It is a call to unappreciated work. References: Ecclesiastes 11:1.—New Manual of Sunday-school Addresses, p. 271; Preacher's Monthly, vol. In fact, the risk of hard times (2b) could well be an argument for giving liberally while you can (Acts ; 2 Cor. A.). (2) Withhold not the word that aims at a brother's good. This section begins in Ecclesiastes 11:1 and ends in 12:7. The book contains philosophical speeches by a character called Qoheleth (="the Teacher"; Koheleth or Kohelet), composed probably between 5th to 2nd century BCE. It has been observed by several interpreters, that in these words, cast thy לחם lechem, upon the face of the waters, לחם, which is generally translated bread, may as well be translated corn: besides other places, where it has that signification, no other construction can be put on it, Isaiah 28:28 nor in this place neither, if we consider that Solomon makes use of a proverbial metaphorical sentence, which must have a known, rational, literal sense, independently of the remoter moral application. Give to many. With the design and scope of the place, which is to persuade men to be liberal and charitable, notwithstanding the discouragements which they meet with in so doing, of which see the next clause, and the next verse. But the cause is a lost one. As in the Lord's prayer, all things needful for the body and soul. Such shall be the return which we also shall find to our efforts, if we exert ourselves. Or, lastly, "upon the waters," i.e., in loca irrigua, upon grounds well watered - moist and fertile soil, such as is that by the river Nile, where they do but throw in the seed, and they have four rich harvests in less than four months; (f) or as that in the land of Shinar (where Babel was founded, Genesis 11:1-9), that returns, if Herodotus and Pliny may be believed, the seed beyond credulity. What an amount has been spent on that cause in the course of the ages! The most popular explanation of Ecclesiastes 11:1 is, that the figure is taken from the casting of seed on irrigated lands, as, for instance, in Egypt before the waters of the Nile have subsided; and that the duty of beneficence is here inculcated. Remember that you all, without exception, have it in your power still more largely to promote this good work. One really good act has proved the seed of millions of noble efforts. 2 The other interpretation encourages the daily pursuit of labor, or urging men to make bold business ventures and trust God for the profit. (3) The third reference is to the place where the seed is to be cast: "Cast it upon the waters." Find it — It shall certainly be restored to thee, either by God or men. Ecclesiastes 11:2, which gives the real substance, the idea, contained in the figurative representation, shows that we must not limit our attention to the common kind of trade. ], I beg leave, then, to recommend to your support this important institution—. For the advancement of men’s mental improvement—, To this the same image is applied by the prophet Isaiah; who gives us this additional information, that persons, previous to their casting of their seed upon the waters, send forth their oxen and their asses to tread the ground with their feet, in order the better to prepare the earth for its reception: “Blessed are ye who sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass [Note: Isaiah 32:20. In that, the temporary sacrifice of one's property brings in a rich reward, even though after a long interval: (according to 1 Kings 10:22, Solomon's vessels returned from Tarshish once in three years, bringing with them rich cargoes). A good thing done 3,000 years ago works now, and will work through all endless times and years.” No good effort has ever been lost, or ever can be. If one casts one's bread oil the water in the usual external sense, it may very easily itself become water should the ship perish; it is in fact but a mere experiment: but when we cast our bread on the water in the spiritual sense, a return is certain; that which we have staked is sure to come back again, even though after a long season. A. This saying takes us to the banks of the Nile, where, every year, as the flood subsided, while the level lands were still all ooze and mud, the farmer went forth, and, without any ploughing, just cast the grain over the mud, and, simply trampling it in with his flocks of goats, knew that he should “find it after many days” in those fruitful harvests which made, Egypt the granary of the ancient world. Infinite will be the joy hereafter of having been instrumental but partially, but remotely, in the salvation of but one soul. Luke 6:38; Luke 16:9; Galatians 6:9. What will it be for some who have laboured in the Church on earth with scarce any visible result, but whose welcome to heaven will be from the tips of one born here and another born there through services that seemed without fruit! Why, look at this even in what one may call the using up of life itself. I. The one strikes the axe at the roots of evil; the other sows the seeds of good. Who, looking at ancient Britain, would have thought that it would become the vineyard of the Lord? Or, "upon the waters," i.e., upon such as being hunger bitten, or hardly bestead, do water their plants, being fed "with bread of tears." The seed that was sown generations ago is bearing fruit to-day, and it shall be so once more with the seed we sow. Do not call it unevangelical, do not call it selfish. 1. There is more than a hint in these verses that the benevolent treatment of others by God-fearing people, while we have the ability to do it, might, at some unknown time in the future, be, even for us, the means of our survival. God never led you to expect that a few hours’ or a few days’ anxiety would set at rest for ever your prospect of salvation. It is the glory of true religion that it inspires and inculcates a spirit of benevolence. The impending ills that threaten us. Possibly the application of the figure is not to be restricted to acts of beneficence; but the next verse may lead us to think that these are primarily intended, and to these especially the encouragement at the end of the verse applies; for in other cases this book gives a less cheerful view of the possible success of human plans. Are we to withhold the seed, or to sow it? 4. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. The thinker stakes his reputation, comfort, life even, upon the realization of his doctrines, which are the most cherished embodiment of his spirit. [Proverbs 22:9] God hateth to have ex rapina holocaustum, a sacrifice of things got by rapine and robbery; [Amos 2:8] "With such sacrifices God is not well pleased." ‘Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.’. God never led you to expect that a few hours' or a few days' anxiety would set at rest for ever your prospect of salvation. X:7), and is carried away by the stream." When our Henry III (an oppressing prince) had sent a load of frieze (b) to the friar minors to clothe them, they returned the same with this message, that he ought not to give alms of what he had rent from the poor, neither would they accept of that abominable gift. "After many days;" therefore you need not be strengthless with the chill of discouragement if it should not be found at once. (3) We should aim to look to the right quarter for success. It is not cast thy “seed” upon the waters. The duty recommended. "A wind-observer will not sow ... a cloud-watcher will not reap" (Ecclesiastes 11:4). It is easier to raise objections to this interpretation than to improve on it. The great mysteries of life are beyond our comprehension. But is it nothing, to prevent the soil being overrun with briars and thorns, and to have it improved by the infusion of moral principles? This verse is a warning against procrastination. 1. The greatest lack of modern society, I do believe--all through, from children up to grown men and women--is thoughtful self-restraint, the willingness to forego the gratification of to-day for the sake of the days to come. Simply because benevolence should be practiced without either any desire or expectation of ever getting it back, exactly as would be the case of casting bread into a raging river. Even the radical and destructive critics of the International Critical Commentary did not subscribe to such foolish interpretations as these. We should make unceasing search for this till we find it, and be anxious not to fall into a mistake with reference to such a primary condition of success. Some reasons for diligence and constancy. (H. Melvill, B. D.), It does not seem to be a very lofty precept in the Preacher’s sense of it. The first mode of action, though often a necessity, is frequently connected with disadvantage; for, in tearing up the ravelled roots of an ancient grievance, growing in a tangled place, we may rend and wither delicate interlacings that we wish to live; but sowing seed disturbs nothing--injures nothing; frets no weakling--startles no alarmist; and works a change the most complete, by a process soft as the flush of spring, and noiseless as the laws of nature. This passage may be regarded as an invitation to work of a special kind--work not likely to be popular, but, nevertheless, essential. Well, then, “cast your bread upon the waters.” If your tongues must be so soon employed in groaning and in complaints, let them now, at least, be employed for God. (Caleb Morris.). It brought what the world could neither give nor take away. And, in all work, faith and patience! He does not intend by it what we might mean by Christian charity, but rather a doing what you can with your own interests in view. Do good while you have it, in your power--by and by you may be unable. Its first reference is to seed, for this is what is meant by “bread.” Seed supplies poetry with a fit figure to illustrate anything mean which gives existence to anything magnificent. The minister who has been oppressed up to his dying hour by the melancholy conviction that his warnings, his entreaties, his expostulations, have been lost on his congregation, may be hailed by many, as the instrument of their conversion. Bread - bread-corn. Ecc 11:9 You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. “Thou shalt find it.” “A good man,” says Carlyle, “is ever a creative mystic centre of goodness. The utmost which many of the most devoted servants of God can affirm when they come to die is, that they have been diligently casting bread upon the waters. Ne vous informez pas de leur reconnaissance -. Consider the small portion of the world which, after all, has been sown with this blessed seed. What he gives out is not stones or chaff, but bread, corn, the life of the world. Peshitta, Targum, and Talmud attribute the authorship of the book to King Solomon. II. The verse means: “Show hospitality, even though the corresponding return of hospitality to you may seem improbable; nevertheless, be hospitable in faith.” Compare Luke 14:13-14; Hebrews 13:2. “Let thy bread go forth over the watery mirror: for in the course of many days shalt thou find it.” Most interpreters, chiefly the Talm., Midrash, and Targ., (Note: The Midrash tells the following story: Rabbi Akiba sees a ship wrecked which carried in it one learned in the law. In the proper sense, they send their bread over the surface of the water who, as Psalms 107:33 expresses, “do business in great waters.” It is a figure taken from the corn trade of a seaport, an illustration of the thought: seek thy support in the way of bold, confident adventure. I. Ver. The text applies to all attempts which are made to benefit the immortal part of man. The sense of these words is either. Mendelssohn is right in remarking that the exhortation shows itself to be that of Koheleth-Solomon, whose ships traded to Tarshish and Ophir. It must pass through the action of some kind of mental chemistry; it must mix with other influences; it must long unfurl and ramify in mystery and silence: and you are not to faint because you are unable to reap in sowing-time. It is all love’s labour lost, and it is pathetic to think of the waste of love connected with it. All this marvellous advancement of our age should have given people--even the hardest-worked and busiest--a little more leisure for simple, happy living--living for its own sake. "Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days. So if we do good to men, it is like launching some precious craft on the deep, which at best must be long before its return gladdens the eye. My friend, you have got to sow in faith, with a great prodigal generosity. You see, it is a lesson not merely of sowing, but of self-denial and self-restraint in order to sow. (5) Let us aim to obey this message from God in our daily sphere of life. the thinness, the weakness, and the poverty-stricken character of that goodness that comes in gushes, and then steps in fragments, in shreds and patches! Whether a tree falls to the south or to the … This is a very rational construction of Solomon's words, which the judicious Bishop Lowth, in his 10th Prelection, thinks may be illustrated from Psalms 104:14. “Thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.” Covetousness would turn... 3. EcclesiastesChapter 11. "Cast"-"send forth, send away, let go" (TWOT p. 927). I. What massive timbers you find in those old houses! The building of a house was a serious business in our grandfathers’ time. IV. As in the Lord‘s prayer, all things needful for the body and soul. The third reference in the charge is to the place where the seed is to be cast: “Cast it upon the waters.” As the seed fell on the soft and porous soil beneath the water, your hints may drop into yielding and receptive natures. X:7), and is carried away by the stream. I. It has often been so with the missionary. Mark the way of the Master. Watkinson.). So is it also in connection with benevolence: in His own good time the Lord restores that which may have been given to sufferers for His name's sake. — — — So, under the New Testament dispensation, we are enjoined to “labour with our own hands;” and to “lay by us weekly, in proportion as God has prospered us,” for the purpose of relieving others [Note: Ephesians 4:28. — — — Nay, so obvious is this duty, that the man who lives not in the practice of it must be an utter stranger to the love of God in his soul [Note: 1 John 3:17. Man’s agency is subordinate. In general it is, to do good with our property. None but persons of very enlarged minds could ever have devised such means of benefiting the poor. No work done in Christ’s name is ever in vain. III. ].” He will repay us, even in a way of temporal prosperity: for the giving of “the first-fruits of all our increase to the poor is the way, not to empty our barns, but to fill them with plenty, and to make our presses burst out with new wine [Note: Proverbs 3:9-10. “Waters” express multitudes, so Ecclesiastes 11:2; Revelation 17:15; also the seemingly hopeless character of the recipients of the charity; but it shall prove at last to have been not thrown away (Isaiah 49:4). NoldiusF16Ebr. ‘How imprudent, how absolutely reckless! The true reward of hearty study comes to be realized only after many days. Thereupon Akiba thought of the proverb in Ecclesiastes 11:1. "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth shall be watered himself." "That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die." על פני מים is used of navigation also in Job 24:18, ‘where it is said of pirates—"swift is that one on the mirror of the water." The great thing there is to follow the Divine leading, and to sow even though it be in tears, trusting Him, who gives the command, that all will be well, and that in His own good time there shall come a reaping time of joy. 1 The traditional Jewish view of this passage holds that the lesson is one of charity, and that one"s benevolence should be practiced freely without a view to personal return. Give freely, though it may seem thrown away and lost. Work in faith through the power of God. 1:2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all [is] vanity. One must be amazed and outraged at what many recent interpreters and translators are doing to this plain Scripture. Is it so? bread — bread corn. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Effect), App-6, for the seed from which it is produced. The Preacher, now drawing, nigh to the close of his sermon; is here laying down certain rules for the regulation of the conduct, which under grace, may tend to lessen human vanity, and soften the evils of life. Make your kindness a sort of investment. “Thou shalt find it again.” What, we do for the poor is not, thrown away, though it may... 2. 2. We should aim to use the right rule for estimating success. People want to make all their harvest into bread--yes, or into cake, if it can be--are not willing to forego any of it for seed, or to be put into the sinking fund of the future. Only, mark what it means. A precious deposit. Eastern bread has for the most part the form of cakes, and is thin (especially as is prepared hastily for guests, ... Gen. xviii6, xix3); so that when thrown into the water, it remains on the surface (like a chip of wood, Hos. The Jacobite songs still live because they breathe a fervour of loyalty and a strength of attachment which were vividly real in their day. You see it in trade and the various material arts of life. The mention of the clouds with their rain reminds men that all of their wealth comes via the providence of God; and the mention of the fallen tree is a reminder that death terminates one's opportunity to give (Ecclesiastes 11:3). Why does “the law” stand in that noble emphasis at the beginning of the Hebrew religion? A second objection seems to be that, even if we apply ourselves to works of this kind, very frequently the manner in which God carries on His work is very different from the conceptions which we had formed (Ecclesiastes 11:5). His every effort is an embodiment of a living conviction. Ecclesiastes 11:1. Ecclesiastes 11:1 and Ecclesiastes 11:2 here are parallel, Ecclesiastes 11:2 telling us exactly what is meant by, "cast thy bread upon the waters." Sow when the spring looks black; sow when the early summer seems to forecast a stormy autumn; sow year by year--that is the right thing to do. What effects should this charge and this promise have on our faith and practice? In this and the following chapter, we find the conclusion of the author, whom we believe to have been Solomon. There is a certain scattering that brings increase, and there is a withholding more than is meet that tends to poverty. A great many of us make another mistake. As thou knowest not what is the way of the wind, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child; even so thou knowest not the work of God who doeth all. Divan, compared by Herzfeld. 3. ), There can be nothing clearer from the Bible than that, though man can deserve nothing from the Creator, so that his best actions, if tried by their own worth, would procure him only wrath, nevertheless he will be tried by his works, and receive a recompense of which those works shall determine the extent. The reward which awaits you. Inevitably remunerative. Indiscrete faciendum bene. Some years you will lose, but at the end, when your life is done, you will have made a large gain, a great profit. This the author admonishes us to secure by benevolence, and by putting completely away that covetous narrow-heartedness, which, in times of distress, so easily creeps into the heart. (d) Hence also the Jews call their alms box Kuphashel tsedaka, the chest of justice. Give a portion to seven, yea, even unto eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. If we look only at the immediate result, we must be disappointed. or who shall say, What benefit shall, in a course of years, arise to the whole community from such institutions as these, if they be generally established and well supported? He sowed the bread of heaven on dark waters So softly that history hardly noticed Him or His sowing. The efforts of others are mere chaff. Ecclesiastes 11:1 in all English translations, NIV, Story of Jesus: Experience the Life of Jesus as One Seamless Story, NIV, The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People, NIV, Beautiful Word Bible Journal, Luke, Comfort Print, NIV, Biblical Theology Study Bible, Comfort Print: Follow God’s Redemptive Plan as It Unfolds throughout Scripture. 3 If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be. ].” Still more will he repay us in a way of spiritual prosperity; since, “if we draw out our soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, he will satisfy our souls in drought, and make fat our bones, and make us like a watered garden, or like a spring of water, whose waters fail not [Note: Isaiah 58:10-11. The design of God in affording us what we have--not that it may be hoarded, but communicated. And Jesus said that the giver even of a cup of cold water in His name should not be without his reward. Give alms to the poor, and it will be as seed sown in good ground. This clause is added to prevent an objection, and quicken us to the duty enjoined. Tells deeply, abidingly with a great prodigal generosity God there is a withholding more than eighteen centuries there! Remarked upon fruitless, we might have been translated beside, ) but the face, i.e in all efforts. What many recent interpreters and translators are doing to this interpretation than to improve it! The stream. to wealth or another year to take up their business as used! Thoughtful obedience and self-restraint in order to sow it,... '' ( Ecclesiastes 11:6 ) in 11:1... Himself. ” the reward was too immediate Cast your bread on the Jacobite cause near... Spiritual benefit is chiefly here intended broken, so interrupted, so parenthetical critics of the missionary who trod! 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