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Ecclesiastes 7:7 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Surely extortion maketh the wise man foolish; and a bribe destroyeth the understanding.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— For oppression makes a wise man mad, And a bribe corrupts the heart.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad, and a gift destroyeth the heart.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— For, oppression, maddeneth the wise,—and a bribe, destroyeth the understanding.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— Surely oppression maketh the wise mad, And a gift destroyeth the heart.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Oppression troubleth the wise, and shall destroy the strength of his heart.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad: and a gift destroyeth the heart.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— For oppression makes a wise man mad, and destroys his noble heart.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Surely x3588
(3588) Complement
A primitive particle (the full form of the prepositional prefix) indicating causal relations of all kinds, antecedent or consequent; (by implication) very widely used as a relative conjugation or adverb; often largely modified by other particles annexed.
oppression 6233
{6233} Prime
From H6231; injury, fraud, (subjectively) distress, (concretely) unjust gain.
maketh a wise man 2450
{2450} Prime
From H2449; wise, (that is, intelligent, skilful or artful).
mad; 1984
{1984} Prime
A primitive root; to be clear (originally of sound, but usually of color); to shine; hence to make a show; to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; causatively to celebrate; also to stultify.
<8779> Grammar
Stem - Poel (See H8845)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 29
and a gift 4979
{4979} Prime
Feminine of H4976; a present; specifically (in a good sense) a sacrificial offering, (in a bad sense) a bribe.
destroyeth 6
{0006} Prime
A primitive root; properly to wander away, that is lose oneself; by implication to perish (causatively, destroy).
<8762> Grammar
Stem - Piel (See H8840)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 2447
(0853) Complement
Apparently contracted from H0226 in the demonstrative sense of entity; properly self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely).
the heart. 3820
{3820} Prime
A form of H3824; the heart; also used (figuratively) very widely for the feelings, the will and even the intellect; likewise for the centre of anything.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Ecclesiastes 7:7

_ _ oppression — recurring to the idea (Ecclesiastes 3:16; Ecclesiastes 5:8). Its connection with Ecclesiastes 7:4-6 is, the sight of “oppression” perpetrated by “fools” might tempt the “wise” to call in question God’s dispensations, and imitate the folly (equivalent to “madness”) described (Ecclesiastes 7:5, Ecclesiastes 7:6). Weiss, for “oppression,” translates, “distraction,” produced by merriment. But Ecclesiastes 5:8 favors English Version.

_ _ a gift — that is, the sight of bribery in “places of judgment” (Ecclesiastes 3:16) might cause the wise to lose their wisdom (equivalent to “heart”), (Job 12:6; Job 21:6, Job 21:7; Job 24:1, etc.). This suits the parallelism better than “a heart of gifts”; a benevolent heart, as Weiss.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Ecclesiastes 7:7-10

_ _ Solomon had often complained before of the oppressions which he saw under the sun, which gave occasion for many melancholy speculations and were a great discouragement to virtue and piety. Now here,

_ _ I. He grants the temptation to be strong (Ecclesiastes 7:7): Surely it is often too true that oppression makes a wise man mad. If a wise man be much and long oppressed, he is very apt to speak and act unlike himself, to lay the reins on the neck of his passions, and break out into indecent complaints against God and man, or to make use of unlawful dishonourable means of relieving himself. The righteous, when the rod of the wicked rests long on their lot, are in danger of putting forth their hands to iniquity, Psalms 125:3. When even wise men have unreasonable hardships put upon them they have much ado to keep their temper and to keep their place. It destroys the heart of a gift (so the latter clause may be read); even the generous heart that is ready to give gifts, and a gracious heart that is endowed with many excellent gifts, is destroyed by being oppressed. We should therefore make great allowances to those that are abused and ill-dealt with, and not be severe in our censures of them, though they do not act so discreetly as they should; we know not what we should do if it were our own case.

_ _ II. He argues against it. Let us not fret at the power and success of oppressors, nor be envious at them, for, 1. The character of oppressors is very bad, so some understand Ecclesiastes 7:7. If he that had the reputation of a wise man becomes an oppressor, he becomes a madman; his reason has departed from him; he is no better than a roaring lion and a ranging bear, and the gifts, the bribes, he takes, the gains he seems to reap by his oppressions, do but destroy his heart and quite extinguish the poor remains of sense and virtue in him, and therefore he is rather to be pitied than envied; let him alone, and he will act so foolishly, and drive so furiously, that in a little time he will ruin himself. 2. The issue, at length, will be good: Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof. By faith see what the end will be, and with patience expect it. When proud men begin to oppress their poor honest neighbours they think their power will bear them out in it; they doubt not but to carry the day, and gain the point. But it will prove better in the end than it seemed at the beginning; their power will be broken, their wealth gotten by oppression will be wasted and gone, they will be humbled and brought down, and reckoned with for their injustice, and oppressed innocency will be both relieved and recompensed. Better was the end of Moses's treaty with Pharaoh, that proud oppressor, when Israel was brought forth with triumph, than the beginning of it, when the tale of bricks was doubled, and every thing looked discouraging.

_ _ III. He arms us against it with some necessary directions. If we would not be driven mad by oppression, but preserve the possession of our own souls,

_ _ 1. We must be clothed with humility; for the proud in spirit are those that cannot bear to be trampled upon, but grow outrageous, and fret themselves, when they are hardly bestead. That will break a proud man's heart, which will not break a humble man's sleep. Mortify pride, therefore, and a lowly spirit will easily be reconciled to a low condition.

_ _ 2. We must put on patience, bearing patience, to submit to the will of God in the affliction, and waiting patience, to expect the issue in God's due time. The patient in spirit are here opposed to the proud in spirit, for where there is humility there will be patience. Those will be thankful for any thing who own they deserve nothing at God's hand, and the patient are said to be better than the proud; they are more easy to themselves, more acceptable to others, and more likely to see a good issue of their troubles.

_ _ 3. We must govern our passion with wisdom and grace (Ecclesiastes 7:9): Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; those that are hasty in their expectations, and cannot brook delays, are apt to be angry if they be not immediately gratified. “Be not angry at proud oppressors, or any that are the instruments of your trouble.” (1.) “Be not soon angry, not quick in apprehending an affront and resenting it, nor forward to express your resentments of it.” (2.) “Be not long angry;” for though anger may come into the bosom of a wise man, and pass through it as a wayfaring man, it rests only in the bosom of fools; there it resides, there it remains, there it has the innermost and uppermost place, there it is hugged as that which is dear, and laid in the bosom, and not easily parted with. He therefore that would approve himself so wise as not to give place to the devil, must not let the sun go down upon his wrath, Ephesians 4:26, Ephesians 4:27.

_ _ 4. We must make the best of that which is (Ecclesiastes 7:10): “Take it not for granted that the former days were better than these, nor enquire what is the cause that they were so, for therein thou dost not enquire wisely, since thou enquirest into the reason of the thing before thou art sure that the thing itself is true; and, besides, thou art so much a stranger to the times past, and such an incompetent judge even of the present times, that thou canst not expect a satisfactory answer to the enquiry, and therefore thou dost not enquire wisely; nay, the supposition is a foolish reflection upon the providence of God in the government of the world.” Note, (1.) It is folly to complain of the badness of our own times when we have more reason to complain of the badness of our own hearts (if men's hearts were better, the times would mend) and when we have more reason to be thankful that they are not worse, but that even in the worst of times we enjoy many mercies, which help to make them not only tolerable, but comfortable. (2.) It is folly to cry up the goodness of former times, so as to derogate from the mercy of God to us in our own times; as if former ages had not the same things to complain of that we have, or if perhaps, in some respects, they had not, yet as if God had been unjust and unkind to us in casting our lot in an iron age, compared with the golden ages that went before us; this arises from nothing but fretfulness and discontent, and an aptness to pick quarrels with God himself. We are not to think there is any universal decay in nature, or degeneracy in morals. God has been always good, and men always bad; and if, in some respects, the times are now worse than they have been, perhaps in other respects they are better.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Ecclesiastes 7:7

A gift — A bribe given to a wise man, deprives him of the use of his understanding. So this verse discovers two ways whereby a wise man may be made mad, by suffering oppression from others, or by receiving bribes to oppress others. And this also is an argument of the vanity of worldly wisdom that is so easily corrupted and lost.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Ecclesiastes 7:7

Surely oppression maketh a wise man (e) mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.

(e) A man that is esteemed wise, when he falls to oppression, becomes like a beast.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

Deuteronomy 28:33-34 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway: ... So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.
Deuteronomy 28:65 And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:

a gift:

Exodus 23:8 And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.
Deuteronomy 16:19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.
1 Samuel 8:3 And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
1 Samuel 12:3 Behold, here I [am]: witness against me before the LORD, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received [any] bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you.
Proverbs 17:23 A wicked [man] taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.
Isaiah 1:23 Thy princes [are] rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
Isaiah 33:15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;
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Ex 23:8. Dt 16:19; 28:33, 65. 1S 8:3; 12:3. Pv 17:23. Is 1:23; 33:15.

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