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Ecclesiastes 10:17-19 New English Translation (NET Bible)

17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobility,[a]
and your princes feast at the proper time[b]—with self-control and not in drunkenness.[c]
18 Because of laziness the roof[d] caves in,
and because of idle hands[e] the house leaks.
19 Feasts[f] are made[g] for laughter,
and wine makes life merry,[h]
but money is the answer for[i] everything.


  1. Ecclesiastes 10:17 tn Heb “son of nobles”; or “son of freemen.” The term חוֹרִים (khorim) is from חֹר (khor, “noble one; freeman”); cf. HALOT 348 s.v. I חֹר; BDB 359 s.v. I חֹר. It is related to the Aramaic noun חֲרַר (kharar, “freeman”); Sabean חר (“freeman; noble”); Old South Arabic חר and Arabic hurr (“freedom”); cf. HALOT 348 s.v. חֹר; BDB 359 s.v. חֹר.
  2. Ecclesiastes 10:17 tn The noun עֵת (ʿet, “point in time”) has a basic two-fold range of meanings: (1) “time of an event” and (2) “time for an event” (BDB 773 s.v. עֵת). The latter has four sub-categories: (a) “usual time,” (b) “the proper, suitable or appropriate time,” (c) “the appointed time,” and (d) “uncertain time.” Here it connotes “a proper, suitable time for an event” (HALOT 900 s.v. עֵת 6; BDB 773 s.v. עֵת 2.b). Examples of this use include: “it was the time for rain” (Ezra 10:13); “a time of judgment for the nations” (Ezek 30:3); “there is an appropriate time for every occasion” (Eccl 3:1); “the rain in its season” (Deut 11:14; Jer 5:24); “the time for the harvest” (Hos 2:11; Ps 1:3); “food in its season” (Ps 104:27); “the right moment” (Eccl 8:5); cf. HALOT 900 s.v. עֵת 6.
  3. Ecclesiastes 10:17 tn Heb “for strength and not for drunkenness”; or “as heroes and not as drunkards”; or “for nourishment and not for drunkenness.” According to HALOT 172 s.v. גְבוּרה 1.d the term גְבוּרָה (gevurah, “strength”) may here connote “self-control.” This tactic is adopted by a few English versions: “with self-control, and not as drunkards” (NEB) and “with restraint, not with guzzling” (NJPS). On the other hand, most English versions render בִּגְבוּרָה וְלֹא בַשְּׁתִי (bigvurah veloʾ vasheti) in a woodenly literal sense, “for strength and not for drunkenness” (YLT, KJV, ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NIV). However, a few attempt to express the idiom clearly: “as stalwarts and not as drunkards” (MLB); “stalwart men, not sots” (Moffatt); “for vigor and not in drinking bouts” (NAB); “for refreshment, and not for riotousness” (Douay).
  4. Ecclesiastes 10:18 tn Or “the rafters sink.”
  5. Ecclesiastes 10:18 tn Heb “lowering of hands.”
  6. Ecclesiastes 10:19 tn Heb “bread.” The term לֶחֶם (lekhem) is used literally of “bread” and figuratively (i.e., by metonymy) for a “feast” (BDB 536-37 s.v. לֶחֶם). BDB suggests that עֹשִׂיה לֶחֶם (ʿosih lekhem) in Eccl 10:19 means “make a feast” (BDB 537 s.v. לֶחֶם 1.a). This obscure line has occasioned numerous proposals: “a feast is made for laughter” (KJV, ASV, NIV); “feasts are made for laughter” (NRSV); “men feast for merrymaking” (Moffatt); “men prepare a meal for enjoyment” (NASB); “the table has its pleasures” (NEB); “they [i.e., rulers of v. 16] make a banquet for revelry” (NJPS); “people prepare a banquet for enjoyment” (MLB); “for laughter they make bread and wine, that the living may feast” (Douay); “bread is made for laughter” (RSV); “bread [and oil] call forth merriment” (NAB).
  7. Ecclesiastes 10:19 tn The subject of the verb is not specified. When active verbs have an unspecified subject, they are often used in a passive sense: “Bread [feasts] are made….”
  8. Ecclesiastes 10:19 tn Heb “and wine gladdens life.”
  9. Ecclesiastes 10:19 tn Or “and [they think that] money is the answer for everything.”
New English Translation (NET)

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