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Ecclesiastes 5:10-11

Context
Covetousness

5:10 The one who loves money 1  will never be satisfied with money, 2 

he who loves wealth 3  will never be satisfied 4  with his 5  income.

This also is futile.

5:11 When someone’s 6  prosperity 7  increases, those who consume it also increase;

so what does its owner 8  gain, except that he gets to see it with his eyes? 9 

1 tn Heb “silver.” The Hebrew term כֶּסֶף (kesef, “silver”) refers to “money” (HALOT 490–91 s.v. כֶּסֶף 3). It is a synecdoche of specific (i.e., silver) for the general (i.e., money); see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 625-29.

2 sn The Hebrew term “silver” (translated “money”) is repeated twice in this line for rhetorical emphasis.

3 tn The term הָמוֹן (hamon, “abundance; wealth”) has a wide range of meanings: (1) agitation; (2) turmoil; (3) noise; (4) pomp; (5) multitude; crowd = noisy crowd; and (6) abundance; wealth (HALOT 250 s.v. הָמוֹן 1–6). Here, it refers to abundant wealth (related to “pomp”); cf. HALOT 250 s.v. הָמוֹן 6, that is, lavish abundant wealth (Ezek 29:19; 30:4; 1 Chr 29:16).

4 tn The phrase “will never be satisfied” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity. Note the previous line.

5 tn The word “his” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

6 tn The word “someone’s” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

7 tn The term טוֹבָה (tovah, “good”) connotes “prosperity” (Deut 23:7; Job 9:25; 21:25; Ps 106:5; Lam 3:17; Eccl 4:8; 5:10, 17; 6:3, 6; 7:14; 9:18; Neh 2:10; Sir 6:11; 41:13); cf. HALOT 372 s.v. טוֹבָה 2. The related term טוֹב (tov, “good”) connotes “prosperity” as well (Prov 11:10; Job 20:21; 21:16); cf. HALOT 372 s.v. טוֹבָה 1.b. Here, it refers to the possessions and wealth a person acquires as the fruit of his labors. This nuance is well reflected in several English versions: “The more a man gains, the more there are to spend it” (Moffatt); “When riches multiply, so do those who live off them” (NEB); “As his substance increase, so do those who consume it” (NJPS); and “Where there are great riches, there are also many to devour them” (NAB). The line does not describe the economic law of “supply and demand,” as some versions seem to imply, e.g., “As goods increase, so do those who consume them” (NIV); “When goods increase, those who eat them increase” (NRSV); cf. also KJV, ASV, RSV, MLB, NASB.

8 tn The form is plural in the Hebrew text, but the plural is one of intensification; it is used here to emphasize the owner’s authority over his wealth. See GKC 399 §124.i. See v 13 as well.

9 tn The rhetorical question is an example of negative affirmation, expecting a negative answer: “There is no ultimate advantage!” (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 947-48).



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