Ecclesiastes 8:7
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be?

King James Bible
For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?

American Standard Version
for he knoweth not that which shall be; for who can tell him how it shall be?

Douay-Rheims Bible
Because he is ignorant of things past, and things to come he cannot know by any messenger.

English Revised Version
for he knoweth not that which shall be; for who can tell him how it shall be?

Webster's Bible Translation
For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?

Ecclesiastes 8:7 Parallel
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

"Who is like the wise? and who understandeth the interpretation of things? The wisdom of a man maketh his face bright, and the rudeness of his face is changed." Unlike this saying: "Who is like the wise?" are the formulas חכם מי, Hosea 14:9, Jeremiah 11:11, Psalm 107:43, which are compared by Hitzig and others. "Who is like the wise?" means: Who is equal to him? and this question, after the scheme מי־כמכה, Exodus 15:11, presents him as one who has not his like among men. Instead of כּה the word כּחכם might be used, after לחכם, Ecclesiastes 2:16, etc. The syncope is, as at Ezekiel 40:25, omitted, which frequently occurs, particularly in the more modern books, Ezekiel 47:22; 2 Chronicles 10:7; 2 Chronicles 25:10; 2 Chronicles 29:27; Nehemiah 9:19; Nehemiah 12:38. The regular giving of Dagesh to כ after מי, with Jethib, not Mahpach, is as at Ecclesiastes 8:7 after כּי; Jethib is a disjunctive. The second question is not כּיודע, but יודע וּמי, and thus does not mean: who is like the man of understanding, but: who understands, viz., as the wise man does; thus it characterizes the incomparably excellent as such. Many interpreters (Oetinger, Ewald, Hitz., Heiligst., Burg., Elst., Zckl.) persuade themselves that דּבר פּשׁר is meant of the understanding of the proverb, 8b. The absence of the art., says Hitzig, does not mislead us: of a proverb, viz., the following; but in this manner determinate ideas may be made from all indeterminate ones. Rightly, Gesenius: explicationem ullius rei; better, as at Ecclesiastes 7:8 : cujusvis rei. Ginsburg compares נבון דּבר, 1 Samuel 16:18, which, however, does not mean him who has the knowledge of things, but who is well acquainted with words. It is true that here also the chief idea פּשׁר first leads to the meaning verbum (according to which the lxx, Jer., the Targ., and Syr. translate; the Venet.: ἑρμηνείαν λόγου); but since the unfolding or explaining (pēshěr) refers to the actual contents of the thing spoken, verbi and rei coincide. The wise man knows how to explain difficult things, to unfold mysterious things; in short, he understands how to go to the foundation of things.

What now follows, Ecclesiastes 8:1, might be introduced by the confirming כי, but after the manner of synonymous parallelism it places itself in the same rank with 1a, since, that the wise man stands so high, and no one like him looks through the centre of things, is repeated in another form: "Wisdom maketh his face bright" is thus to be understood after Psalm 119:130 and Psalm 19:9, wisdom draws the veil from his countenance, and makes it clear; for wisdom is related to folly as light is to darkness, Ecclesiastes 2:13. The contrast, ישׁ ... עזו ("and the rudeness of his face is changed"), shows, however, that not merely the brightening of the countenance, but in general that intellectual and ethical transfiguration of the countenance is meant, in which at once, even though it should not in itself be beautiful, we discover the educated man rising above the common rank. To translate, with Ewald: and the brightness of his countenance is doubled, is untenable; even supposing that ישׁנּא can mean, like the Arab. yuthattay, duplicatur, still עז, in the meaning of brightness, is in itself, and especially with פּניו, impossible, along with which it is, without doubt, to be understood after az panim, Deuteronomy 28:50; Daniel 8:23, and hē'ēz panim, Proverbs 7:13, or bephanim, Proverbs 21:29, so that thus פנים עז has the same meaning as the post-bibl. פנים עזּוּת, stiffness, hardness, rudeness of countenance equals boldness, want of bashfulness, regardlessness, e.g., Shabbath 30b, where we find a prayer in these words: O keep me this day from פנים עזי and from עזות פ (that I may not incur the former or the latter). The Talm. Taanith 7b, thus explaining, says: "Every man to whom עזות פ belongs, him one may hate, as the scripture says, ישּׂנא ... ועז (do not read ישׁנּא)." The lxx translates μισητηήσεται will be hated, and thus also the Syr.; both have thus read as the Talm. has done, which, however, bears witness in favour of ישׁנּא as the traditional reading. It is not at all necessary, with Hitzig, after Zirkel, to read yshane': but boldness disfigureth his countenance; עז in itself alone, in the meaning of boldness, would, it is true, along with פניו as the obj. of the verb, be tenable; but the change is unnecessary, the passive affords a perfectly intelligible meaning: the boldness, or rudeness, of his visage is changed, viz., by wisdom (Bttch., Ginsb., Zckl.). The verb שׁנה (שנא, Lamentations 4:1) means, Malachi 3:6, merely "to change, to become different;" the Pih. שׁנּה, Jeremiah 52:33, שׁנּא, 2 Kings 25:29, denotes in these two passages a change in melius, and the proverb of the Greek, Sir. 13:24, -

Καρδία ἀντηρώπου ἀλλοιοῖ τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ

ἐάν τε εἰς ἀγαθὰ ἐάν τε εἰς κακά,

is preserved to us in its original form thus:

לב אדם ישׁנּא פניו

בּין לטוב וּבין לרע׃

so that thus שׁנּא, in the sense of being changed as to the sternness of the expression of the countenance, is as good as established. What Ovid says of science: emollit mores nec sinit esse feros, thus tolerably falls in with what is here said of wisdom: Wisdom gives bright eyes to a man, a gentle countenance, a noble expression; it refines and dignifies his external appearance and his demeanour; the hitherto rude external, and the regardless, selfish, and bold deportment, are changed into their contraries. If, now, Ecclesiastes 8:1 is not to be regarded as an independent proverb, it will bear somewhat the relation of a prologue to what follows. Luther and others regard Ecclesiastes 8:1 as of the nature of an epilogue to what goes before; parallels, such as Hosea 14:9, make that appear probable; but it cannot be yielded, because the words are not חכם מי, but מי כהח. But that which follows easily subordinates itself to Ecclesiastes 8:1, in as far as fidelity to duty and thoughtfulness amid critical social relations are proofs of that wisdom which sets a man free from impetuous rudeness, and fits him intelligently and with a clear mind to accommodate himself to the time.

Ecclesiastes 8:7 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

he knoweth

Ecclesiastes 6:12 For who knows what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow?...

Ecclesiastes 9:12 For man also knows not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare...

Ecclesiastes 10:14 A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?

Proverbs 24:22 For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knows the ruin of them both?

Proverbs 29:1 He, that being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

Matthew 24:44,50 Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes...

Matthew 25:6-13 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him...

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you...


Cross References
Ecclesiastes 3:22
So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?

Ecclesiastes 6:12
For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 7:14
In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

Ecclesiastes 9:12
For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.

Ecclesiastes 10:14
A fool multiplies words, though no man knows what is to be, and who can tell him what will be after him?

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