Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Ecclesiastes 12:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

When they shall be afraid of that which is high -

10. Being so feeble, they are afraid to trust themselves to ascend steps, stairs, etc., without help. And when they look upwards, their heads turn giddy, and they are ready to fall.

11. Fears shall be in the way - They dare not walk out, lest they should meet some danger, which they have not strength to repel, nor agility to escape. A second childishness has taken place - apprehensions, fears, terrors, and weakness.

12. The almond tree shall flourish - ינאץ yenaets, not flourish, but fall off. The hair begins to change, first gray, then white; it having no longer that supply of nutritive juices which it once had, this animal vegetable withers and falls off. The almond tree, having white flowers, is a fit emblem of a hoary head; or as Hasselquist says, who observed the tree in full flower in Judea, "like an old man with his white locks."

13. The grasshopper shall be a burden - Even such an inconsiderable thing as a locust, or a very small insect, shall be deemed burdensome, their strength is so exceedingly diminished. In cases of the gout, especially in old men, the shadow of a person passing by puts them to acute pain! How much less can they bear the smallest pressure! But probably the words refer to the man himself, who, bent at the loins, and his arms hanging down, exhibits some caricature of the animal in question. The poor grasshopper has become a burden to himself. Another interpretation has been given of the grasshopper; but I pass it by as impertinent and contemptible; such commentators appear as if they wished to render the text ridiculous.

14. Desire shall fail - Both relish and appetite for food, even the most delicate, that to which they were formerly so much attached, now fails. The teeth are no longer able to masticate the food, or have all dropped out; the stomach no longer able to digest any thing; and, as the body is no longer capable of receiving nourishment, appetite and relish necessarily fail.

15. Because man goeth to his long home - עולמו בית אל el beith olamo, "to the house of his age;" the place destined to receive him, when the whole race or course of life shall be finished; for עולם olam takes in the whole course or duration of a thing; if applied to a dispensation, such as the Law, it takes in its whole duration; to the life of man, it takes in the whole life; to time, it includes its whole compass; to eternity, it expresses its infinite duration. So old age terminates the olam, the complete duration of human life; and when life is no longer desired, and nutrition ceases, the olam of man is terminated. My old MS. Bible translates it, The hous of his everlastingness.

16. He is just departing into the invisible world; and this is known by the mourners going abount the streets, the long hollow groans and throat rattlings which proceed from him; the sure prognostications of the extreme debility and speedy cessation of those essential animal functions next mentioned.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

High - The powerful and the proud, such persons as an old man in his timidity might shrink from opposing or meeting: or, high ground which old men would avoid ascending.

Fears … in the way - Compare Proverbs 26:13.

The almond tree - The type of old age. Many modern critics translate “The almond shall be despised,” i. e., pleasant food shall no longer be relished.

The grasshopper - Rather: “the locust.” The clause means, heaviness and stiffness shall take the place of that active motion for which the locust is conspicuous.

Desire - literally, the caper-berry; which, eaten as a provocative to appetite, shall fail to take effect on a man whose powers are exhausted.

Long home - literally, “eternal (see Ecclesiastes 1:4 note) house;” man‘s place in the next world. Without attributing to the author of Ecclesiastes that deep insight into the future life which is shown by the writer of the Epistles to the Corinthians, we may observe that He by whom both writers were inspired sanctions in both books (see 2 Corinthians 5:1-6) the use of the same expression “eternal house.” In 2Corinthians it means that spiritual body which shall be hereafter; and it is placed, as it is here (see Ecclesiastes 12:3), in contrast with that earthly dissolving house which clothes the spirit of man in this world.

Mourners - The singing women who attend funerals for hire (see Matthew 9:23).

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
We should remember our sins against our Creator, repent, and seek forgiveness. We should remember our duties, and set about them, looking to him for grace and strength. This should be done early, while the body is strong, and the spirits active. When a man has the pain of reviewing a misspent life, his not having given up sin and worldly vanities till he is forced to say, I have no pleasure in them, renders his sincerity very questionable. Then follows a figurative description of old age and its infirmities, which has some difficulties; but the meaning is plain, to show how uncomfortable, generally, the days of old age are. As the four verses,
Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
are a figurative description of the infirmities that usually accompany old age, ver. 6 notices the circumstances which take place in the hour of death. If sin had not entered into the world, these infirmities would not have been known. Surely then the aged should reflect on the evil of sin.
Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 81-2

“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,
While the evil days come not,
Nor the years draw nigh,
When thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
PK 81.1

“While the sun,
Or the light,
Or the moon,
Or the stars,
Be not darkened,
Nor the clouds return after the rain:
PK 81.2

“In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble,
And the strong men shall bow themselves,
And the grinders cease because they are few,
And those that look out of the windows be darkened,
And the doors shall be shut in the streets,
PK 81.3

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