King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Ecclesiastes 11

Exhortation to liberality. (1-6) An admonition to prepare for death, and to young persons to be religious. (7-10)

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Exhortation to liberality

1 Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.

2 Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.

3 If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.

4 He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.

5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

An admonition to prepare for death, and to young persons to be religious

7 Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun:

8 But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.

9 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

10 Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Waters. Sow thy seed where it may produce a good crop. C. — Be charitable to all. Lu. vi. 30. Indiscrete faciendum bene. S. Jer. — Assist those in distress, (C.) even though they may be ungrateful, or unable to make a return. Lu. xiv. 12. T. — In this third part we are exhorted to serve God with perseverance. Of all virtues, the works of mercy avail most. Matt. xxv. W.

Ver. 2. Eight. To as many as thou art able, (C.) especially to those who are of the household of faith, (Gal. vi. 10. H.) whether under the old or the new Testament, signified by the numbers, seven and eight. W. S. Jer. — Mandatum accipis octo illis partem dare, fortasse benedictionibus, (S. Amb. in Lu. vi. n. 49.) which intimates, that we must apply ourselves to the pursuit of al virtues, as the number eight denotes perfection. C.

Ver. 3. If the tree fall, &c. The state of the soul is unchangeable, when once she comes to heaven or hell: and the soul that departs this life in the state of grace, shall never fall from grace; as on the other side, a soul that dies out of the state of grace, shall never come to it. But this does not exclude a place of temporal punishment for such souls as die in the state of grace: yet not so as to be entirely pure; and therefore they shall be saved, indeed, yet so as by fire. 1 Cor. iii. 13. 14. 15. Ch. — After death, none can merit. W. — “He who shall not have cultivated his field, (the soul) shall after this life experience the fire of purgation, or eternal punishment.” S. Aug. de Gen. con. Man. iii. 20. H. — The souls in purgatory have their names inscribed in heaven, like the ancient saints, who were detained in the bosom of Abraham. C. — They fall, therefore, to the south. Let people dispense their alms to all, as the clouds rain upon the just and unjust, (H.) upon the cultivated and the barren land, and let them do it before death. They know not how soon it may lay them low. C. — By looking at the branches of a tree, we may conclude which way it will fall; so we may form a judgment of our future state, by reflecting on our present dispositions. “Our branches are our desires, by which we stretch ourselves to the south, if they be spiritual,” &c. S. Bern. ser. xlix. The liberal are not concerned where they bestow charity. People will gather up the fruit both on the north and south, and they who have given alms will find them (Abenezra; Mercer.) laid up in the heavenly tabernacles. H. — This agrees with the sequel. C.

Ver. 4. Reap. Those who are too circumspect in their alms-deeds, will often pass over such as stand in need, (S. Jer.) and people who reflect on the difficulties of a virtuous life, will never begin. S. Greg. iii. Past. xvi. and Mor. xxvii. 5.

Ver. 5. Spirit. In a man, or of the wind. Why then wouldst thou judge of the merit of thy petitioner? or pretend to determine why God has made thee rich and him poor?

Ver. 6. Better. Be kind to all during life. Gal. vi. 10. C. — Do good, both in youth and in old age, (W.) lest, if thou shouldst grow remiss, all would be lost. S. Jer.

Ver. 8. And the. Heb. “for they are many. What comes to pass is vanity.” Mont. — Nothing can more effectually repress the love of this world. Eccli. vii. 40. After Solomon has presented the objections of the wicked, he comes to this conclusion.

Ver. 9. Eyes. He speaks ironically, (C.) or exhorts to spiritual joy and moderation. S. Greg. Mor. xxiv.

Ver. 10. Anger. All turbulent passions, and evil or carnal pleasures. S. Jer.