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collected for the purpose of hearing him discourse. These circumstances, put together, go to prove, that this philosophical monarch was wont to assemble the people and to instruct them; which confirms the opinion that, in the production of his declining years, he assumed the appellation Kohaleth, as being expressive of this custom

Such appears to be the true explication of the title; but, however it may be explained, another question, of no small difficulty, arises respecting the feminine form of the term. Solomon undoubtedly styles himself Koheleth, which, notwithstanding what has been advanced to the contrary, is evidently in the form of the feminine participle Benoni; how, then, are we to account for this circumstance? In reference to this question it has been asserted, that it is in reality masculine, though the termination may seem to imply the contrary, it not being unusual for proper names to have a feminine termination, and yet be of an opposite gender, as Lapidoth, Mephibosheth, Zoheth, Benzoheth, Alamath, Mispereth, and others.* It may likewise be observed, that, out of seven places where it occurs, it is six times construed with nouns or

* Judges iv. 4. 2 Sam. xxi. 8. I Chron. iv. 20, vii. 8. Nehem, vii. 7. Sophereth and Pochereth have been adduced as instances; but they are more probably the names of women.-See Simonis, Onomasticon, P. 414, 415.

verbs masculine, while it is only once joined with a feminine verb, and even this single instance may admit of some doubt.* Yet, supposing Koheleth to be masculine, it certainly has a feminine form; and the question still recurs, why was an appellation in a feminine form chosen, rather than a noun unequivocally masculine? If nothing more was implied in the term than the wise monarch's custom of convening and instructing the people, a masculine termination would have more aptly suited the office, and better represented the dignity of the Preacher. A word, however, with a feminine termination was selected; and, since it would be derogatory to the authority of Holy Scripture to suppose this preference without meaning, particularly when the admirable expressiveness and picturesque energy of the Hebrew language are considered, we must conclude, that there was some further view in its adoption. And what could this be, agreeably with all the circumstances of the case, but an intention to represent wisdom, divine and heavenly wisdom inspired by the Almighty, speaking by the mouth of the king of Israel ? This is the judicious opinion of several eminent critics ; and it not only accounts for the feminine termination of Koheleth, but also for its being sometimes construed with a feminine, (supposing the Masoretic text and punctuation of chapter vii. 27 to be correct, and sometimes with a masculine word; for nouns used metonymically are construed either according to their proper or figurative signification.*

* The only place where it is construed with a feminine verb is chapter vii. 27, where we find obap aros; but the 77 in 07708 may be paragogic, and in that case the verb will be masculine; (see Wolf, Biblioth. Heb. vol. iv. p. 32 ;) or the true reading may be nbapo 798, as we find in chapter xii. 8, which is the conjecture of Michaelis, (Supplem. ad Lex. No. 2236,) and Jahn (Introduct. ad Lib. Sac. $ 209.) It is clearly joined with masculine nouns or verbs chapter i, 1, 2, 12, xii. 8, 9, 10.

Thus we have a satisfactory explanation, both of the meaning and form of the appellation; its etymology being designed to intimate the wise monarch's custom of convening and teaching the people; and its feminine form to imply, that the doctrines which he inculcated were not the result of his own reason, but the suggestions of divine inspiration.



The opinions of expositors, in regard to the scope and design of the book, are not less diversified than concerning the origin and meaning of the title. The greater part of them, however, are so evidently fanciful and erroneous, as scarcely to require a serious refutation, which would, indeed, be at present a superfluous labour, as most of them have been collected and discussed by Desvoeux, in his learned and ingenious work on the Ecclesiastes. A scheme different from all others has been proposed by that commentator; and as it has been lately sanctioned by so excellent a writer as Dr. Graves, in his highly valuable Lectures on the Pentateuch,* it demands a particular examination. The object of the royal Preacher, according to Desvoeux, is “to prove the immortality of the soul, or rather the necessity of another state after this life, from such arguments as may be afforded by reason and experience.”+ Were this, however, the object of the Ecclesiastes, it is strange that it should ever be questioned, as it has been by critics of acknowledged learning and abilities, whether it contains any intimation whatever of a future period of retribution. But, admitting these writers to be mistaken, and that the work actually presents some intimations of a future state, as will be shown in a subsequent page; yet we may clearly infer from the observation, that, if the leading object had been to enforce that sublime doctrine, it would not have been left in so much darkness and obscurity. It would rather have

* Schroeder, Instit. Ling. Heb. reg. 22.

# Part iii. Lect. 4, 6 2.
# Desvoeux, Diss. on the Eccles. p. 79.

been clearly announced as the head and front of the treatise, exhibited in lively colours, and exposed to view in too circumstantial a manner to be mistaken. Of each part of the work it would have formed the prominent feature; and it would have appeared, as well from the mode of illustration as the tendency of the argument, to be the principal object of the disquisition.. But the doctrine of a future life, though implied in a few passages, is not set in that prominent light, nor so frequently mentioned, nor so strongly insisted upon as might be expected, had it constituted the basis of the discourse. And, what may be regarded as decisive of the question is, that, where a future state is mentioned, it arises incidentally in the course of the argument; and, so far from being the groundwork of the reasoning, seems intended only to illustrate and confirm it.

Independently of this, other considerations evince, that the scope of the book is not to vindicate “the necessity of another state after this life.”

It has been proved by Bishop Warburton, and is acknowledged by Dr. Graves, that the rewards and punishments of a future life were not inculcated by the Jewish Legislator as sanctions of his laws. Temporal sanctions only were employed by Moses, because they were necessary to confute idolatry, adapted to the moral and intellectual


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