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Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

Context
Enjoy Life in the Present

3:12 I have concluded 1  that there is nothing better for people 2 

than 3  to be happy and to enjoy

themselves 4  as long as they live,

3:13 and also that everyone should eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all his toil,

for these things 5  are a gift from God.

1 tn Heb “I know.”

2 tn Heb “for them”; the referent (people, i.e., mankind) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

3 tn Qoheleth uses the exceptive particle אִםכִּי (ki…’im, “except”) to identify the only exception to the futility within man’s life (BDB 474 s.v. כִּי 2).

4 tn Heb “to do good.” The phrase לַעֲשׂוֹת טוֹב (laasot tov) functions idiomatically for “to experience [or see] happiness [or joy].” The verb עָשַׂה (’asah) probably denotes “to acquire; to obtain” (BDB 795 s.v. עָשַׂה II.7), and טוֹב (tov) means “good; pleasure; happiness,” e.g., Eccl 2:24; 3:13; 5:17 (BDB 375 s.v. טוֹב 1).

5 tn Heb “for it.” The referent of the 3rd person feminine singular independent person pronoun (“it”) is probably the preceding statement: “to eat, drink, and find satisfaction.” This would be an example of an anacoluthon (GKC 505-6 §167.b). Thus the present translation uses “these things” to indicate the reference back to the preceding.



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