Ecclesiastes - 8:11

11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

Verse In-Depth

Explanation and meaning of Ecclesiastes 8:11.

Differing Translations

Compare verses for better understanding.
For because sentence is not speedily pronounced against the evil, the children of men commit evils without any fear.
Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the children of men is fully set in them to do evil.
Because sentence hath not been done on an evil work speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of man is full within them to do evil.
Because punishment for an evil work comes not quickly, the minds of the sons of men are fully given to doing evil.
For the sons of men perpetrate evils without any fear, because judgment is not pronounced quickly against the evil.

*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.

Historical Commentaries

Scholarly Analysis and Interpretation.

Because sentence - פתגם pithgam, a Divine decree or declaration. This is no Hebrew, but a mere Chaldee word, and occurs only in the later books of the Bible - Esther, Ezra and Daniel, and nowhere else but in this place. Because God does not immediately punish every delinquency, men think he disregards evil acts; and therefore they are emboldened to sin on. So this longsuffering of God, which leadeth to repentance, is abused so as to lead to farther crimes! When men sin against the remedy of their salvation, how can they escape perdition?

Because sentence against an evil work is not (l) executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
(l) Where justice is delayed, there sin reigns.

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily,.... Any evil work done by magistrates, or others, against which the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, and is threatened with his vengeance; the decree is gone forth, the sentence is passed, God is determined upon punishment; but there is a delay of it, he exercises patience and longsuffering to answer some end of his, both towards his own people and the wicked; as well as to display some of his own perfections; but because so it is, the judgment comes not at once;
therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil; or their "heart is full to do evil" (n); they have not only a fulness of sin in them naturally as is in every man's heart; but they are filled with resolution, boldness, and courage, to commit sin, promising themselves impurity from the seeming delay of justice; such an abuse do they make of the patience and forbearance of God; they become more and more hardened in sin and bent upon the commission of it.
(n) "plenum ad faciendum malum", Pagninus, Montanus; "praegnano ad faciendum malum", Gussetius, p. 469.

The reason why the wicked persevere in sin: God's delay in judgment (Matthew 24:48-51; 2-Peter 3:8-9). "They see not the smoke of the pit, therefore they dread not the fire" [SOUTH], (Psalm 55:19). Joab's escape from the punishment of his murder of Abner, so far from "leading him to repentance," as it ought (Romans 2:4), led him to the additional murder of Amasa.

"Because judgment against the work of the wicked man is not speedily executed, for this reason the heart of the children of men is full within them, to this, that they do evil." The clause with asher is connected first with the foregoing ־מג havel: thus vain, after the nature of a perverted world (inversus ordo) events go on, because (asher, as at Ecclesiastes 4:3; Ecclesiastes 6:12; cf. Deuteronomy 3:24); but the following clause with 'al-ken makes this clause with asher reflex. an antecedent of itself (asher = 'al-asher) - originally it is not meant as an antecedent.פּתגם
(Note: With ג raph. in H. P. and the older edd., as also Esther 1:20; Daniel 3:16. Thus also the punctuator Jekuthil in his En hakore to Esther 1:20.)
(here to be written after נעשׂה, with פ raph., and, besides, also with ג raph.), in the post-exilian books, is the Persian paigam, Armen. patgam, which is derived from the ancient Pers. paiti-gama: "Something that has happened, tidings, news." The Hebrews. has adopted the word in the general sense of "sentence;" in the passage before us it signifies the saying or sentence of the judge, as the Pers. word, like the Arab. nabazn, is used principally of the sayings of a prophet (who is called peighâm-bar). Zirkel regards it as the Greek φθέγμα; but thus, also, the words אזמל, אפּריון strangely agree in sound with σμίλη φορεῖον, without being borrowed from the Greek. The long a of the word is, as Elst. shows, Eccl 1:20, invariable; also here פּתגם is the constr. To point פּתגם, with Heiligst. and Burg., is thus unwarrantable. It is more remarkable that the word is construed fem. instead of mas. For since אין is construed
(Note: Ginsburg points in favour of נעשׂה as fin. to Exodus 3:2, but there אכּל is particip.; to Jeremiah 38:5, but there יוּכל (if it is not to be read יכול) represents an attributive clause; and to Job 35:15, but there the word is rightly pointed אין, not אין; and this, like the vulg. Arab. laysa, is used as an emphatic לא.)
neither in the bibl. nor in the Mishnic style with the finite of the verb, נעשׂה is not the 3rd pret., but the particip. It is not, however, necessary, with Hitz., to read נישׂה. The foreign word, like the (Arab.) firdans, παράδεισος, admits of use in the double gend. (Ewald, 174g); but it is also possible that the fem. נעשׂה is per. attract. occasioned by הרעה, as Kimchi, Michlol 10a, supposes (cf. besides, under Ecclesiastes 10:15). מעשׂה is const. governed by phithgam, and hara'ah is thus obj. gen. The lxx, Syr., and Jerome read מעשׂי, which would be possible only if phithgam min - after the analogy of the Hebrews.-Aram. phrase, niphra' ('ithpera') min, to take one's due of any one, i.e., to take vengeance on him, to punish him - could mean the full execution of punishment on any one; but it means here, as Jerome rightly translates, sententia; impossible, however, with me'ose hara'ah, sententia contra malos. Hengst. supposes that not only the traditional text, but also the accentuation, is correct, for he construes: because a sentence (of the heavenly Judge) is not executed, the work of wickedness is haste, i.e., speedy. Thus also Dachselt in the Biblia accentuata. Mercerus, on the contrary, remarks that the accents are not in the first instance marks of interpunction, but of cantillation. In fact, genit. word-connections do not exclude the keeping them asunder by distinctives such as Pashta and Tiphcha, Isaiah 10:2, and also Zakeph, as e.g., Esther 1:4. The lxx well renders: "Therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully persuaded in them to do evil;" for which Jerome, freely, after Symm.: absque timore ullo filii hominum perpetrant mala. The heart of one becomes full to do anything, is = it acquires full courage thereto (Luzzatto, 590: gli blast l'animo); cf. Esther 7:5 : "Where is he who has his heart filled to do?" (thus rightly, Keil), i.e., whom it has encourage to so bold an undertaking. בּהם in itself unnecessarily heightens the expression of the inwardness of the destructive work (vid., Psychol. p. 151f.). The sentence of punishment does not take effect mehera, hastily (adv. accus. for bimherah, Ecclesiastes 4:12), therefore men are secure, and they give themselves with full, i.e., with fearless and shameless, boldness to the practice of evil. The author confirms this further, but not without expressing his own conviction that there is a righteous requital which contradicts this appearance.

Therefore - God's forbearance makes them presumptuous and secure.

*More commentary available at chapter level.

Discussion on Ecclesiastes 8:11

User discussion of the verse.

*By clicking Submit, you agree to our Privacy Policy & Terms of Use.