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Ecclesiastes 3:2-8

Context

3:2 A time to be born, 1  and a time to die; 2 

a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;

3:3 A time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

3:5 A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

3:6 A time to search, and a time to give something up as lost; 3 

a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

3:7 A time to rip, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.

3:8 A time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

1 tn The verb יָלָד (yalad, “to bear”) is used in the active sense of a mother giving birth to a child (HALOT 413 s.v. ילד; BDB 408 s.v. יָלָד). However, in light of its parallelism with “a time to die,” it should be taken as a metonymy of cause (i.e., to give birth to a child) for effect (i.e., to be born).

2 sn In 3:2-8, Qoheleth uses fourteen sets of merisms (a figure using polar opposites to encompass everything in between, that is, totality), e.g., Deut 6:6-9; Ps 139:2-3 (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 435).

3 tn The term לְאַבֵּד (lÿabbed, Piel infinitive construct from אָבַד, ’avad, “to destroy”) means “to lose” (e.g., Jer 23:1) as the contrast with בָּקַשׁ (baqash, “to seek to find”) indicates (HALOT 3 s.v. I אבד; BDB 2 s.v. אבד 3). This is the declarative or delocutive-estimative sense of the Piel: “to view something as lost” (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 28, §145; IBHS 403 §24.2g).



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