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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

Chapter 8

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Critique of Sages on the Wise Man and the King

1Who is like the wise man, and who knows the explanation ofthings? A man's wisdom illumines his face, but an impudent look is resented.

2Observe the precept of the king, and in view of your oath to God, 3be not hasty to withdraw from the king; do not join in with a base plot, for he does whatever he pleases, 4because his word is sovereign, and who can say to him, “What are you doing?”

5“He who keeps the commandment experiences no evil, and the wise man's heart knows times and judgments; 6for there is a time and a judgment for everything.”—Yet it is a great affliction for man 7 v Eccl 3, 22; 10, 14 . that he is ignorant of what is to come; for who will make known to him how it will be? 8There is no man who is master of the breath of life so as to retain it, and none has mastery of the day of death. There is no exemption from the struggle, nor are the wicked saved by their wickedness. 9 w Eccl 1, 13f . All these things I considered and I applied my mind to every work that is done under the sun, while one man tyrannizes over another to his hurt.

The Problem of Retribution. 10Meanwhile I saw wicked men approach and enter; and as they left the sacred place, they were praised in the city for what they had done. This also is vanity.* 11Because the sentence against evildoers is not promptly executed, therefore the hearts of men are filled with the desire to commit evil— 12because the sinner does evil a hundred times and survives. Though indeed I know that it shall be well with those who fear God, for their reverence toward him; 13and that it shall not be well with the wicked man, and he shall not prolong his shadowy* days, for his lack of reverence toward God.

14This is a vanity which occurs on earth: there are just men treated as though they had done evil and wicked men treated as though they had done justly. This, too, I say is vanity. 15 x Eccl 2, 24; 9, 7 . Therefore I commend mirth, because there is nothing good for man under the sun except eating and drinking and mirth: for this is the accompaniment of his toil during the limited days of the life which God gives him under the sun.*

16 y Eccl 1, 13; 3, 10 . When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to observe what is done on earth, 17 z Eccl 3, 11 . I recognized that man is unable to find out all God's work that is done under the sun, even though neither by day nor by night do his eyes find rest in sleep. However much man toils in searching, he does not find it out; and even if the wise man says that he knows, he is unable to find it out.

Notes:

v: Eccl 3, 22; 10, 14 .

w: Eccl 1, 13f .

x: Eccl 2, 24; 9, 7 .

y: Eccl 1, 13; 3, 10 .

z: Eccl 3, 11 .

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