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Ecclesiastes 9:11 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race [is] not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to the intelligent, nor yet favour to men of knowledge; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— I again saw under the sun, that not, to the swift, was the race, nor, to the strong, the battle, nay! nor, to the wise, food, nor yet, to the intelligent, riches, nor, even to the well-informed, comeliness,—for, time and accident, happened to them all.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— I have turned so as to see under the sun, that not to the swift [is] the race, nor to the mighty the battle, nor even to the wise bread, nor even to the intelligent wealth, nor even to the skilful grace, for time and chance happen with them all.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— I turned me to another thing, and I saw that under the sun, the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the learned, nor favour to the skilful: but time and chance in all.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— I returned, and saw vnder the Sunne, That the race is not to the swift, nor the battell to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of vnderstanding, nor yet fauour to men of skil; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor yet bread to the wise, nor yet wealth to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of knowledge; for time and chance will happen to them all.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race [is] not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
I returned, 7725
{7725} Prime
שׁוּב
shuwb
{shoob}
A primitive root; to turn back (hence, away) transitively or intransitively, literally or figuratively (not necessarily with the idea of return to the starting point); generally to retreat; often adverbially again.
z8804
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
and saw 7200
{7200} Prime
רָאָה
ra'ah
{raw-aw'}
A primitive root; to see, literally or figuratively (in numerous applications, direct and implied, transitively, intransitively and causatively).
z8800
<8800> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Infinitive (See H8812)
Count - 4888
under x8478
(8478) Complement
תַּחַת
tachath
{takh'-ath}
From the same as H8430; the bottom (as depressed); only adverbially below (often with prepositional prefix underneath), in lieu of, etc.
the sun, 8121
{8121} Prime
שֶׁמֶשׁ
shemesh
{sheh'-mesh}
From an unused root meaning to be brilliant; the sun; by implication the east; figuratively a ray, that is, (architecturally) a notched battlement.
that x3588
(3588) Complement
כִּי
kiy
{kee}
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.
the race 4793
{4793} Prime
מֵרוֹץ
merowts
{may-rotes'}
From H7323; a run (the trial of speed).
[is] not x3808
(3808) Complement
לֹא
lo'
{lo}
lo; a primitive particle; not (the simple or abstract negation); by implication no; often used with other particles.
to the swift, 7031
{7031} Prime
קַל
qal
{kal}
Contracted from H7043; light; (by implication) rapid (also adverbially).
nor x3808
(3808) Complement
לֹא
lo'
{lo}
lo; a primitive particle; not (the simple or abstract negation); by implication no; often used with other particles.
the battle 4421
{4421} Prime
מִלְחָמָה
milchamah
{mil-khaw-maw'}
From H3898 (in the sense of fighting); a battle (that is, the engagement); generally war (that is, warfare).
to the strong, 1368
{1368} Prime
גִּבּוֹר
gibbowr
{ghib-bore'}
Intensive from the same as H1397; powerful; by implication warrior, tyrant.
neither x3808
(3808) Complement
לֹא
lo'
{lo}
lo; a primitive particle; not (the simple or abstract negation); by implication no; often used with other particles.
yet x1571
(1571) Complement
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.
bread 3899
{3899} Prime
לֶחֶם
lechem
{lekh'-em}
From H3898; food (for man or beast), especially bread, or grain (for making it).
to the wise, 2450
{2450} Prime
חָכָם
chakam
{khaw-kawm'}
From H2449; wise, (that is, intelligent, skilful or artful).
nor x3808
(3808) Complement
לֹא
lo'
{lo}
lo; a primitive particle; not (the simple or abstract negation); by implication no; often used with other particles.
yet x1571
(1571) Complement
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.
riches 6239
{6239} Prime
עֹשֶׁר
`osher
{o'-sher}
From H6238; wealth.
to men of understanding, 995
{0995} Prime
בִּין
biyn
{bene}
A primitive root; to separate mentally (or distinguish), that is, (generally) understand.
z8737
<8737> Grammar
Stem - Niphal (See H8833)
Mood - Participle (See H8813)
Count - 793
nor x3808
(3808) Complement
לֹא
lo'
{lo}
lo; a primitive particle; not (the simple or abstract negation); by implication no; often used with other particles.
yet x1571
(1571) Complement
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.
favour 2580
{2580} Prime
חֵן
chen
{khane}
From H2603; graciousness, that is, subjectively (kindness, favor) or objectively (beauty).
to men of skill; 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
but x3588
(3588) Complement
כִּי
kiy
{kee}
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.
time 6256
{6256} Prime
עֵת
`eth
{ayth}
From H5703; time, especially (adverbially with preposition) now, when, etc.
and chance 6294
{6294} Prime
פֶּגַע
pega`
{peh'-gah}
From H6293; impact (casual).
happeneth 7136
{7136} Prime
קָרָה
qarah
{kaw-raw'}
A primitive root; to light upon (chiefly by accident); causatively to bring about; specifically to impose timbers (for roof or floor).
z8799
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
to x853
(0853) Complement
אֵת
'eth
{ayth}
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).
them all. x3605
(3605) Complement
כֹּל
kol
{kole}
From H3634; properly the whole; hence all, any or every (in the singular only, but often in a plural sense).
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Ecclesiastes 9:11

_ _ This verse qualifies the sentiment, Ecclesiastes 9:7-9. Earthly “enjoyments,” however lawful in their place (Ecclesiastes 3:1), are to give way when any work to be done for God requires it. Reverting to the sentiment (Ecclesiastes 8:17), we ought, therefore, not only to work God’s work “with might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10), but also with the feeling that the event is wholly “in God’s hand” (Ecclesiastes 9:1).

_ _ race ... not to the swift — (2 Samuel 18:23); spiritually (Zephaniah 3:19; Romans 9:16).

_ _ nor ... battle to ... strong — (1 Samuel 17:47; 2 Chronicles 14:9, 2 Chronicles 14:11, 2 Chronicles 14:15; Psalms 33:16).

_ _ bread — livelihood.

_ _ favour — of the great.

_ _ chance — seemingly, really Providence. But as man cannot “find it out” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), he needs “with all might” to use opportunities. Duties are ours; events, God’s.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

_ _ The preacher here, for a further proof of the vanity of the world, and to convince us that all our works are in the hand of God, and not in our own hand, shows the uncertainty and contingency of future events, and how often they contradict the prospects we have of them. He had exhorted us (Ecclesiastes 9:10) to do what we have to do with all our might; but here he reminds us that, when we have done all, we must leave the issue with God, and not be confident of the success.

_ _ I. We are often disappointed of the good we had great hopes of, Ecclesiastes 9:11. Solomon had himself made the observation, and so has many a one since, that events, both in public and private affairs, do not always agree even with the most rational prospects and probabilities. Nulli fortuna tam dedita est ut multa tentanti ubique respondeatFortune surrenders herself to no one so as to ensure him success, however numerous his undertakings. Seneca. The issue of affairs is often unaccountably cross to every one's expectation, that the highest may not presume, nor the lowest despair, but all may live in a humble dependence upon God, from whom every man's judgment proceeds.

_ _ 1. He gives instances of disappointment, even where means and instruments were most encouraging and promised fair. (1.) One would think that the lightest of foot should, in running, win the prize; and yet the race is not always to the swift; some accident happens to retard them, or they are too secure, and therefore remiss, and let those that are slower get the start of them. (2.) One would think that, in fighting, the most numerous and powerful army should be always victorious, and, in single combat, that the bold and mighty champion should win the laurel; but the battle is not always to the strong; a host of Philistines was once put to flight by Jonathan and his man; one of you shall chase a thousand; the goodness of the cause has often carried the day against the most formidable power. (3.) One would think that men of sense should always be men of substance, and that those who know how to live in the world should not only have a plentiful maintenance, but get great estates; and yet it does not always prove so; even bread is not always to the wise, much less riches always to men of understanding. Many ingenious men, and men of business, who were likely to thrive in the world, have strangely gone backward and come to nothing. (4.) One would think that those who understand men, and have the art of management, should always get preferment and obtain the smiles of great men; but many ingenious men have been disappointed, and have spent their days in obscurity, nay, have fallen into disgrace, and perhaps have ruined themselves by those very methods by which they hoped to raise themselves, for favour is not always to men of skill, but fools are favoured and wise men frowned upon.

_ _ 2. He resolves all these disappointments into an over-ruling power and providence, the disposals of which to us seem casual, and we call them chance, but really they are according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, here called time, in the language of this book, Ecclesiastes 3:1; Psalms 31:15. Time and chance happen to them all. A sovereign Providence breaks men's measures, and blasts their hopes, and teaches them that the way of man is not in himself, but subject to the divine will. We must use means, but not trust to them; if we succeed, we must give God the praise (Psalms 44:3); if we be crossed, we must acquiesce in his will and take our lot.

_ _ II. We are often surprised with the evils we were in little fear of (Ecclesiastes 9:12): Man knows not his time, the time of his calamity, his fall, his death, which, in scripture, is called our day and our hour. 1. We know not what troubles are before us, which will take us off our business, and take us out of the world, what time and chance will happen to us, nor what one day, or a night, may bring forth. It is not for us to know the times, no, not our own time, when or how we shall die. God has, in wisdom, kept us in the dark, that we may be always ready. 2. Perhaps we may meet with trouble in that very thing wherein we promise ourselves the greatest satisfaction and advantage; as the fishes and the birds are drawn into the snare and net by the bait laid to allure them, which they greedily catch at, so are the sons of men often snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them, before they are aware. And these things too come alike to all. Men often find their bane where they sought their bless, and catch their death where they thought to find a prize. Let us therefore never be secure, but always ready for changes, that, though they may be sudden, they may be no surprise or terror to us.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Ecclesiastes 9:11

But time — There are times or seasons, casual to men, but known by God, in which alone he will give men success.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Ecclesiastes 9:11

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race [is] not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and (f) chance happeneth to them all.

(f) Thus the worldlings say to prove that all things are lawful for them and attribute that to chance and fortune which is done by the providence of God.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
returned:

Ecclesiastes 2:12 And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what [can] the man [do] that cometh after the king? [even] that which hath been already done.
Ecclesiastes 4:1 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of [such as were] oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors [there was] power; but they had no comforter.
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.
Malachi 3:18 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

that the race:

1 Samuel 17:50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but [there was] no sword in the hand of David.
2 Samuel 2:18-23 And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel: and Asahel [was as] light of foot as a wild roe. ... Howbeit he refused to turn aside: wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth [rib], that the spear came out behind him; and he fell down there, and died in the same place: and it came to pass, [that] as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still.
2 Samuel 17:14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite [is] better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom.
2 Samuel 17:23 And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled [his] ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.
Psalms 33:16-17 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. ... An horse [is] a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver [any] by his great strength.
Psalms 73:6-7 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them [as] a garment. ... Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.
Psalms 147:10-11 He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. ... The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
Jeremiah 9:23 Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise [man] glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty [man] glory in his might, let not the rich [man] glory in his riches:
Jeremiah 46:6 Let not the swift flee away, nor the mighty man escape; they shall stumble, and fall toward the north by the river Euphrates.
Amos 2:14-16 Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself: ... And [he that is] courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD.

but:

Ecclesiastes 2:14-15 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. ... Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also [is] vanity.
Ecclesiastes 3:14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth [it], that [men] should fear before him.
Ecclesiastes 3:17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for [there is] a time there for every purpose and for every work.
Ecclesiastes 7:13 Consider the work of God: for who can make [that] straight, which he hath made crooked?
1 Samuel 2:3-10 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let [not] arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD [is] a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. ... The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.
Job 5:11-14 To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety. ... They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night.
Job 34:29 When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth [his] face, who then can behold him? whether [it be done] against a nation, or against a man only:
Proverbs 21:30-31 [There is] no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD. ... The horse [is] prepared against the day of battle: but safety [is] of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:37-38 Who [is] he [that] saith, and it cometh to pass, [when] the Lord commandeth [it] not? ... Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?
Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
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1S 2:3; 17:50. 2S 2:18; 17:14, 23. Jb 5:11; 34:29. Ps 33:16; 73:6; 147:10. Pv 21:30. Ec 2:12, 14; 3:14, 17; 4:1, 4; 7:13. Jr 9:23; 46:6. Lm 3:37. Dn 4:35. Am 2:14. Mal 3:18. Ep 1:11.

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