מִי כְּהֶחָכָם וּמִי יֹודֵעַ פֵּשֶׁר דָּבָר חָכְמַת אָדָם תָּאִיר פָּנָיו וְעֹז פָּנָיו יְשֻׁנֶּא׃ 8:1
Eccl. 8:1 Who is like one who is wise? And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
The wisdom of a person would make his face shine
and the power of his countenance change.
I think this statement is a bit of an exaggeration. If wisdom were to do this, a wise person would be discernible by many even before he or she speaks. Unlikely! However, I can see that it may be that a person who thinks himself wise may exhibit an air of pride, which probably fools few people.
אֲנִי פִּי־מֶלֶךְ שְׁמֹור וְעַל דִּבְרַת שְׁבוּעַת אֱלֹהִים׃ 8:2
Eccl. 8:2 It is I! Heed the speech of the king. Also because of its being of the oath of God.
The exclamation at the start of this verse is in answer to the question in v. 8:1, “Who is like who is wise?” It is I!
אַל־תִּבָּהֵל מִפָּנָיו תֵּלֵךְ אַל־תַּעֲמֹד בְּדָבָר רָע כִּי כָּל־אֲשֶׁר יַחְפֹּץ יַעֲשֶׂה׃ 8:3
Eccl. 8:3 You should not hurry to depart from his presence. You must not take a stand with a displeasing speech, for all that he may take pleasure in he can do,
בַּאֲשֶׁר דְּבַר־מֶלֶךְ שִׁלְטֹון וּמִי יֹאמַר־לֹו מַה־תַּעֲשֶׂה׃ 8:4
Eccl. 8:4 in that the word of the king is powerful, and who would say to him, “What may you do?”
שֹׁומֵר מִצְוָה לֹא יֵדַע דָּבָר רָע וְעֵת וּמִשְׁפָּט יֵדַע לֵב חָכָם׃ 8:5
Eccl. 8:5 A keeper of the commandment does not know of unpleasant speech,
and the heart of a wise person perceives time and judgment.
כִּי לְכָל־חֵפֶץ יֵשׁ עֵת וּמִשְׁפָּט כִּי־רָעַת הָאָדָם רַבָּה עָלָיו׃ 8:6
Eccl. 8:6 But for every purpose there is a time and judgment, because the evil of humanity is great against it.
כִּי־אֵינֶנּוּ יֹדֵעַ מַה־שֶּׁיִּהְיֶה כִּי כַּאֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה מִי יַגִּיד לֹו׃ 8:7
Eccl. 8:7 Surely no one knows what it is that will be, for as when it will be, who can declare to him?
אֵין אָדָם שַׁלִּיט בָּרוּחַ לִכְלֹוא אֶת־הָרוּחַ וְאֵין שִׁלְטֹון בְּיֹום הַמָּוֶת וְאֵין מִשְׁלַחַת בַּמִּלְחָמָה וְלֹא־יְמַלֵּט 8:8
Eccl. 8:8 There is no person having mastery with breath to restrain the wind, and there is no power at the time of death, and there is no discharge during war, and wickedness cannot deliver its
The phrase there is no discharge during war has been interpreted two different ways. One has it that no one can substitute another to die for him. The other that when death comes, one cannot defend against it. I prefer the former interpretation.
אֶת־כָּל־זֶה רָאִיתִי וְנָתֹון אֶת־לִבִּי לְכָל־מַעֲשֶׂה אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ עֵת אֲשֶׁר שָׁלַט הָאָדָם 8:9
בְּאָדָם לְרַע לֹו׃
Eccl. 8:9 I have seen all of this, even devoting my heart to all the work that is done under the sun; it is a time when one human exercises power over another for injury to him.
וּבְכֵן רָאִיתִי רְשָׁעִים קְבֻרִים וָבָאוּ וּמִמְּקֹום קָדֹושׁ יְהַלֵּכוּ וְיִשְׁתַּכְּחוּ בָעִיר אֲשֶׁר כֵּן־עָשׂוּ גַּם־זֶה הָבֶל׃ 8:10
Eccl. 8:10 And thus I have seen: The wicked will be buried and they will go, and those who do right will depart from the holy place and are forgotten in the city. This too is vanity.
אֲשֶׁר אֵין־נַעֲשָׂה פִתְגָם מַעֲשֵׂה הָרָעָה מְהֵרָה עַל־כֵּן מָלֵא לֵב בְּנֵי־הָאָדָם בָּהֶם לַעֲשֹׂות רָע׃ 8:11
Eccl. 8:11 Since the decree of an evil deed is not executed promptly, therefore the heart of the children of humanity is full in them to do evil,
אֲשֶׁר חֹטֶא עֹשֶׂה רָע מְאַת וּמַאֲרִיךְ לֹו כִּי גַּם־יֹודֵעַ אָנִי אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה־טֹּוב לְיִרְאֵי הָאֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר יִירְאוּ 8:12
Eccl. 8:12 since a sinner may often be doing evil and it is delayed for him. But still I am sure that it will be good for those reverent of God, who are afraid of being before Him,
וְטֹוב לֹא־יִהְיֶה לָרָשָׁע וְלֹא־יַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים כַּצֵּל אֲשֶׁר אֵינֶנּוּ יָרֵא מִלִּפְנֵי אֱלֹהִים׃ 8:13
Eccl. 8:13 and it will not be good for any wicked one; nor will he be prolonged of days. Those who are not afraid of being before God will be as a shadow.
Another hint at the author’s optimism.
יֶשׁ־הֶבֶל אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה עַל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יֵשׁ צַדִּיקִים אֲשֶׁר מַגִּיעַ אֲלֵהֶם כְּמַעֲשֵׂה הָרְשָׁעִים וְיֵשׁ רְשָׁעִים 8:14
שֶׁמַּגִּיעַ אֲלֵהֶם כְּמַעֲשֵׂה הַצַּדִּיקִים אָמַרְתִּי שֶׁגַּם־זֶה הָבֶל׃
Eccl. 8:14 There is a foolishness that is produced on the earth, that there are righteous people to whom it befalls according to the work of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it befalls according to the work of the righteous. I say that this too is vanity.
וְשִׁבַּחְתִּי אֲנִי אֶת־הַשִּׂמְחָה אֲשֶׁר אֵין־טֹוב לָאָדָם תַּחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ כִּי אִם־לֶאֱכֹול וְלִשְׁתֹּות 8:15
וְלִשְׂמֹוחַ וְהוּא יִלְוֶנּוּ בַעֲמָלֹו יְמֵי חַיָּיו אֲשֶׁר־נָתַן־לֹו הָאֱלֹהִים תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ׃
Eccl. 8:15 So I laud joy, that there is nothing good for any human under the sun except eating and drinking and rejoicing, and he should attend to it in his toil the days of his life that God gives him under the sun.
כַּאֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי אֶת־לִבִּי לָדַעַת חָכְמָה וְלִרְאֹות אֶת־הָעִנְיָן אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה עַל־הָאָרֶץ כִּי גַם בַּיֹּום 8:16
וּבַלַּיְלָה שֵׁנָה בְּעֵינָיו אֵינֶנּוּ רֹאֶה׃
Eccl. 8:16 As I have devoted my heart to know wisdom and to observe the business that is done upon the earth, when whether by day or by night it does not see sleep with its eyes,
The phrase it does not see sleep with its eyes is no doubt a poetic reference to the author’s heart that does not rest in its quest for wisdom, neither by day nor by night. See the next verse for confirmation of this interpretation.
וְרָאִיתִי אֶת־כָּל־מַעֲשֵׂה הָאֱלֹהִים כִּי לֹא יוּכַל הָאָדָם לִמְצֹוא אֶת־הַמַּעֲשֶׂה אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה 8:17
תַחַת־הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בְּשֶׁל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲמֹל הָאָדָם לְבַקֵּשׁ וְלֹא יִמְצָא וְגַם אִם־יֹאמַר הֶחָכָם לָדַעַת לֹא יוּכַל לִמְצֹא׃
Eccl. 8:17 that I may perceive all the work of God, that humanity cannot find out the work that is done under the sun, because if humanity would labor to seek, yet it would not find out -- and even if one who is wise would think to know, he would not be able to find out.
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