Ecclesiastes 10:16
(16) Woe.--See Note on Ecclesiastes 4:10.

A child.--The Hebrew word has a wide range, being constantly translated lad or young man, and applied, for instance, to Solomon (1Chronicles 29:1), to Rehoboam (2Chronicles 13:7), and according to a usage common to many languages (e.g., the Latin puer), it often means a servant (2Samuel 16:1, &c). Some take it in that sense here, contrasting it with the nobly-born king of the next verse. But comp. Isaiah 3:12.

In the morning.--Isaiah 5:11; Acts 2:15.

Verses 16-20. - Section 15. Koheleth returns to the theme mentioned in vers. 4-7. and speaks of folly in one who holds the position of king, and the need of wisdom and prudence in the subjects of an unworthy ruler. Verse 16. - Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child! "Child" is naar, which term included any age up to manhood. Some interpret the word here, as παῖς in Greek, in the sense of "slave," contrasting it with "the son of nobles" in the following verse. But it can hardly signify more than servitor, attendant; and in ver. 7 the antithesis to "prince" is ebed, not naar. The child in the present case is a youthful, inexperienced ruler, who does not realize his responsibilities, and is the tool of evil advisers. What particular instance, if any, Koheleth had in view it is impossible to say. Of course, many expositors see a reference to Rehoboam. whom, at forty years of age, his own son Abijah calls naar (2 Chronicles 13:7), and who was certainly childish in his conduct (1 Kings 12:1-14). Hitzig connects the passage with the reign of Ptolemy Epiphanes, who was but five years old at the death of his father, B.C. 205, the reins of government being assumed by Agathocles and his sister Agathoclea, who occasioned serious disasters to the laud. To support this opinion, the date of our book has to be considerably reduced (see Introduction). It is best to take the gnome as a general expression, like that in Isaiah 3:12, "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them." Thy princes eat in the morning. Eating here implies feasting and banqueting, beginning the day with sensual enjoyment instead of such honest work as attending to state matters, administering justice, etc., as becomes good rulers. None but profligates would thus spend the early morning. "These are not drunken, as ye suppose; seeing it is but the third hour of the day," says St. Peter, repudiating the charge of intoxication (Acts 2:15). "Woe unto them," cries Isaiah (Isaiah 5:11), "that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink!" Even the heathen censured such debauchery. Cicero thus abuses Antonius: "At quam multos dies in ea villa turpissime es per-bacchatus. Ab hora tertia bibebatur, ludebatur, vomebatur" ('Philipp.,' 2:41). Curtius (5. 7. 2) reprehends" de die convivia inire." The Greeks had a proverb to denote abnormal sensuality, Ἀφ ἡμέρας πίνειν

10:16-20 The happiness of a land depends on the character of its rulers. The people cannot be happy when their princes are childish, and lovers of pleasure. Slothfulness is of ill consequence both to private and public affairs. Money, of itself, will neither feed nor clothe, though it answers the occasions of this present life, as what is to be had, may generally be had for money. But the soul, as it is not redeemed, so it is not maintained with corruptible things, as silver and gold. God sees what men do, and hears what they say in secret; and, when he pleases, brings it to light by strange and unsuspected ways. If there be hazard in secret thoughts and whispers against earthly rulers, what must be the peril from every deed, word, or thought of rebellion against the King of kings, and Lord of lords! He seeth in secret. His ear is ever open. Sinner! curse not THIS KING in thy inmost thought. Your curses cannot affect Him; but his curse, coming down upon you, will sink you to the lowest hell.Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child,.... Not so much in age; though it is sometimes an unhappiness to a nation to be governed by a minor, especially if the young king has not good tutors, guardians, ministers, and counsellors, about him; but, if otherwise, a nation may be very happy under a minority, or the government of a young prince; such were Solomon, Joash, Uzziah, Josiah, and our Edward VI: but it rather respects one that is a child in understanding and judgment, in manners and conduct; that minds his pleasures, as children their play; is fickle and changeable, passionate and self-willed, unskilful in government, and yet will not be advised. The Targum applies this to the land of Israel, and instances in wicked Jeroboam, who made the morning sacrifice to cease; see Isaiah 3:12. From considering the bad effects of folly in men in general, in private persons and in subjects, the wise man proceeds to observe the ill consequences of it to a nation, in kings and princes, in civil magistrates: Jerom or Bede interprets this allegorically: Woe to the land whose king is the devil, who is always desirous of new things, 2 Corinthians 4:4;

and thy princes eat in the morning; as soon as they are up, children like; and not only eat, which may be convenient and lawful to do; but eat to excess, in a riotous and intemperate manner, and so unfit themselves for any service all the day: the "morning" is particularly observed, because the fittest time for consultation about the affairs of government; and was the usual time of sitting in judgment and trying causes, Jeremiah 21:12; and also for acts of religion and devotion. And so the Targum,

"and thy princes eat bread before they offer the daily morning sacrifice.''

Sad is the case of a nation, when not only their king is a minor, or a foolish one; but when his tutors and guardians, or his ministers of state and counsellors, give up themselves to sensual pleasures, and neglect public affairs; and, instead of being in the council chamber, or in a court of judicature, or at their early devotions, are indulging themselves in riotous eating and drinking.

Ecclesiastes 10:15
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