Ecclesiastes – The Grasshopper Shall Be A Burden

Ecclesiastes “The Grasshopper Shall Be A Burden”

“The Grasshopper Shall Be A Burden”

(Magill’s Quotations in Context)

Context: The preacher in Ecclesiastes warns against vanity; all of this life is sheer vanity, he says: “Vanity of vanities . . . vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” The search after wisdom or pleasure, fame or wealth, leads but to the grave for each and every generation. He sees that the worthy are defeated, and that the wicked prosper in this life. But some peace we may have, he suggests, and he advises that we subscribe to charity, duty, and faith. These will bring some measure of peace, even though in this life man is condemned never to understand the ways of God. To obey God, not to understand Him, is the lot of man: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” The writer of Ecclesiastes advises the young person to rejoice in his youth, but also to remember God the Creator and the judgment of life that must come. The time will come, he warns, when the spirit of man must return to the Creator:

And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: . . . Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

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What Is ‘The Grasshopper Lies Heavy’ On ‘The Man In The High Castle’? The Films’ Title Relate Back To The Novel

If you’re just catching up with the new historical series on Amazon, The Man in the High Castle, you probably have some questions. The pilot introduces a lot of history and a lot of people. One character, Juliana, comes into contact with a film — from her sister Trudy — that shows a news reel of the United States winning World War II. On the film, it states The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which makes an appearance on not only Juliana’s film, but also sneaky Joe Blake’s film, too. So, what does The Grasshopper Lies Heavy mean on The Man in the High Castle ? The phrase actually relates back to a novel in the book the show was inspired by.

Since the show takes place in a universe where the Axis powers won World War II, Juliana immediately wonders what her sister was involved in after receiving films that technically depict an unrealistic world. Frank, Juliana’s partner, tells her that it couldn’t be real, and the videos were made by an anti-fascist filmmaker, the Man in the High Castle. Despite Frank’s pleas to take the film to the police, Juliana believes are real and vows to follow her sister’s journey, which leads her to Colorado, a neutral state.

Many times, we see the handwritten-print on the film reels that read The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which might mean nothing to those who haven’t read the novel the show is based off of, but it actually means a lot.

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy In The Man In The High Castle

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is a novel within a novel (The Man in the High Castle). It is written by author Hawthorne Abendsen, who is an author that writes about an alternate universe where the Axis powers won World War II. In The Man in the High Castle novel, the Germans have banned the book, which it is extremely popular in the Japanese Pacific states, and legal in the neutral states.

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy Meaning

So, what is the novel within a novel actually about? The book details a world where the Axis powers are defeated in World War II, and those involved — Adolf Hitler, included — are tried for their crimes. The United States establishes itself a relationship with China in a way that leads to vanquishing Communist Mao Zedong, as well as outlawing racism within the states by the ’50s. But, Britain doesn’t do the same. Instead, it becomes racially-driven, which drives a wedge in between US and UK relationships, leading to a Cold War.

The end of the novel isn’t explicitly completed in The Man in the High Castle, but there’s a character claim that the British defeat the United States and become a superpower.

Other Grasshopper References

The grasshopper is an image related to a specific Bible verse, Ecclesiastes 12:5, in which it says, “Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets.” In alternate versions, it may read, “the grasshopper drags itself along,” but both speak to the idea that man cannot bear the least burden.

It’s Relation To The Man In The High Castle TV Show

It’s very possible that the film in the show is a replacement for the novel in the novel. In terms of visually showing the contents of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, it’s a lot easier to show that via film than book pages. The idea that this book, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, is depicting a world where even the U.S. fails as time progresses might speak to the hopefulness of Juliana now, but the eventual burden to come.

As the show continues, we’ll probably learn more about the films and the meaning behind The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. At least let’s hope so, because now I feel fully invested.

Images: Amazon Studios; screengrabs/Amazon (4)

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Grasshopper shall be a burden

New International Version
Remember him–before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well,

New Living Translation
Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well.

English Standard Version
before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,

Berean Study Bible
Remember Him before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is crushed, before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel is broken at the well,

New American Standard Bible
Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed;

King James Bible
Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

Christian Standard Bible
before the silver cord is snapped, and the gold bowl is broken, and the jar is shattered at the spring, and the wheel is broken into the well;

Contemporary English Version
The silver cord snaps, the golden bowl breaks; the water pitcher is smashed, and the pulley at the well is shattered.

Good News Translation
The silver chain will snap, and the golden lamp will fall and break; the rope at the well will break, and the water jar will be shattered.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
before the silver cord is snapped, and the gold bowl is broken, and the jar is shattered at the spring, and the wheel is broken into the well;

International Standard Version
When the silver cord is severed, the golden vessel is broken, the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, and the wheel is broken at the cistern,

NET Bible
before the silver cord is removed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the well, or the water wheel is broken at the cistern–

New Heart English Bible
before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the spring, or the wheel broken at the cistern,

GOD’S WORD® Translation
Remember your Creator before the silver cord is snapped, the golden bowl is broken, the pitcher is smashed near the spring, and the water wheel is broken at the cistern.

JPS Tanakh 1917
Before the silver cord is snapped asunder, And the golden bowl is shattered, And the pitcher is broken at the fountain, And the wheel falleth shattered, into the pit;

New American Standard 1977
Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed;

Jubilee Bible 2000
before the silver chain is broken, and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel is broken at the cistern;

King James 2000 Bible
Before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

American King James Version
Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

American Standard Version
before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,

Brenton Septuagint Translation
before the silver cord be let go, or the choice gold be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel run down to the cistern;

Douay-Rheims Bible
Before the silver cord be broken, and the golden fillet shrink back, and the pitcher be crushed at the fountain, and the wheel be broken upon the cistern,

Darby Bible Translation
— before the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be shattered at the fountain, or the wheel be broken at the cistern;

English Revised Version
or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern;

Webster’s Bible Translation
Or ever the silver cord shall be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

World English Bible
before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the spring, or the wheel broken at the cistern,

Young’s Literal Translation
While that the silver cord is not removed, And the golden bowl broken, And the pitcher broken by the fountain, And the wheel broken at the well.

Zechariah 4:2
“What do you see?” he asked. “I see a sol >

Zechariah 4:3
There are also two olive trees bes >

Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

[Remember Him] before
עַ֣ד (‘aḏ)
Preposition
Strong’s Hebrew 5704: As far as, even to, up to, until, while

the silver
הַכֶּ֔סֶף (hak·ke·sep̄)
Article | Noun – masculine singular
Strong’s Hebrew 3701: Silver, money

cord
חֶ֣בֶל (ḥe·ḇel)
Noun – masculine singular construct
Strong’s Hebrew 2256: A rope, a measuring line, a district, inheritance, a noose, a company, a throe, ruin

is snapped,
יֵרָתֵק֙ (yê·rā·ṯêq)
Verb – Nifal – Imperfect – third person masculine singular
Strong’s Hebrew 7368: To be or become far or distant

and the golden
הַזָּהָ֑ב (haz·zā·hāḇ)
Article | Noun – masculine singular
Strong’s Hebrew 2091: Gold, something gold-colored, as oil, a clear sky

bowl
גֻּלַּ֣ת (gul·laṯ)
Noun – feminine singular construct
Strong’s Hebrew 1543: A fountain, bowl, globe

is crushed,
וְתָרֻ֖ץ (wə·ṯā·ruṣ)
Conjunctive waw | Verb – Qal – Conjunctive imperfect – third person feminine singular
Strong’s Hebrew 7533: To crack in pieces

[before] the pitcher
כַּד֙ (kaḏ)
Noun – feminine singular
Strong’s Hebrew 3537: A pail, earthenware, a jar

is shattered
וְתִשָּׁ֤בֶר (wə·ṯiš·šā·ḇer)
Conjunctive waw | Verb – Nifal – Conjunctive imperfect – third person feminine singular
Strong’s Hebrew 7665: To break, break in pieces

at
עַל־ (‘al-)
Preposition
Strong’s Hebrew 5921: Above, over, upon, against

the spring,
הַמַּבּ֔וּעַ (ham·mab·bū·a‘)
Article | Noun – masculine singular
Strong’s Hebrew 4002: A spring (of water)

and the wheel
הַגַּלְגַּ֖ל (hag·gal·gal)
Article | Noun – masculine singular
Strong’s Hebrew 1534: A wheel, a whirlwind, dust

is broken
וְנָרֹ֥ץ (wə·nā·rōṣ)
Conjunctive waw | Verb – Nifal – Conjunctive perfect – third person masculine singular
Strong’s Hebrew 7533: To crack in pieces

at
אֶל־ (’el-)
Preposition
Strong’s Hebrew 413: Near, with, among, to

the well,
הַבּֽוֹר׃ (hab·bō·wr)
Article | Noun – masculine singular
Strong’s Hebrew 953: A pit, cistern, well

Alphabetical: and at before bowl broken by cistern cord crushed golden him is or pitcher Remember severed shattered silver spring the well wheel

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What does Ecclesiastes 12:5–7 mean?

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Answer Wiki

This section of Ecclesiastes is an ancient poem on growing old.

Here are the specific verses you mention within this poem:

“When people are afraid of things above and of terrors along the way; when the almond tree blooms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails,

when the human goes to the eternal abode, with mourners all around in the street;

before the silver cord snaps and the gold bowl shatters; the jar is broken at the fountain and the wheel is broken at the cistern;

before dust returns to the earth as it was before and the life-breath returns to God who gave it.”

The poem being so old the expressions can be somewhat obscure but we can ascertain the meanings, if not in precise specificity certainly in the general. Here are some suggestions as to the meanings of the above verses you cite.

“When people are afraid of things above and of terrors along the way”

With advanced age, our increased weakness physically and mentally produce an increased fear of heights and of things falling on us and intruders as we are less able to stand safely or to resist aggression.

The gray hairs that generally come with age.

“the grasshopper drags itself along”

Once so full of spring and life, now increasingly dragging oneself along this life as desires in general fade.

“before the silver cord snaps and the gold bowl shatters; the jar is broken at the spring and the wheel is crushed at the pit;”

People have given various meanings to these poetical expressions. Here are some suggestions. The silver cord may refer to the spinal cord and more metaphorically to the spirit of man himself. An expression of movement/life being broken-of ending.

The golden bowl could mean that of the skull which houses the brain. This which separates us so significantly from the animals is slowly broken down for so many with advanced age.

“the jar is broken at the fountain and the wheel is broken at the cistern;”

In keeping with the metaphors about the body, the jar broken at the fountain may refer to that of the heart and the blood flow. The fountain being the heart and the jar breaking meaning that the “water” no longer flows to and from its source. the second phrase being a poetical repeat of the same concept.

I once spent a significant amount of time caring for an elderly man up to his death and wrote a few lines about the experience using this poem as the backdrop. Here it is:

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Grasshopper shall be a burden

Ecclesiastes 12:5 . When they shall be afraid, &c. — The passion of fear is observed to be most inc >Of that which is high — Of high things, lest they should fall upon them; or of high places, as of going up hills or stairs, which is very irksome to them, because of their weakness, weariness, g >And fears shall be in the way — Lest, as they are walking, they should stumble, or fall, or be thrust down, or some infirmity or evil should befall them. And the almond-tree shall flourish — Their heads shall be as full of gray hairs as the almond-tree is of white flowers. And the grasshopper shall be a burden — If it acc >And desire shall fail — Of meats, and drinks, and music, and other delights, which are vehemently desired by men in their youth. Because man goeth — Is travelling toward it, and every day nearer to it. To his long home —

From this place of his pilgrimage into the grave, from whence he must never return into this world, and into the state of the future life, which is unchangeable and everlasting. And mourners go about the streets — Accompany the corpse through the streets to the grave.

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 2 Corinthians 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).

fears … in the way—Even on the level highway they are full of fears of falling, &c.

almond … flourish—In the East the hair is mostly dark. The white head of the old among the dark-haired is like an almond tree, with its white blossoms, among the dark trees around [Holden]. The almond tree flowers on a leafless stock in winter (answering to old age, in which all the powers are dormant), while the other trees are flowerless. Gesenius takes the Hebrew for flourishes from a different root, casts off; when the old man loses his gray hairs, as the almond tree casts its white flowers.

grasshoppers—the dry, shrivelled, old man, his backbone sticking out, his knees projecting forwards, his arms backwards, his head down, and the apophyses enlarged, is like that insect. Hence arose the fable, that Tithonus in very old age was changed into a grasshopper [Parkhurst]. “The locust raises itself to fly”; the old man about to leave the body is like a locust when it is assuming its winged form, and is about to fly [Maurer].

a burden—namely, to himself.

desire shall fail—satisfaction shall be abolished. For “desire,” Vulgate has “the caper tree,” provocative of lust; not so well.

long home—(Job 16:22; 17:13).

mourners—(Jer 9:17-20), hired for the occasion (Mt 9:23).

They shall be afraid; the passion of fear is observed to be most inc >

Of that which is high; either,

1. Of high things, lest they should fall upon them. Or rather,

2. Of high places, of going up hills or stairs, which is very irksome to them, because of their weakness, and weariness, ar, d g >

Also they shall be afraid and terrified (two words expressing the same thing, which is very frequent in the Hebrew) of that which is high in the way . When they walk abroad, they will dread to go up any high or steep places.

And fears shall be in the way, lest as they are walking, they should stumble, or fall, or be thrust down, or some infirmity or mischief should befall them.

The almond tree shall flourish; their heads shall be as full of grey hairs as the almond tree is of white flowers. Such metaphors are not unusual in other authors. Hence Sophocles calls a grey or hoary head flowery , and again, covered with white flowers .

The grasshopper shall be a burden, if it doth acc >the locust (as the ancient interpreters and many others render it; or, as ours and some others, the grasshopper , which comes to the same thing; for these two sorts of insects are much of the same nature and shape) shall be a burden to itself . And by the locust or grasshopper may be understood, either,

1. The old man himself, who bears some resemblance to it; in shape, by reason of the bones sticking out; in the constitution of the body, which is dry and withering; and in the legs and arms, which are slender, the flesh being consumed. Or,

2. The back, which fitly follows after the head, upon which the almond tree flourished, in which the strength of the body lay, and which formerly was able to bear great burdens, but now, through its weakness and crookedness, is a burden too heavy for itself. And some of the Jewish and other interpreters understand this word, which others render locust or grasshopper , to be some part of the body, either the back-bone , or the head of the thigh bone , or the ankle-bone , any of which may well be sa >Desire , to wit, of meats, and drinks, and music, and other carnal delights, which are vehemently desired by men in the heat of their youth, but are unsavoury to old men; of which see an instance 2 Samuel 19:35 . It is true, the former expressions are metaphorical, but the two next following are proper, and to be understood literally; and so may this clause also.

Man goeth, is travelling towards it, and every day nearer to it than other,

to his long home; from this place of his pilgrimage into the grave, from whence he must never return into this world, and into the state and place of the future life, which is unchangeable and everlasting.

The mourners; either such as were hired to that end, of whom See Poole “Jeremiah 9:17” ; See Poole “Matthew 9:23” , See Poole “Matthew 11:17” , or true mourners, near relations, and dear friends, accompany the dead corpse through the streets to the grave.

and fears shall be in the way; they do not care: to go abroad, being afraid of every little stone that lies in the way, lest they should stumble at it, and fall: some understand this of their fears of spirits, good or bad; but the former sense is best;

and the almond tree shall flourish; which most interpret of the hoary head, which looks like an almond tree in blossom; and which, as it comes soon in the spring, whence it has its name of haste in the Hebrew language; see Jeremiah 1:11; and is a sure sign of its near approach; so gray hairs, or the hoary head, sometimes appear very soon and unexpected, and are a sure indication of the approach of old age; which Cicero (h) calls “aetas praecipitata”,

“age that comes hastily on;”

though the hoary head, like the almond tree, looks very beautiful, and is venerable, especially if found in the way of righteousness, Leviticus 19:32;

and the grasshopper shall be a burden; meaning either, should a grasshopper, which is very light, leap upon an aged person, it would give him pain, the least burden being uneasy to him; or, should he eat one of these creatures, the locusts being a sort of food in Judea, it would not sit well, on his stomach: or the grasshopper, being a crumpled and lean creature, may describe an old man; his legs and arms emaciated, and his shoulders, back, and lips, crumpled up and bunching out; and the locust of this name has a bunch on its backbone, like a camel (i): Bochart (k) says, that the head of the thigh, or the hip bone, by the Arabians, is called “chagaba”, the word here used for a locust or grasshopper; which part of the body is of principal use in walking, and found very troublesome and difficult to move in old men; and Aben Ezra interprets it of the thigh: the almond tree, by the Rabbins, as Jarchi says, is interpreted of the hip bone, which stands out in old age: and the Targum, of this and the preceding clause, is,

“and the top of thy backbone shall bunch out, through leanness, like the almond; and the ankles of thy feet shall be swelled.”

Some, as Ben Melech observes, understand it of the genital member, and of coitus, slighted and rejected, because of the weakness of the body; all desires of that kind being gone, as follows;

and desire shall fail; the appetite, for food, for bodily pleasures, and carnal delights; and particularly for venery, all the parts of the body for such uses being weakened, The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, “the caper tree shall be dissipated”, or “vanish”, or “its fruit shall shrink”; so Dr. Smith, who understands it of the decrease of the fluids, as he does the former clause of the solid parts of the body; and the berries of this tree are said to excite both appetite and lust (l): and so Munster (m) interprets the word of the berries of the caper tree;

because man goeth to his long home; the grave, as the Targum, the house appointed for living, where he must lie till the resurrection morn; his eternal house, as Cicero calls it (n); and so it may be rendered here, “the house of the world”, common to all the world, where all mankind go: or, “to the house of his world” (o); whether of bliss or woe, according as his state and character be, good or bad: Theognis (p) calls it the dark house of “hades”, or the invisible state; and then this must be understood with respect to his separate soul, and the mansion of it; and Alshech says, every righteous man has a mansion to himself; see John 14:2;

and the mourners go about the streets; the relations of the deceased; or those that go to their houses to comfort them; or the mourning men and women, hired for that purpose.

(h) Fam. Epist. l. 11. Ephesians 58. (i) R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 83. 1.((k) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 4. c. 8. col. 494. (l) Avicenna spud Schindler. Lexic. Colossians 10. (m) Dictionar. Chaldaic. p. 13. (n) Tusculan. Quaest. l. 2. prope finem. (o) “ad domum seculi sui”, Pagninus. Montanus, Vatablus, Mercerus. (p) v. 1008. v >Geneva Study Bible

(k) To climb high because of their weakness, or they stoop down as though they were afraid lest anything should hide them.

(l) They will tremble as they go, as though they were afraid.

(m) Their head will be as white as the blossoms of an almond tree.

(n) They will be able to bear nothing.

5 . also when they shall be afraid of that which is high ] The description becomes more and more enigmatic, possibly, as some have thought, because the special forms of infirmity referred to called for a veil. The first clause, however, is fairly clear if we omit the interpolated “ when .” They (the indefinite plural, with the force of the French on ) shall be afraid of a height, or hill. The new form of the sentence, the opening words also, indicate that the picture of the storm has been completed, and that symbolism of another kind comes in. We see, as it were, another sl >

“Multa senem circumveniunt incommoda; vel quòd

Quærit et inventis miser abstinet, ac timet uti,

Vel quòd res omnes tim >

“Many the troubles that attend the old;

For either still he sets his mind on gains

And dares not touch, and fears to use his gains,

Or deals with all things as with chill of fear.”

Horace, Ep. ad Pis. 169–71.

So Aristotle among the characteristics of age notes that the old are δειλοὶ καὶ πάντα προφοβητικοὶ (tim >Rhet . ii. 23). The interpreters who carry the >i.e. of the gathering storm-clouds, but for the reasons above given, that interpretation seems untenable.

and the almond tree shall flourish ] The true meaning is to be found, it is believed, in the significance of the Hebrew name for almond tree ( Sheked = the early waking tree, comp. Jeremiah 1:11), and the enigmatic phrase describes the insomnia which often attends old age. The tree that flourishes there is the tree of Vigilantia or Wakefulness. As might be expected, the discordant interpretations of commentators multiply, and we may record, but only in order to reject them, the more notable of these. (1) The almond blossoms represent the white hairs of age. Those blossoms are, however, pink and not white, and few persons would find a likeness in the two objects thus compared. (2) The verb rendered “shall flourish” has been derived from a root with the meaning “to loathe—scorn—reject,” and the sentence has been explained either (2) he (the old man) loathes the almond, i.e. has no taste for dainties, or (3) turns away from the almond tree, i.e. has no welcome for the messenger of spring, or (4), with the same sense as (2), “the almond causes loathing.” Anatomical expositors strain their fancies to find in the almond that which answers to (5) the thigh bone, or (6) the vertebral column, or some other part of the body which age affects with weakness. Into the discussion what part best answers to the almond we need not follow them.

and the grasshopper shall be a burden ] The word translated “grasshopper” is one of the many terms used, as in 2 Chronicles 7:13, for insects of the locust >autochthones , “sprung from the soil.” Such an ornament is to the old man more than he cares to carry, and becomes another symbol of his incapacity to support the least physical or mental burden. As before we note a w >Hist. Anim . v. 30) names them as a delicacy, and the Arabs are sa >pelvis which becomes sharp and prominent in age, (3) for the stomach which swells with dropsy, (4) for the ankles swelling from the same cause, and so on through various other members.

and desire shall fail ] The word translated “desire” is not found elsewhere in the Old Testament, and this rendering rests on a somewhat doubtful etymology. The LXX. version, which may be admitted as shewing in what sense the word was taken at a very early date, and with which the Rabbinic use of the word agrees, gives κάππαρις , which the Vulgate reproduces in capparis , i.e. the caper or Capparis spinosa of botanists. It is in favour of this rendering that it preserves the enigmatic symbolism of the two previous clauses, while “desire” simply gives an abstract unfigurative term, out of harmony with the context. Possibly indeed the name was given to the plant as indicating its qualities as a restorative and stimulant (Plutarch, Sympos .; Athenæus, Deipnos , ix. p. 405). The pickled capers of modern cookery are the buds of the shrub, but the berries and leaves are reputed to possess the same virtues. Hence one of the Epicures in Athenæus ( Deipnos . ix. p. 370) takes Νὴ τὸν κάππαριν (By the caper!) as a favourite oath, just as a modern gourmet might swear by some favourite sauce. So understood the meaning of the passage seems fairly clear. The caper-berry shall fall , i.e. shall no longer rouse the flagging appetite of age. There shall be a longa oblivio of what the man had most delighted in. It would seem indeed from the account of the capparis given by Pliny ( Hist. Nat. xx. 59) that its medicinal virtues were of a very varied character. It was a remedy for paralysis and diseases of the k >Ideal Biography in the Introduction , ch. iii. So understood the Debater speaks with a scorn like that of Eurip >Suppl . 1060) of the attempts of the old to revive their flagging desires and avert the approach of death.

μισῶ δ ʼ ὅσοι χρῄζουσιν ἐκτείνειν βίον

λουτροῖσι , καὶ στρωμναῖσι καὶ μαγέυμασιν .

“I hate them, those who seek to lengthen life

With baths, and pillows, and quack-doctor’s drugs.”

Substantially most commentators agree in this meaning. The anatomical school, however, >

because man goeth to his long home ] Literally, to the house of his eternity, i.e. to his eternal home. The description of the decay of age is followed by that of death as the close of all, and for a time, perhaps to link together the two symbolical descriptions, the language of figurative imagery is dropped. The “eternal home” is, of course, the grave (the phrase is stated by Ginsburg to be in common use among modern Jews), or more probably, Sheol , or Hades, the dwelling-place of the dead. In Tob 3:6, “the everlasting place” seems used of the felicity of Paradise, and it is, at least, obvious that the thought of immortality, though not prominent, is not excluded here. The term Domus æterna appears often on the tombs of Rome in Christian as well as non-Christian inscriptions, probably as equivalent to the “everlasting habitations” of Luke 16:9, and in these cases it clearly connotes more than an “eternal sleep.” An interesting parallel is found in the Assyrian legend of Ishtar, in which Hades is described as the “House of Eternity,” the “House men enter, but cannot depart from; the Road men go to, but cannot return” ( Records of the Past , i. 143).

the mourners go about the streets ] Literally, in the singular, the street or market-place. The words bring before us the most prominent feature of Eastern funerals. The burial-place was always outs >Rabbin. Blumenlese , pp. 256, 257) examples such as the following, “The palms wave their heads for the just man who was like a palm”—“If the fire falls upon the cedar what shall the hyssop on the wall do?” It is obvious that such elegies would often take the form of a figurative description of death, and that which follows in the next verse may well have been an echo from some such elegy.

Verse 5. – Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high . There is no “when” in the original, which runs, “Also, or yea, they fear on high.” “They” are old men, or, like the French on , “people” indefinitely; and the clause says that they find difficulty in mounting an ascent, as the Vulgate renders, Excelsa quoque timebant . Shortness of breath, asthmatic tendencies, failure of muscular power, make such an exertion arduous and burdensome, just as in the previous verse a similar cause rendered singing impossible. The description is now arriving at the last stage, and allegorizing the closing scene. The steep ascent is the via dolorosa , the painful process of dying, from which the natural man shrinks; for as the gnome says –

Τοῦ ζῇν γὰρ οὐδεὶς ὡς ὁ γηράσκων ἐρᾷ
“None dotes on life more than the aged man.” The old man is going on the appointed road, and fears shall be in the way ; or, all sorts of fears (plural of intensity) are in the path ; as in his infirm condition he can walk nowhere without danger of meeting with some acc >And the almond tree shall flourish ; or, is in blossom . The old man is thus figured from the observed aspect of this tree. It blossoms in winter upon a leafless stem, and its flowers, at first of a pale pink color, turn to a snowy whiteness as they fall from the branches. The tree thus becomes a fit type of the ar >

“Temporibus geminis canebat sparsa senectus;ETT*>

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