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Ecclesiastes 5:18-19

Context
Enjoy the Fruit of Your Labor

5:18 I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people: 1 

to eat and drink, 2  and find enjoyment in all their 3  hard work 4  on earth 5 

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

for this is their reward. 6 

5:19 To every man whom God has given wealth, and possessions,

he has also given him the ability 7 

to eat from them, to receive his reward and to find enjoyment in his toil;

these things 8  are the gift of God.

1 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.

2 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).

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

4 tn Heb “the toil which one toils.”

5 tn Heb “under the sun.”

6 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).

7 tn The syntax of this verse is difficult. The best approach is to view הִשְׁלִיטוֹ (hishlito, “he has given him the ability”) as governing the three following infinitives: לֶאֱכֹל (leekhol, “to eat”), וְלָשֵׂאת (vÿlaset, “and to lift” = “to accept [or receive]”), and וְלִשְׂמֹחַ (vÿlismoakh, “and to rejoice”). This statement parallels 2:24-26 which states that no one can find enjoyment in life unless God gives him the ability to do so.

8 tn Heb “this.” The feminine singular demonstrative pronoun זֹה (zoh, “this”) refers back to all that preceded it in the verse (e.g., GKC 440-41 §135.p), that is, the ability to enjoy the fruit of one’s labor is the gift of God (e.g., Eccl 2:24-26). The phrase “these things” is used in the translation for clarity.



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