And further, by these, my son, be admonished
Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, may be intended, for whose sake, more especially, this book might be written; though it may take in every hearer of this divine preacher, every disciple of this teacher, every subject of his kingdom, as well as every reader of this book, whom he thus addresses, and for whom he was affectionately concerned as a father for a son; that they might be enlightened with divine knowledge, warned of that which is evil, and admonished and advised to that which is good; "by these" words and writings of his own, and other wise men; and by these masters of assemblies, who, and their words, are from the one and chief Shepherd; to these they would do well to take heed, and to these only or chiefly. It may be rendered, "and what is the more excellent of these, he admonished" F11; to observe what is mentioned in ( Ecclesiastes 12:13 ) , and lies in a few words, "Fear God" and especially Jesus Christ, the "Alpha" and "Omega", the sum and substance of the whole Bible; of what had been written in Solomon's time, and has been since: he is the most excellent part of it; or that which concerns him, in his person, offices, and grace: or thus; "and what is above", or "more than these, beware of" F12; do not trouble thyself with any other writings; these are sufficient, all that is useful and valuable is to be found in them; and as for others, if read, read them with care and caution, and only as serving to explain these, and to promote the same ends and designs, or otherwise to be rejected; of making many books [there is] no end;
many books, it seems, were written in Solomon's time; there was the same itch of writing as now, it may be; but what was written was not to be mentioned with the sacred writings, were comparatively useless and worthless. Or the sense is, should Solomon, or any other, write ever so many volumes, it would be quite needless; and there would be no end of writing, for these would not give satisfaction and contentment; and which yet was to be had in the word of God; and therefore that should be closely attended to: though this may be understood, not only of making or composing books, but of getting them, as Aben Ezra; of purchasing them, and so making them a man's own. A man may lay out his money, and fill his library with books, and be very little the better for them; what one writer affirms, another denies; what one seems to have proved clearly, another rises up and points out his errors and mistakes; and this occasions replies and rejoinders, so that there is no end of these things, and scarce any profit by them; which, without so much trouble, may be found in the writings of wise men, inspired by God, and in which we should rest contented; and much study [is] a weariness of the flesh;
the study of languages, and of each of the arts and sciences, and of various subjects in philosophy and divinity, particularly in writing books on any of these subjects; which study is as fatiguing to the body, and brings as much weariness on it, as any manual and mechanic operation; it dries up the moisture of the body, consumes the spirits, and gradually and insensibly impairs health, and brings on weakness, as well as weariness. Some render it, "much reading", as Jarchi, and so Mr. Broughton; and Aben Ezra observes, that the word in the Arabic language so signifies: the Arabic word "lahag" signifies to desire anything greedily, or to be greedily given and addicted to anything F13; and so may denote such kind of reading here, or such a person who is "helluo", a glutton at books, as Cato is said to be. And now reading books with such eagerness, and with constancy, is very wearisome, and is to little advantage; whereas reading the Scripture cheers and refreshes the mind, and is profitable and edifying. Gussetius F14 interprets it of much speaking, long orations, which make weary.
F11 (hmhm rtyw) "potius inquam ex istis", Junius & Tremellius; "quod potissimum ex istis", Gejerus.
F12 "Et amplius his, fili mi, cave", Mercerus.
F13 Vid. Castell. Lexic. col. 1874. who gives an instance of the use of this word in, the following sentence; (ghlw) "he that reads with mouth, but his heart is not with it"; and so Kimchi, in Sepher Shotash, fol. 74. fol. 2. explains the word here, "learning without understanding".
F14 Ebr. Comment. p. 431.