English Standard Version
Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you.
King James Bible
Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:
American Standard Version
Also take not heed unto all words that are spoken, lest thou hear thy servant curse thee;
But do not apply thy heart to all words that are spoken: lest perhaps thou hear thy servant reviling thee.
English Revised Version
Also take not heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:
Webster's Bible Translation
Also take no heed to all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:
Ecclesiastes 7:21 Parallel
CommentaryKeil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
The first of these counsels warns against extremes, on the side of good as well as on that of evil: "All have I seen in the days of my vanity: there are righteous men who perish by their righteousness, and there are wicked men who continue long by their wickedness. Be not righteous over-much, and show not thyself wise beyond measure: why wilt thou ruin thyself? Be not wicked overmuch, and be no fool: why wilt thou die before thy time is? It is good that thou holdest thyself to the one, and also from the other withdrawest not thine hand: for he that feareth God accomplisheth it all." One of the most original English interpreters of the Book of Koheleth, T. Tyler (1874), finds in the thoughts of the book - composed, according to his view, about 200 b.c. - and in their expression, references to the post-Aristotelian philosophy, particularly to the Stoic, variously interwoven with orientalism. But here, in Ecclesiastes 7:15-18, we perceive, not so much the principle of the Stoical ethics - τῇ φύσει ὁμολογουμένως ζῆν - as that of the Aristotelian, according to which virtue consists in the art μέσως ἔξηειν, the art of holding the middle between extremes.
(Note: Cf. Luthardt's Lectures on the Moral Truths of Christianity, 2nd ed. Edin., T. and T. Clark.)
Also, we do not find here a reference to the contrasts between Pharisaism and Sadduceeism (Zckl.), viz., those already in growth in the time of the author; for if it should be also true, as Tyler conjectures, that the Sadducees had such a predilection for Epicurism, - as, according to Josephus (Vit. c. 2), "the doctrine of the Pharisees is of kin to that of the Stoics," - yet צדקה and רשׁעה are not apportioned between these two parties, especially since the overstraining of conformity to the law by the Pharisees related not to the moral, but to the ceremonial law. We derive nothing for the right understanding of the passage from referring the wisdom of life here recommended to the tendencies of the time. The author proceeds from observation, over against which the O.T. saints knew not how to place any satisfying theodicee. הבלי ימי (vid., Ecclesiastes 6:12) he so designates the long, but for the most part uselessly spent life lying behind him. 'et-hakol is not "everything possible" (Zckl.), but "all, of all kinds" (Luth.), which is defined by 15b as of two kinds; for 15a is the introduction of the following experience relative to the righteous and the unrighteous, and thus to the two classes into which all men are divided. We do not translate: there are the righteous, who by their righteousness, etc. (Umbr., Hitzig, and others); for if the author should thus commence, it would appear as if he wished to give unrighteousness the preference to righteousness, which, however, was far from him. To perish in or by his righteousness, to live long in or by his wickedness (מאריך, scil. ימים, Ecclesiastes 8:13, as at Proverbs 28:2), is equals to die in spite of righteousness, to live in spite of wickedness, as e.g., Deuteronomy 1:32 : "in this thing" equals in spite of, etc. Righteousness has the promise of long life as its reward; but if this is the rule, it has yet its exceptions, and the author thence deduces the doctrine that one should not exaggerate righteousness; for if it occurs that a righteous man, in spite of his righteousness, perishes, this happens, at earliest, in the case in which, in the practice of righteousness, he goes beyond the right measure and limit. The relative conceptions הרבּה and יותר have here, since they are referred to the idea of the right measure, the meaning of nimis. חתחכּם could mean, "to play the wise man;" but that, whether more or less done, is objectionable. It means, as at Exodus 1:10, to act wisely (cf. Psalm 105:25, הת, to act cunningly). And השׁ, which is elsewhere used of being inwardly torpid, i.e., being astonished, obstupescere, has here the meaning of placing oneself in a benumbed, disordered state, or also, passively, of becoming disconcerted; not of becoming desolate or being deserted (Hitz., Ginsburg, and others), which it could only mean in highly poetic discourse (Isaiah 54:1). The form תּשּׁומם is syncop., like תּךּ, Numbers 21:27; and the question, with למּה, here and at Ecclesiastes 7:17, is of the same kind as Ecclesiastes 5:5; Luther, weakening it: "that thou mayest not destroy thyself."
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
take no heed
Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.
Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.
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