Ecclesiastes 5:14
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand.

King James Bible
But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.

American Standard Version
and those riches perish by evil adventure; and if he hath begotten a son, there is nothing in his hand.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For they are lost with very great affliction: he hath begotten a son, who shall be in extremity of want.

English Revised Version
and those riches perish by evil adventure; and if he hath begotten a son, there is nothing in his hand.

Webster's Bible Translation
But those riches perish by evil labor: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.

Ecclesiastes 5:14 Parallel
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

"If thou seest the oppression of the poor and the robbery of right and of justice in the state, marvel not at the matter: for one higher watches over him who is high; and others are high above both." Like rash, mishpat vatsěděq are also the gen. of the obj.; "robbery of the right and of justice" is an expression not found elsewhere, but not on that account, as Grtz supposes, impossible: mishpat is right, rectitude, and conformity to law; and ]], judicial administration, or also social deportment according to these norms; גּזל, a wicked, shameless depriving of a just claim, and withholding of the showing of right which is due. If one gets a sight of such things as these in a medinah, i.e., in a territorial district under a common government, he ought not to wonder at the matter.

תּמהּ means to be startled, astonished, and, in the sense of "to wonder," is the word commonly used in modern Heb. But חפץ has here the colourless general signification of res, according to which the Syr. translates it (vid., under Ecclesiastes 3:1); every attempt in passages such as this to retain the unweakened primary meaning of the word runs out into groundless and fruitless subtlety. Cf. Berachoth 5a, חפץ לח ... אדם, "a man who buys a thing from another." On the other hand, there is doubt about the meaning of the clause assigning the reason. It seems to be intended, that over him who is high, who oppresses those under him, there stands one who is higher, who in turn oppresses him, and thereby becomes the executor of punishment upon him; and that these, the high and the higher, have over them a Most High, viz., God, who will bring them to an account (Knobel, Ew., Elst., Vaih., Hengst., Zckl.). None of the old translators and expositors rises, it is true, to the knowledge that גּבהים may be pl. majestatis,

(Note: That is surprising, since the Talm. interpretation, Menachoth 110a, even brings it about that לב, Ecclesiastes 5:10, is to be understood of God.)

but the first גּבהּ the Targ. renders by אל אדּיר. This was natural to the Jewish usus loq., for gbwh in the post-bibl. Heb. is a favourite name for God, e.g., Beza 20b, Jebamoth 87a, Kamma 13a: "from the table of God" (משלחן גבוה), i.e., the altar (cf. Hebrews 13:10; 1 Corinthians 10:21).

(Note: חלק גבוה is also a common Rabbin. name for the tithes and offerings (cf. e.g., Nachmani under Genesis 14:20). Along with חלק הגבוה, the sacrifices are also called (in Hurwitz' work on the Heb. rites, known by the abbreviated title ש''לה) לגבוה; vid., 85b of the ed. 1764, and 23b of the Amsterdam ed. 1707 of the abridgment.)

The interpretation of גב, however, as the pl. majest., has in the Book of Koheleth itself a support in בּוראיך, Ecclesiastes 12:1; and the thought in which Ecclesiastes 5:7 climactically terminates accords essentially with Ecclesiastes 3:17. This explanation, however, of Ecclesiastes 5:7 does not stand the test. For if an unrighteous administration of justice, if violence is in vogue instead of right, that is an actual proof that over him who is high no human higher one watches who may put a check upon him, and to whom he feels that he is responsible. And that above them both one who is Most High stands, who will punish injustice and avenge it, is a consolatory argument against vexation, but is no explanatory reason of the phenomenon, such as we expect after the noli mirari; for אל־תתמה does not signify "be not offended" (John 16:1), or, "think it not strange" (1 Peter 4:12), which would be otherwise expressed (cf. under Psalm 37:1), but μή θαυμάσης (lxx). Also the contrast, Ecclesiastes 5:8, warrants the conclusion that in Ecclesiastes 5:7 the author seeks to explain the want of legal order from the constitution of a despotic state as distinguished from patriarchal government. For this reason שׁמר will not be meant of over-watching, which has its aim in the execution of legal justice and official duty, but of egoistic watching, - not, however, as Hitzig understands it: "they mutually protect each other's advantage; one crow does not peck out the eyes of another," - but, on the contrary, in the sense of hostile watching, as at 1 Samuel 19:11; 2 Samuel 11:16, as B. Bardach understands it: "he watches for the time when he may gain the advantage over him who is high, who is yet lower than himself, and may strengthen and enrich himself with his flesh or his goods." Over the one who is high, who oppresses the poor and is a robber in respect of right and justice, there stands a higher, who on his part watches how he can plunder him to his own aggrandisement; and over both there are again other high ones, who in their own interest oppress these, as these do such as are under them. This was the state of matters in the Persian Empire in the time of the author. The satrap stood at the head of state officers. In many cases he fleeced the province to fatten himself. But over the satrap stood inspectors, who often enough built up their own fortunes by fatal denunciations; and over all stood the king, or rather the court, with its rivalry of intrigues among courtiers and royal women. The cruel death-punishments to which disagreeable officials were subjected were fearful. There was a gradation of bad government and arbitrary domination from high to low and from low to high, and no word is more fitting for this state of things in Persia than שׁמר; for watching, artfully lurking as spies for an opportunity to accomplish the downfall of each other, was prevalent in the Persian Empire, especially when falling into decay.

Ecclesiastes 5:14 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge


Ecclesiastes 2:26 For God gives to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he gives travail...

Job 5:5 Whose harvest the hungry eats up, and takes it even out of the thorns, and the robber swallows up their substance.

Job 20:15-29 He has swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly...

Job 27:16,17 Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay...

Psalm 39:6 Surely every man walks in a vain show: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heaps up riches, and knows not who shall gather them.

Proverbs 23:5 Will you set your eyes on that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

Haggai 1:9 You looked for much, and, see it came to little; and when you brought it home, I did blow on it. Why? said the LORD of hosts...

Haggai 2:16,17 Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten...

Matthew 6:19,20 Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal...

and he

1 Samuel 2:6-8,36 The LORD kills, and makes alive: he brings down to the grave, and brings up...

1 Kings 14:26 And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house; he even took away all...

Psalm 109:9-12 Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow...

Cross References
Psalm 39:6
Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

Ecclesiastes 5:13
There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt,

Ecclesiastes 5:15
As he came from his mother's womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand.

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