Ecclesiastes 3:16

From Dust to Dust

16 Moreover, 1I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even 2there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness.

Ecclesiastes 3:16 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 3:16

And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment
Courts of judicature, where judges sit, and, causes are brought before them, and are heard and tried; such as were the Jewish sanhedrim, of which the Midrash and Jarchi interpret it; [that] wickedness [was] there,
wicked judges sat there, and wickedness was committed by them; instead of doing justice they perverted it; condemned the righteous, and acquitted the wicked; and oppressed the widow, fatherless, and stranger, whose cause, being just, they should have defended. So the Targum,

``in which lying judges condemn the innocent.''
Well does the wise man say he saw this "under the sun", for there is nothing of this kind above it; nor approved of by him that is above it; and the place of righteousness, [that] iniquity [was] there;
this signifies the same as before, only it is expressed in different words. The Midrash and Jarchi interpret this of the middle gate in Jerusalem, where Nergal Sharezer, and other princes of the king of Babylon, sat, and which Solomon foresaw by a spirit of prophecy; but the better sense is, that Solomon had observed a great deal of this kind in reading the histories and annals of nations; knew that much of this sort was practised in other countries, and had seen a great deal of it in his own, done in inferior courts, and by subordinate officers; and though he was a wise and righteous prince, yet was not able to rectify all these abuses, for want of sufficient proof, which yet he lamented, and it gave him a concern; compare with this ( Isaiah 1:21-23 ) .

Ecclesiastes 3:16 In-Context

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.
15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.
16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness.
17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.
18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts.

Cross References 2

  • 1. Ecclesiastes 4:1
  • 2. Ecclesiastes 5:8; [Ecclesiastes 4:1]
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.