King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

Ecclesiastes > Old Testament > Home

Ecclesiastes 9

Good and bad men fare alike as to this world. (1-3) All men must die, Their portion as to this life. (4-10) Disappointments common. (11,12) Benefits of wisdom. (13-18)

Ecclesiastes 9 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.

Good and bad men fare alike as to this world

1 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.

2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.

3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

All men must die, Their portion as to this life

4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.

8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.

9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Disappointments common

11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

Benefits of wisdom

13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:

14 There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:

15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.

16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.

17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.

18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

« »

G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Of God. He seems to treat both alike, so that the just themselves cannot say whether their sufferings be a punishment or a trial. S. Jer. C. — Knoweth not certainly, and in an ordinary manner. W. — Hatred. Heb. and Sept. “yet love and hatred man knoweth not.” H. — Prosperity or adversity proves nothing. C. — Mortals cannot tell whether their afflictions tend to their greater improvement, like Job’s, or they are in punishment of sin, like those of Pharao, and of the Egyptians. This they shall know after death. W. — Yet the wicked know already that they are displeasing to God. Salmeron in 2 Cor. xii. “The just and…their works are in the hand of God, even love and hatred; men know not,” &c. Dieu. Amama.

Ver. 2. But. Heb. joins this with the preceding not,by all that is before them. All things come alike to all, there is one event to,” &c. Prot. H. — The pagans distinguished real goods and evils from those which were only apparent, like prosperity and adversity, which are determined only by the good or bad use. S. Jer. — Thus religion looks upon virtue and vice in the former light; and riches, poverty, &c. in the latter. It may be difficult to decide, whether, under adversity, the just have supported themselves better by virtue, or the wicked by vanity. God will manifest the truth. C. — Perjured. Heb. and Sept. “swearer, so he that fears an oath.” H.

Ver. 3. Evil. People hence take occasion to indulge in vice, (C. viii. 14.) though the conduct of God be irreproachable. C. — Shall. Heb. “they go to the dead.” H. — Many think that these are the sentiments of the impious.

Ver. 4. There. Even those who have had the vanity to claim divine honours, never could persuade themselves that they would escape death. But the just forms a different conclusion from the wicked. He looks upon his life only as a preparation for the other, (Heb. xi. 13. Eph. ii. 19.) while libertines make haste to enjoy the fleeting pleasure. Is. xxii. 13. To the former death seems desirable, (C. iv. 2. and vi. 3.) to the latter it is a subject of consternation; and he prefers the vilest creature living, to the most noble when dead. C. — Heb. “for whosoever is chosen (yebuchar. Marg. yechubar, “is united”) to all the living, has hope; for a,” &c. H. — Moderns generally follow the marginal reading of the Masorets. C. — “For who shall live for ever?” Sym. “Who partakes with all the living? There is hope.” Sept. H. — During life alone the sinner may amend. C. ii. 3. The Gentiles are preferred before the Jews. W.

Ver. 5. Know nothing more, viz. As to the transactions of this world, in which they have now no part, unless it be revealed to them; neither have they any knowledge or power now of doing any thing to secure their eternal state, (if they have not taken care of it in their lifetime) nor can they now procure themselves any good, as the living always may do, by the grace of God. Ch.

Ver. 7. God. Be grateful to him, and make a good use of his benefits, (S. Jer. exp. 2.) or these are the words of libertines. Boss. S. Jer. 1. explicat. C.

Ver. 8. White. As in times of joy, and among people of quality. C. x. 17. Prov. xxxi. 23. — Head. Our Saviour reproaches the Pharisees for neglecting this. Lu. vii. 45.

Ver. 9. Wife. Some translate, “the woman,” or harlot; as if the wicked still spoke.

Ver. 10. Earnestly. Live in delights, or perform many good works. C. ii. 5. Our Lord seems to allude to this passage. What thou dost, do quickly. Jo. xiii. 27.

Ver. 11. All. Thus it appears to the inattentive, and to the wicked. For Solomon frequently inculcates that Providence directs all wisely. Human industry is not always attended with success. Deut. xxix. 19. This is a fresh proof of the vanity of all things. C.

Ver. 12. With. Heb. adds, “evil.” Net, (Mont.) or hook. H. — Them. They may use precautions; but, without God’s aid, they will not succeed. Ps. cxxvi. 1. C.

Ver. 14. And the siege, &c. Heb. has only “great bulwarks over or against it.” H.

Ver. 15. Afterward, is not in Heb. The poor man was unnoticed before. C. — Vulg. insinuates that he met with no return of gratitude, which is but too common; (H.) and this shews the vanity of the world.

Ver. 16. Heard? Eccli. xiii. 28. Men are so unjust as to despise wisdom, if it be in a poor man. The prudence of an individual has often saved cities, as was the case at Abela, and Bethulia; (2 K. xx. 22. C.) and Syracuse was defended a long time by Archimedes against the whole Roman army. Plut. in Marcel.

Ver. 17. Fools. Though the wise often meet with contempt, it is only among fools, who form the majority. C. — Vain declaimers in the Church shew their own folly, as well as that of their hearers. S. Jer.

Ver. 18. Things. A woman saved Abela; and Achan almost ruined Israel. Want of prudence in a general is often fatal. Virtues are connected, as well as vices. C. — For one transgression, many acts of virtue are lost. S. Jer.