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Ecclesiastes 8:14 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— There is a vanity which is done upon the earth, that there are righteous men unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just [men], unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked [men], to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also [is] vanity.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there are just [men], to whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked [men], to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also [is] vanity.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there are righteous [men] unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; and there are wicked [men] to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Here was a vain thing which was done upon the earth—that there were righteous men unto whom it happened according to the work of the lawless, and there were lawless men, unto whom it happened according to the work of the righteous,—I said, that, even this, was vanity.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— There is a vanity that hath been done upon the earth, that there are righteous ones unto whom it is coming according to the work of the wicked, and there are wicked ones unto whom it is coming according to the work of the righteous. I have said that this also [is] vanity.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— There is also another vanity, which is done upon the earth. There are just men to whom evils happen, as though they had done the works of the wicked: and there are wicked men, who are as secure as though they had the deeds of the just: but this also I judge most vain.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— There is a vanitie which is done vpon the earth, that there be iust men vnto whom it happeneth according to the worke of the wicked: againe, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the worke of the righteous: I said, that this also [is] vanitie.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there are righteous persons to whom it happens according to the doing of the ungodly; and there are ungodly men, to whom it happens according to the doing of the just: I said, This is also vanity.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just [men], unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked [men], to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also [is] vanity.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
There is 3426
{3426} Prime
יֵשׁ
yesh
{yaysh}
Perhaps from an unused root meaning to stand out, or exist; entity; used adverbially or as a copula for the substantive verb (H1961); there is or are (or any other form of the verb to be, as may suit the connection).
a vanity 1892
{1892} Prime
הֶבֶל
hebel
{heh'-bel}
From H1891; emptiness or vanity; figuratively something transitory and unsatisfactory; often used as an adverb.
which x834
(0834) Complement
אֲשֶׁר
'asher
{ash-er'}
A primitive relative pronoun (of every gender and number); who, which, what, that; also (as adverb and conjunction) when, where, how, because, in order that, etc.
is done 6213
{6213} Prime
עָשָׂה
`asah
{aw-saw'}
A primitive root; to do or make, in the broadest sense and widest application.
z8738
<8738> Grammar
Stem - Niphal (See H8833)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 1429
upon x5921
(5921) Complement
עַל
`al
{al}
Properly the same as H5920 used as a preposition (in the singular or plural, often with prefix, or as conjugation with a particle following); above, over, upon, or against (yet always in this last relation with a downward aspect) in a great variety of applications.
the earth; 776
{0776} Prime
אֶרֶץ
'erets
{eh'-rets}
From an unused root probably meaning to be firm; the earth (at large, or partitively a land).
that x834
(0834) Complement
אֲשֶׁר
'asher
{ash-er'}
A primitive relative pronoun (of every gender and number); who, which, what, that; also (as adverb and conjunction) when, where, how, because, in order that, etc.
there be x3426
(3426) Complement
יֵשׁ
yesh
{yaysh}
Perhaps from an unused root meaning to stand out, or exist; entity; used adverbially or as a copula for the substantive verb (H1961); there is or are (or any other form of the verb to be, as may suit the connection).
just 6662
{6662} Prime
צַדִּיק
tsaddiyq
{tsad-deek'}
From H6663; just.
[men], unto whom x834
(0834) Complement
אֲשֶׁר
'asher
{ash-er'}
A primitive relative pronoun (of every gender and number); who, which, what, that; also (as adverb and conjunction) when, where, how, because, in order that, etc.
x413
(0413) Complement
אֵל
'el
{ale}
(Used only in the shortened constructive form (the second form)); a primitive particle, properly denoting motion towards, but occasionally used of a quiescent position, that is, near, with or among; often in general, to.
it happeneth 5060
{5060} Prime
נגע
naga`
{naw-gah'}
A primitive root; properly to touch, that is, lay the hand upon (for any purpose; euphemistically, to lie with a woman); by implication to reach (figuratively to arrive, acquire); violently, to strike (punish, defeat, destroy, etc.).
z8688
<8688> Grammar
Stem - Hiphil (See H8818)
Mood - Participle (See H8813)
Count - 857
according to the work 4639
{4639} Prime
מַעֲשֶׂה
ma`aseh
{mah-as-eh'}
From H6213; an action (good or bad); generally a transaction; abstractly activity; by implication a product (specifically a poem) or (generally) property.
of the wicked; 7563
{7563} Prime
רָשָׁע
rasha`
{raw-shaw'}
From H7561; morally wrong; concretely an (actively) bad person.
again, there be 3426
{3426} Prime
יֵשׁ
yesh
{yaysh}
Perhaps from an unused root meaning to stand out, or exist; entity; used adverbially or as a copula for the substantive verb (H1961); there is or are (or any other form of the verb to be, as may suit the connection).
wicked 7563
{7563} Prime
רָשָׁע
rasha`
{raw-shaw'}
From H7561; morally wrong; concretely an (actively) bad person.
[men], to x413
(0413) Complement
אֵל
'el
{ale}
(Used only in the shortened constructive form (the second form)); a primitive particle, properly denoting motion towards, but occasionally used of a quiescent position, that is, near, with or among; often in general, to.
whom it happeneth 5060
{5060} Prime
נגע
naga`
{naw-gah'}
A primitive root; properly to touch, that is, lay the hand upon (for any purpose; euphemistically, to lie with a woman); by implication to reach (figuratively to arrive, acquire); violently, to strike (punish, defeat, destroy, etc.).
z8688
<8688> Grammar
Stem - Hiphil (See H8818)
Mood - Participle (See H8813)
Count - 857
x7945
(7945) Complement
שֶׁל
shel
{shel}
For the relative H0834; used with prepositional prefix, and often followed by some pronoun affixed; on account of, what soever, which soever.
according to the work 4639
{4639} Prime
מַעֲשֶׂה
ma`aseh
{mah-as-eh'}
From H6213; an action (good or bad); generally a transaction; abstractly activity; by implication a product (specifically a poem) or (generally) property.
of the righteous: 6662
{6662} Prime
צַדִּיק
tsaddiyq
{tsad-deek'}
From H6663; just.
I said 559
{0559} Prime
אָמַר
'amar
{aw-mar'}
A primitive root; to say (used with great latitude).
z8804
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
that this also 1571
{1571} Prime
גַּם
gam
{gam}
By contraction from an unused root meaning to gather; properly assemblage; used only adverbially also, even, yea, though; often repeated as correlation both... and.
x2088
(2088) Complement
זֶה
zeh
{zeh}
A primitive word; the masculine demonstrative pronoun, this or that.
x7945
(7945) Complement
שֶׁל
shel
{shel}
For the relative H0834; used with prepositional prefix, and often followed by some pronoun affixed; on account of, what soever, which soever.
[is] vanity. 1892
{1892} Prime
הֶבֶל
hebel
{heh'-bel}
From H1891; emptiness or vanity; figuratively something transitory and unsatisfactory; often used as an adverb.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Ecclesiastes 8:14

_ _ An objection is here started (entertained by Solomon in his apostasy), as in Ecclesiastes 3:16; Ecclesiastes 7:15, to the truth of retributive justice, from the fact of the just and the wicked not now receiving always according to their respective deserts; a cavil, which would seem the more weighty to men living under the Mosaic covenant of temporal sanctions. The objector adds, as Solomon had said, that the worldling’s pursuits are “vanity” (Ecclesiastes 8:10), “I say (not ‘said’) this also is vanity. Then I commend mirth,” etc. [Holden]. Ecclesiastes 8:14, Ecclesiastes 8:15 may, however, be explained as teaching a cheerful, thankful use of God’s gifts “under the sun,” that is, not making them the chief good, as sensualists do, which Ecclesiastes 2:2; Ecclesiastes 7:2, forbid; but in “the fear of God,” as Ecclesiastes 3:12; Ecclesiastes 5:18; Ecclesiastes 7:18; Ecclesiastes 9:7, opposed to the abstinence of the self-righteous ascetic (Ecclesiastes 7:16), and of the miser (Ecclesiastes 5:17).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Ecclesiastes 8:14-17

_ _ Wise and good men have, of old, been perplexed with this difficulty, how the prosperity of the wicked and the troubles of the righteous can be reconciled with the holiness and goodness of the God that governs the world. Concerning this Solomon here gives us his advice.

_ _ I. He would not have us to be surprised at it, as though some strange thing happened, for he himself saw it in his days, Ecclesiastes 8:14. 1. He saw just men to whom it happened according to the work of the wicked, who, notwithstanding their righteousness, suffered very hard things, and continued long to do so, as if they were to be punished for some great wickedness. 2. He saw wicked men to whom it happened according to the work of the righteous, who prospered as remarkably as if they had been rewarded for some good deed, and that from themselves, from God, from men. We see the just troubled and perplexed in their own minds, the wicked easy, fearless, and secure, — the just crossed and afflicted by the divine Providence, the wicked prosperous, successful, and smiled upon, — the just, censured, reproached, and run down, by the higher powers, the wicked applauded and preferred.

_ _ II. He would have us to take occasion hence, not to charge God with iniquity, but to charge the world with vanity. No fault is to be found with God; but, as to the world, This is vanity upon the earth, and again, This is also vanity, that is, it is a certain evidence that the things of this world are not the best things nor were ever designed to make a portion and happiness for us, for, if they had, God would not have allotted so much of this world's wealth to his worst enemies and so much of its troubles to his best friends; there must therefore be another life after this the joys and griefs of which must be real and substantial, and able to make men truly happy or truly miserable, for this world does neither.

_ _ III. He would have us not to fret and perplex ourselves about it, or make ourselves uneasy, but cheerfully to enjoy what God has given us in the world, to be content with it and make the best of it, though it be much better with others, and such as we think very unworthy (Ecclesiastes 8:15): Then I commended joy, a holy security and serenity of mind, arising from a confidence in God, and his power, providence, and promise, because a man has no better thing under the sun (though a good man has much better things above the sun) than to eat and drink, that is, soberly and thankfully to make use of the things of this life according as his rank is, and to be cheerful, whatever happens, for that shall abide with him of his labour. That is all the fruit he has for himself of the pains that he takes in the business of the world; let him therefore take it, and much good may it do him; and let him not deny himself that, out of a peevish discontent because the world does not go as he would have it. That shall abide with him during the days of his life which God gives him under the sun. Our present life is a life under the sun, but we look for the life of the world to come, which will commence and continue when the sun shall be turned into darkness and shine no more. This present life must be reckoned by days; this life is given us, and the days of it are allotted to us, by the counsel of God, and therefore while it does last we must accommodate ourselves to the will of God and study to answer the ends of life.

_ _ IV. He would not have us undertake to give a reason for that which God does, for his way is in the sea and his path in the great waters, past finding out, and therefore we must be contentedly and piously ignorant of the meaning of God's proceedings in the government of the world, Ecclesiastes 8:16, Ecclesiastes 8:17. Here he shows, 1. That both he himself and many others had very closely studied the point, and searched far into the reasons of the prosperity of the wicked and the afflictions of the righteous. He, for his part, had applied his heart to know this wisdom, and to see the business that is done, by the divine Providence, upon the earth, to find out if there were any certain scheme, any constant rule or method, by which the affairs of this lower world were administered, any course of government as sure and steady as the course of nature, so that by what is done now we might as certainly foretel what will be done next as by the moon's changing now we can foretel when it will be at the full; this he would fain have found out. Others had likewise set themselves to make this enquiry with so close an application that they could not find time for sleep, either day or night, nor find in their hearts to sleep, so full of anxiety were they about these things. Some think Solomon speaks of himself, that he was so eager in prosecuting this great enquiry that he could not sleep for thinking of it. 2. That it was all labour in vain, Ecclesiastes 8:17. When we look upon all the works of God and his providence, and compare one part with another, we cannot find that there is any such certain method by which the work that is done under the sun is directed; we cannot discover any key by which to decipher the character, nor by consulting precedents can we know the practice of this court, nor what the judgment will be. [1.] Though a man be ever so industrious, thou he labour to seek it out. [2.] Though he be ever so ingenious, though he be a wise man in other things, and can fathom the counsels of kings themselves and trace them by their footsteps. Nay, [3.] Though he be very confident of success, though he think to know it, yet he shall not; he cannot find it out. God's ways are above ours, nor is he tied to his own former ways, but his judgments are a great deep.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Ecclesiastes 8:14

Done — Either by wicked potentates, who do commonly advance unworthy men, and oppress persons of greatest virtue and merit: or, by God's providence, who sees it fit for many weighty reasons so to manage the affairs of the present world. To whom — Who meet with such usage as the worst of men deserve. It happeneth — Who, instead of those punishments which they deserve, receive those rewards which are due to virtuous men.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Ecclesiastes 8:14

There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there are just [men], to whom it happeneth according to the (m) work of the wicked; again, there are wicked [men], to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also [is] vanity.

(m) Who are punished as though they were wicked, as in (Ecclesiastes 7:17)

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
a vanity:

Ecclesiastes 4:4 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This [is] also vanity and vexation of spirit.
Ecclesiastes 4:8 There is one [alone], and [there is] not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet [is there] no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither [saith he], For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This [is] also vanity, yea, it [is] a sore travail.
Ecclesiastes 9:3 This [is] an evil among all [things] that are done under the sun, that [there is] one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness [is] in their heart while they live, and after that [they go] to the dead.
Ecclesiastes 10:5 There is an evil [which] I have seen under the sun, as an error [which] proceedeth from the ruler:

there be just:

Ecclesiastes 2:14 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.
Ecclesiastes 7:15 All [things] have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just [man] that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked [man] that prolongeth [his life] in his wickedness.
Ecclesiastes 9:1-3 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, [are] in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred [by] all [that is] before them. ... This [is] an evil among all [things] that are done under the sun, that [there is] one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness [is] in their heart while they live, and after that [they go] to the dead.
Job 9:22-24 This [is] one [thing], therefore I said [it], He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked. ... The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, [and] who [is] he?
Job 21:17-34 How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and [how oft] cometh their destruction upon them! [God] distributeth sorrows in his anger. ... How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood?
Job 24:21-25 He evil entreateth the barren [that] beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow. ... And if [it be] not [so] now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?
Psalms 73:13-14 Verily I have cleansed my heart [in] vain, and washed my hands in innocency. ... For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.
Malachi 3:15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, [they that] tempt God are even delivered.
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Jb 9:22; 21:17; 24:21. Ps 73:13. Ec 2:14; 4:4, 8; 7:15; 9:1, 3; 10:5. Mal 3:15.

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