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Ecclesiastes 2:10

Context

2:10 I did not restrain myself from getting whatever I wanted; 1 

I did not deny myself anything that would bring me pleasure. 2 

So all my accomplishments gave me joy; 3 

this was my reward for all my effort. 4 

Ecclesiastes 2:21

Context

2:21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge, and skill;

however, he must hand over 5  the fruit of his labor 6  as an inheritance 7 

to someone else who did not work for it.

This also is futile, and an awful injustice! 8 

Ecclesiastes 3:22

Context

3:22 So I perceived there is nothing better than for people 9  to enjoy their work, 10 

because that is their 11  reward;

for who can show them what the future holds? 12 

Ecclesiastes 5:17-18

Context

5:17 Surely, he ate in darkness every day of his life, 13 

and he suffered greatly with sickness and anger.

Enjoy the Fruit of Your Labor

5:18 I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people: 14 

to eat and drink, 15  and find enjoyment in all their 16  hard work 17  on earth 18 

during the few days of their life which God has given them,

for this is their reward. 19 

Ecclesiastes 9:6

Context

9:6 What they loved, 20  as well as what they hated 21  and envied, 22  perished long ago,

and they no longer have a part in anything that happens on earth. 23 

Ecclesiastes 9:9

Context

9:9 Enjoy 24  life with your beloved wife 25  during all the days of your fleeting 26  life

that God 27  has given you on earth 28  during all your fleeting days; 29 

for that is your reward in life and in your burdensome work 30  on earth. 31 

1 tn Heb “all which my eyes asked for, I did not withhold from them.”

2 tn Heb “I did not refuse my heart any pleasure.” The term לִבִּי (libbi, “my heart”) is a synecdoche of part (i.e., heart) for the whole (i.e., whole person); see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 648. The term is repeated twice in 2:10 for emphasis.

3 tn Heb “So my heart was joyful from all my toil.”

4 tn Heb “and this was my portion from all my toil.”

5 tn Heb “he must give.” The 3rd person masculine singular suffix on יִתְּנֶנּוּ (yittÿnennu, Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from נָתַן, natan, “to give” + 3rd person masculine singular suffix) refers back to עֲמָלוֹ (’amalo, “his labor”) which is treated in this line as a metonymy of cause for effect, that is, “he must give it” = “he must give his labor” = “he must give the fruit of his labor.”

sn As in 2:18-19, Qoheleth laments the injustice that a person who works diligently in wisdom must one day hand over the fruit of his labor (i.e., his fortune and the care of his achievements) to his successor. There is no guarantee that one’s heir will be wise and be a good steward of this wealth, or be foolish and squander it – in which case, the former man’s entire life’s work would be in vain.

6 tn Heb “it”; the referent (“the fruit of his labor”) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

7 tn Or “he must turn over an inheritance”; or “he must turn it over, namely, an inheritance.” There are two approaches to the syntax of חֶלְקוֹ (khelqo, “his inheritance”): (1) The 3rd person masculine singular suffix is a subjective genitive: “his inheritance” = the inheritance which he must give to his heir. The referent of the 3rd person masculine singular suffix is Qoheleth in 2:21a who worked hard to amass the fortune. The noun חֵלֶק (kheleq, “inheritance”) functions as an adverbial accusative of state (GKC 372 §118.a) or a predicate accusative (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 12-13, §57): “He must give it [i.e., his fortune] as an inheritance.” (2) The 3rd person masculine singular suffix is an objective genitive: “his inheritance” = the inheritance which the heir will receive from Qoheleth. The referent of the 3rd person masculine singular suffix is the heir in 2:21b. The noun חֵלֶק (“inheritance”) functions as the accusative direct object in apposition (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 15-16, §71) to the 3rd person masculine singular suffix on יִתְּנֶנּוּ (yittÿnennu, “he must give it”; Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from נָתַן, natan, + 3rd person masculine singular suffix): “He must give it, namely, his inheritance, to one who did not work for it.”

8 tn The noun רָעָה (raah, “evil”) probably means “misfortune” (HALOT 1263 s.v. רָעָה 4) or “injustice; wrong” (HALOT 1262 s.v. רָעָה 2.b). The phrase רָעָה רַבָּה (raah rabbah) connotes “grave injustice” or “great misfortune” (e.g., Eccl 2:17; 5:12, 15; 6:1; 10:5). It is expressed well as: “This too is…a great misfortune” (NAB, NIV, MLB) and “utterly wrong!” (NEB).

sn Verses 18-21 are arranged into two sub-units (2:18-19 and 2:20-21). Each contains a parallel structure: (1) Introductory lament: “I hated all my toil” and “I began to despair about all my toil.” (2) Reason for the lament: “I must turn over the fruit of my labor to the hands of my successor” and “he must hand over the fruit of his work as an inheritance.” (3) Description of successor: “who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool?” and “he did not work for it.” (4) Concluding statement: “This also is fruitless!” and “This also is profitless and an awful injustice!”

9 tn Heb “man.”

10 tn Heb “his works.”

11 tn Heb “his.”

12 tn Heb “what will be after him” (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV) or “afterward” (cf. NJPS).

13 tn Heb “all his days.” The phrase “of his life” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

14 tn Heb “Behold, that which I have seen, I, good which is beautiful.” The phrase “for people” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

15 sn The phrase “to eat and to drink” is a common idiom in Ecclesiastes for a person enjoying the fruit of his labor (e.g., 2:24; 3:13).

16 tn Heb “his,” and three times later in the verse.

17 tn Heb “the toil which one toils.”

18 tn Heb “under the sun.”

19 tn The term חֵלֶק (kheleq, “lot”) has a wide range of meanings: (1) “share of spoils” (Gen 14:24; Num 31:36; 1 Sam 30:24), (2) “portion of food” (Lev 6:10; Deut 18:8; Hab 1:16), (3) “portion [or tract] of land” (Deut 10:9; 12:12; Josh 19:9), (4) “portion” or “possession” (Num 18:20; Deut 32:9), (5) “inheritance” (2 Kgs 9:10; Amos 7:4), (6) “portion” or “award” (Job 20:29; 27:13; 31:2; Isa 17:14) or “profit; reward” (Eccl 2:10, 21; 3:22; 5:17-18; 9:6, 9); see HALOT 323 s.v. II חֵלֶק; BDB 324 s.v. חֵלֶק. Throughout Ecclesiastes, the term is used in reference to man’s temporal profit from his labor and his reward from God (e.g., Eccl 3:22; 9:9).

20 tn Heb “their love.”

21 tn Heb “their hatred.”

22 tn Heb “their envy.”

23 tn Heb “under the sun.”

24 tn Heb “see.”

25 tn Heb “the wife whom you love.”

26 tn As discussed in the note on the word “futile” in 1:2, the term הֶבֶל (hevel) has a wide range of meanings, and should not be translated the same in every place (see HALOT 236–37 s.v. I הֶבֶל; BDB 210–11 s.v. I הבֶל). The term is used in two basic ways in OT, literally and figuratively. The literal, concrete sense is used in reference to the wind, man’s transitory breath, evanescent vapor (Isa 57:13; Pss 62:10; 144:4; Prov 21:6; Job 7:16). In this sense, it is often a synonym for “breath; wind” (Eccl 1:14; Isa 57:13; Jer 10:14). The literal sense lent itself to the metaphorical sense. Because breath/vapor/wind is transitory and fleeting, the figurative connotation “fleeting; transitory” arose (e.g., Prov 31:30; Eccl 6:12; 7:15; 9:9; 11:10; Job 7:16). In this sense, it is parallel to “few days” and “[days] which he passes like a shadow” (Eccl 6:12). It is used in reference to youth and vigor (11:10) or life (6:12; 7:15; 9:9) which are “transitory” or “fleeting.” In this context, the most appropriate meaning is “fleeting.”

27 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

28 tn Heb “under the sun”

29 tc The phrase כָּל יְמֵי הֶבְלֶךָ (kol yÿme hevlekha, “all your fleeting days”) is present in the MT, but absent in the Greek versions, other medieval Hebrew mss, and the Targum. Its appearance in the MT may be due to dittography (repetition: the scribe wrote twice what should have been written once) from כָּל יְמֵי חַיֵּי הֶבְלֶךָ (kol yÿme khayye hevlekha, “all the days of your fleeting life”) which appears in the preceding line. On the other hand, its omission in the alternate textual tradition may be due to haplography (accidental omission of repeated words) with the earlier line.

30 tn Heb “in your toil in which you toil.”

31 tn Heb “under the sun.”



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