "In Ecclesiastes 8:12, Ecclesiastes 8:11 is again resumed, and it is explained how tardy justice has such a consequence." The sinner is thereby encouraged in sinning, because he does evil, and always again evil, and yet enjoys himself in all the pleasures of long life. Regarding חטא for חטא, vid., above, p. 641, 1. מאת is equals פעמים מאה, an hundred times, as אחת, Job 40:5, is equals אחת פעם; Hengst. and others, inexactly: an hundredfold, which would have required the word מאתים; and falsely, Ginsburg, with the Targ.: an hundred years, which would have required מאה, scil. שׁנה, Genesis 17:17. This centies (Jerome) is, like מאה, scil. בנים, Ecclesiastes 6:3, a round number for a great many, as at Proverbs 17:10, and frequently in the Talm. and Midrash, e.g., Wajikra rabba, c. 27: "an hundred deeply-breathed sighs (מאה פעיות) the mother gave forth."

(Note: Vid., Jac. Reifmann in the Zeitsch., המגיד, 1874, p. 342.)

The meaning of לו וּמעריך לו is in general clear: he becomes therein old. Jerome, improbable: et per patientiam sustentatur, as Mendelssohn: he experiences forbearance, for they supply 'pow (Isaiah 48:9), and make God the subject. לּו is in any case the so-called dat. ethic.; and the only question is, whether the doing of evil has to be taken from רע עשׂה,

(Note: We expect these two words (cf. Genesis 31:12) with the retrogression of the tone; but as this ceases, as a rule, with Mercha before Tifcha and Pashta, Genesis 47:3; Exodus 18:5; Deuteronomy 4:42; Deuteronomy 19:4; Isaiah 10:14 (cf. the penult. accent of יאכל, Leviticus 22:10, Leviticus 22:10, Leviticus 22:19, and בּנה, Genesis 4:17, with the ult. accent Leviticus 22:14; Habakkuk 2:12), so with Mercha sometimes also before other disjunctives, as here before Tebr.)

as obj. to ומא: he practises it to him long, or whether, which is more probable, ימים is to be supplied after Ecclesiastes 8:13, so that האריך signifies to live long, as at Proverbs 28:2, to last long; the dat. ethic. gives the idea of the feeling of contentment connected with long life: he thereupon sins wantonly, and becomes old in it in good health.

That is the actual state of the case, which the author cannot conceal from himself; although, on the other hand, as by way of limitation he adds ki ... ani, he well knows that there is a moral government of the world, and that this must finally prevail. We may not translate: that it should go well, but rather: that it must go well; but there is no reason not to interpret the fut. as a pure indic.: that it shall go well, viz., finally, - it is a postulate of his consciousness which the author here expresses; that which exists in appearance contradicts this consciousness, which, however, in spite of this, asserts itself. That to ליר האל the clause אשׁר מלּ, explaining idem per idem, is added, has certainly its reason in this, that at the time of the author the name "fearers of God" [Gottesfrchitige] had come into use. "The fearers of God, who fear before (מלּפני, as at Ecclesiastes 3:14) Him," are such as are in reality what they are called.

In Ecclesiastes 8:13, Hitzig, followed by Elster, Burg., and Zckl., places the division at ימים: like the shadow is he who fears not before God. Nothing can in point of syntax be said against this (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:15), although אשׁר כּצּל, "like the shadow is he who," is in point of style awkward. But that the author did not use so rude a style is manifest from Ecclesiastes 6:12, according to which כצל is rightly referred to ימים ... ולא־. Is then the shadow, asks Hitzig, because it does not "prolong its days," therefore ימים קצר? How subtle and literal is this use of ימים! Certainly the shadow survives not a day; but for that very reason it is short-lived, it may even indeed be called קצר ימים, because it has not existence for a single day. In general, qetsel, ὡς σκιά, is applicable to the life of all men, Psalm 144:4, Wisd. 2:5, etc. It is true of the wicked, if we keep in view the righteous divine requital, especially that he is short-lived like the shadow, "because he has no fear before God," and that in consequence of this want of fear his life is shortened by his sin inflicting its own punishment, and by the act of God. Asher, Ecclesiastes 8:13, as at Ecclesiastes 8:11, Ecclesiastes 8:12, is the relative conj. Also in Ecclesiastes 8:14, אשׁר (שׁ) as a pronoun, and אשׁר (שׁ) as a conj., are mixed together. After the author has declared the reality of a moral government of the world as an inalienable fact of human consciousness, and particularly of his own consciousness, he places over against this fact of consciousness the actual state of things partly at least contradicting it.

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