Ecclesiastes 12:5

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high,.... Not of the most high God, before whose tribunal they must shortly appear, as some; but rather of high places, as high hills, mountains, towers, &c. which aged persons are afraid to go up, because of the feebleness and weakness of their limbs, their difficulty of breathing, and the dizziness of their heads;

and fears shall be in the way; they do not care: to go abroad, being afraid of every little stone that lies in the way, lest they should stumble at it, and fall: some understand this of their fears of spirits, good or bad; but the former sense is best;

and the almond tree shall flourish; which most interpret of the hoary head, which looks like an almond tree in blossom; and which, as it comes soon in the spring, whence it has its name of haste in the Hebrew language; see Jeremiah 1:11; and is a sure sign of its near approach; so gray hairs, or the hoary head, sometimes appear very soon and unexpected, and are a sure indication of the approach of old age; which Cicero {h} calls "aetas praecipitata",

"age that comes hastily on;''

though the hoary head, like the almond tree, looks very beautiful, and is venerable, especially if found in the way of righteousness,

Leviticus 19:32;

and the grasshopper shall be a burden; meaning either, should a grasshopper, which is very light, leap upon an aged person, it would give him pain, the least burden being uneasy to him; or, should he eat one of these creatures, the locusts being a sort of food in Judea, it would not sit well, on his stomach: or the grasshopper, being a crumpled and lean creature, may describe an old man; his legs and arms emaciated, and his shoulders, back, and lips, crumpled up and bunching out; and the locust of this name has a bunch on its backbone, like a camel {i}: Bochart {k} says, that the head of the thigh, or the hip bone, by the Arabians, is called "chagaba", the word here used for a locust or grasshopper; which part of the body is of principal use in walking, and found very troublesome and difficult to move in old men; and Aben Ezra interprets it of the thigh: the almond tree, by the Rabbins, as Jarchi says, is interpreted of the hip bone, which stands out in old age: and the Targum, of this and the preceding clause, is,

"and the top of thy backbone shall bunch out, through leanness, like the almond; and the ankles of thy feet shall be swelled.''

Some, as Ben Melech observes, understand it of the genital member, and of coitus, slighted and rejected, because of the weakness of the body; all desires of that kind being gone, as follows;

and desire shall fail; the appetite, for food, for bodily pleasures, and carnal delights; and particularly for venery, all the parts of the body for such uses being weakened, The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, "the caper tree shall be dissipated", or "vanish", or "its fruit shall shrink"; so Dr. Smith, who understands it of the decrease of the fluids, as he does the former clause of the solid parts of the body; and the berries of this tree are said to excite both appetite and lust {l}: and so Munster {m} interprets the word of the berries of the caper tree;

because man goeth to his long home; the grave, as the Targum, the house appointed for living, where he must lie till the resurrection morn; his eternal house, as Cicero calls it {n}; and so it may be rendered here, "the house of the world", common to all the world, where all mankind go: or, "to the house of his world" {o}; whether of bliss or woe, according as his state and character be, good or bad: Theognis {p} calls it the dark house of "hades", or the invisible state; and then this must be understood with respect to his separate soul, and the mansion of it; and Alshech says, every righteous man has a mansion to himself; see John 14:2;

and the mourners go about the streets; the relations of the deceased; or those that go to their houses to comfort them; or the mourning men and women, hired for that purpose.

{h} Fam. Epist. l. 11. Ep. 58.
{i} R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 83. 1.
{k} Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 4. c. 8. col. 494.
{l} Avicenna spud Schindler. Lexic. col. 10.
{m} Dictionar. Chaldaic. p. 13.
{n} Tusculan. Quaest. l. 2. prope finem.
{o} wmle tyb la "ad domum seculi sui", Pagninus. Montanus, Vatablus, Mercerus.
{p} gnwmai v. 1008. vid. v. 244.