Ecclesiastes 12:5

5 Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal 1home while 2mourners go about in the street.

Ecclesiastes 12:5 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 12:5

Also when they shall be afraid of [that which is] high
Not of the most high God, before whose tribunal they must shortly appear, as some; but rather of high places, as high hills, mountains, towers which aged persons are afraid to go up, because of the feebleness and weakness of their limbs, their difficulty of breathing, and the dizziness of their heads; and fears [shall be] in the way;
they do not care: to go abroad, being afraid of every little stone that lies in the way, lest they should stumble at it, and fall: some understand this of their fears of spirits, good or bad; but the former sense is best; and the almond tree shall flourish;
which most interpret of the hoary head, which looks like an almond tree in blossom; and which, as it comes soon in the spring, whence it has its name of haste in the Hebrew language; see ( Jeremiah 1:11 Jeremiah 1:12 ) ; and is a sure sign of its near approach; so gray hairs, or the hoary head, sometimes appear very soon and unexpected, and are a sure indication of the approach of old age; which Cicero F8 calls "aetas praecipitata",

``age that comes hastily on;''
though the hoary head, like the almond tree, looks very beautiful, and is venerable, especially if found in the way of righteousness, ( Leviticus 19:32 ) ( Proverbs 16:31 ) ; and the grasshopper shall be a burden;
meaning either, should a grasshopper, which is very light, leap upon an aged person, it would give him pain, the least burden being uneasy to him; or, should he eat one of these creatures, the locusts being a sort of food in Judea, it would not sit well, on his stomach: or the grasshopper, being a crumpled and lean creature, may describe an old man; his legs and arms emaciated, and his shoulders, back, and lips, crumpled up and bunching out; and the locust of this name has a bunch on its backbone, like a camel F9: Bochart F11 says, that the head of the thigh, or the hip bone, by the Arabians, is called "chagaba", the word here used for a locust or grasshopper; which part of the body is of principal use in walking, and found very troublesome and difficult to move in old men; and Aben Ezra interprets it of the thigh: the almond tree, by the Rabbins, as Jarchi says, is interpreted of the hip bone, which stands out in old age: and the Targum, of this and the preceding clause, is,
``and the top of thy backbone shall bunch out, through leanness, like the almond; and the ankles of thy feet shall be swelled.''
Some, as Ben Melech observes, understand it of the genital member, and of coitus, slighted and rejected, because of the weakness of the body; all desires of that kind being gone, as follows; and desire shall fail;
the appetite, for food, for bodily pleasures, and carnal delights; and particularly for venery, all the parts of the body for such uses being weakened, The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, "the caper tree shall be dissipated", or "vanish", or "[its fruit] shall shrink"; so Dr. Smith, who understands it of the decrease of the fluids, as he does the former clause of the solid parts of the body; and the berries of this tree are said to excite both appetite and lust F12: and so Munster F13 interprets the word of the berries of the caper tree; because man goeth to his long home;
the grave, as the Targum, the house appointed for living, where he must lie till the resurrection morn; his eternal house, as Cicero calls it F14; and so it may be rendered here, "the house of the world", common to all the world, where all mankind go: or, "to the house of his world" F15; whether of bliss or woe, according as his state and character be, good or bad: Theognis F16 calls it the dark house of "hades", or the invisible state; and then this must be understood with respect to his separate soul, and the mansion of it; and Alshech says, every righteous man has a mansion to himself; see ( John 14:2 ) ; and the mourners go about the streets;
the relations of the deceased; or those that go to their houses to comfort them; or the mourning men and women, hired for that purpose.

F8 Fam. Epist. l. 11. Ep. 58.
F9 R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 83. 1.
F11 Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 4. c. 8. col. 494.
F12 Avicenna spud Schindler. Lexic. col. 10.
F13 Dictionar. Chaldaic. p. 13.
F14 Tusculan. Quaest. l. 2. prope finem.
F15 (wmle tyb la) "ad domum seculi sui", Pagninus. Montanus, Vatablus, Mercerus.
F16 (gnwmai) v. 1008. vid. v. 244.

Ecclesiastes 12:5 In-Context

3 in the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim;
4 and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly.
5 Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street.
6 Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed;
7 then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

Cross References 2

  • 1. Job 17:13; Job 30:23
  • 2. Genesis 50:10; Jeremiah 9:17

Footnotes 1

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