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Ecclesiastes 11:4

Context

11:4 He who watches the wind will not sow,

and he who observes the clouds will not reap. 1 

Ecclesiastes 11:6

Context

11:6 Sow your seed in the morning,

and do not stop working 2  until the evening; 3 

for you do not know which activity 4  will succeed 5 

whether this one or that one, or whether both will prosper equally. 6 

1 sn This proverb criticizes those who are overly cautious. The farmer who waits for the most opportune moment to plant when there is no wind to blow away the seed, and to reap when there is no rain to ruin a ripe harvest, will never do anything but sit around waiting for the right moment.

2 tn Heb “do not let your hand rest.” The Hebrew phrase “do not let your hand rest” is an idiom that means “do not stop working” or “do not be idle” (e.g., Eccl 7:18); cf. BDB 628 s.v. נוּחַ B.1. Several English versions capture the sense of the idiom well: “do not stop working” (NEB); “do not be idle” (MLB); “let not your hand be idle” (NAB); “let not your hands be idle” (NIV); “stay not your hand” (Moffatt). The term “hand” is a synecdoche of part (i.e., do not let your hand rest) for the whole person (i.e., do not allow yourself to stop working).

3 tn The terms “morning” (בֹּקֶר, boqer) and “evening” (עֶרֶב, ’erev) form a merism (a figure of speech using two polar extremes to include everything in between) that connotes “from morning until evening.” The point is not that the farmer should plant at two times in the day (morning and evening), but that he should plant all day long (from morning until evening). This merism is reflected in several translations: “in the morning…until evening” (NEB, Moffatt).

4 tn The term “activity” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.

5 tn The verb כָּשֵׁר (kasher, “to prosper”) is used metonymically to denote “will succeed.” In 11:10, it means “skill in work.”

6 tn Or “together.”



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