Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Delights. He speaks in the name of libertines, (St. Gregory, Dial. iv. 4.) or after his conversion. (Calmet) --- The worldling might object that since wisdom affords not content, it is best to try pleasure. But this meets not with the approbation of the wise, as all terrestrial joy is short, and can yield no more than a passing consolation. (Worthington)
Why. Hebrew, "What doth that?" Septuagint, "Why dost thou so?" Immoderate laughter is a sign of folly, Ecclesiasticus xxi. 23. (Calmet) --- "Even spiritual joy is a temptation." (St. Jerome)
Wine, and to lead a temperate life. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "to give myself unto wine, (yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom) and to lay hold on folly," &c. (Haydock) --- I wished to indulge myself in pleasure, yet so as not to lose the reputation of wisdom, chap. v. 9. (Haydock)
Works; palaces, towns, and particularly the temple. Many, like Solomon, will refrain from wine, and still yield to other excesses.
Orchards. Hebrew, "paradises," in which fruit-trees were planted. (Calmet)
Family of slaves, "born in my house," (Protestants) distinct from those whom I got for money. (Haydock) --- There were generally procured from foreign nations, as the Hebrews obtained their liberty on the sabbatic year. --- Sheep. David had the like; but Solomon had also horses, 3 Kings x. 21.
Silver, which became, in consequence, of little value. --- Singing. At the court of Persia, people sung all night, and during the feasts. (Atheneus xii., and 14.) --- Cups and vessels; (Aquila and Symmachus) or, "men and women to," &c., (Septuagint) or, "a field and fields;" (Calmet) or, Protestants, "as musical instruments, and that of all sorts." Hebrew shidda beshiddoth. (Haydock)
Wisdom, not that which was supernatural, and could not be found amid such delights, ver. 3., and James iii. 17. I knew that all this was vanity. (Calmet)Video meliora proboque,
Deteriora sequor. (Ovid) (Haydock)
Labour. Hebrew, "and this was my portion of all my labour." I perceived that I could not thus obtain content. (Calmet) --- "Thou (O God) hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless till they repose in thee." (St. Augustine, Confessions i. 1.) (Menochius) --- Aurelius makes the same confession as Solomon, respecting the insatiable nature of his own heart, and the emptiness of pleasure, &c.
What. Hebrew, "For what man shall come after the king?" Septuagint, "after counsel?" Many other versions may be given of this obscure text. Solomon stopt at human wisdom, without consulting the divine; or he asks who shall have greater facility to acquire knowledge than himself, or equal his works? (Calmet) --- Man's wisdom compared with God's is contemptible; though it be preferable to folly. (Menochius)
Darkness and ignorance. He knows not whither he is going, Proverbs iv. 19., and xvii. 24. Wisdom is to be preferred before wealth, &c. (Calmet) --- Consideration directs a person to do good. --- Alike. Thus worldlings speak, who reflect not on the life to come. (Worthington) --- In many respects all resemble one another, though their sentence be very different. (Menochius)
Vanity. This inference was false, (ver. 16.) or my labouring for wisdom was to no purpose. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "I then spoke more in my heart, (for the fool speaks out of his abundance) since this also is vanity." (Haydock)
Unlearned. He answers, (Jansenius) or rather continues the objections. (Geier) (Calmet)
Life. Hebrew, "I hated life," as all is attended with anxiety, Romans vii. 24.
Solicitous. We naturally desire to have our plans perfected. Solomon had, perhaps, a presentiment of Roboam's misconduct, Ecclesiasticus xlvii. 27.
Off, in a sort of despair; suggested by worldly wisdom. Religion alone can impart steady principles. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "I went about, to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun;" in the transactions of the world. (Haydock)
Wisdom. The writings of the wise are often perverted by perverse heretics. (St. Jerome) --- Idle heirs dissipate the possessions, which had been accumulated with such industry. (Calmet) --- Riches tend to encourage the profligacy of the heir. (Menochius)
Drink, using with moderation the things which we have acquired, rather than to be solicitous for more, (Worthington) --- which may fall into the hands of an idle heir, who is appointed by God, ver. 26. This may also be the plea of libertines, (Calmet) who would use freely what he has given. (St. Augustine, contra Jul. iv. 3.)
Pleased God, though he may not be his relation, Proverbs xxvi. 16., and Job xiii. 22. (Calmet)