Ecclesiastes 12:9
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care.

King James Bible
And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.

American Standard Version
And further, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he pondered, and sought out, and'set in order many proverbs.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And whereas Ecclesiastes was very wise, he taught the people, and declared the things that he had done: and seeking out, he set forth many parables.

English Revised Version
And further, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he pondered, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.

Webster's Bible Translation
And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge: yes, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.

Ecclesiastes 12:9 Parallel
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

To the thought: Ere the mind and the senses begin to be darkened, and the winter of life with its clouds and storms approaches, the further details here following stand in a subordinate relation: "That day when the watchers of the house tremble, and the strong men bow themselves, and the grinders rest, because they have become few, and the women looking out of the windows are darkened." Regarding בּיּום with art.: eo (illo) tempore, vid., under Sol 8:8. What follows is regarded by Winzer, with Mich., Spohr, and partly Nachtigal, as a further description of the night to which old age, Ecclesiastes 12:2, is compared: Watchers then guard the house; labourers are wearied with the labours and cares of the day; the maids who have to grind at the mill have gone to rest; and almost all have already fallen asleep; the women who look out from the windows are unrecognisable, because it has become dark. But what kind of cowardly watchers are those who "tremble," and what kind of (per antiphrasin) strong men who "bow themselves" at evening like children when they have belly-ache! Ginsburg regards Ecclesiastes 12:2-5 as a continuation of the description of the consequences of the storm under which human life comes to an end: the last consequence is this, that they who experience it lose the taste for almonds and the appetite for locusts. But what is the meaning of this quaint figure? it would certainly be a meaningless and aimless digression. Taylor hears in this verse the mourning for the dead from Ecclesiastes 12:2, where death is described: the watchers of the house tremble; the strong men bow themselves, viz., from sorrow, because of the blank death has made in the house, etc.; but even supposing that this picture had a connection in Ecclesiastes 12:2, how strange would it be! - the lookers out at the windows must be the "ladies," who are fond of amusing themselves at windows, and who now - are darkened. Is there anything more comical than such little ladies having become darkened (whether externally or internally remains undetermined)? However one may judge of the figurative language of Ecclesiastes 12:2, Ecclesiastes 12:3 begins the allegorical description of hoary old age after its individual bodily symptoms; interpreters also, such as Knobel, Hitz., and Ewald, do not shrink from seeking out the significance of the individual figures after the old Haggadic manner. The Talm. says of shomrē habbayith: these are the loins and ribs; of the anshē hehhayil: these are the bones; of harooth baarǔbboth: these, the eyes. The Midrash understand the watchers of the house, of the knees of the aged man; the men of strength, of his ribs or arms; the women at the mill, of the digestive organs (המסס,

(Note: This hamses is properly the second stomach of the ruminants, the cellular caul.)

the stomach, from omasum); those who have become few, of the teeth; the women looking out at the window, of the eyes; another interpretation, which by harooth thinks of the lungs, is not worth notice.

Here also the Targ. principally follows the Midrash: it translates the watchers of the house by "thy knees;" strong men by "thine arms;" the women at the mill by "the teeth of thy mouth;" the women who look out at the window by "thine eyes." These interpretations for the most part are correct, only those referable to the internal organs are in bad taste; references to these must be excluded from the interpretation, for weakness of the stomach, emphysema of the lungs, etc., are not appropriate as poetical figures. The most common biblical figures of the relation of the spirit or the soul to the body is, as we have shown, Psychol. p. 227, that of the body as of the house of the inner man. This house, as that of an old man, is on all sides in a ruinous condition. The shomrē habbayith are the arms terminating in the hands, which bring to the house whatever is suitable for it, and keep away from it whatever threatens to do it injury; these protectors of the house have lost their vigour and elasticity (Genesis 49:24), they tremble, are palsied (יזעוּ, from זוּע, Pilp. זעזע, bibl. and Mishn.: to move violently hither and thither, to tremble, to shake),

(Note: Vid., Friedr. Delitzsch's Indogerm.-Sem. Stud. p. 65f.)

so that they are able neither to grasp securely, to hold fast and use, nor actively to keep back and forcibly avert evil. Anshē hěhhayil designates the legs, for the shoqē haish are the seat of his strength, Psalm 147:10; the legs of a man in the fulness of youthful strength are like marble pillars, Sol 5:15; but those of the old man hith'authu (Hithpa. only here) have bowed themselves, they have lost their tight form, they are shrunken (כּרעות, Job 4:4, etc.) and loose; 4 Macc. 4:5 calls this τὴν ἐκ τοῦ γήρως νωθρότητα ποδῶν ἐπικύφοον. To maidens who grind (cf. טח בר, Numbers 11:8 and Isaiah 47:2) the corn by means of a hand-mill are compared the teeth, the name of which in the old language is masc., but in the modern (cf. Proverbs 29:19), as also in the Syr. and Arab., is fem.; the reference of the figure to these instruments for grinding is not to be missed; the Arab. ṭḥinat and the Syr. ṭaḥonto signify dens molaris, and we now call 6 of the 32 teeth Mahlzhne (molar teeth, or grinders); the Greeks used for them the word μύλαι (Psalm 57:7, lxx). Regarding בּטלוּ, lxx ἤργησαν ( equals ἀερτοὶ ἐγενήθησαν)

(Note: We find a similar allegory in Shabbath 152a. The emperor asked the Rabbi Joshua b. Chananja why he did not visit בי אבידן (a place where learned conversation, particularly on religious subjects, was carried on). He answered: "The mount is snow ( equals the hair of the head is white), ice surrounds me ( equals whiskers and beard on the chin white), its (of my body) dogs bark not (the voice fails), and its grinders (the teeth) grind not." The proper meaning of בי אבידן, Levy has not been able clearly to bring to light in his Neuhebr. u. Chald. W.B.)

The clause מעטוּ כּי (lxx ὃτι ὠλιγώθησαν) assigns the reason that the grinders rest, i.e., are not at work, that they have become few: they stand no longer in a row; they are isolated, and (as is to be supposed) are also in themselves defective. Taylor interprets mi'etu transitively: the women grinding rest when they have wrought a little, i.e., they interrupt their labour, because on account of the occurrence of death, guests are now no longer entertained; but the beautiful appropriate allegory maintains its place against this supposed lamentation for the dead; also מעט does not signify to accomplish a little (Targ.), but to take away, to become few (lxx, Syr., Jerome, Venet. Luther), as such as Pih. as Ecclesiastes 10:10, קהה, to become blunt. And by הראות בּא we are not to think, with Taylor, of women such as Sidera's mother or Michal, who look out of the window, but of the eyes, more exactly the apples of the eyes, to which the orbita (lxx ἐν ταῖς ὀπαῖς; Symm. διὰ τῶν ὀπῶν) and the eyelids with the eye-lashes are related as a window is to those who look out; ארבּה (from ארב, R. רב, to entwine firmly and closely) is the window, consisting of a lattice of wood; the eyes are, as Cicero (Tusc. i. 20) calls them, quasi fenestrae animi; the soul-eyes, so to speak, without which it could not experience what sight is, look by means of the external eyes; and these soul-bodily eyes have become darkened in the old man, the power of seeing is weakened, and the experiences of sight are indistinct, the light of the eyes is extinguished (although not without exception, Deuteronomy 34:7).

Ecclesiastes 12:9 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

moreover, because the Preacher was wise

1 Kings 8:12 Then spoke Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.

1 Kings 10:8 Happy are your men, happy are these your servants, which stand continually before you, and that hear your wisdom.

he gave

1 Kings 4:32 And he spoke three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.

Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;

Proverbs 10:1 The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

Proverbs 25:1 These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.

Ecclesiastes 12:8
Top of Page
Top of Page