Ecclesiastes 9:2

2 All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad,[a] the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good, so with the sinful; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.

Ecclesiastes 9:2 in Other Translations

2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
2 It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath.
2 The same destiny ultimately awaits everyone, whether righteous or wicked, good or bad, ceremonially clean or unclean, religious or irreligious. Good people receive the same treatment as sinners, and people who make promises to God are treated like people who don’t.
2 It's one fate for everybody - righteous and wicked, good people, bad people, the nice and the nasty, worshipers and non-worshipers, committed and uncommitted.
2 Everything is the same for everyone: there is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so it is for the sinner, as for the one who takes an oath, so for the one who fears an oath.

Ecclesiastes 9:2 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 9:2

All [things come] alike to all
That is, all outward things in this life, good and bad men share in alike; which proves that neither love nor hatred can be known by them: so the emperor Mark Antonine, in speaking of life and death, of honour and dishonour, of pain and pleasure, riches and poverty, says F19, all these things happen alike to good men and bad men; [there is] one event to the righteous and to the wicked;
the same prosperous ones happen to one as to another, as riches, honour, health, wisdom and learning, fame and reputation: if Abraham was rich in cattle, gold, and silver, so was Nabal, and the rich fool in the Gospel; if Joseph was advanced to great dignity in Pharaoh's court, so was Haman in the court of Ahasuerus; if Caleb was as hearty and strong at fourscore and five as ever, it is true of many wicked men, that there are no bands in their death, and their strength is firm to the last; if Moses, Solomon, and Daniel, were wise men, and of great learning, so were the idolatrous Egyptians, and so are many God is not pleased to call by his grace; if Demetrius had a good report of all men, so had the false prophets of old: and the same adverse things happen to one as to another as the instances of Job, Lazarus, and the good figs, the Jews carried into captivity, show; of whom the Midrash, and Jarchi from that, interpret this and the following clauses: "to the righteous and to the wicked": to Noah the righteous, and to Pharaoh, not Necho, as Jarchi, but he whose daughter Solomon married, who, the Jews say, were both lame; to the good, and to the clean, and to the unclean;
who are "good", not naturally, and in and of themselves, but by the grace of God; and who are "clean", not by nature, nor by their own power, but through the clean water of divine grace being sprinkled on them, and through the blood and righteousness of Christ applied to them; and who are "unclean", through the corruption of nature, and the pollution of actual sins, they live in. Some understand this of a ceremonial cleanness and uncleanness. The above Jews apply these characters to Moses, who was good; to Aaron, who was clean; and to the spies, who were unclean; and the same thing happened to them all, exclusion from the land of Canaan; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not:
that serves and worships the Lord, and who does not, one branch of service and worship being put for all; and whether they offer themselves, their contrite hearts and spiritual sacrifices, or not. The Jews exemplify this Josiah, who sacrificed to the Lord; and in Ahab, who made sacrifice to cease; and both were slain with arrows; as [is] the good, so [is] the sinner;
alike in their outward condition and circumstances, whether as to prosperity or adversity; [and] he that sweareth, as [he] that feareth an oath;
the common swearer, or he that is perjured, and has no reverence of God, nor regard to truth, nor any concern to make good his oath; and he that is cautious about taking one does it with awe and reverence of the divine Being, and is careful of keeping, it, even to his own hurt. The Jews stance in Zedekiah and Samson; the former broke his oath with the king of Babylon, and the latter was a religious observer of an oath; and yet both had their eyes put out; but it does not appear that Samson ever took an oath: the opposition in the text seems to be between one that is ready to take an oath on every occasion, without considering the solemnity of one, and without due care of what he swore to; and one that is cautious about taking an oath, and chooses to be excused from taking one, on any account, could he be excused; preferring such advice as is given, ( Matthew 5:34 ) ( James 5:12 ) , "swear not at all"; the counsel about swearing, which Isocrates F20 gives, seems worthy of notice;

``take an oath required on two accounts; either to purge thyself from a foul crime charged with, or to save friends in danger, and deliver them out of it; but on account of money (or goods) swear not by any deity, no, not even if thou canst take an oath safely; for by some thou wilt be thought to be perjured, and by others to be covetous.''
The word in Hebrew for swearing is always passive, because a man should not swear, unless obliged; and the same form of language is used by Latin writers F21; and the Hebrew word for it comes from a root which signifies "seven", in allusion, as some think, to seven witnesses required to an oath; the Arabians, when they swore, anointed "seven" stones with blood; and, while anointing them, called on their deities {w}; see ( Genesis 21:30 ) . It may be observed, that all men are here divided into good and bad; this has been the distinction from the beginning, and continues, and ever will.

F19 De scipso, l. 2. c. 11.
F20 Paraenes Demonic. p. 10.
F21 "Juratus sum", Plauti Corculio, Act. 3. v. 88. "Fui juratus", ib. Act 4. Sc. 4. v. 10. "Non tu juratus mihi es? juratus sum", ib. Rudens, Act. 5. Sc. 3. v. 16, 17.
F23 Herodot. Thalia, sive l. 3. c. 8.

Ecclesiastes 9:2 In-Context

1 So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them.
2 All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good, so with the sinful; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.
3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.
4 Anyone who is among the living has hope —even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Job 9:22; Ecclesiastes 2:14; Ecclesiastes 6:6; Ecclesiastes 7:2

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Septuagint (Aquila), Vulgate and Syriac; Hebrew does not have "and the bad."
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