Ecclesiastes 8:9

9 All this I have seen, applying my mind to all the work that is done under the sun, at a time when one man has authority over another to his harm.

Ecclesiastes 8:9 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 8:9

All this have I seen
Observed, taken notice of, and thoroughly considered; all that is said above, concerning the scarcity of good men and women, the fall of our first parents, the excellency of wisdom, the necessity and advantage of keeping the king's commandment, the time and manner of doing it, the evil consequences that follow an inattention to these things, ignorance of what is to come, and the unavoidableness of death; and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun;
not so much to mechanic works and manual operations performed by men, as to moral or immoral works, and chiefly the work of Providence with respect to good and bad men, the consequence of which were the following observations; [there is] a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt;
or "the man ruleth over men" F8; for this is not to be understood of private rule in families, of the parent over his children, or master over his servant, but of a king over his subjects; who is the man, the principal man in the kingdom; and such a man ruling in an arbitrary and tyrannical way is to his own detriment in the issue. So Rehoboam; by his oppressive government, lost ten tribes out of twelve. Some have lost their whole kingdoms, and come to an untimely end; as well as ruined their immortal souls. Some render it "to his hurt" F9; to the hurt of those that are ruled, when it should be for their good, the protection of their persons and properties; but instead of that they lay heavy burdens upon them, take away their property, and injure and insult their persons. So the Targum,

``to do ill to him.''
But Jarchi interprets it of the king himself. Some take it in both senses; and so it is usually in fact, that wicked princes rule to their own hurt, and the hurt of their subjects.
FOOTNOTES:

F8 (Mdah) "homo", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius
F9 (wl erl) "in ipsus perniciem", Tigurine version; "in noxam ipsi", Cocceius.

Ecclesiastes 8:9 In-Context

7 Yet no one knows what will happen, because who can tell him what will happen?
8 No one has authority over the wind to restrain it, and there is no authority over the day of death; there is no furlough in battle, and wickedness will not allow those who practice it to escape.
9 All this I have seen, applying my mind to all the work that is done under the sun, at a time when one man has authority over another to his harm.
10 In such circumstances, I saw the wicked buried. They came and went from the holy place, and they were praised in the city where they did so. This too is futile.
11 Because the sentence against a criminal act is not carried out quickly, therefore the heart of people is filled [with the desire] to commit crime.