Ecclesiastes 9:8

8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.

Read Ecclesiastes 9:8 Using Other Translations

Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.
Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.
Wear fine clothes, with a splash of cologne!

What does Ecclesiastes 9:8 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Ecclesiastes 9:8

Let thy garments be always white
That is, neat and clean, not vile and sordid; what is comely and decent, and suitable to a man's circumstances; this colour is particularly mentioned because much used in the eastern countries, and in Judea; hence we so often read of washing garments, and of fullers that whitened them; and especially on festival days and days of rejoicing, to which Horace F1 refers; and here it signifies that every day should be like a festival or day of rejoicing to a good man, to whom God has given the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, ( Isaiah 61:3 ) ; and though there may be times for mourning, and so of putting on other apparel, yet, in common and ordinarily, this should be the habit, decent and comely apparel. The ancient Jews in Aben Ezra, and so Jarchi, interpret it of an unblemished conversation; and Kimchi F2 of repentance and good works; and so the Targum,

``let thy garments be white (or washed) from all filth of sin;''
or be without any spot of sin, as Alshech; the conversation garments of the saints are made white in the blood of Christ, and his righteousness is fine linen, and white; and even eternal glory and happiness is signified by walking with him in white, ( Revelation 7:14 ) ( 19:8 ) ( Revelation 3:4 Revelation 3:18 ) ; and let thy head lack no ointment:
which used to be poured plentifully on the heads of guests at feasts F3, for the refreshment of them, which gave pleasure, and a sweet odour and fragrancy, and was much in use in those hot countries; see ( Psalms 23:5 ) ( Luke 7:46 ) ; and is opposed to a gloomy and melancholy carriage and deportment, ( Matthew 6:17 ) ; hence we read of the oil of joy and gladness, ( Psalms 45:7 ) ( Isaiah 63:1 ) . The Jews before mentioned interpreted this of a good name better than ointment, ( Ecclesiastes 7:1 ) . So the Targum,
``and a good name, which is like to anointing oil, get; that blessings may come upon thy head, and thy goodness fail not.''


F1 "Ille repotia natales aliosque dierum, festos albatus celebret". Satyr. l. 2. Sat. 2. v. 60, 61. "Cum ipse epuli Dominus albatus esset", Cicero in Vatin. c. 13.
F2 Comment. in lsa. lxv. 13.
F3 "Coronatus nitentes malabathro Syrio capillos", Horat. Carmin. l. 2. Ode 7. v. 7, 8. "et paulo post: funde capacibus unguenta de conchis", v. 22, 23. "Unguentum (fateor) bonum dedisti convivis", Martial. l. 3. Epigr. 11.
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