than 3 to be happy and to enjoy
themselves 4 as long as they live,
during the days of his life which God gives him on earth. 13
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 אִם…כִּי (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 (la’asot 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 “the enjoyment.” The phrase “of life” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
6 tn Heb “under the sun.”
7 tn The phrase “to do” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for smoothness.
8 tn The construction אִם…כִּי (ki…’im) is used as a particle of exception to limit the preceding clause (“except; nothing but”). See, e.g., Gen 28:17; 39:9; Lev 21:2; Num 14:30; Deut 10:12; 1 Sam 30:22; 2 Kgs 4:2; 5:15; 2 Chr 21:17; Esth 2:15; 5:12; Eccl 3:12; Isa 42:19; Dan 10:21; Mic 6:8 (cf. HALOT 471 s.v. אִם כִּי B.2; BDB 474 s.v. אִם כִּי 2.a).
9 sn Except to eat, drink, and enjoy life. Qoheleth is not commending a self-indulgent lifestyle of Epicurean hedonism. Nor is he lamenting the absolute futility of life and the lack of eternal retribution. He is submitting to the reality that in a sin-cursed world there is much of human existence marked by relative futility. Since the righteous man cannot assume that he will automatically experience temporal prosperity and blessings on this earth, he should – at the very least – enjoy each day to its fullest as a gift from God. D. R. Glenn (“Ecclesiastes,” BKCOT, 997) notes, “Each day’s joys should be received as gifts from God’s hands and be savored as God permits (3:13; 5:19).”
10 tn The term “life” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.
11 tn The vav introduces a logical conclusion.
12 tn Heb “it”; the referent (enjoyment of life) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
13 tn Heb “under the sun.”