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Do not be hasty to leave his presence; do not remain standing if the matter is unpleasant,

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for he does whatever pleases him.

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Do not be anxious to leave the presence of a ruler to get started obeying orders if he asks you to do something you really like; if he wants to get to know you a little better, let him do so. Also, if he gives you a task and tells you to go, don’t keep standing there just because you don’t like what he asks you to do. He can ask you to do anything and you should do it happily.



An alternative translation is: “Do not take your stand for an evil cause.” The word for “stand” can also mean “remain” or “delay” and the word often translated “evil” has the basic meaning of “disagreeable, bad, unpleasant.” So you see that this clause can mean “Do not take your stand for an evil cause” or “do not remain standing if the matter is unpleasant.” Context alone can tell us which one was likely the intent of the writer. I think that “do not remain standing if the matter is unpleasing” fits better because it is the opposite of the first clause of the sentence and thus makes a nice couplet.

Notice that the first clause does not include anything about being given a task, that comes from the second clause and is applied retroactively to the first clause. This technique is seen elsewhere in Ecclesiastes and is common enough that we can assume that the intent of the writer was for the reader to include that idea in both clauses even though it appears in writing only in the second one. I left the translation column as obscure as it appears in the original language, and included the full meaning in the paraphrase column.


The point here is that respect for, and submission to authority means we need to accept the hard tasks as well as the fun ones.