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Ecclesiastes 8:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the hardness of his face is changed.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Who [is] as the wise [man]? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— Who is like the wise man and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man’s wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face to beam.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Who [is] as the wise [man]? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Who is as the wise? and who knoweth the explanation of things? A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face is changed.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Who is really a wise man, and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? The wisdom of a man, lighteth up his countenance, but, by defiance of countenance, one is disfigured.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— Who [is] as the wise? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? The wisdom of man causeth his face to shine, and the hardness of his face is changed.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— The wisdom of a man shineth in his countenance, and the most mighty will change his face.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Who [is] as the Wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a mans wisedome maketh his face to shine, and the boldnes of his face shalbe changed.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— Who knows the wise? and who knows the interpretation of a saying? A man's wisdom will lighten his countenance; but a man of shameless countenance will be hated.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— Who [is] as the wise [man]? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Who x4310
(4310) Complement
מִי
miy
{me}
An interrogitive pronoun of persons, as H4100 is of things, who? (occasionally, by a peculiar idiom, of things); also (indefinitely) whoever; often used in oblique construction with prefix or suffix.
[is] as the wise 2450
{2450} Prime
חָכָם
chakam
{khaw-kawm'}
From H2449; wise, (that is, intelligent, skilful or artful).
[man]? and who x4310
(4310) Complement
מִי
miy
{me}
An interrogitive pronoun of persons, as H4100 is of things, who? (occasionally, by a peculiar idiom, of things); also (indefinitely) whoever; often used in oblique construction with prefix or suffix.
knoweth 3045
{3045} Prime
ידע
yada`
{yaw-dah'}
A primitive root; to know (properly to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially (including observation, care, recognition; and causatively instruction, designation, punishment, etc.).
z8802
<8802> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Active (See H8814)
Count - 5386
the interpretation 6592
{6592} Prime
פֵּשֶׁר
pesher
{pay'-sher}
Corresponding to H6591.
of a thing? 1697
{1697} Prime
דָּבָר
dabar
{daw-baw'}
From H1696; a word; by implication a matter (as spoken of) or thing; adverbially a cause.
a man's 120
{0120} Prime
אָדָם
'adam
{aw-dawm'}
From H0119; ruddy, that is, a human being (an individual or the species, mankind, etc.).
wisdom 2451
{2451} Prime
חָכְמָה
chokmah
{khok-maw'}
From H2449; wisdom (in a good sense).
maketh his face 6440
{6440} Prime
פָּנִים
paniym
{paw-neem'}
Plural (but always used as a singular) of an unused noun (פָּנֶה paneh, {paw-neh'}; from H6437); the face (as the part that turns); used in a great variety of applications (literally and figuratively); also (with prepositional prefix) as a preposition (before, etc.).
to shine, 215
{0215} Prime
אוֹר
'owr
{ore}
A primitive root; to be (causatively make) luminous (literally and metaphorically).
z8686
<8686> Grammar
Stem - Hiphil (See H8818)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 4046
and the boldness 5797
{5797} Prime
עֹז
`oz
{oze}
From H5810; strength in various applications (force, security, majesty, praise).
of his face 6440
{6440} Prime
פָּנִים
paniym
{paw-neem'}
Plural (but always used as a singular) of an unused noun (פָּנֶה paneh, {paw-neh'}; from H6437); the face (as the part that turns); used in a great variety of applications (literally and figuratively); also (with prepositional prefix) as a preposition (before, etc.).
shall be changed. 8132
{8132} Prime
שָׁנָה
shana
{shaw-naw'}
A primitive root; to alter.
z8792
<8792> Grammar
Stem - Pual (See H8849)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 93
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Ecclesiastes 8:1

_ _ Praise of true wisdom continued (Ecclesiastes 7:11, etc.). “Who” is to be accounted “equal to the wise man? ... Who (like him) knoweth the interpretation” of God’s providences (for example, Ecclesiastes 7:8, Ecclesiastes 7:13, Ecclesiastes 7:14), and God’s word (for example, see on Ecclesiastes 7:29; Proverbs 1:6)?

_ _ face to shine — (Ecclesiastes 7:14; Acts 6:15). A sunny countenance, the reflection of a tranquil conscience and serene mind. Communion with God gives it (Exodus 34:29, Exodus 34:30).

_ _ boldness — austerity.

_ _ changed — into a benign expression by true wisdom (religion) (James 3:17). Maurer translates, “The shining (brightness) of his face is doubled,” arguing that the Hebrew noun for “boldness” is never used in a bad sense (Proverbs 4:18). Or as Margin, “strength” (Ecclesiastes 7:19; Isaiah 40:31; 2 Corinthians 3:18). But the adjective is used in a bad sense (Deuteronomy 28:50).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Ecclesiastes 8:1-5

_ _ Here is, I. An encomium of wisdom (Ecclesiastes 8:1), that is, of true piety, guided in all its exercises by prudence and discretion. The wise man is the good man, that knows God and glorifies him, knows himself and does well for himself; his wisdom is a great happiness to him, for, 1. It advances him above his neighbours, and makes him more excellent than they: Who is as the wise man? Note, Heavenly wisdom will make a man an incomparable man. No man without grace, though he be learned, or noble, or rich, is to be compared with a man that has true grace and is therefore accepted of God. 2. It makes him useful among his neighbours and very serviceable to them: Who but the wise man knows the interpretation of a thing, that is, understands the times and the events of them, and their critical junctures, so as to direct what Israel ought to do, 1 Chronicles 12:32. 3. It beautifies a man in the eyes of his friends: It makes his face to shine, as Moses's did when he came down from the mount; it puts honour upon a man and a lustre on his whole conversation, makes him to be regarded and taken notice of, and gains him respect (as Job 29:7, etc.); it makes him lovely and amiable, and the darling and blessing of his country. The strength of his face, the sourness and severity of his countenance (so some understand the last clause), shall be changed by it into that which is sweet and obliging. Even those whose natural temper is rough and morose by wisdom are strangely altered; they become mild and gentle, and learn to look pleasant. 4. It emboldens a man against his adversaries, their attempts and their scorn: The boldness of his face shall be doubled by wisdom; it will add very much to his courage in maintaining his integrity when he not only has an honest cause to plead, but by his wisdom knows how to manage it and where to find the interpretation of a thing. He shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with his enemy in the gate.

_ _ II. A particular instance of wisdom pressed upon us, and that is subjection to authority, and a dutiful and peaceable perseverance in our allegiance to the government which Providence has set over us. Observe,

_ _ 1. How the duty of subjects is here described. (1.) We must be observant of the laws. In all those things wherein the civil power is to interpose, whether legislative or judicial, we ought to submit to its order and constitutions: I counsel thee; it may as well be supplied, I charge thee, not only as a prince but as a preacher: he might do both; “I recommend it to thee as a piece of wisdom; I say, whatever those say that are given to change, keep the king's commandment; wherever the sovereign power is lodged, be subject to it. Observe the mouth of a king” (so the phrase is); “say as he says; do as he bids thee; let his word be a law, or rather let the law be his word.” Some understand the following clause as a limitation of this obedience: “Keep the king's commandment, yet so as to have a regard to the oath of God, that is, so as to keep a good conscience and not to violate thy obligations to God, which are prior and superior to thy obligations to the king. Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, but so as to reserve pure and entire to God the things that are his.” (2.) We must not be forward to find fault with the public administration, or quarrel with every thing that is not just according to our mind, nor quit our post of service under the government, and throw it up, upon every discontent (Ecclesiastes 8:3): “Be not hasty to go out of his sight, when he is displeased at thee (Ecclesiastes 10:4), or when thou art displeased at him; fly not off in a passion, nor entertain such jealousies of him as will tempt thee to renounce the court or forsake the kingdom.” Solomon's subjects, as soon as his head was laid low, went directly contrary to this rule, when upon the rough answer which Rehoboam gave them, they were hasty to go out of his sight, would not take time for second thoughts nor admit proposals of accommodation, but cried, To your tents, O Israel! “There may perhaps be a just cause to go out of his sight; but be not hasty to do it; act with great deliberation.” (3.) We must not persist in a fault when it is shown us: “Stand not in an evil thing; in any offence thou hast given to thy prince humble thyself, and do not justify thyself, for that will make the offence much more offensive. In any ill design thou hast, upon some discontent, conceived against thy prince, do not proceed in it; but if thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or hast thought evil, lay thy hand upon thy mouth,Proverbs 30:32. Note, Though we may by surprise be drawn into an evil thing, yet we must not stand in it, but recede from it as soon as it appears to us to be evil. (4.) We must prudently accommodate ourselves to our opportunities, both for our own relief, if we think ourselves wronged, and for the redress of public grievances: A wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment (Ecclesiastes 8:5); it is the wisdom of subjects, in applying themselves to their princes, to enquire and consider both at what season and in what manner they may do it best and most effectually, to pacify his anger, obtain his favour, or obtain the revocation of any grievous measure prescribed. Esther, in dealing with Ahasuerus, took a deal of pains to discern both time and judgment, and she sped accordingly. This may be taken as a general rule of wisdom, that every thing should be well timed; and our enterprises are then likely to succeed, when we embrace the exact opportunity for them.

_ _ 2. What arguments are here used to engage us to be subject to the higher powers; they are much the same with those which St. Paul uses, Romans 13:1, etc. (1.) We must needs be subject, for conscience-sake, and that is the most powerful principle of subjection. We must be subject because of the oath of God, the oath of allegiance which we have taken to be faithful to the government, the covenant between the king and the people, 2 Chronicles 23:16. David made a covenant, or contract, with the elders of Israel, though he was king by divine designation, 1 Chronicles 11:3. “Keep the king's commandments, for he has sworn to rule thee in the fear of God, and thou hast sworn, in that fear, to be faithful to him.” It is called the oath of God because he is a witness to it and will avenge the violation of it. (2.) For wrath's sake, because of the sword which the prince bears and the power he is entrusted with, which make him formidable: He does whatsoever pleases him; he has a great authority and a great ability to support that authority (Ecclesiastes 8:4): Where the word of a king is, giving orders to seize a man, there is power; there are many that will execute his orders, which makes the wrath of a king, or supreme government, like the roaring of a lion and like messengers of death. Who may say unto him, What doest thou? He that contradicts him does it at his peril. Kings will not bear to have their orders disputed, but expect they should be obeyed. In short, it is dangerous contending with sovereignty, and what many have repented. A subject is an unequal match for a prince. He may command me who has legions at command. (3.) For the sake of our own comfort: Whoso keeps the commandment, and lives a quiet and peaceable life, shall feel no evil thing, to which that of the apostle answers (Romans 13:3), Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power of the king? Do that which is good, as becomes a dutiful and loyal subject, and thou shalt ordinarily have praise of the same. He that does no ill shall feel no ill and needs fear none.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Ecclesiastes 8:1

Who is wise — There are few wise men in this world. Who knoweth — How few understand the reasons of things and can rightly expound the word and works of God. Wisdom — Makes a man venerable, chearful, mild, and amiable. The face is put for the mind, because the mind discovers itself in the countenance. Boldness — The roughness or fierceness. Changed — Into gentleness and humility.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Ecclesiastes 8:1

Who [is] as the wise [man]? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face (a) to shine, and (b) the boldness of his face shall be changed.

(a) That is, gets him favour and prosperity.

(b) While before he was proud and arrogant, he will become humble and meek.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
as the:

Ecclesiastes 2:13-14 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness. ... The wise man's eyes [are] in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.
1 Corinthians 2:13-16 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. ... For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

who knoweth:

Genesis 40:8 And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and [there is] no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, [Do] not interpretations [belong] to God? tell me [them], I pray you.
Genesis 41:15-16 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and [there is] none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, [that] thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. ... And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, [It is] not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.
Genesis 41:38-39 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find [such a one] as this [is], a man in whom the Spirit of God [is]? ... And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, [there is] none so discreet and wise as thou [art]:
Job 33:23 If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness:
Proverbs 1:6 To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
Daniel 2:28-30 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; ... But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for [any] wisdom that I have more than any living, but for [their] sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
Daniel 2:47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth [it is], that your God [is] a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
Daniel 4:18-19 This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise [men] of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou [art] able; for the spirit of the holy gods [is] in thee. ... Then Daniel, whose name [was] Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream [be] to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.
2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

a man's:

Exodus 34:29-30 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. ... And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
Proverbs 4:8-9 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. ... She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
Proverbs 17:24 Wisdom [is] before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool [are] in the ends of the earth.
Proverbs 24:5 A wise man [is] strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.
Matthew 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Acts 6:15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

and the:

Deuteronomy 28:50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:
Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
Ephesians 6:19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

boldness:
Heb. strength,
2 Timothy 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and [that] all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
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Chain-Reference Bible Search

Gn 40:8; 41:15, 38. Ex 34:29. Dt 28:50. Jb 33:23. Pv 1:6; 4:8; 17:24; 24:5. Ec 2:13. Dn 2:28, 47; 4:18. Mt 17:2. Ac 4:13, 29; 6:15. 1Co 2:13. Ep 6:19. 2Ti 4:17. 2P 1:20.

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