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Ecclesiastes 9:15 - Exposition

Now there was found in it a poor wise man. The verb, regarded as impersonal, may be thus taken. Or we may continue the subject of the preceding verse and consider the king as spoken of: "He came across, met with unexpectedly, a poor man who was wise." So the Septuagint. The word for "poor" in this passage is misken, for which see note on Ecclesiastes 4:13 . He by his wisdom delivered the city . When the besieged city had neither soldiers nor arms to defend itself against its mighty enemies, the man of poor estate, hitherto unknown or little regarded, came forward, and by wise counsel relieved his countrymen from their perilous situation. How this was done we are left to conjecture. It may have been by some timely concessions or negotiations; or by the surrender of a chief offender as at Abel-Beth-maachah; or by the assassination of a general, as at Bethulia (Jud. 13:8); or by the clever application of mechanical arts, as at Syracuse, under the direction of Archimedes. Yet no man remembered that same poor man. As soon as the exigence which brought him forward was past, the poor man fell back into his insignificance, and was thought of no more; he gained no personal advantage, by his wisdom; his ungrateful countrymen forgot his very existence. Thus Joseph was treated by the chief butler ( Genesis 40:23 ). Classical readers will think of Coriolanus, Scipio Africanus, Themistocles, Miltiades, who for their services to the state were rewarded with calumny, false accusation, obloquy, and banishment. The author of the Book of Wisdom gives a different and ideal experience. "I," he says, "for the sake of wisdom shall have estimation among the multitude, and honor with the elders, though I be young …. By the means of her I shall obtain immortality, and leave behind me an everlasting memorial" (Wis. 8:10-13).

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