English Standard Version
then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.
King James Bible
Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.
American Standard Version
then I beheld all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because however much a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea moreover, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.
And I understood that man can find no reason of all those works of God that are done under the sun: and the more he shall labour to seek, so much the less shall he find: yea, though the wise man shall say, that he knoweth it, he shall not be able to find it.
English Revised Version
then I beheld all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because however much a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea moreover, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.
Webster's Bible Translation
Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man may labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yes further; though a wise man thinketh to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.
Ecclesiastes 8:17 Parallel
CommentaryKeil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
"Because judgment against the work of the wicked man is not speedily executed, for this reason the heart of the children of men is full within them, to this, that they do evil." The clause with asher is connected first with the foregoing ־מג havel: thus vain, after the nature of a perverted world (inversus ordo) events go on, because ... (asher, as at Ecclesiastes 4:3; Ecclesiastes 6:12; cf. Deuteronomy 3:24); but the following clause with 'al-ken makes this clause with asher reflex. an antecedent of itself (asher equals 'al-asher) - originally it is not meant as an antecedent.פּתגם
(here to be written after נעשׂה, with פ raph., and, besides, also with ג raph.), in the post-exilian books, is the Persian paigam, Armen. patgam, which is derived from the ancient Pers. paiti-gama: "Something that has happened, tidings, news." The Heb. has adopted the word in the general sense of "sentence;" in the passage before us it signifies the saying or sentence of the judge, as the Pers. word, like the Arab. nabazn, is used principally of the sayings of a prophet (who is called peighâm-bar). Zirkel regards it as the Greek φθέγμα; but thus, also, the words אזמל, אפּריון strangely agree in sound with σμίλη φορεῖον, without being borrowed from the Greek. The long a of the word is, as Elst. shows, Ecclesiastes 1:20, invariable; also here פּתגם is the constr. To point פּתגם, with Heiligst. and Burg., is thus unwarrantable. It is more remarkable that the word is construed fem. instead of mas. For since אין is construed
(Note: Ginsburg points in favour of נעשׂה as fin. to Exodus 3:2, but there אכּל is particip.; to Jeremiah 38:5, but there יוּכל (if it is not to be read יכול) represents an attributive clause; and to Job 35:15, but there the word is rightly pointed אין, not אין; and this, like the vulg. Arab. laysa, is used as an emphatic לא.)
neither in the bibl. nor in the Mishnic style with the finite of the verb, נעשׂה is not the 3rd pret., but the particip. It is not, however, necessary, with Hitz., to read נישׂה. The foreign word, like the (Arab.) firdans, παράδεισος, admits of use in the double gend. (Ewald, 174g); but it is also possible that the fem. נעשׂה is per. attract. occasioned by הרעה, as Kimchi, Michlol 10a, supposes (cf. besides, under Ecclesiastes 10:15). מעשׂה is const. governed by phithgam, and hara'ah is thus obj. gen. The lxx, Syr., and Jerome read מעשׂי, which would be possible only if phithgam min - after the analogy of the Heb.-Aram. phrase, niphra' ('ithpera') min, to take one's due of any one, i.e., to take vengeance on him, to punish him - could mean the full execution of punishment on any one; but it means here, as Jerome rightly translates, sententia; impossible, however, with me'ose hara'ah, sententia contra malos. Hengst. supposes that not only the traditional text, but also the accentuation, is correct, for he construes: because a sentence (of the heavenly Judge) is not executed, the work of wickedness is haste, i.e., speedy. Thus also Dachselt in the Biblia accentuata. Mercerus, on the contrary, remarks that the accents are not in the first instance marks of interpunction, but of cantillation. In fact, genit. word-connections do not exclude the keeping them asunder by distinctives such as Pashta and Tiphcha, Isaiah 10:2, and also Zakeph, as e.g., Esther 1:4. The lxx well renders: "Therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully persuaded in them to do evil;" for which Jerome, freely, after Symm.: absque timore ullo filii hominum perpetrant mala. The heart of one becomes full to do anything, is equals it acquires full courage thereto (Luzzatto, 590: gli blast l'animo); cf. Esther 7:5 : "Where is he who has his heart filled to do?" (thus rightly, Keil), i.e., whom it has encourage to so bold an undertaking. בּהם in itself unnecessarily heightens the expression of the inwardness of the destructive work (vid., Psychol. p. 151f.). The sentence of punishment does not take effect mehera, hastily (adv. accus. for bimherah, Ecclesiastes 4:12), therefore men are secure, and they give themselves with full, i.e., with fearless and shameless, boldness to the practice of evil. The author confirms this further, but not without expressing his own conviction that there is a righteous requital which contradicts this appearance.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
that a man
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task,
And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?
All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, "I will be wise," but it was far from me.
That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out?
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