King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

Ecclesiastes > Old Testament > Home

Ecclesiastes 12

A description of the infirmities of age. (1-7) All is vanity: also a warning of the judgment to come. (8-14)

Ecclesiastes 12 Audio:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

A description of the infirmities of age

1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:

3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,

4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;

5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

All is vanity: also a warning of the judgment to come

8 Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

9 And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.

10 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

« »

G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Not. Prevent old age, to procure a stock of virtues. H. — Solomon refutes the former sentiments of the wicked, which he had perhaps once entertained. C.

Ver. 2. Before the sun, &c. That is, before old age: the effects of which upon all the senses and faculties are described in the following verses, under a variety of figures. Ch. — All are exhorted to live well, before death come to deprive them of their senses and all helps: and to continue in expectation of judgment, the signs of which are given, as Matt. xxiv. W. S. Jer. — Rain. One misery succeeds another, the understanding is darkened, and the senses become dull. C. — The Jews explain v. 2. 7. of the future distress of their nation under captivity. S. Jer. H.

Ver. 3. House. The sides, (S. Jer.) or rather the arms. C. — Some understand prelates, or angels. Thaumat. — And the powers that are in heaven shall be moved. Mar. xiii. 25. H. — Men. The arms, (Chal.) or thighs, (Smith) or those who were formerly the most robust. — Number. The rest have been lost, and what remain are of little service for chewing meat. C. — Holes. Spectacles, (Geier) as if they had been already in use. C. — Heb. “windows.” H.

Ver. 4. Doors. The lips, (C.) feet, (Chal.) nostrils, (Vat.) or the trachea and pulmonary arteries. — Bird. The cock-crowing; or at the least sound their slumbers are broken. — Deaf. Heb. “be low.” The ears cannot enjoy music, nor can the voice of the old people please. 2 K. xix. 25.

Ver. 5. Way. They shall walk bent down, and afraid of rough ground. — Flourish. Their head shall become white, like the almond-flower. Jer. i. 11. — Fat. Sept. “heavy.” — Destroyed. The hair shall fall off. C. — Concupiscence shall be extinct. Vat. T. — Eternity. The body being consigned to the grave, and the soul to the region of spirits, to have no farther concern with the transactions of the world. H. Job vii. 9. — Street. This custom is often mentioned. Herod. ii. 85. Lu. vii. 32. — The women dance, having one (C.) or two old people disfigured in the midst of them, to recount the actions of the deceased. Brun.

Ver. 6. Cord. The nerves. — Fillet. Veins, or the spermatic vessels, (C.) and the soul. S. Jer. — Cistern. When the bladder, &c. become disordered. Num. xxiv. 7. C.

Ver. 7. It. Man is composed of two distinct parts; the destination of which we ought never to forget. Thus the objection of infidels (c. iii. 19.) is refuted. Plato and some of the ancients had the same idea of the soul’s spiritual nature; though some took it to be an aerial body. C.

Ver. 8. Ecclesiastes. “The preacher.” W. — He returns to his first proposition, and having pushed the objection of free-thinkers as far as possible, shews us what we ought to believe and practise. He establishes the distinction of soul and body, the advantage of instruction, (v. 11.) without meddling with things too high, (v. 12.) the obligation of fearing God, (v. 13.) and future retribution. v. 14. This is the sum of all sound morality. C.

Ver. 10. Profitable. Heb. “pleasing.” Utile dulci. H. — Perhaps he condemns his attempt to know all things. c. i. 13. C.

Ver. 11. In. The ground, (H.) to keep a tent in its proper place. He seemed before to have placed the wise on the same level with fools. C. vi. 8. 11. and vii. 1. C. — Shepherd. God, or Solomon. The Jews explain it of Moses, and his successors, who taught the people.

Ver. 12. Not. I have had experience of all. — End. They can teach nothing farther. C. —

Tenet insanabile multos

Scribendi cacoethes. Juv. Sat. vii.

— Impious productions abound, while those which promote piety are too scarce. When the same truths are enforced, as those which the Scriptures contain, we cannot be accused of writing many books. Orig. Philoc. v. S. Jer. — Flesh. It ruins the health.

Ver. 13. All man. The whole business and duty of man. Ch. — This is the sum of all profitable doctrine. W. — He who does not fear God, deserves not the title of man. He is nothing but vanity. C.

Ver. 14. Error. Or hidden and secret things. Ch. — Heb. “with every secret thing,” (Prot. H.) “every inadvertency.” Sept. Sym. C.