Previous Verse Next Verse


No one has power over the wind to restrain the wind

Go to footnote number

and no one has power over the day of death.

Go to footnote number

There is no discharge from the war, and evil will not deliver those who are given to it.

Go to footnote number Go to footnote number


Just as no one has power over a man’s life to hold back the spirit [and keep it from being separated from the body], no one has control over the day of his death. Just as there is not release from the threat of death (war), in the same way, once the lifestyle of death (wicked living) becomes your lord, it will not let you go free (until you die).



This word can mean “breath, wind, spirit or life.” Although most translations render it as “wind,” the fact that it is repeated when it does not have to be seems a bit strange to me, indicating that something is different. You will notice that I have rendered it as “wind” in the translation column and “life and spirit” in the paraphrase column. I do this to show you the two possibilities. I personally prefer the rendering I have given in the paraphrase column because I think death is a key part of this whole passage, but I cannot prove it.

2: “day of death”

This fits with the previous verse which says “who can tell what will occur [in the future]?”

3: “given to it”

The word used here usually refers to a master or a lord. It was someone of power that held sway over others. “given to it” is not wrong, but neither does it reveal clearly the primary emphasis of the word. That is why the paraphrase column states, “becomes your lord.”

4: “once the lifestyle of death (wicked living) becomes your lord it will not let you go free” (in the paraphrase column)

Although this rendering fits the themes of Ecclesiastes very well, the biggest problem with it is that the final clause is not the same kind of analogy given earlier in the verse. The word “evil or wickedness” is not used of death elsewhere in the Old Testament to my knowledge, so this is a bit of a twisting of it to make it fit. However, Solomon probably considered death something evil, but he did not call it that. The rendering I provide in the paraphrase column assumes that the last two clauses are a comparison and analogy of a different kind than the first two clauses. The first two clauses are relatively clear, only complicated by the fact that one word can mean “spirit, life, breath, or wind,” and three of these are possibilities in this context. However, the second set of clauses (at the end of the verse) is more ambiguous. If it refers to death, it does so in a way that is disguised and hard to see. If the word refers to evil as it normally does, it seems a bit out of place in the context of the verse.

I am not alone in assuming that Solomon is talking about death in this entire verse even though some of the illusions to it are not absolutely clear. Listen to that last clause in a couple other translations which find a way to make the connection to death: New Living Translation: “And in the face of death, wickedness will certainly not rescue the wicked.” God’s Word Translation: “There is no way to avoid the war [against death]. Wickedness will not save wicked people [from dying].”