Ecclesiastes 5:3 MEANING

Ecclesiastes 5:3
Verse 3. - The first clause illustrates the second, the mark of comparison being simply the copula, mere juxtaposition being deemed sufficient to denote the similitude, as in Ecclesiastes 7:1; Proverbs 17:3; Proverbs 27:21. For a dream cometh through (in consequence of) the multitude of business. The verse is meant to confirm the injunction against vain babbling in prayer. Cares and anxieties in business or other matters occasion disturbed sleep, murder the dreamless repose of the healthy laborer, and produce all kinds of sick fancies and imaginations. Septuagint, "A dream cometh in abundance of trial (πειρασμοῦ);" Vulgate, Multas curas sequuntur somnia. And a fool's voice is known by multitude of words. The verb should be supplied from the first clause, and not a new one introduced, as in the Authorized Version, "And the voice of a fool (cometh) in consequence of many words." As surely as excess of business produces fevered dreams, so excess of words, especially in addresses to God, produces a fool's voice, i.e. foolish speech. St. Gregory points out the many ways in which the mind is affected by images from dreams. "Sometimes," he says, "dreams are engendered of fullness or emptiness of the belly, sometimes of illusion, sometimes of illusion and thought combined, sometimes of revelation, while sometimes they are engendered of imagination, thought, and revelation together" ('Moral.,' 8:42).

5:1-3 Address thyself to the worship of God, and take time to compose thyself for it. Keep thy thoughts from roving and wandering: keep thy affections from running out toward wrong objects. We should avoid vain repetitions; copious prayers are not here condemned, but those that are unmeaning. How often our wandering thoughts render attendance on Divine ordinances little better than the sacrifice of fools! Many words and hasty ones, used in prayer, show folly in the heart, low thoughts of God, and careless thoughts of our own souls.For a dream cometh through the multitude of business,.... Or, "for as a dream" (q), so Aben Ezra; as that comes through a multiplicity of business in the daytime, in which the mind has been busied, and the body employed; and this brings on dreams in the night season, which are confused and incoherent; sometimes the fancy is employed about one thing, and sometimes another, and all unprofitable and useless, as well as vain and foolish;

and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words; either his voice in conversation, for a fool is full of words, and pours out his foolishness in a large profusion of them; or his voice in prayer, being like a man's dream, confused, incoherent, and rambling. The supplement, "is known", may be left out.

(q) "ut prodit somnium", Junius & Tremellius; "nam ut venit", Piscator; "quia sicut venit", Mercerus, Ramabachius, so Broughton.

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