The world.--The word here translated "world" has that meaning in post-Biblical Hebrew, but never elsewhere in the Old Testament, where it occurs over 300 times. And if we adopt the rendering "world," it is difficult to explain the verse so as to connect it with the context. Where the word occurs elsewhere it means "eternity," or "long duration," and is so used in this book (Ecclesiastes 1:4; Ecclesiastes 1:10; Ecclesiastes 2:16; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Ecclesiastes 9:6; Ecclesiastes 12:5). Taking this meaning of the word here (the only place where the word is used with the article), we may regard it as contrasted with that for "time," or season, immediately before. Life exhibits a changing succession of weeping alternating with laughing, war with peace, and so forth. For each of these God has appointed its time or season, and in its season each is good. But man does not recognise this; for God has put in his heart an expectation and longing for abiding continuance of the same, and so he fails to understand the work which God does in the world.
So that no.--The connecting phrase here employed is rendered "because none" (Deuteronomy 9:28; 2 Kings 6:3, &c), "so that none" (Jeremiah 9:10; Zephaniah 3:6, &c).
End.--Ecclesiastes 7:2; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Joel 2:20; 2 Chronicles 20:16. A word belonging to the later Hebrew.
also he hath set the world in their heart; so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end; not a sinful love of the world, and the things of it; not a criminal desire after them, and a carking care for them, whereby persons have no heart and inclination, time and leisure, to search into and find out the works of God; for though all this is in the heart of the sons of men, yet, not placed, there by the Lord: nor an opinion of living for ever; of a long time in this world, the word for "world" having the signification of perpetuity in it; so that they regard not, the work of the Lord, nor the operations of his hands, tomorrow being with them as this day, and much more abundant; but this sense meets with the same difficulty as the former. Rather the meaning is, that God hath set before the minds of men, and in them, the whole world of creatures, the whole book of nature, in which they may see and read much of the wisdom power, and goodness of God in his works; and to some he gives an inclination and desire hereunto; but yet the subject before them is so copious, there is such a world of matter presented to them, and their capacity so small, and life so short, that they cannot all their days find out the works of God, either of creation or providence, to perfection; or find out what God works, from the beginning of the world to the end of it; for, of what he has wrought, but a small portion is known by them, and they know less still what shall be done hereafter: some of God's works of providence are set on foot and but begun in the life of some men; they do not live to see them finished, and therefore cannot find them out; and others are so dark and obscure, that they are obliged to say, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" see Romans 1:19; and though everything is beautiful in its time, yet till they are made manifest, and all viewed together; they will not be perfectly understood, or the beauty of them seen, Revelation 15:4. For God has put something "hidden", or "sealed up", in the midst of them, as it may be rendered (n), so that they cannot be perfectly known.
(m) "haec omnia facit pulcher in tempore suo, i.e. Messias"; so some in Rambachius. (n) Vid. Schultens de Defect. Hod. Ling. Heb. s. 180.