Ecclesiastes 12:10
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.

King James Bible
The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

American Standard Version
The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words, and that which was written uprightly, even words of truth.

Douay-Rheims Bible
He sought profitable words, and wrote words most right, and full of truth.

English Revised Version
The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words, and that which was written uprightly, even words of truth.

Webster's Bible Translation
The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

Ecclesiastes 12:10 Parallel
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

From the eyes the allegory proceeds to the mouth, and the repugnance of the old man to every noise disturbing his rest: "And the doors to the street are closed, when the mill sounds low; and he rises up at the voice of a bird; and all the daughters of song must lower themselves." By the door toward the street the Talm. and Midrash understand the pores or the emptying members of the body, - a meaning so far from being ignoble, that even in the Jewish morning prayer a Beracha is found in these words: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the world, who hast wisely formed man, and made for him manifold apertures and cavities. It is manifest and well known before the throne of Thy Majesty, that if one of these cavities is opened, or one of these apertures closed, it is impossible for him to exist and to stand before Thee; blessed art Thou, O Lord, the Physician of the body, and who doest wondrous words!" The words which follow הטּ ... בּשׁ are accordingly to be regarded as assigning a reason for this closing: the non-appearance of excretion has its reason in defective digestion in this, that the stomach does not grind (Talm.: וגו בשרקבן

(Note: Cf. Berachoth 61b: The stomach (קורקבן) grinds. As hamses is properly the caul of the ruminant, so this word קוּרקבן is the crop (bibl. מראה) of the bird.)

בשביל). But the dual דּלתים suggests a pair of similar and related members, and בּשּׁוּק a pair of members open before the eyes, and not such as modesty requires to be veiled. The Targum therefore understands the shutting of the doors properly; but the mills, after the indication lying in הטּ grinding maids, it understands of the organs of eating and tasting, for it translates: "thy feet will be fettered, so that thou canst not go out into the street; and appetite will fail thee." But that is an awkward amalgamation of the literal with the allegorical, which condemns itself by this, that it separates the close connection of the two expressions required by בּשׁפל, which also may be said of the reference of dlt' to the ears, into which no sound, even from the noisy market, penetrates (Gurlitt, Grtz). We have for דלתים a key, already found by Aben Ezra, in Job 41:2, where the jaws of the leviathan are called פּניו דּלתי; and as Herzf. and Hitz. explain, so Samuel Aripol in his Commentary, which appeared in Constantinople, 1855, rightly: "He calls the jaws דלתים, to denote that not two דלתות in two places, but in one place, are meant, after the manner of a door opening out to the street, which is large, and consists of two folds or wings, דלתות, which, like the lips (השׂפתים, better: the jaws), form a whole in two parts; and the meaning is, that at the time of old age the lips are closed and drawn in, because the teeth have disappeared, or, as the text says, because the noise of the mill is low, just because he has no teeth to grind with." The connection of סגּרוּ and בּשׁפל is, however, closer still: the jaws of an old man are closed externally, for the sound of the mill is low; i.e., since, when one masticates his food with the jaws of a toothless mouth, there is heard only a dull sound of this chewing (Mumpfelns, vid., Wiegand's Deut. W.B.), i.e., laborious masticating. He cannot any more crack or crunch and break his food, one hears only a dull munching and sucking. - The voice of the mouth (Bauer, Hitz., Gurlitt, Zckl.) cannot be the meaning of קול הט; the set of teeth (Gurlitt indeed substitutes, Ecclesiastes 12:3, the cavity of the mouth) is not the organ of voice, although it contributes to the formation of certain sounds of words, and is of importance for the full sound of the voice.

בּשּׁוּק, "to the street," is here equals on the street side; שׁפל is, as at Proverbs 16:19, infin. (Symmachus: ἀχρειωθείσης τῆς φωνῆς; the Venet.: ἐν τῷ ταπεινῶσθαι τὴν φωνήν), and is to be understood after Isaiah 29:4; טחנה stands for רחים, as the vulgar Arab. tahûn and matḥana instead of the antiquated raḥâ. Winzer now supposes that the picture of the night is continued in 4b: et subsistit (vox molae) ad cantum galli, et submissius canunt cantatrices (viz., molitrices). Elster, with Umbreit, supposes the description of a storm continued: the sparrow rises up to cry, and all the singing birds sink down (flutter restlessly on the ground). And Taylor supposes the lament for the dead continued, paraphrasing: But the bird of evil omen [owl, or raven] raises his dirge, and the merry voice of the singing girls is silent.

These three pictures, however, are mere fancies, and are also evidently here forced upon the text; for יקוט קול cannot mean subsistit vox, but, on the contrary (cf. Hosea 10:14), surgit (tollitur) vox; and יקום לקול cannot mean: it (the bird) raises itself to cry, which would have required יקום לתת קולו, or at least לקּול, after למלחמה קום, etc.; besides, it is to be presumed that צפור is genit., like קול עוגב and the like, not nom. of the subj. It is natural, with Hitz., Ewald, Heiligst., Zck., to refer qol tsippor to the peeping, whispering voice ("Childish treble" of Shakespeare) of the old man (cf. stiphtseph, Isaiah 29:4; Isaiah 38:14; Isaiah 10:14; Isaiah 8:19). But the translation: "And it (the voice) approaches a sparrow's voice," is inadmissible, since for ל קום the meaning, "to pass from one state to another," cannot be proved from 1 Samuel 22:13; Micah 2:8; קום signifies there always "to rise up," and besides, qol tahhanah is not the voice of the mouth supplied with teeth, but the sound of the chewing of a toothless mouth. If leqol is connected with a verb of external movement, or of that of the soul, it always denotes the occasion of this movement, Numbers 16:34; Ezekiel 27:28; Job 21:12; Habakkuk 3:16. Influenced by this inalienable sense of the language, the Talm. explains צף ... ויקום by "even a bird awakes him." Thus also literally the Midrash, and accordingly the Targ. paraphrasing: "thou shalt awaken out of thy sleep for a bird, as for thieves breaking in at night." That is correct, only it is unnecessary to limit ויקוּם (or rather ויקום,

(Note: Vav with Cholem in H. F. Thus rightly, according to the Masora, which places it in the catalogue of those words which occur once with a higher (יקום) and once with a lower vowel (yקוּם), Mas. fin. 2a b, Ochlaweochla, No. 5; cf. also Aben Ezra's Comm. under Psalm 80:19; Zachoth 23a, Safa berura 21b (where Lipmann is uncertain as to the meaning).)

which accords with the still continued subordination of Ecclesiastes 12:4 to the eo die quo of Ecclesiastes 12:3) to rising up from sleep, as if it were synonymous with ויעור: the old man is weak (nervously weak) and easily frightened, and on account of the deadening of his senses (after the figure of Ecclesiastes 12:2, the darkening of the five stars) is so liable to mistake, that if even a bird chirps, he is frightened by it out of his rest (cf. hēkim, Isaiah 14:9).

Also in the interpretation of the clause haשׁיר ... וישּׁחוּ, the ancients are in the right track. The Talm. explains: even all music and song appear to him like common chattering (שׂוּחה or, according to other readings, שׂיחה); the proper meaning of ychsw is thus Haggad. twisted. Less correctly the Midrash: בנות השיר are his lips, or they are the reins which think, and the heart decides (on this curious psychol. conception, cf. Chullin 11a, and particularly Berachoth 61a, together with my Psychol. p. 269). The reference to the internal organs if priori improbable throughout; the Targ. with the right tact decides in favour of the lips: "And thy lips are untuned, so that they can no more say (sing) songs." In this translation of the Talm. there are compounded, as frequently, two different interpretations, viz., that interpretation of בן השׁ, which is proved by the כל going before to be incorrect, because impossible; and the interpretation of these "daughters of song" of "songs," as if these were synonymous designations, as when in Arab. misfortunes are called banatu binasan, and the like (vid., Lane's Lex. I p. ; בּת קול, which in Mish. denotes a separate voice (the voice of heaven), but in Syr. the separate word, may be compared. But ישׁחוּ (fut. Niph. of שׁחח) will not accord with this interpretation. For that בן השׁ denotes songs (Hitz., Heiligst.), or the sound of singing (Bttch.), or the words (Ewald) of the old man himself, which are now softened down so as to be scarcely audible, is yet too improbable; it is an insipid idea that the old man gives forth these feeble "daughters of song" from his mouth. We explain ישׁחו of a being bowed down, which is external to the old man, and accordingly understand benoth hashshir not of pieces of music (Aq. πάντα τὰ τῆς ᾠδῆς) which must be lowered to pianissimo, but according to the parallel already rightly acknowledge by Desvoeux, 2 Samuel 19:36, where the aged Barzillai says that he has now no longer an ear for the voice of singing men and singing women, of singing birds (cf. בּר זמירא of a singing bird in the Syrian fables of Sophos, and banoth of the branches of a fruit tree, Genesis 49:22), and, indeed, so that these are a figure of all creatures skilled in singing, and taking pleasure in it: all beings that are fond of singing, and to which it has become as a second nature, must lower themselves, viz., the voice of their song (Isaiah 29:4) (cf. the Kal, Psalm 35:14, and to the modal sense of the fut. Ecclesiastes 10:10, יגּבּר, and Ecclesiastes 10:19, ישׂמּח), i.e., must timidly retire, they dare not make themselves heard, because the old man, who is terrified by the twittering of a little bird, cannot bear it.

Ecclesiastes 12:10 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge


Ecclesiastes 1:1,12 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem...

acceptable words

Proverbs 15:23,26 A man has joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!...

Proverbs 16:21-24 The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increases learning...

Proverbs 25:11,12 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver...

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.


Proverbs 1:1-6 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel...

Proverbs 8:6-10 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things...

Proverbs 22:17-21 Bow down your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge...

Luke 1:1-4 For as much as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us...

John 3:11 Truly, truly, I say to you, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and you receive not our witness.

Colossians 1:5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

Cross References
Proverbs 10:32
The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.

Proverbs 22:20
Have I not written for you thirty sayings of counsel and knowledge,

Proverbs 22:21
to make you know what is right and true, that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?

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