English Standard Version
For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.
King James Bible
For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.
American Standard Version
For in the multitude of dreams there are vanities, and in many words: but fear thou God.
Where there are many dreams, there are many vanities, and words without number: but do thou fear God.
English Revised Version
For thus it cometh to pass through the multitude of dreams and vanities and many words: but fear thou God.
Webster's Bible Translation
For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.
Ecclesiastes 5:7 Parallel
CommentaryKeil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
"Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and to go to hear is better than that fools give a sacrifice; for the want of knowledge leads them to do evil." The "house of God" is like the "house of Jahve," 2 Samuel 12:20; Isaiah 37:1, the temple; אל, altogether like אל־מ־אל, Psalm 73:17. The Chethı̂b רגליך is admissible, for elsewhere also this plur. ("thy feet") occurs in a moral connection and with a spiritual reference, e.g., Psalm 119:59; but more frequently, however, the comprehensive sing. occurs. Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 1:15; Proverbs 4:26., and the Kerı̂ thus follows the right note. The correct understanding of what follows depends on רע ... כּי־. Interpreters have here adopted all manner of impossible views. Hitzig's translation: "for they know not how to be sorrowful," has even found in Stuart at least one imitator; but עשׂות רע would, as the contrast of 'asoth tov, Ecclesiastes 3:12, mean nothing else than, "to do that which is unpleasant, disagreeable, bad," like 'asah ra'ah, 2 Samuel 12:18. Gesen., Ewald (336b), Elster, Heiligst., Burger, Zckl., Dale, and Bullock translate: "they know not that they do evil;" but for such a rendering the words ought to have been עשׂותם רע (cf. Jeremiah 15:15); the only example for the translation of לעשׂות after the manner of the acc. c. inf. equals se facere malum - viz. at 1 Kings 19:4 - is incongruous, for למות does not here mean se mori, but ut moreretur. Yet more incorrect is the translation of Jerome, which is followed by Luther: nesciunt quid faciant mali. It lies near, as at Ecclesiastes 2:24 so also here, to suppose an injury done to the text. Aben Ezra introduced רק before לעשׂ, but Koheleth never uses this limiting particle; we would have to write כי אם־לעשׂות, after Ezra 3:12; Ezra 8:15. Anything thus attained, however, is not worth the violent means thus used; for the ratifying clause is not ratifying, and also in itself, affirmed of the כסילים, who, however, are not the same as the resha'im and the hattaim, is inappropriate. Rather it might be said: they know not to do good (thus the Syr.); or: they know not whether it be good or bad to do, i.e., they have no moral feeling, and act not from moral motives (so the Targ.). Not less violent than this remodelling of the text is the expedient of Herzberg, Philippson, and Ginsburg, who from לשׁמע derive the subject-conception of the obedient (השּׂמעים): "For those understand not at all to do evil;" the subj. ought to have been expressed if it must be something different from the immediately preceding כסילים. We may thus render enam yod'im, after Psalm 82:5; Isaiah 56:10, as complete in itself: they (the fools) are devoid of knowledge to do evil equals so that they do evil; i.e., want of knowledge brings them to this, that they do evil. Similarly also Knobel: they concern themselves not, - are unconcerned (viz., about the right mode of worshipping God), - so that they do evil, with the correct remark that the consequence of their perverse conduct is here represented as their intention. But ידע לא, absol., does not mean to be unconcerned (wanton), but to be without knowledge. Rashbam, in substance correctly: they are predisposed by their ignorance to do evil; and thus also Hahn; Mendelssohn translates directly: "they sin because they are ignorant." If this interpretation is correct, then for לשׁמע it follows that it does not mean "to obey" (thus e.g., Zckler), which in general it never means without some words being added to it (cf. on the contrary, 1 Samuel 15:22), but "to hear," - viz. the word of God, which is to be heard in the house of God, - whereby, it is true, a hearing is meant which leads to obedience.
In the word הורות, priests are not perhaps thought of, although the comparison of Ecclesiastes 5:5 (המלאך) with Malachi 2:7 makes it certainly natural; priestly instruction limited itself to information regarding the performance of the law already given in Scripture, Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 33:9., and to deciding on questions arising in the region of legal praxis, Deuteronomy 24:8; Haggai 2:11. The priesthood did not belong to the teaching class in the sense of preaching. Preaching was never a part of the temple cultus, but, for the first time, after the exile became a part of the synagogue worship. The preachers under the O.T. were the prophets, - preachers by a supernatural divine call, and by the immediate impulse of the Spirit; we know from the Book of Jeremiah that they sometimes went into the temple, or there caused their books of prophecy to be read; yet the author, by the word לשׁמע of the foregoing proverb, scarcely thinks of them. But apart from the teaching of the priests, which referred to the realization of the letter of the law, and the teaching of the prophets to the realization of the spirit of the law, the word formed an essential part of the sacred worship of the temple: the Tefilla, the Beracha, the singing of psalms, and certainly, at the time of Koheleth, the reading of certain sections of the Bible. When thou goest to the house of God, says Koheleth, take heed to thy step, well reflecting whither thou goest and how thou hast there to appear; and (with this ו he connects with this first nota bene a second) drawing near to hear exceeds the sacrifice-offering of fools, for they are ignorant (just because they hear not), which leads to this result, that they do evil. מן, prae, expresses also, without an adj., precedence in number, Isaiah 10:10, or activity, Isaiah 9:17, or worth, Ezekiel 15:2. קרוב is inf. absol. Bttcher seeks to subordinate it as such to שׁמר: take heed to thy foot ... and to the coming near to hear more than to ... . But these obj. to שמר would be incongruous, and מתת וגו clumsy and even distorted in expression; it ought rather to be מתּתּך כּכסי־לים זבח. As the inf. absol. can take the place of the obj., Isaiah 7:15; Isaiah 42:24; Lamentations 3:45, so also the place of the subj. (Ewald, 240a), although Proverbs 25:27 is a doubtful example of this. That the use of the inf. absol. has a wide application with the author of this book, we have already seen under Ecclesiastes 4:2. Regarding the sequence of ideas in זבח ... מתּת (first the subj., then the obj.), vid., Gesen. 133. 3, and cf. above at Ecclesiastes 3:18. זבח (זבחים), along with its general signification comprehending all animal sacrifices, according to which the altar bears the name מזבּח, early acquired also a more special signification: it denotes, in contradistinction to עולה, such sacrifices as are only partly laid on the altar, and for the most part are devoted to a sacrificial festival, Exodus 18:12 (cf. Exodus 12:27), the so-called shelamim, or also zivhhe shelamim, Proverbs 7:14. The expression זבח נתן makes it probable that here, particularly, is intended the festival (1 Kings 1:41) connected with this kind of sacrifice, and easily degenerating to worldly merriment (vid., under Proverbs 7:14); for the more common word for תּת would have been הקריב or שׁחוט; in תּת it seems to be indicated that it means not only to present something to God, but also to give at the same time something to man. The most recent canonical Chokma-book agrees with Proverbs 21:3 in this depreciation of sacrifice. But the Chokma does not in this stand alone. The great word of Samuel, 1 Samuel 15:22., that self-denying obedience to God is better than all sacrifices, echoes through the whole of the Psalms. And the prophets go to the utmost in depreciating the sacrificial cultus.
The second rule relates to prayer.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.
It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.
Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him.
But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
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