For what is a man profited
Such persons, though they are only seeking their own profit, will find themselves most sadly mistaken; for of what advantage will it be to such a man,
if he shall gain the whole world;
all that is precious and valuable in it; all the power, pleasures, and riches of it; if with Alexander, he had the government of the whole world, and with Solomon, all the delights of it; and was possessed with the wealth of Croesus, and Crassus,
and lose his own soul?
If that should be consigned to everlasting torment and misery, be banished the divine presence, and continually feel the gnawings of the worm of conscience that never dies, and the fierceness of the fire of God's wrath, that shall never be quenched, he will have a miserable bargain of it.
Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Or, "for the redemption" of it, as the Ethiopic version renders it: see ( Psalms 49:8 ) . If he had the whole world to give, and would give it, it would not be a sufficient ransom for it; the redemption of an immortal soul requires a greater price than gold and silver, or any corruptible thing; nothing short of the blood and life of Christ, is a proper exchange, or ransom price for it. But in the other world there will be no redemption; the loss of a soul is irrecoverable: a soul once lost and damned, can never be retrieved. This passage is thought to be proverbial; what comes nearest to it, is the following F24.
``If a scholar dies, we never find an exchange for him; there are four things which are the ministry or service of the world, (Nypylx vy wdba Ma) , if they are lost, they may be changed; and they are these, gold, silver, iron, and brass, ( Job 28:1 Job 28:2 ) but if a scholar dies, (wtrwmt wnl) (aybm ym) , who will bring us his exchange? or an exchange for him: we lost R. Simon, "who will bring us his exchange?".''
F24 Midrash Kohelet, fol. 72. 3, 4. T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 5. 3.