Ecclesiastes 12:13
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
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(13) Whole duty of man.—Rather, the duty of every man. The sacred writer practically anticipates the teaching of Romans 3:29.



Ecclesiastes 12:1 - Ecclesiastes 12:7
, Ecclesiastes 12:13 - Ecclesiastes 12:14.

The Preacher has passed in review ‘all the works that are done under the sun,’ and has now reached the end of his long investigation. It has been a devious path. He has announced many provisional conclusions, which are not intended for ultimate truths, but rather represent the progress of the soul towards the final, sufficient ground and object of belief and aim of all life, even God Himself. ‘Vanity of vanities’ is a cheerless creed and a half-truth. Its completion lies in being driven, by recognising vanity as stamped on all creatures, to clasp the one reality. ‘All is vanity’ apart from God, but He is fullness, and possessed and enjoyed and endured in Him, life is not ‘a striving after wind.’ Leave out this last section, and this book of so-called ‘Wisdom’ is one-sided and therefore error, as is modern pessimism, which only says more feebly what the Preacher had said long ago. Take the rest of the book as the autobiography of a seeker after reality, and this last section as his declaration of where he had found it, and all the previous parts fall into their right places.

Our passage omits the first portion of the closing section, which is needed in order to set the counsel to remember the Creator in its right relation. Observe that, properly rendered, the advice in Ecclesiastes 12:1 is ‘remember also,’ and that takes us back to the end of the preceding chapter. There the young are exhorted to enjoy the bright, brief blossom-time of their youth, withal keeping the consciousness of responsibility for its employment. In earlier parts of the book similar advice had been given, but based on different grounds. Here religion and full enjoyment of youthful buoyancy and delight in fresh, unhackneyed, homely pleasures are proclaimed to be perfectly compatible. The Preacher had no idea that a devout young man or woman was to avoid pleasures natural to their age. Only he wished their joy to be pure, and the stern law that ‘whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap’ to be kept in mind. Subject to that limitation, or rather that guiding principle, it is not only allowable, but commanded, to ‘put away sorrow and evil.’ Young people are often liable to despondent moods, which come over them like morning mists, and these have to be fought against. The duty of joy is the more imperative on the young because youth flies so fast, or, as the Preacher says,’ is vanity.’

Now these advices sound very like the base incitements to sensual and unworthy delight which poets of the meaner sort, and some, alas! of the nobler in their meaner moments, have presented. But this writer is no teacher of ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,’ and wicked trash of that sort. Therefore he brings side by side with these advices the other of our passage. That ‘also’ saves the former from being misused, just as the thought of judgment did.

That possible combination of hearty, youthful glee and true religion is the all-important lesson of this passage. The word for Creator is in the plural number, according to the Hebrew idiom, which thereby expresses supremacy or excellence. The name of ‘Creator’ carries us back to Genesis, and suggests one great reason for the injunction. It is folly to forget Him on whom we depend for being; it is ingratitude to forget, in the midst of the enjoyments of our bright, early days, Him to whom we owe them all. The advice is specially needed; for youth has so much, that is delightful in its novelty, to think about, and the world, on both its innocent and its sinful side, appeals to it so strongly, that the Creator is only too apt to be crowded out of view by His works. The temptation of the young is to live in the present. Reflection belongs to older heads; spontaneous action is more characteristic of youth. Therefore, they specially need to make efforts to bring clearly to their thoughts both the unseen future and Him who is invisible. The advice is specially suitable for them; for what is begun early is likely to last and be strong.

It is hard for older men, stiffened into habits, and with less power and love of taking to new courses, to turn to God, if they have forgotten Him in early days. Conversion is possible at any age, but it is less likely as life goes on. The most of men who are Christians have become so in the formative period between boyhood and thirty. After that age, the probabilities of radical change diminish rapidly. So, ‘Remember . . . in the days of thy youth,’ or the likelihood is that you will never remember. To say, ‘I mean to have my fling, and I shall turn over a new leaf when I am older,’ is to run dreadful risk. Perhaps you will never be older. Probably, if you are, you will not want to turn the leaf. If you do, what a shame it is to plan to give God only the dregs of life! You need Him, quite as much, if not more, now in the flush of youth as in old age. Why should you rob yourself of years of blessing, and lay up bitter memories of wasted and polluted moments? If ever you turn to God in your older days, nothing will be so painful as the remembrance that you forgot Him so long.

The advice is further important, because it presents the only means of delivering life from the ‘vanity’ which the Preacher found in it all. Therefore he sets it at the close of his meditations. This is the practical outcome of them all. Forget God, and life is a desert. Remember Him, and ‘the desert will rejoice and blossom as the rose.’

The verses from the middle of Ecclesiastes 12:1 - Ecclesiastes 12:7 enforce the exhortation by the consideration of what will certainly follow youth, and advise remembrance of the Creator before that future comes. So much is clear, but the question of the precise meaning of these verses is much too large for discussion here. The older explanation takes them for an allegory representing the decay of bodily and mental powers in old age, whilst others think that in them the advance of death is presented under the image of an approaching storm. Wright, in his valuable commentary, regards the description of the gradual waning away of life in old age, in the first verses, as being set forth under images drawn from the closing days of the Palestinian winter, which are dreaded as peculiarly unhealthy, while Ecclesiastes 12:4 - Ecclesiastes 12:5 present the advent of spring, and contrast the new life in animals and plants with the feebleness of the man dying in his chamber and unable to eat. Still another explanation is that the whole is part of a dirge, to be taken literally, and describing the mourners in house and garden. I venture, though with some hesitation, to prefer, on the whole, the old allegorical theory, for reasons which it would be impossible to condense here. It is by no means free from difficulty, but is, as I think, less difficult than any of its rivals.

Interpreters who adopt it differ somewhat in the explanation of particular details, but, on the whole, one can see in most of the similes sufficient correspondence for a poet, however foreign to modern taste such a long-drawn and minute allegory may be. ‘The keepers of the house’ are naturally the arms; the ‘strong men,’ the legs; the ‘grinding women,’ the teeth; the ‘women who look out at the windows,’ the eyes; ‘the doors shut towards the street,’ either the lips or, more probably, the ears. ‘The sound of the grinding,’ which is ‘low,’ is by some taken to mean the feeble mastication of toothless gums, in which case the ‘doors’ are the lips, and the figure of the mill is continued. ‘Arising at the voice of the bird’ may describe the light sleep or insomnia of old age; but, according to some, with an alteration of rendering {‘The voice riseth into a sparrow’s’}, it is the ‘childish treble’ of Shakespeare. The former is the more probable rendering and reference. The allegory is dropped in Ecclesiastes 12:5, which describes the timid walk of the old, but is resumed in ‘the almond trees shall flourish’; that is, the hair is blanched, as the almond blossom, which is at first delicate pink, but fades into white. The next clause has an appropriate meaning in the common translation, as vividly expressing the loss of strength, but it is doubtful whether the verb here used ever means ‘to be a burden.’ The other explanations of the clause are all strained. The next clause is best taken, as in the Revised Version, as describing the failure of appetite, which the stimulating caper-berry is unable to rouse. All this slow decay is accounted for, ‘because the man is going to his long home,’ and already the poet sees the mourners gathering for the funeral procession.

The connection of the long-drawn-out picture of senile decay with the advice to remember the Creator needs no elucidation. That period of failing powers is no time to begin remembering God. How dreary, too, it will be, if God is not the ‘strength of the heart,’ when ‘heart and flesh fail’! Therefore it is plain common sense, in view of the future, not to put off to old age what will bless youth, and keep the advent of old age from being wretched.

Ecclesiastes 12:6 - Ecclesiastes 12:7 still more stringently enforce the precept by pointing, not to the slow approach, but to the actual arrival of death. If a future of possible weakness and gradual creeping in on us of death is reason for the exhortation, much more is the certainty that the crash of dissolution will come. The allegory is partially resumed in these verses. The ‘golden bowl’ is possibly the head, and, according to some, the ‘silver cord’ is the spinal marrow, while others think rather of the bowl or lamp as meaning the body, and the cord the soul which, as it were, holds it up. The ‘pitcher’ is the heart, and the ‘wheel’ the organs of respiration. Be this as it may, the general thought is that death comes, shivering the precious reservoir of light, and putting an end to drawing of life from the Fountain of bodily life. Surely these are weighty reasons for the Preacher’s advice. Surely it is well for young hearts sometimes to remember the end, and to ask, ‘What will ye do in the end?’ and to do before the end what is so hard to begin doing at the end, and so needful to have done if the end is not to be worse than ‘vanity.’

The collapse of the body is not the end of the man, else the whole force of the argument in the preceding verses would disappear. If death is annihilation, what reason is there for seeking God before it comes? Therefore Ecclesiastes 12:7 is no interpolation to bring a sceptical book into harmony with orthodox Jewish belief, as some commentators affirm. The ‘contradiction’ between it and Ecclesiastes 3:21 is alleged as proof of its having been thus added. But there is no contradiction. The former passage is interrogative, and, like all the earlier part of the book, sets forth, not the Preacher’s ultimate convictions, but a phase through which he passed on his way to these. It is because man is twofold, and at death the spirit returns to its divine Giver, that the exhortation of Ecclesiastes 12:1 is pressed home with such earnestness.

The closing verses are confidently asserted to be, like Ecclesiastes 12:7, additions in the interests of Jewish ‘orthodoxy.’ But Ecclesiastes is made out to be a ‘sceptical book’ by expelling these from the text, and then the character thus established is taken to prove that they are not genuine. It is a remarkably easy but not very logical process.

‘The end of the matter’ when all is heard, is, to ‘fear God and keep His commandments.’ The inward feeling of reverent awe which does not exclude love, and the outward life of conformity to His will, is ‘the whole duty of man,’ or ‘the duty of every man.’ And that plain summary of all that men need to know for practical guidance is enforced by the consideration of future judgment, which, by its universal sweep and all-revealing light, must mean the judgment in another life.

Happy they who, through devious mazes of thought and act, have wandered seeking for the vision of any good, and having found all to be vanity, have been led at last to rest, like the dove in the ark, in the broad simplicity of the truth that all which any man needs for blessedness in the buoyancy of fresh youthful strength and in the feebleness of decaying age, in the stress of life, in the darkness of death, and in the day of judgment, is to ‘fear God and keep His commandments’!

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. Let us hear the conclusion, &c. — The sum of all that hath been said or written by wise men. Fear God — Which is put here for all the inward worship of God, reverence, and love, and trust, and a devotedness of heart to serve and please him; and keep his commandments — This is properly added, as a necessary effect, and certain evidence of the true and genuine fear of God. Make conscience of practising whatever God enjoins, how costly, or troublesome, or dangerous soever it may be. For this is the whole duty of man — Hebrew, The whole of man, or all the man: it is his whole work and business: his whole wisdom, honour, perfection, and happiness: it is the sum of what he need either know, or do, or enjoy. This makes him a man indeed, worthy of the name, and by this, and by this alone, he answers the end of his creation, and of all the divine dispensations toward him. For God shall bring every work into judgment — All men must give an account to God of all their works, and this alone will enable them to do that with joy. With every secret thing — Not only outward and visible actions, but even inward and secret thoughts. Reader, think of this, and prepare to meet thy God!

12:8-14 Solomon repeats his text, VANITY OF VANITIES, ALL IS VANITY. These are the words of one that could speak by dear-bought experience of the vanity of the world, which can do nothing to ease men of the burden of sin. As he considered the worth of souls, he gave good heed to what he spake and wrote; words of truth will always be acceptable words. The truths of God are as goads to such as are dull and draw back, and nails to such as are wandering and draw aside; means to establish the heart, that we may never sit loose to our duty, nor be taken from it. The Shepherd of Israel is the Giver of inspired wisdom. Teachers and guides all receive their communications from him. The title is applied in Scripture to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The prophets sought diligently, what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. To write many books was not suited to the shortness of human life, and would be weariness to the writer, and to the reader; and then was much more so to both than it is now. All things would be vanity and vexation, except they led to this conclusion, That to fear God, and keep his commandments, is the whole of man. The fear of God includes in it all the affections of the soul towards him, which are produced by the Holy Spirit. There may be terror where there is no love, nay, where there is hatred. But this is different from the gracious fear of God, as the feelings of an affectionate child. The fear of God, is often put for the whole of true religion in the heart, and includes its practical results in the life. Let us attend to the one thing needful, and now come to him as a merciful Saviour, who will soon come as an almighty Judge, when he will bring to light the things of darkness, and manifest the counsels of all hearts. Why does God record in his word, that ALL IS VANITY, but to keep us from deceiving ourselves to our ruin? He makes our duty to be our interest. May it be graven in all our hearts. Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is all that concerns man.literally, "The conclusion of the discourse" (or "word," equals words, Ecclesiastes 1:1), "the whole, let us hear."

The whole duty of man - Rather, the whole man. To revere God and to obey Him is the whole man, constitutes man's whole being; that only is conceded to Man; all other things, as this book teaches again and again, are dependent on a Higher Incomprehensible Being.

13. The grand inference of the whole book.

Fear God—The antidote to following creature idols, and "vanities," whether self-righteousness (Ec 7:16, 18), or wicked oppression and other evils (Ec 8:12, 13), or mad mirth (Ec 2:2; 7:2-5), or self-mortifying avarice (Ec 8:13, 17), or youth spent without God (Ec 11:9; 12:1).

this is the whole duty of man—literally, "this is the whole man," the full ideal of man, as originally contemplated, realized wholly by Jesus Christ alone; and, through Him, by saints now in part, hereafter perfectly (1Jo 3:22-24; Re 22:14).

The conclusion of the whole matter; the sum and substance of all that hath been said or written by wise men, so far as it is necessary for us to know.

Fear God; which is synecdoically put here, as it is very frequently in Scripture, for all the inward worship of God, reverence, and love, and trust, and a devotedness of heart to serve and please God, and a loathness to offend him, and an aptness to tremble at his word and judgments.

Keep his commandments: this is fitly added as a necessary effect and certain evidence of the fear, of God. Make conscience of practising whatsoever God requires, how costly, or troublesome, or dangerous soever it be.

The whole duty; in the Hebrew it is only, the whole; it is his whole work and business, his whole perfection and happiness, it is the sum of what he need either know, or do, or enjoy.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter,.... Or "the end" (o) of it. The sum and substance of it, what it all tends to and issues in; even the whole of what is contained in this book, and in all offer divinely inspired writings of Solomon or others; of all that were now written, or before, or since: this the preacher calls upon himself, as well as his hearers, to attend unto. Or it may be rendered, "the end of the whole matter is heard" (p); here ends this book; and you have heard the whole of what deserves regard, and it lies in these few words,

fear God, and keep his commandments: "the fear of God" includes the whole of internal religion, or powerful godliness; all the graces of the Spirit, and the exercise of them; reverence of God, love to him, faith in him, and in his Son Jesus Christ; hope of eternal life from him; humility of soul, patience and submission to his will, with every other grace; so the Heathens call religion "metum Deorum" (q), the fear of God: and "keeping of the commandments", or obedience to the whole will of God, is the fruit, effect, and evidence of the former; and takes in all the commands of God, moral and positive, whether under the former or present dispensation; and an observance of them in faith, from a principle of love, and with a view to the glory of God;

for this is the whole duty of man; or, "this is the whole man" (r); and makes a man a whole man, perfect, entire, and wanting nothing; whereas, without this, he is nothing, let him have ever so much of the wisdom, wealth, honour, and profits of this world. Or, "this is the whole of every man" (s); either, as we supply it, the duty, work, and business of every man, of every son of Adam, be he what he will, high or low, rich or poor, of every age, sex, and condition; or this is the happiness of every man, or that leads to it; this is the whole of it; this is the "summum bonum", or chief happiness of men: Lactantius (t) says, the "summum bonum" of a man lies in religion only; it lies in this, and not in any outward thing, as is abundantly proved in this book: and this should be the concern of everyone, this being the chief end of man, and what, as Jarchi says, he is born unto; or, as the Targum, such should be the life of every man. The Masoretes begin this verse with a larger letter than usual, and repeat it at the end of the book, though not accentuated, to raise the attention of the reader (u); that he may make a particular observation of what is said in it, as being of the greatest moment and importance.

(o) "finis verbi omnis", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus; "finis universi negotii", Tigurine version, so Vatablus. (p) "auditus est", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Tigurine version, Mercerus. (q) Horat. Carmin. l. 1. Ode 35. v. 36. (r) "hoc (est) omnis homo", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Mercerus; "omnium hominum perfectio", Tigurine version; "hoc est totus homo", Cocceius; "this is all the man", Broughton. (s) "Hoc est omnium hominum", Piscator, Gejerus; "hoc est totum hominis", Junius & Tremellius. (t) De Fals. Sap. l. 3, c. 10. (u) Vid. Buxtorf. Tiberius, c. 14. p. 38.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
13. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter] The word for “let us hear” has been taken by some scholars as a participle with a gerundial force, “The sum of the whole matter must be heard,” but it admits of being taken as in the English version, and this gives a more satisfying meaning. The rendering “everything is heard,” i.e. by God, has little to recommend it, and by anticipating the teaching of the next verse introduces an improbable tautology. The words admit of the rendering the sum of the whole discourse, which is, perhaps, preferable.

Fear God, and keep his commandments] This is what the Teacher who, as it were, edits the book, presents to his disciples as its sum and substance, and he was not wrong in doing so. In this the Debater himself had rested after his many wanderings of thought (ch. Ecclesiastes 5:7, and, by implication, Ecclesiastes 11:9). Whatever else might be “vanity and feeding on wind,” there was safety and peace in keeping the commandments of the Eternal, the laws “which are not of to-day or yesterday.”

for this is the whole duty of man] The word “duty” is not in the Hebrew, and we might supply “the whole end,” or “the whole work,” or with another and better construction, This is for every man: i.e. a law of universal obligation. What is meant is that this is the only true answer to that quest of the chief good in which the thinker had been engaged. This was, in Greek phrase, the ἔργον or “work” of man, that to which he was called by the very fact of his existence. All else was but a πάρεργον, or accessory.

Verse 13. - The teaching of the whole book is now gathered up in two weighty sentences. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. The Revised Version gives, This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard. The Septuagint has, Τέλος λόγου τὸ πᾶν ἄκουε, "The end of the matter, the sum, hear thou;" Vulgate, Finem loquendi pariter omnes audiamus. Another rendering is suggested, "The conclusion of the matter is this, that [God] taketh knowledge of all things;" literally, "everything is heard." Perhaps the passage is best translated, The end of the matter, when all is heard, is this. The first word of this verse, soph, "end," is printed in the Hebrew text in large characters, in order to draw attention to the importance of what is coming. And its significance is rightly estimated. These two verses guard against very possible misconception, and give the author's real and mature conclusion. When this is received, all that need be said has been uttered. Fear God (ha-Elohim), and keep his commandments. This injunction is the practical result of the whole discussion. Amid the difficulties of the moral government of the world, amid the complications of society, varying and opposing interests and claims, one duty remained plain and unchanging - the duty of piety and obedience. For this is the whole duty of man. The Hebrew is literally, "This is every man," which is explained to mean, "This is every man's duty." Septuagint, Ὅτι τοῦτο πᾶς ὁ ἄνθρωπος: Vulgate, Hoc est enim omnis homo. For this man was made and placed in the world; this is his real object, the chief good which he has to seek, and which alone will secure contentment and happiness. The obligation is put in the most general terms as applicable to the whole human family; for God is not the God of the Jews only, but of Gentiles also (Romans 3:29). Ecclesiastes 12:13"The final result, after all is learned, (is this): Fear God and keep His commandments; for this is the end of every man." Many expositors, as Jerome, the Venet., and Luther, render נשׁמע as fut.: The conclusion of the discourse we would all hear (Salomon); or: The conclusion of the whole discourse or matter let us hear (Panzer, 1773, de Wette-Augusti); Hitzig also takes together soph davar hakol equals soph davar kol-haddavar: The end of the whole discourse let us hear. But הכּל for כּלּנוּ is contrary to the style of the book; and as a general rule, the author uses הכל for the most part of things, seldom of persons. And also soph davar hakol, which it would be better to explain ("the final word of the whole"), with Ewald, 291a, after yemē-olam mosheh, Isaiah 63:11, than it is explained by Hitzig, although, in spite of Philippi's (Sta. const. p. 17) doubt, possible in point of style, and also exemplified in the later period of the language (1 Chronicles 9:13), is yet a stylistic crudeness which the author could have avoided either by writing soph devar hakol, or better, soph kol-haddavar. נשׁמע, Ewald, 168b, renders as a particip. by audiendum; but that also does not commend itself, for נשמע signifies nothing else than auditum, and acquires the meaning of audiendum when from the empirical matter of fact that which is inwardly necessary is concluded; the translation: The final word of the whole is to be heard, audiendum est, would only be admissible of also the translation auditum est were possible, which is not the case. Is נשׁמע thus possibly the pausal form of the finite נשׁמע? We might explain: The end of the matter (summa summarum), all is heard, when, viz., that which follows is heard, which comprehends all that is to be known. Or as Hoelem.: Enough, all is heard, since, viz., that which is given in the book to be learned contains the essence of all true knowledge, viz., the following two fundamental doctrines. This retrospective reference of hakol nishm'a is more natural than the prospective reference; but, on the other hand, it is also more probable that soph davar denotes the final resultat than that it denotes the conclusion of the discourse. The right explanation will be that which combines the retrospective reference of nakol nishm'a and the resultative reference of soph davar. Accordingly, Mendelss. appears to us to be correct when he explains: After thou hast heard all the words of the wise ... this is the final result, etc. Finis (summa) reî omnia audita is equals omnibus auditis, for the sentence denoting the conditions remains externally undesignated, in the same way as at Ecclesiastes 10:14; Deuteronomy 21:1; Ezra 10:6 (Ewald, 341b). After the clause, soph ... nishm'a, Athnach stands where we put a colon: the mediating hocce est is omitted just as at Ecclesiastes 7:12 (where translate: yet the preference of knowledge is this, that, etc.).

The sentence, eth-naeolohim yera ("fear God"), repeating itself from Ecclesiastes 5:6, is the kernel and the star of the whole book, the highest moral demand which mitigates its pessimism and hallows its eudaemonism. The admonition proceeding therefrom, "and keep His commandments," is included in lishmo'a, Ecclesiastes 5:1, which places the hearing of the divine word, viz., a hearing for the purpose of observing, as the very soul of the worship of God above all the opus operatum of ceremonial services.

The connection of the clause, ki-zeh kol-haadam, Hitzig mediates in an unnecessary, roundabout way: "but not thou alone, but this ought every man." But why this negative here introduced to stamp כי as an immo establishing it? It is also certainly suitable as the immediate confirmation of the rectitude of the double admonition finally expressing all. The clause has the form of a simple judgment, it is a substantival clause, the briefest expression for the thought which is intended. What is that thought? The lxx renders: ὃτι τοῦτο πᾶς ὁ ἄνθρωπος; also Symm. and the Venet. render kol haadam by πᾶς ὁ ἄνθρ., and an unnamed translator has ὃλος ὁ ἄνθρ., according to which also the translation of Jerome is to be understood, hoc est enim omnis homo. Thus among the moderns, Herzf., Ewald, Elst., and Heiligst.: for that is the whole man, viz., as to his destiny, the end of his existence (cf. as to the subject-matter, Job 28:28); and v. Hofmann (Schriftbew. II 2, p. 456): this is the whole of man, viz., as Grotius explains: totum hominis bonum; or as Dale and Bullock: "the whole duty of man;" or as Tyler: "the universal law (כל, like the Mishnic כּלל) of man;" or as Hoelem.: that which gives to man for the first time his true and full worth. Knobel also suggests for consideration this rendering: this is the all of man, i.e., on this all with man rests. But against this there is the one fact, that kol-haadam never signifies the whole man, and as little anywhere the whole (the all) of a man. It signifies either "all men" (πάντες οἱ ἄνθρωποι, οἱ πά ἄνθρ οἱ ἄνθρ πά), as at Ecclesiastes 7:2, hu soph kol-haadam, or, of the same meaning as kol-haadam, "every man" (πᾶς ἄντηρωπος), as at Ecclesiastes 3:13; Ecclesiastes 5:18 (lxx, also Ecclesiastes 7:2 : τοῦτο τέλος παντὸς ἀντηρώπου); and it is yet more than improbable that the common expression, instead of which haadam kullo was available, should here have been used in a sense elsewhere unexampled. Continuing in the track of the usus loq., and particularly of the style of the author, we shall thus have to translate: "for this is every man." If we use for it: "for this is every man's," the clause becomes at once distinct; Zirkel renders kol-haadam as genit., and reckons the expression among the Graecisms of the book: παντὸς ἀντηρώπου, Ϛιζ., πρᾶγμα. Or if, with Knobel, Hitz., Bttch., and Ginsburg, we might borrow a verb to supplement the preceding imperat.: "for this ought every man to do," we should also in this way gain the meaning to be expected; but the clause lying before us is certainly a substantival clause, like meh haadam, Ecclesiastes 2:12, not an elliptical verbal clause, like Isaiah 23:5; Isaiah 26:9, where the verb to be supplied easily unfolds itself from the ל of the end of the movement.

We have here a case which is frequent in the Semitic languages, in which subj. and pred. are connected in the form of a simple judgment, and it is left for the hearer to find out the relation sustained by the pred. to the subj. - e.g., Psalm 110:3; Psalm 109:4, "I am prayer;" and in the Book of Koheleth, Ecclesiastes 3:19, "the children of men are a chance."

(Note: Vid., Fleischer's Abh. . einige Arten der Nominalapposition, 1862, and Philippi's St. const. p. 90ff.)

In the same way we have here to explain: for that is every man, viz., according to his destiny and duty; excellently, Luther: for that belongs to all men. With right, Hahn, like Bauer (1732), regards the pronoun as pred. (not subj. as at Ecclesiastes 7:2): "this, i.e., this constituted, that they must do this, are all men," or rather: this equals under obligation thereto, is every man.

(Note: Hitz. thus renders היא, Jeremiah 45:4, predicat.: "And it is such, all the world.")

It is a great thought that is thereby expressed, viz., the reduction of the Israelitish law to its common human essence. This has not escaped the old Jewish teachers. What can this mean: zeh kol-haadam? it is asked, Berachoth 6b; and R. Elazar answers: "The whole world is comprehended therein;" and R. Abba bar-Cahana: "This fundamental law is of the same importance to the universe;" and R. Simeon b. Azzai: "The universe has been created only for the purpose of being commanded this."

(Note: Cf. Jer. Nedarim ix. 3: "Thou oughtest to love thy neighbour as thyself," says R. Akiba, is a principal sentence in the Law. Ben-Azzai says: "The words zěh ... adam (Genesis 5:1) are it in a yet higher degree," because therein the oneness of the origin and the destiny of all men is contained. Aben Ezra alludes to the same thing, when at the close of his Comm. he remarks: "The secret of the non-use of the divine name יהוה in Genesis 1:1-2:3 is the secret of the Book of Koheleth.")

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