Ecclesiastes 10:7
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves.

King James Bible
I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.

American Standard Version
I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking like servants upon the earth.

Douay-Rheims Bible
I have seen servants upon horses: and princes walking on the ground as servants.

English Revised Version
I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.

Webster's Bible Translation
I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.

Ecclesiastes 10:7 Parallel
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

The second half of the foregoing double proverb introduces what now follows: "Poisonous flies make to stink, make to ferment the oil of the preparer of ointment; heavier than wisdom, than honour, weighs a little folly." We do not need to change מות זבוּבי, on account of the foll. sing. of the pred., either into זבוגי ם (as possible by Hitz.) or זב ימוּתי (Luzz.); both are inadmissible, for the style of Koheleth is not adorned with archaisms such as Chirek compaginis; and also such an attrib. clause as זבוב ימות, a fly which dies," is for him too refined; but both are also unnecessary, for a plur. of the subj., in which the plurality of the individuals comes less into view than the oneness of their character, is frequently enough followed by the sing. of the pred., e.g., Genesis 39:22; Joel 1:20; Isaiah 59:12, etc. It is a question, however, whether by זבובי מות, death-bringing, i.e., poisonous flies (lxx, Targ., Luther)

(Note: The Targ. interprets, as the Talm. and Mid. do, deadly flies as a figure of the prava concupiscentia. Similarly Wangemann: a mind buried in the world.)

or dead flies (Symm., Syr., Jerome) is meant. We decide in favour of the former; for (1) זבובי מות for זבוּבים מתים (Ecclesiastes 9:4; Isaiah 37:36), "death-flies" for "dead flies," would be an affected poetic expression without analogy; while, on the contrary, "death-flies" for "deadly flies" is a genit. connection, such as מות כּלי instruments of death, i.e., deadly instruments and the like; Bttcher understands dung-flies; but the expression can scarcely extend to the designation of flies which are found on dead bodies. Meanwhile, it is very possible that by the expression זב ם, such flies are thought of as carry death from dead bodies to those that are living; the Assyr. syllabare show how closely the Semites distinguished manifold kinds of זבובים (Assyr. zumbi equals zubbi). (2) In favour of "dead flies," it has been remarked that that influence on the contents of a pot of ointment is effected not merely by poison-flies, but, generally, by flies that have fallen into it.

But since the oil mixed with perfumes may also be of the kind which, instead of being changed by a dead body, much rather embalms it; so it does not surprise us that the exciter of fermentation is thus drastically described by μυῖαι θανατοῦσαι (lxx); it happens, besides, also on this account, because "a little folly" corresponds as a contrasted figure to the little destructive carcase, - wisdom בע תּח ("giveth life," Ecclesiastes 7:2), a little folly is thus like little deadly flies. The sequence of ideas יב יבּ (maketh the ointment stink) is natural. The corrupting body communicates its foul savour to the ointment, makes it boil up, i.e., puts it into a state of fermentation, in consequence of which it foams and raises up small blisters, אבעבועות (Rashi). To the asyndeton יב יבּ, there corresponds, in 1b, the asyndeton מח מ כּ; the Targ., Syr., and Jerome,

(Note: The lxx entirely remodels Ecclesiastes 10:1: τίμιον κ.τ.λ ("a little wisdom is more honour than the great glory of folly"), i.e., יקר מעט חכמה סכלות רב (כבוד in the sense of "great multitude"). Van der Palm (1784) regards this as the original form of the text.)

who translate by "and," are therefore not witnesses for the phrase וּמך, but the Venet. (καὶ τῆς δόχης) had this certainly before it; it is, in relation to the other, inferior in point of evidence.

(Note: מכּבוד; thus in the Biblia rabb. 1525, 1615, Genoa 1618, Plantin 1582, Jablonski 1699, and also v. d. Hooght and Norzi. In the Ven. 1515, 1521, 1615, וּמכּבוד is found with the copulat. vav, a form which is adopted by Michaelis. Thus also the Concord. cites, and thus, originally, it stood in J., but has been corrected to מכּבוד. F., however, has מכּבוד, with the marginal remark: מכבוד כן קבלתי מני שמשון (Simson ha-Nakdam, to whom the writer of the Frankf. Cod. 1294 here refers for the reading מך, without the copul. vav, is often called by him his voucher). This is also the correct Masoretic reading; for if וּמך were to be read, then the word would be in the catalogue of words of which three begin with their initial letter, and a fourth has introduced a vav before it (Mas. fin. f. 26, Ochla veochla, Nr. 15).)

In general, it is evident that the point of comparison is the hurtfulness, widely extending itself, of a matter which in appearance is insignificant. Therefore the meaning of Ecclesiastes 10:1 cannot be that a little folly is more weighty than wisdom, than honour, viz., in the eyes of the blinded crowd (Zckl., Dchsel). This limitation the author ought to have expressed, for without it the sentence is an untruth. Jerome, following the Targ. and Midrash, explains: Pretiosa est super sapientiam et gloriam stultitia parva, understanding by wisdom and honour the self-elation therewith connected; besides, this thought, which Luther limits by the introduction of zuweilen ["folly is sometimes better than wisdom, etc."], is in harmony neither with that which goes before nor with that which follows.

Luzz., as already Aben Ezra, Grotius, Geiger, Hengst., and the more recent English expositors, transfer the verbs of Ecclesiastes 10:1 zeugmatically to Ecclesiastes 10:1: similiter pretiosum nomine sapientiae et gloriae virum foetidum facit stolidtias parva. But יביע forbids this transference, and, besides, מן יקר, "honoured on account of," is an improbable expression; also מך יקר presents a tautology, which Luzz. seeks to remove by glossing מך, as the Targ. does, by ונכסים עושר מרוב. Already Rashi has rightly explained by taking יקר (Syr. jaḳîr, Arab. waḳur, waḳûr), in its primary meaning, as synon. of כּבד: more weighty, i.e., heavier and weighing more than wisdom, than honour, is a little folly; and he reminds us that a single foolish act can at once change into their contrary the wisdom and the honour of a man, destroying both, making it as if they had never been, cf. 1 Corinthians 5:6. The sentence is true both in an intellectual and in a moral reference. Wisdom and honour are swept away by a little quantum of folly; it places both in the shade, it outweighs them in the scale; it stamps the man, notwithstanding the wisdom and dignity which otherwise belong to him, as a fool. The expressive רקח שׁמן is purposely used here; the dealer in ointments (pigmentarius) can now do nothing with the corrupted perfume, - thus the wisdom which a man possesses, the honour which he has hitherto enjoyed, avail him no longer; the proportionally small portion of folly which has become an ingredient in his personality gives him the character of a fool, and operates to his dishonour. Knobel construes rightly; but his explanation (also of Heiligst., Elst., Ginsb.): "a little folly frequently shows itself more efficacious and fruitful than the wisdom of an honoured wise man," helps itself with a "frequently" inserted, and weakens מך to a subordinated idea, and is opposed to the figure, which requires a personality.

Ecclesiastes 10:7 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Proverbs 19:10 Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.

Proverbs 30:22 For a servant when he reigns; and a fool when he is filled with meat;

Cross References
Esther 6:8
let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set.

Proverbs 19:10
It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury, much less for a slave to rule over princes.

Proverbs 30:22
a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is filled with food;

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