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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.

Ecclesiastes 5:17-18

Context

5:17 Surely, he ate in darkness every day of his life, 6 

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: 7 

to eat and drink, 8  and find enjoyment in all their 9  hard work 10  on earth 11 

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

for this is their reward. 12 

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.

6 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.

7 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.

8 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).

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

10 tn Heb “the toil which one toils.”

11 tn Heb “under the sun.”

12 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).



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