Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Ecclesiastes 4,13-16

Better a youngster poor and wise than a monarch old and silly who will no longer take advice-

even though stepping from prison to the throne, even though born a beggar in that kingdom.

I observe that all who live and move under the sun support the young newcomer who takes over.

He takes his place at the head of innumerable subjects; but his successors will not think the more kindly of him for that. This too is futile and chasing after the wind.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This last part of the fourth chapter, wholly devoted to the examination of social life, analyses political power. Qohelet concocts a parable to which he gives universal symbolic value. He takes the example of the young man, poor but sharp, who leaves prison and becomes king, while the old king, in his foolishness, takes no one’s advice. It was thought that old age brought wisdom with it. Here we see an old king who only acts and does not listen to any advice. That young man, moreover, of humble origins, perhaps even imprisoned by the same king, is freed from prison and proclaimed king by the crowds. But this same youth is easily liable to himself, becoming corrupt and losing the favour of the people. And another one is put in his place by the same crowd who had acclaimed him. One king succeeds another, each one different, one old and foolish, another one who usurps the power of the prior one; they each obtain their tribute of glory. But the crowds are quick to change opinion and feelings. One, therefore, cannot say that power goes to the wise, nor that the crowds acclaim only the clever and honest. People’s volubility allows the triumph, be it only momentarily, of any regime whatever. Even the revolutionaries are "hebel," a breath of wind.