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also, they will be afraid of heights, and terrors will be in the road;
and the almond tree will blossom,
and the grasshopper will be a burden,
and desire will fail
because man goes to his age-long home,
and the mourners go about the streets: Bible

“afraid of heights, and terrors will be in the road.” The aged are afraid of falling, so heights, and obstacles in the road, which may not be as easy to see and avoid as they were in the days of youth, are terrors. It also must be kept in mind that roads were “public places” that did not belong to anyone and so were not kept up. Eventually they became full of rocks and holes and could be difficult to walk on (see commentary on Mark 1:3).

“the almond tree will blossom.” This may refer to the white hair of old age. Or it may be that “the almond tree is despised” (“despised” coming from a different Hebrew root), meaning that the sense of taste is gone with old age so even almonds, normally a delicacy, are not enjoyed. Or it may be that the almond tree is despised because in old age as death is on the horizon the beauty of the almond tree sort of taunts the aged person, who will not get to enjoy it for much longer.

“the grasshopper will be a burden.” As a person gets old and weak, even small things can be a burden.

“and desire will fail.” The usual meaning would be that the aged person’s sexual desire will fail, but in this context it may also refer to desire to live. It is very common that aged people who are at peace with God see death as a release from a painful existence.

“age-long home.” This is not the “eternal home” as some English translations suggest. The grave is an “age-long home,” that is, the length of “this present evil age” (Gal. 1:4). Some versions say “eternal home” instead of “long home” or “age-long home,” but the Hebrew word olam, translated “age-long,” can mean either eternal or of long duration. Christians who believe that when people die they immediately go to heaven or hell and stay there forever say the person goes to his long home at the time that he dies. However, the truth in the Bible is that when people die they go to the grave and are dead, awaiting their resurrection. Thus, the grave is the “long home,” after which comes the resurrection and the person’s Judgment Day. If at the Judgment the person is deemed worthy of life, then they live forever with the Messiah. If the person is not deemed worthy of life, they are burned up (annihilated) in the Lake of Fire, and have no “home” at all. That Ecclesiastes calls the grave the “long home” indicates God had not started to reveal to people that the Day of the Lord was close.

[For more information on dead people being dead in every way, body, soul, and spirit, see Appendix 4, “The Dead are Dead.” Also, see Graeser, Lynn, Schoenheit, Is There Death After Life, Christian Educational Services, Indianapolis, IN, 2004. For more on the different resurrections, see commentary on Acts 24:15. For more on unsaved people being annihilated in the Lake of Fire rather than burning forever, see Appendix 5, “Annihilation in the Lake of Fire”].

“and the mourners go about the streets.” The aged person, now dead, is mourned by those who knew them.


Commentary for: Ecclesiastes 12:5