English Standard Version
For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, “What are you doing?”
King James Bible
Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
American Standard Version
For the king's word hath power; and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
And his word is full of power: neither can any man say to him: Why dost thou so?
English Revised Version
Because the king's word hath power; and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
Webster's Bible Translation
Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say to him, what doest thou?
Ecclesiastes 8:4 Parallel
CommentaryKeil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
"Behold what I have found, saith Koheleth, adding one thing to another, to find out the account: What my soul hath still sought, and I have not found, (is this): one man among a thousand have I found; and a woman among all these have I not found." It is the ascertained result, "one man, etc.," which is solemnly introduced by the words preceding. Instead of אם קה, the words ראמר הקּה are to be read, after Ecclesiastes 12:8, as is now generally acknowledged; errors of transcription of a similar kind are found at 2 Samuel 5:2; Job 38:12. Ginsburg in vain disputes this, maintaining that the name Koheleth, as denoting wisdom personified, may be regarded as fem. as well as mas.; here, where the female sex is so much depreciated, was the fem. self-designation of the stern judge specially unsuitable. Hengst. supposes that Koheleth is purposely fem. in this one passage, since true wisdom, represented by Solomon, stands opposite to false philosophy. But this reason for the fem. rests on the false opinion that woman here is heresy personified; he further remarks that it is significant for this fem. personification, that there is "no writing of female authorship in the whole canon of the O.T. and N.T." But what of Deborah's triumphal song, the song of Hannah, the magnificat of Mary? We hand this absurdity over to the Clementines! The woman here was flesh and blood, but pulchra quamvis pellis est mens tamen plean procellis; and Koheleth is not incarnate wisdom, but the official name of a preacher, as in Assyr., for חזּנרם, curators, overseers, hazanâti
(Note: Vid., Fried. Delitzsch's Assyr. Stud. (1874), p. 132.)
is used. זה, Ecclesiastes 7:27, points, as at Ecclesiastes 1:10, to what follows. אחת ל, one thing to another (cf. Isaiah 27:12), must have been, like summa summarum and the like, a common arithmetical and dialectical formula, which is here subordinate to מצא, since an adv. inf. such as לקוח is to be supplemented: taking one thing to another to find out the חשׁבּון, i.e., the balance of the account, and thus to reach a facit, a resultat.
(Note: Cf. Aboth iv. 29, וגו ליתן, "to give account;" וגו הכל, "all according to the result.")
That which presented itself to him in this way now follows. It was, in relation to woman, a negative experience: "What my soul sought on and on, and I found not, (is this)." The words are like the superscription of the following result, in which finally the זה of Ecclesiastes 7:27 terminates. Ginsburg, incorrectly: "what my soul is still seeking," which would have required מבקּשׁת. The pret. בּקשׁה (with ק without Dagesh, as at Ecclesiastes 7:29)
(Note: As generally the Piel forms of the root בקשׁ, Masor. all have Raphe on the ,ק except the imper. בּקּשׁוּ; vid., Luzzatto's Gramm. 417.)
is retrospective; and עוד, from עוּד, means redire, again and again, continually, as at Gen.. Genesis 46:29. He always anew sought, and that, as biqshah naphshi for בקשׁתי denotes, with urgent striving, violent longing, and never found, viz., a woman such as she ought to be: a man, one of a thousand, I have found, etc. With right, the accentuation gives Garshayim to adam; it stands forth, as at Ecclesiastes 7:20, as a general denominator - the sequence of accents, Geresh, Pashta, Zakef, is as at Genesis 1:9. "One among a thousand" reminds us of Job 33:23, cf. Ecclesiastes 9:3; the old interpreters (vid., Dachselt's Bibl. Accentuata), with reference to these parallels, connect with the one man among a thousand all kinds of incongruous christological thoughts. Only, here adam, like the Romanic l'homme and the like, means man in sexual contrast to woman. It is thus ideally meant, like ish, 1 Samuel 4:9; 1 Samuel 6:15, and accordingly also the parall. אשּׁה. For it is not to be supposed that the author denies thereby perfect human nature to woman. But also Burger's explanation: "a human being, whether man or woman," is a useless evasion. Man has the name adam κατ ̓ ἐξ. by primitive hist. right: "for the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man," 1 Corinthians 11:8. The meaning, besides, is not that among a thousand human beings he found one upright man, but not a good woman (Hitz.), - for then the thousand ought to have had its proper denominator, אדם בני, - but that among a thousand persons of the male sex he found only one man such as he ought to be, and among a thousand of the female sex not one woman such as she ought to be; "among all these" is thus equals among an equal number. Since he thus actually found the ideal of man only seldom, and that of woman still seldomer (for more than this is not denoted by the round numbers), the more surely does he resign himself to the following resultat, which he introduces by the word לבד (only, alone), as the clear gain of his searching:
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Behold, he snatches away; who can turn him back? Who will say to him, 'What are you doing?'
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"
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