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Ecclesiastes 10:16 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Woe to thee, O land, when thy king [is] a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— Woe to you, O land, whose king is a lad and whose princes feast in the morning.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Woe to thee, O land, when thy king [is] a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Alas! for thee, O land, when thy king is a boy,—and, thy rulers, in the morning, do eat:
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— Woe to thee, O land, when thy king [is] a youth, And thy princes do eat in the morning.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and when the princes eat in the morning.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Woe to thee, O land, when thy king [is] a child, and thy princes eate in the morning.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— Woe to thee, O city, whose king is young, and thy princes eat in the morning!
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— Woe to thee, O land, when thy king [is] a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Woe 337
{0337} Prime
Shortened from H0188; alas!.
to thee, O land, 776
{0776} Prime
From an unused root probably meaning to be firm; the earth (at large, or partitively a land).
when thy king 4428
{4428} Prime
From H4427; a king.
(7945) Complement
For the relative H0834; used with prepositional prefix, and often followed by some pronoun affixed; on account of, what soever, which soever.
[is] a child, 5288
{5288} Prime
From H5287; (concretely) a boy (as active), from the age of infancy to adolescence; by implication a servant; also (by interchange of sex), a girl (of similar latitude in age).
and thy princes 8269
{8269} Prime
From H8323; a head person (of any rank or class).
eat 398
{0398} Prime
A primitive root; to eat (literally or figuratively).
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
in the morning! 1242
{1242} Prime
From H1239; properly dawn (as the break of day); generally morning.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Ecclesiastes 10:16

_ _ a child — given to pleasures; behaves with childish levity. Not in years; for a nation may be happy under a young prince, as Josiah.

_ _ eat in the morning — the usual time for dispensing justice in the East (Jeremiah 21:12); here, given to feasting (Isaiah 5:11; Acts 2:15).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Ecclesiastes 10:16-20

_ _ Solomon here observes,

_ _ I. How much the happiness of a land depends upon the character of its rulers; it is well or ill with the people according as the princes are good or bad. 1. The people cannot be happy when their princes are childish and voluptuous (Ecclesiastes 10:16): Woe unto thee, O land! even the land of Canaan itself, though otherwise the glory of all lands, when thy king is a child, not so much in age (Solomon himself was young when his kingdom was happy in him) as in understanding; when the prince is weak and foolish as a child, fickle and fond of changes, fretful and humoursome, easily imposed upon, and hardly brought to business, it is ill with the people. The body staggers if the head be giddy. Perhaps Solomon wrote this with a foresight of his son Rehoboam's ill conduct (2 Chronicles 13:7); he was a child all the days of his life and his family and kingdom fared the worse for it. Nor is it much better with a people when their princes eat in the morning, that is, make a god of their belly and make themselves slaves to their appetites. If the king himself be a child, yet if the princes and privy-counsellors are wise and faithful, and apply themselves to business, the land may do the better; but if they addict themselves to their pleasures, and prefer the gratifications of the flesh before the despatch of the public business, which they disfit themselves for by eating and drinking in a morning, when judges are epicures, and do not eat to live, but live to eat, what good can a nation expect! 2. The people cannot but be happy when their rulers are generous and active, sober and temperate, and men of business, Ecclesiastes 10:17. The land is then blessed, (1.) When the sovereign is governed by principles of honour, when the king is the son of nobles, actuated and animated by a noble spirit, which scorns to do any thing base and unbecoming so high a character, which is solicitous for the public welfare, and prefers that before any private interests. Wisdom, virtue, and the fear of God, beneficence, and a readiness to do good to all mankind, these ennoble the royal blood. 2. When the subordinate magistrates are more in care to discharge their trusts than to gratify their appetites; when they eat in due season (Psalms 145:15); let us not take ours unseasonable, lest we lose the comfort of seeing God give it to us. Magistrates should eat for strength, that their bodies may be fitted to serve their souls in the service of God and their country, and not for drunkenness, to make themselves unfit to do any thing either for God or man, and particularly to sit in judgment, for they will err through wine (Isaiah 28:7), will drink and forget the law, Proverbs 31:5. It is well with a people when their princes are examples of temperance, when those that have most to spend upon themselves know how to deny themselves.

_ _ II. Of what ill consequence slothfulness is both to private and public affairs (Ecclesiastes 10:18): By much slothfulness and idleness of the hands, the neglect of business, and the love of ease and pleasure, the building decays, drops through first, and by degrees drops down. If it be not kept well covered, and care be not taken to repair the breaches, as any happen, it will rain in, and the timber will rot, and the house will become unfit to dwell in. It is so with the family and the affairs of it; if men cannot find in their hearts to take pains in their callings, to tend their shops and look after their own business, they will soon run in debt and go behind-hand, and, instead of making what they have more for their children, will make it less. It is so with the public; if the king be a child and will take no care, if the princes eat in the morning and will take no pains, the affairs of the nation suffer loss, and its interests are prejudiced, its honour is sullied, its power is weakened, its borders are encroached upon, the course of justice is obstructed, the treasure is exhausted, and all its foundations are out of course, and all this through the slothfulness of self-seeking of those that should be the repairers of its breaches and the restorers of paths to dwell in, Isaiah 58:12.

_ _ III. How industrious generally all are, both princes and people, to get money, because that serves for all purposes, Ecclesiastes 10:19. He seems to prefer money before mirth: A feast is made for laughter, not merely for eating, but chiefly for pleasant conversation and the society of friends, not the laughter of the fool, which is madness, but that of wise men, by which they fit themselves for business and severe studies. Spiritual feasts are made for spiritual laughter, holy joy in God. Wine makes merry, makes glad the life, but money is the measure of all things and answers all things. Pecuniae obediunt omniaMoney commands all things. Though wine make merry, it will not be a house for us, nor a bed, nor clothing, nor provisions and portions for children; but money, if men have enough of it, will be all these. The feast cannot be made without money, and, though men have wine, they are not so much disposed to be merry unless they have money for the necessary supports of life. Money of itself answers nothing; it will neither feed nor clothe; but, as it is the instrument of commerce, it answers all the occasions of this present life. What is to be had may be had for money. But it answers nothing to the soul; it will not procure the pardon of sin, the favour of God, the peace of conscience; the soul, as it is not redeemed, so it is not maintained, with corruptible things as silver and gold. Some refer this to rulers; it is ill with the people when they give up themselves to luxury and riot, feasting and making merry, not only because their business is neglected, but because money must be had to answer all these things, and, in order to that, the people squeezed by heavy taxes.

_ _ IV. How cautious subjects have need to be that they harbour not any disloyal purposes in their minds, nor keep up any factious cabals or consultations against the government, because it is ten to one that they are discovered and brought to light, Ecclesiastes 10:20. “Though rulers should be guilty of some errors, yet be not, upon all occasions, arraigning their administration and running them down, but make the best of them.” Here, 1. The command teaches us our duty “Curse not the king, no, not in thy thought, do not wish ill to the government in thy mind.” All sin begins there, and therefore the first risings of it must be curbed and suppressed, and particularly that of treason and sedition. “Curse not the rich, the princes and governors, in thy bed-chamber, in a conclave or club of persons disaffected to the government; associate not with such; come not into their secret; join not with them in speaking ill of the government or plotting against it.” 2. The reason consults our safety. “Though the design be carried on ever so closely, a bird of the air shall carry the voice to the king, who has more spies about than thou art aware of, and that which has wings shall tell the matter, to thy confusion and ruin.” God sees what men do, and hears what they say, in secret; and, when he pleases, he can bring it to light by strange and unsuspected ways. Wouldst thou then not be hurt by the powers that be, nor be afraid of them? Do that which is good and thou shalt have praise of the same; but, if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, Romans 13:3, Romans 13:4.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Ecclesiastes 10:16

A child — Either in age, or childish qualities. Eat — Give up themselves to eating and drinking. Morning — The fittest time for God's service, for the dispatch of weighty affairs, and for sitting in judgment.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Ecclesiastes 10:16

Woe to thee, O land, when thy king [is] a (h) child, and thy princes (i) eat in the morning!

(h) That is, without wisdom and counsel.

(i) Are given to their lusts and pleasures.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

2 Chronicles 13:7 And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them.
2 Chronicles 33:1-20 Manasseh [was] twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: ... So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chronicles 36:2 Jehoahaz [was] twenty and three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 36:5 Jehoiakim [was] twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and he did [that which was] evil in the sight of the LORD his God.
2 Chronicles 36:9 Jehoiachin [was] eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did [that which was] evil in the sight of the LORD.
2 Chronicles 36:11 Zedekiah [was] one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.
Isaiah 3:4-5 And I will give children [to be] their princes, and babes shall rule over them. ... And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.
Isaiah 3:12 [As for] my people, children [are] their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause [thee] to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.


Proverbs 20:1-2 Wine [is] a mocker, strong drink [is] raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. ... The fear of a king [is] as the roaring of a lion: [whoso] provoketh him to anger sinneth [against] his own soul.
Isaiah 5:11-12 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, [that] they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, [till] wine inflame them! ... And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.
Isaiah 28:7-8 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble [in] judgment. ... For all tables are full of vomit [and] filthiness, [so that there is] no place [clean].
Hosea 7:5-7 In the day of our king the princes have made [him] sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners. ... They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: [there is] none among them that calleth unto me.

in the:

Jeremiah 21:12 O house of David, thus saith the LORD; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver [him that is] spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench [it], because of the evil of your doings.
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Chain-Reference Bible Search

2Ch 13:7; 33:1; 36:2, 5, 9, 11. Pv 20:1. Is 3:4, 12; 5:11; 28:7. Jr 21:12. Ho 7:5.

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