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Ecclesiastes 2:26

Context

2:26 For to the one who pleases him, 1  God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy,

but to the sinner, he gives the task of amassing 2  wealth 3 

only to give 4  it 5  to the one who pleases God.

This 6  task of the wicked 7  is futile – like chasing the wind!

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15

Context
God’s Sovereignty

3:14 I also know that whatever God does will endure forever;

nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken away from it.

God has made it this way, so that men will fear him.

3:15 Whatever exists now has already been, and whatever will be has already been;

for God will seek to do again 8  what has occurred 9  in the past. 10 

Ecclesiastes 11:9

Context
Enjoy Life to the Fullest under the Fear of God

11:9 Rejoice, young man, while you are young, 11 

and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.

Follow the impulses 12  of your heart and the desires 13  of your eyes,

but know that God will judge your motives and actions. 14 

1 tn Heb “for to a man who is good before him.”

2 sn The phrase the task of amassing wealth (Heb “the task of gathering and heaping up”) implicitly compares the work of the farmer reaping his crops and storing them up in a barn, to the work of the laborer amassing wealth as the fruit of his labor. However, rather than his storehouse being safe for the future, the sinner is deprived of it.

3 tn The word “wealth” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

4 sn The three-fold repetition of the Hebrew word translated “give” in the first part of this verse creates irony: God “gives” the righteous the ability to prosper and to find enjoyment in his work; but to the wicked He “gives” the task of “giving” his wealth to the righteous.

5 tn The word “it” (an implied direct object) does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

6 tn The antecedent of the demonstrative pronoun זֶה (zeh, “this”) is debated: (1) Some refer it to the enjoyment which Qoheleth had just commended in 2:24-26. However, this is inconsistent with the enjoyment theme found elsewhere in the book. It also ignores the fact that 2:24-26 states that such enjoyment is a good gift from God. (2) Others refer it to the term “toil” (עָמָל, ’amal) which is repeated throughout 2:18-26. However, Qoheleth affirmed that if one is righteous, he can find enjoyment in his toil, even though so much of it is ultimately futile. (3) Therefore, it seems best to refer it to the grievous “task” (עִנְיָן, ’inyan) God has given to the sinner in 2:26b. Consistent with the meaning of הֶבֶל (hevel, “futile; profitless; fruitless”), 2:26b emphasizes that the “task” of the sinner is profitless: he labors hard to amass wealth, only to see the fruit of his labor given away to someone else. The righteous man’s enjoyment of his work and the fruit of his labor under the blessing of God (2:24-26a) is not included in this.

7 tn The phrase “task of the wicked” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

8 tn The phrase “to do again” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Heb “God will seek that which is driven away.” The meaning of יְבַקֵּשׁ אֶת־נִרְדָּף (yÿvaqqeshet-nirdaf) is difficult to determine: יְבַקֵּשׁ (yÿvaqqesh) is Piel imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from בָּקַשׁ (baqash, “to seek”) and נִרְדָּף (nirdaf) is a Niphal participle 3rd person masculine singular from רָדַף (radaf, “to drive away”). There are several options: (1) God watches over the persecuted: יְבַקֵּשׁ (“seeks”) functions as a metonymy of cause for effect (i.e., to protect), and אֶת־נִרְדָּף (“what is driven away”) refers to “those who are persecuted.” But this does not fit the context. (2) God will call the past to account: יְבַקֵּשׁ functions as a metonymy of cause for effect (i.e., to hold accountable), and אֶת־נִרְדָּף is a metonymy of attribute (i.e., the past). This approach is adopted by several English translations: “God requires that which is past” (KJV), “God will call the past to account” (NIV) and “God summons each event back in its turn” (NEB). (3) God finds what has been lost: יְבַקֵּשׁ functions as a metonymy of cause for effect (i.e., to find), and אֶת־נִרְדָּף refers to what has been lost: “God restores what would otherwise be displaced” (NAB). (4) God repeats what has already occurred: יְבַקֵּשׁ functions as a metonymy of effect (i.e., to repeat), and אֶת־נִרְדָּף is a metonymy (i.e., that which has occurred). This fits the context and provides a tight parallel with the preceding line: “That which is has already been, and that which will be has already been” (3:15a) parallels “God seeks [to repeat] that which has occurred [in the past].” This is the most popular approach among English versions: “God restores that which has past” (Douay), “God seeks again that which is passed away” (ASV), “God seeks what has passed by” (NASB), “God seeks what has been driven away” (RSV), “God seeks out what has passed by” (MLB), “God seeks out what has gone by” (NRSV), and “God is ever bringing back what disappears” (Moffatt).

10 tn The phrase “in the past” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

11 tn Heb “in your youth”; or “in your childhood.”

12 tn Heb “walk in the ways of your heart.”

13 tn Heb “the sight.”

14 tn Heb “and know that concerning all these God will bring you into judgment.” The point is not that following one’s impulses and desires is inherently bad and will bring condemnation from God. Rather the point seems to be: As you follow your impulses and desires, realize that all you think and do will eventually be evaluated by God. So one must seek joy within the boundaries of God’s moral standards.



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