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Ecclesiastes 12:1-2

Context
Fear God Now Because Old Age and Death Come Quickly

12:1 So remember 1  your Creator in the days of your youth –

before 2  the difficult 3  days come,

and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;

12:2 before the sun and the light 4  of the moon and the stars grow dark,

and the clouds disappear 5  after the rain;

1 tn The imperative זְכֹר (zekhor, “Remember!”) is a figurative expression (metonymy of association) for obeying God and acknowledging his lordship over one’s life (e.g., Num 15:40; Deut 8:18; Pss 42:6-7; 63:6-8; 78:42; 103:18; 106:7; 119:52, 55; Jer 51:50; Ezek 20:43; Jonah 2:7; Mal 4:4). The exhortation to fear God and obey his commands in 12:13-14 spells out what it means to “remember” God.

2 tn The temporal adjective עַד (’ad, “before”) appears three times in 12:1-7 (vv. 1b, 2a, 6a). Likewise, the temporal preposition בְּ (bet, “when”) is repeated (vv. 3a, 4b). These seven verses comprise one long sentence in Hebrew: The main clause is 12:1a (“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth”), while 12:1b-7 consists of five subordinate temporal clauses (“before…before…when…when…before…”).

3 tn The adjective רָעָה (raah, “evil”) does not refer here to ethical evil, but to physical difficulty, injury, pain, deprivation and suffering (e.g., Deut 31:17, 21; 32:23; 1 Sam 10:19; Neh 1:3; 2:17; Pss 34:20; 40:13; 88:4; 107:26; Eccl 11:10; Jer 2:27; Lam 3:38); see HALOT 1263 s.v. רָעָה 4.b; BDB 949 s.v. רָעָה 2.

4 tn Heb “the light and the moon and the stars.” The phrase “the light and the moon” is a hendiadys (two separate terms denoting one idea) or perhaps even a hendiatris (three separate terms denoting one idea) for “the light of the moon and stars” (e.g., Gen 1:14).

5 tn The verb שׁוּב (shuv, “to return”) here denotes “to desist” (HALOT 1430 s.v. שׁוּב 3). It pictures the disappearance of the clouds as a result of the precipitation of their contents.



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