Ecclesiastes xii.

Notes & Commentary:

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

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. (Challoner) — 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 [in] Matthew xxiv. (Worthington) (St. Jerome) — Rain. One misery succeeds another, the understanding is darkened, and the senses become dull. (Calmet) — The Jews explain ver. 2, 7., of the future distress of their nation under captivity. (St. Jerome) (Haydock)

Ver. 3. House. The sides, (St. Jerome) or rather the arms. (Calmet) — Some understand prelates, or angels. (Thaumat.) — And the powers that are in heaven shall be moved. (Mark xiii. 25.) (Haydock) — Men. The arms, (Chaldean) 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. (Calmet) — Holes. Spectacles, (Geier) as if they had been already in use. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “windows.” (Haydock)

Ver. 4. Doors. The lips, (Calmet) feet, (Chaldean) nostrils, (Vatable) or the trachea and pulmonary arteries. — Bird. The cock-crowing; or at the least sound their slumbers are broken. — Deaf. Hebrew, “be low.” The ears cannot enjoy music, nor can the voice of the old people please, 2 Kings 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, Jeremias i. 11. — Fat. Septuagint, “heavy.” — Destroyed. The hair shall fall off. (Calmet) — Concupiscence shall be extinct. (Vatable) (Tirinus) — 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. (Haydock) (Job vii. 9.) — Street. This custom is often mentioned. (Herodotus ii. 85.) (Luke vii. 32.) — The women dance, having one (Calmet) 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, (Calmet) and the soul. (St. Jerome) — Cistern. When the bladder, &c., become disordered, Numbers xxiv. 7. (Calmet)

Ver. 7. It. Man is composed of two distinct parts; the destination of which we ought never to forget. Thus the objection of infidels (chap. 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. (Calmet)

Ver. 8. Ecclesiastes. “The preacher.” (Worthington) — 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, (ver. 11.) without meddling with things too high, (ver. 12.) the obligation of fearing God, (ver. 13.) and future retribution, ver. 14. This is the sum of all sound morality. (Calmet)

Ver. 10. Profitable. Hebrew, “pleasing.” Utile dulci. (Haydock) — Perhaps he condemns his attempt to know all things, chap. i. 13. (Calmet)

Ver. 11. In. The ground, (Haydock) to keep a tent in its proper place. He seemed before to have placed the wise on the same level with fools, chap. vi. 8, 11., and vii. 1. (Calmet) — 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. (Calmet) —

—–Tenet insanabile multos

Scribendi cacoethes.—- (Juvenal, 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. (Origen, Philoc. v.) (St. Jerome) — Flesh. It ruins the health.

Ver. 13. All man. The whole business and duty of man. (Challoner) — This is the sum of all profitable doctrine. (Worthington) — He who does not fear God, deserves not the title of man. He is nothing but vanity. (Calmet)

Ver. 14. Error. Or hidden and secret things. (Challoner) — Hebrew, “with every secret thing,” (Protestants; Haydock) “every inadvertency.” (Septuagint; Symmachus) (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The Creator is to be remembered in the days of our youth: all worldly things are vain: we should fear God, and keep his commandments.

1 Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the time of affliction come, and the years draw nigh, of which thou shalt say: They please me not:

2 Before the sun, and the light, and the moon, and the stars be darkened, and the clouds return after the rain:

3 When the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall stagger, and the grinders shall be idle in a small number, and they that look through the holes shall be darkened:

4 And they shall shut the doors in the street, when the grinder’s voice shall be low, and they shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall grow deaf.

5 And they shall fear high things, and they shall be afraid in the way, the almond-tree shall flourish, the locust shall be made fat, and the caper-tree shall be destroyed: because man shall go into the house of his eternity, and the mourners shall go round about in the street.

6 Before the silver cord be broken, and the golden fillet shrink back, and the pitcher be crushed at the fountain, and the wheel be broken upon the cistern,

7 And the dust return into its earth, from whence it was, and the spirit return to God, who gave it.

8 Vanity of vanities, said Ecclesiastes, and all things are vanity.

9 And whereas Ecclesiastes was very wise, he taught the people, and declared the things that he had done: and seeking out, he set forth many parables.

10 He sought profitable words, and wrote words most right, and full of truth.

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

12 More than these, my son, require not. Of making many books there is no end: and much study is an affliction of the flesh.

13 Let us all hear together the conclusion of the discourse. Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is all man:

14 And all things that are done, God will bring into judgment for every error, whether it be good or evil.