Wealth hoarded by its owner to his own misery.
but in times of adversity 5 consider this:
God has made one as well as the other, 6
so that no one can discover what the future holds. 7
Like fish that are caught in a deadly 10 net, and like birds that are caught in a snare –
1 tn Heb “there is.” The term יֵשׁ (yesh, “there is”) is often used in aphorisms to assert the existence of a particular situation that occurs sometimes. It may indicate that the situation is not the rule but that it does occur on occasion, and may be nuanced “sometimes” (e.g., Prov 11:24; 13:7, 23; 14:12; 16:25; 18:24; 20:15; Eccl 2:21; 4:8; 5:12; 6:1; 7:15 [2x]; 8:14 [3x]).
2 tn The noun רָעָה (ra’ah, “evil”) probably means “misfortune” (HALOT 1263 s.v. רָעָה 4) or “injustice, wrong” (HALOT 1262 s.v. רָעָה 2.b). The phrase רָעָה רַבָּה (ra’ah rabbah) connotes “grave injustice” or “great misfortune” (Eccl 2:17; 5:12, 15; 6:1; 10:5).
3 tn Heb “under the sun.”
4 tn Heb “the day of good.”
5 tn Heb “the day of evil.”
6 tn Less probable renderings of this line are “God hath made the one side by side with the other” (ASV) and “God has set the one alongside the other” (NEB).
7 tn Heb “anything after him.” This line is misinterpreted by several versions: “that man may not find against him any just complaint” (Douay); “consequently, man may find no fault with Him” (NJPS); “so that man cannot find fault with him in anything” (NAB).
8 tn Heb “man.” The term is used here in a generic sense and translated “no one.”
9 tn Heb “time.” BDB 773 s.v. עֵת 2.d suggests that עֵת (’et, “time”) refers to an “uncertain time.” On the other hand, HALOT 901 s.v. עֵת 6 nuances it as “destined time,” that is, “no one knows his destined time [i.e., hour of destiny].” It is used in parallelism with זְמָן (zÿman, “appointed time; appointed hour”) in 3:1 (HALOT 273 s.v. זְמָן; BDB 273 s.v. זְמָן). Eccl 3:9-15 teaches God’s sovereignty over the appointed time-table of human events. Similarly, Qoheleth here notes that no one knows what God has appointed in any situation or time. This highlights the limitations of human wisdom and human ability, as 9:11 stresses.
10 tn Heb “bad, evil.” The moral connotation hardly fits here. The adjective would seem to indicate that the net is the instrument whereby the fish come to ruin.
11 tn Heb “the sons of man.”
12 tn The Masoretes pointed the consonantal form יוקשׁים (“are ensnared”) as יוּקָשִׁים (yuqashim, Pual participle mpl from ַָיקֹשׁ, yaqosh, “to be ensnared”). This is an unusual form for a Pual participle: (1) The characteristic doubling of the middle consonant was omitted due to the lengthening of the preceding short vowel from יֻקָּשִׁים to יוּקָשִׁים (GKC 74 §20.n and 143 §52.s), and (2) The characteristic prefix מְ (mem) is absent, as in a few other Pual participles, e.g., Exod 3:2; Judg 13:8; 2 Kgs 2:10; Isa 30:24; 54:11 (GKC 143 §52.s). On the other hand, the consonant form יוקשים might actually be an example of the old Qal passive participle which dropped out of Hebrew at an early stage, and was frequently mistaken by the Masoretes as a Pual form (e.g., Jer 13:10; 23:32) (GKC 143 §52.s). Similarly, the Masoretes pointed אכל as אֻכָּל (’ukkal, Pual perfect 3rd person masculine singular “he was eaten”); however, it probably should be pointed אֻכַל (’ukhal, old Qal passive perfect 3rd person masculine singular “he was eaten”) because אָכַל (’akhal) only occurs in the Qal (see IBHS 373-74 §22.6a).
13 tn Heb “evil.” The term רָעָה (ra’ah, “evil; unfortunate”) is repeated in v. 12 in the two parts of the comparison: “fish are caught in an evil (רָעָה) net” and “men are ensnared at an unfortunate (רָעָה) time.”