Ecclesiastes 10:4 MEANING

Ecclesiastes 10:4
(4) We return now to the thought of Ecclesiastes 8:3. For "spirit" in the sense of "anger," see Judges 8:3.

Rise up.--Psalm 78:21; 2 Samuel 11:20.

Yielding.--Literally, healing. (See Proverbs 15:4.)

Pacifieth great offences.--Rather, probably, quieteth great offences, that is to say, not so much "puts an end to the offence felt by the ruler," as to the offences likely to be committed if he do not restrain himself.

Verses 4-7. - Section 12. Illustration of the conduct of wisdom under capricious rulers, or when fools are exalted to high stations. Verse 4. - If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee. "Spirit" (ruach) is here equivalent to "anger," as Judges 8:3; Proverbs 29:11. The idea seems to be that a statesman or councilor gives wise advice to a monarch, which the latter takes in bad part, and shows strong resentment against the person who offered it. Now, when a man knows himself to be in the right, and yet finds his counsel rejected, perhaps with scorn and reproach added, he is naturally prone to feel sore, and to show by some overt act his sense of the ill treatment which he has received. But what says wisdom? Leave not thy place (makom); i.e. position, pest, office. Do not hastily resign the situation at court to which you have been appointed. Some, not so suitably, take the expression, "leave thy place," figuratively, as equivalent to "give way to anger, renounce the temper which becomes you, lose your self-possession." But Wright, from the analogous use of matstsale and maamad in Isaiah 22:19, confirms the interpretation which we have adopted. Compare the advice in Ecclesiastes 8:3, where, however, the idea is rather of open rebellion than of a resentment which shows itself by withdrawal. Origen ('De Princip.,' 3:2) explained "the spirit of the ruler" to be the evil spirit; and Gregory, commenting on this passage, writes ('Moral.,' 3:43), "As though he had said in plain words, 'If thou perceivest the spirit of the tempter to prevail against thee in aught, quit not the lowliness of penitence;' and that it was the abasement of penitence that he called 'our place,' he shows by the words that follow, 'for healing [Vulgate] pacifieth great offences.' For what else is the humility of mourning, save the remedy of sin?" (Oxford transl.). For yielding pacifieth great offenses. Marpe, "yielding," is rendered "healing" by the versions. Thus ἴαμα (Septuagint); euratio (Vulgate). But this translation is not so suitable as that of Symmachus, σωφροσύνη, "moderation." The word is used in the sense of" gentleness," "meekness," in Proverbs 14:30; Proverbs 15:4; and the gnome expresses the truth that a calm, conciliating spirit, not prone to take offence, but patient under trying circumstances, obviates great sins. The sins are those of the subject. This quiet resignation saves him from conspiracy, rebellion, treason, etc., into which his untempered resentment might hurry him. We may compare Proverbs 15:1 and Proverbs 25:15; and Horace, 'Cam.,' 3. 3, "Justum et tenacem propositi virum," etc.

"The man whose soul is firm and strong,
Bows not to any tyrant's frown,
And on the rabble's clamorous throng
In proud disdain looks coldly down."

(Stanley.) They who regard the "offenses" as those of the ruler explain them to mean oppression and injustice; but it seems plain from the run of the sentence that the minister, not the monarch, is primarily in the mind of the writer, though, of course, it is quite true that the submission of the former might save the ruler from the commission of some wrong.

10:4-10 Solomon appears to caution men not to seek redress in a hasty manner, nor to yield to pride and revenge. Do not, in a passion, quit thy post of duty; wait awhile, and thou wilt find that yielding pacifies great offences. Men are not preferred according to their merit. And those are often most forward to offer help, who are least aware of the difficulties, or the consequences. The same remark is applied to the church, or the body of Christ, that all the members should have the same care one for another.If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee,.... The wrath of the civil magistrate, the chief ruler of the land, the sovereign prince or king, to whom men are and should be subject: if his wrath on any occasion breaks out in a furious manner, and, like a storm and tempest, is very blustering and threatening:

leave not thy place; at court; thine office under the prince, do not throw it up in a passion, and quit his service upon it; and much less forget thy duty and allegiance to him, and go into disloyalty and rebellion; see Ecclesiastes 8:3;

for yielding pacifieth great offences; bearing his anger patiently, submitting to his displeasure quietly, making no returns, or at least giving soft answers, and behaving in a modest and humble manner; in time his wrath will subside, and he will be pacified, and forgive the offences committed; or be convinced that there were none, or however not so great as to require such resentment; see Proverbs 15:1. The Targum is,

"if a spirit of evil concupiscence rules over thee; thy good place, in which thou wert used to stand, leave not:''

some understand this of a man's having a spirit of rule and government coming upon him, or of his being advanced to power and authority, that then he should not forget the low estate in which he had been. Jarchi interprets it of the spirit of the governor of the world, strictly inquiring into the actions of men; and healing their sins by chastisements, which cause them to leave them.

Courtesy of Open Bible