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Ecclesiastes 1:1--7:29

Context
Title

1:1 The words of the Teacher, 1  the son 2  of David, king 3  in Jerusalem: 4 

Introduction: Utter Futility

1:2 “Futile! Futile!” laments 5  the Teacher, 6 

“Absolutely futile! 7  Everything 8  is futile!” 9 

Futility Illustrated from Nature

1:3 What benefit 10  do people 11  get from all the effort

which 12  they expend 13  on earth? 14 

1:4 A generation comes 15  and a generation goes, 16 

but the earth remains 17  the same 18  through the ages. 19 

1:5 The sun rises 20  and the sun sets; 21 

it hurries away 22  to a place from which it rises 23  again. 24 

1:6 The wind goes to the south and circles around to the north;

round and round 25  the wind goes and on its rounds it returns. 26 

1:7 All the streams flow 27  into the sea, but the sea is not full,

and to the place where the streams flow, there they will flow again. 28 

1:8 All this 29  monotony 30  is tiresome; no one can bear 31  to describe it: 32 

The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content 33  with hearing.

1:9 What exists now 34  is what will be, 35 

and what has been done is what will be done;

there is nothing truly new on earth. 36 

1:10 Is there anything about which someone can say, “Look at this! It is new!”? 37 

It was already 38  done long ago, 39  before our time. 40 

1:11 No one remembers the former events, 41 

nor will anyone remember 42  the events that are yet to happen; 43 

they will not be remembered by the future generations. 44 

Futility of Secular Accomplishment

1:12 I, the Teacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 45 

1:13 I decided 46  to carefully 47  and thoroughly examine 48 

all that has been accomplished on earth. 49 

I concluded: 50  God has given people 51  a burdensome task 52 

that keeps them 53  occupied. 54 

1:14 I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man 55  on earth, 56 

and I concluded: Everything 57  he has accomplished 58  is futile 59  – like chasing the wind! 60 

1:15 What is bent 61  cannot be straightened, 62 

and what is missing 63  cannot be supplied. 64 

Futility of Secular Wisdom

1:16 I thought to myself, 65 

“I have become much wiser 66  than any of my predecessors who ruled 67  over Jerusalem; 68 

I 69  have acquired much wisdom and knowledge.” 70 

1:17 So I decided 71  to discern the benefit of 72  wisdom and knowledge over 73  foolish behavior and ideas; 74 

however, I concluded 75  that even 76  this endeavor 77  is like 78  trying to chase the wind! 79 

1:18 For with great wisdom comes 80  great frustration;

whoever increases his 81  knowledge merely 82  increases his 83  heartache.

Futility of Self-Indulgent Pleasure
I thought to myself, 84 

2:1 “Come now, 85  I will try 86  self-indulgent pleasure 87  to see 88  if it is worthwhile.” 89 

But I found 90  that it also is futile. 91 

2:2 I said of partying, 92  “It is folly,”

and of self-indulgent pleasure, 93  “It accomplishes nothing!” 94 

2:3 I thought deeply 95  about the effects of 96  indulging 97  myself 98  with wine

(all the while 99  my mind was guiding me 100  with wisdom) 101 

and the effects of 102  behaving foolishly, 103 

so that 104  I might discover what is profitable 105 

for people 106  to do on earth 107  during the few days 108  of their lives.

Futility of Materialism

2:4 I increased my possessions: 109 

I built houses for myself; 110 

I planted vineyards for myself.

2:5 I designed 111  royal gardens 112  and parks 113  for myself,

and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.

2:6 I constructed pools of water for myself,

to irrigate my grove 114  of flourishing trees.

2:7 I purchased male and female slaves,

and I owned slaves who were born in my house; 115 

I also possessed more livestock – both herds and flocks –

than any of my predecessors in Jerusalem. 116 

2:8 I also amassed silver and gold for myself,

as well as valuable treasures 117  taken from kingdoms and provinces. 118 

I acquired male singers and female singers for myself,

and what gives a man sensual delight 119  – a harem of beautiful concubines! 120 

2:9 So 121  I was far wealthier 122  than all my predecessors in Jerusalem,

yet I maintained my objectivity: 123 

2:10 I did not restrain myself from getting whatever I wanted; 124 

I did not deny myself anything that would bring me pleasure. 125 

So all my accomplishments gave me joy; 126 

this was my reward for all my effort. 127 

2:11 Yet when I reflected on everything I had accomplished 128 

and on all the effort that I had expended to accomplish it, 129 

I concluded: 130  “All these 131  achievements and possessions 132  are ultimately 133  profitless 134 

like chasing the wind!

There is nothing gained 135  from them 136  on earth.” 137 

Wisdom is Better than Folly

2:12 Next, I decided to consider 138  wisdom, as well as foolish behavior and ideas. 139 

For what more can the king’s successor do than what the king 140  has already done?

2:13 I realized that wisdom is preferable to folly, 141 

just as light is preferable to darkness:

2:14 The wise man can see where he is going, 142  but the fool walks in darkness.

Yet I also realized that the same fate 143  happens to them both. 144 

2:15 So I thought to myself, “The fate of the fool will happen even to me! 145 

Then what did I gain by becoming so excessively 146  wise?” 147 

So I lamented to myself, 148 

“The benefits of wisdom 149  are ultimately 150  meaningless!”

2:16 For the wise man, like 151  the fool, will not be remembered for very long, 152 

because 153  in the days to come, both will already have been forgotten. 154 

Alas, 155  the wise man dies – just like 156  the fool!

2:17 So I loathed 157  life 158  because what

happens 159  on earth 160  seems awful to me;

for all the benefits of wisdom 161  are futile – like chasing the wind.

Futility of Being a Workaholic

2:18 So I loathed all the fruit of 162  my effort, 163 

for which I worked so hard 164  on earth, 165 

because 166  I must leave it 167  behind 168  in the hands of my successor. 169 

2:19 Who knows if he will be a wise man or a fool?

Yet 170  he will be master over all the fruit of 171  my labor 172 

for which I worked so wisely 173  on earth! 174 

This also is futile!

2:20 So I began to despair 175  about all the fruit of 176  my labor 177 

for which I worked so hard 178  on earth. 179 

2:21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge, and skill;

however, he must hand over 180  the fruit of his labor 181  as an inheritance 182 

to someone else who did not work for it.

This also is futile, and an awful injustice! 183 

Painful Days and Restless Nights

2:22 What does a man acquire from all his labor

and from the anxiety that accompanies his toil on earth? 184 

2:23 For all day long 185  his work produces pain and frustration, 186 

and even at night his mind cannot relax! 187 

This also is futile!

Enjoy Work and its Benefits

2:24 There is nothing better for 188  people 189  than 190  to eat and drink,

and to find enjoyment 191  in their 192  work.

I also perceived that this ability to find enjoyment 193  comes from God. 194 

2:25 For no one 195  can eat and drink 196 

or experience joy 197  apart from him. 198 

2:26 For to the one who pleases him, 199  God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy,

but to the sinner, he gives the task of amassing 200  wealth 201 

only to give 202  it 203  to the one who pleases God.

This 204  task of the wicked 205  is futile – like chasing the wind!

A Time for All Events in Life

3:1 For everything 206  there is an appointed time, 207 

and an appropriate time 208  for every activity 209  on earth: 210 

3:2 A time to be born, 211  and a time to die; 212 

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; 213 

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.

Man is Ignorant of God’s Timing

3:9 What benefit can a worker 214  gain from his toil? 215 

3:10 I have observed the burden

that God has given to people 216  to keep them occupied.

3:11 God has made everything fit beautifully 217  in its appropriate time,

but 218  he has also placed ignorance 219  in the human heart 220 

so that 221  people 222  cannot discover what God has ordained, 223 

from the beginning to the end 224  of their lives. 225 

Enjoy Life in the Present

3:12 I have concluded 226  that there is nothing better for people 227 

than 228  to be happy and to enjoy

themselves 229  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 230  are a gift from God.

God’s Sovereignty

3:14 I also know that whatever God does will endure forever;

nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken away from it.

God has made it this way, so that men will fear him.

3:15 Whatever exists now has already been, and whatever will be has already been;

for God will seek to do again 231  what has occurred 232  in the past. 233 

The Problem of Injustice and Oppression

3:16 I saw something else on earth: 234 

In the place of justice, there was wickedness,

and in the place of fairness, 235  there was wickedness.

3:17 I thought to myself, “God will judge both the righteous and the wicked;

for there is an appropriate time for every activity,

and there is a time of judgment 236  for every deed.

3:18 I also thought to myself, “It is 237  for the sake of people, 238 

so God can clearly 239  show 240  them that they are like animals.

3:19 For the fate of humans 241  and the fate of animals are the same:

As one dies, so dies the other; both have the same breath.

There is no advantage for humans over animals,

for both are fleeting.

3:20 Both go to the same place,

both come from the dust,

and to dust both return.

3:21 Who really knows if the human spirit 242  ascends upward,

and the animal’s spirit descends into the earth?

3:22 So I perceived there is nothing better than for people 243  to enjoy their work, 244 

because that is their 245  reward;

for who can show them what the future holds? 246 

Evil Oppression on Earth

4:1 So 247  I again considered 248  all the oppression 249  that continually occurs 250  on earth. 251 

This is what I saw: 252 

The oppressed 253  were in tears, 254  but no one was comforting them;

no one delivers 255  them from the power of their oppressors. 256 

4:2 So I considered 257  those who are dead and gone 258 

more fortunate than those who are still alive. 259 

4:3 But better than both is the one who has not been born 260 

and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth. 261 

Labor Motivated by Envy

4:4 Then I considered 262  all the skillful work 263  that is done:

Surely it is nothing more than 264  competition 265  between one person and another. 266 

This also is profitless – like 267  chasing the wind.

4:5 The fool folds his hands and does no work, 268 

so he has nothing to eat but his own flesh. 269 

4:6 Better is one handful with some rest

than two hands full of toil 270  and chasing the wind.

Labor Motivated by Greed

4:7 So 271  I again considered 272  another 273  futile thing on earth: 274 

4:8 A man who is all alone with no companion, 275 

he has no children nor siblings; 276 

yet there is no end to all his toil,

and he 277  is never satisfied with riches.

He laments, 278  “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself 279  of pleasure?” 280 

This also is futile and a burdensome task! 281 

Labor is Beneficial When Its Rewards Are Shared

4:9 Two people are better than one,

because they can reap 282  more benefit 283  from their labor.

4:10 For if they fall, one will help his companion up,

but pity 284  the person who falls down and has no one to help him up.

4:11 Furthermore, if two lie down together, they can keep each other warm,

but how can one person keep warm by himself?

4:12 Although an assailant may overpower 285  one person,

two can withstand him.

Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken.

Labor Motivated by Prestige-Seeking

4:13 A poor but wise youth is better than an old and foolish king

who no longer knows how to receive advice.

4:14 For he came out of prison 286  to become king,

even though he had been born poor in what would become his 287  kingdom.

4:15 I considered all the living who walk on earth, 288 

as well as the successor 289  who would arise 290  in his place.

4:16 There is no end to all the people 291  nor to the past generations, 292 

yet future generations 293  will not rejoice in him.

This also is profitless and like 294  chasing the wind.

Rash Vows

5:1 295 Be careful what you do 296  when you go to the temple 297  of God;

draw near to listen 298  rather than to offer a sacrifice 299  like fools, 300 

for they do not realize that they are doing wrong.

5:2 Do not be rash with your mouth or hasty in your heart to bring up a matter before God,

for God is in heaven and you are on earth!

Therefore, let your words be few.

5:3 Just as dreams come when there are many cares, 301 

so 302  the rash vow 303  of a fool occurs 304  when there are many words.

5:4 When you make a vow 305  to God, do not delay in paying it. 306 

For God 307  takes no pleasure in fools:

Pay what you vow!

5:5 It is better for you not to vow

than to vow and not pay it. 308 

5:6 Do not let your mouth cause you 309  to sin,

and do not tell the priest, 310  “It was a mistake!” 311 

Why make God angry at you 312 

so that he would destroy the work of your hands?”

5:7 Just as there is futility in many dreams,

so also in many words. 313 

Therefore, fear God!

Government Corruption

5:8 If you see the extortion 314  of the poor,

or the perversion 315  of justice and fairness in the government, 316 

do not be astonished by the matter.

For the high official is watched by a higher official, 317 

and there are higher ones over them! 318 

5:9 The produce of the land is seized 319  by all of them,

even the king is served 320  by the fields. 321 

Covetousness

5:10 The one who loves money 322  will never be satisfied with money, 323 

he who loves wealth 324  will never be satisfied 325  with his 326  income.

This also is futile.

5:11 When someone’s 327  prosperity 328  increases, those who consume it also increase;

so what does its owner 329  gain, except that he gets to see it with his eyes? 330 

5:12 The sleep of the laborer is pleasant – whether he eats little or much –

but the wealth of the rich will not allow him to sleep.

Materialism Thwarts Enjoyment of Life

5:13 Here is 331  a misfortune 332  on earth 333  that I have seen:

Wealth hoarded by its owner to his own misery.

5:14 Then that wealth was lost through bad luck; 334 

although he fathered a son, he has nothing left to give him. 335 

5:15 Just as he came forth from his mother's womb, naked will he return as he came,

and he will take nothing in his hand that he may carry away from his toil.

5:16 This is another misfortune: 336 

Just as he came, so will he go.

What did he gain from toiling for the wind?

5:17 Surely, he ate in darkness every day of his life, 337 

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: 338 

to eat and drink, 339  and find enjoyment in all their 340  hard work 341  on earth 342 

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

for this is their reward. 343 

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

he has also given him the ability 344 

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

these things 345  are the gift of God.

5:20 For he does not think 346  much about the fleeting 347  days of his life

because God keeps him preoccupied 348  with the joy he derives from his activity. 349 

Not Everyone Enjoys Life

6:1 Here is 350  another misfortune 351  that I have seen on earth, 352 

and it weighs 353  heavily on people: 354 

6:2 God gives a man riches, property, and wealth

so that he lacks nothing that his heart 355  desires, 356 

yet God does not enable 357  him to enjoy 358  the fruit of his labor 359 

instead, someone else 360  enjoys 361  it! 362 

This is fruitless and a grave misfortune. 363 

6:3 Even if a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years –

even if he lives a long, long time, 364  but cannot enjoy his prosperity –

even if he were to live forever 365 

I would say, “A stillborn child 366  is better off than he is!” 367 

6:4 Though the stillborn child 368  came into the world 369  for no reason 370  and departed into darkness,

though its name is shrouded in darkness, 371 

6:5 though it never saw the light of day 372  nor knew anything, 373 

yet it has more rest 374  than that man –

6:6 if he should live a thousand years twice, yet does not enjoy his prosperity.

For both of them die! 375 

6:7 All of man’s labor is for nothing more than 376  to fill his stomach 377 

yet his appetite 378  is never satisfied!

6:8 So what advantage does a wise man have over a fool? 379 

And what advantage 380  does a pauper gain by knowing how to survive? 381 

6:9 It is better to be content with 382  what the eyes can see 383 

than for one’s heart always to crave more. 384 

This continual longing 385  is futile – like 386  chasing the wind.

The Futile Way Life Works

6:10 Whatever has happened was foreordained, 387 

and what happens to a person 388  was also foreknown.

It is useless for him to argue with God about his fate

because God is more powerful than he is. 389 

6:11 The more one argues with words, the less he accomplishes. 390 

How does that benefit him? 391 

6:12 For no one knows what is best for a person during his life 392 

during the few days of his fleeting life –

for 393  they pass away 394  like a shadow.

Nor can anyone tell him what the future will hold for him on earth. 395 

Life is Brief and Death is Certain!

7:1 A good reputation 396  is better 397  than precious 398  perfume; 399 

likewise, 400  the day of one’s 401  death 402  is better than the day of one’s birth. 403 

7:2 It is better to go to a funeral 404 

than a feast. 405 

For death 406  is the destiny 407  of every person, 408 

and the living should 409  take this 410  to heart.

7:3 Sorrow 411  is better than laughter,

because sober reflection 412  is good for the heart. 413 

7:4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,

but the heart of fools is in the house of merrymaking. 414 

Frivolous Living Versus Wisdom

7:5 It is better for a person to receive 415  a rebuke from those who are wise 416 

than to listen to the song 417  of fools.

7:6 For like the crackling of quick-burning thorns 418  under a cooking pot,

so is the laughter of the fool.

This kind of folly 419  also is useless. 420 

Human Wisdom Overturned by Adversity

7:7 Surely oppression 421  can turn a wise person into a fool; 422 

likewise, 423  a bribe corrupts 424  the heart. 425 

7:8 The end of a matter 426  is better than its beginning;

likewise, patience 427  is better than pride. 428 

7:9 Do not let yourself be quickly provoked, 429 

for anger resides in the lap 430  of fools.

7:10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these days?” 431 

for it is not wise to ask that. 432 

Wisdom Can Lengthen One’s Life

7:11 Wisdom, like 433  an inheritance, is a good thing;

it benefits those who see the light of day. 434 

7:12 For wisdom provides 435  protection, 436 

just as 437  money provides protection. 438 

But the advantage of knowledge is this:

Wisdom preserves the life 439  of its owner.

Wisdom Acknowledges God’s Orchestration of Life

7:13 Consider the work of God:

For who can make straight what he has bent?

7:14 In times of prosperity 440  be joyful,

but in times of adversity 441  consider this:

God has made one as well as the other, 442 

so that no one can discover what the future holds. 443 

Exceptions to the Law of Retribution

7:15 During the days of my fleeting life 444  I have seen both 445  of these things:

Sometimes 446  a righteous person dies prematurely 447  in spite of 448  his righteousness,

and sometimes 449  a wicked person lives long 450  in spite of his evil deeds.

7:16 So do not be excessively righteous or excessively 451  wise; 452 

otherwise 453  you might 454  be disappointed. 455 

7:17 Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool;

otherwise 456  you might die before your time.

7:18 It is best to take hold of one warning 457  without letting go of the other warning; 458 

for the one who fears God will follow 459  both warnings. 460 

Wisdom Needed Because No One is Truly Righteous

7:19 Wisdom gives a wise person more protection 461 

than ten rulers in a city.

7:20 For 462  there is not one truly 463  righteous person on the earth

who continually does good and never sins.

7:21 Also, do not pay attention to everything that people 464  say;

otherwise, 465  you might even hear 466  your servant cursing you.

7:22 For you know in your own heart 467 

that you also have cursed others many times.

Human Wisdom is Limited

7:23 I have examined all this by wisdom;

I said, “I am determined 468  to comprehend this” 469  – but it was beyond my grasp. 470 

7:24 Whatever has happened is beyond human 471  understanding; 472 

it is far deeper than anyone can fathom. 473 

True Righteousness and Wisdom are Virtually Nonexistent

7:25 I tried 474  to understand, examine, and comprehend 475 

the role of 476  wisdom in the scheme of things, 477 

and to understand the stupidity of wickedness 478  and the insanity of folly. 479 

7:26 I discovered this: 480 

More bitter than death is the kind of 481  woman 482  who is like a hunter’s snare; 483 

her heart is like a hunter’s net and her hands are like prison chains.

The man who pleases God escapes her,

but the sinner is captured by her.

7:27 The Teacher says:

I discovered this while trying to discover the scheme of things, item by item.

7:28 What I have continually sought, I have not found;

I have found only 484  one upright 485  man among a thousand,

but I have not found one upright woman among all of them.

7:29 This alone have I discovered: God made humankind upright,

but they have sought many evil schemes.

1 tn The meaning of קֹהֶלֶת (qohelet) is somewhat puzzling. The verb קָהַל (qahal) means “to assemble, summon” (HALOT 1078-79 s.v. קהל), and is derived from the noun קָהָל (qahal, “assembly”; HALOT 1079-80 s.v. קָהָל). Thus קֹהֶלֶת might mean: (1) convener of the assembly, (2) leader, speaker, teacher, or preacher of the assembly, or (3) member of the assembly. Elsewhere in the book, קֹהֶלֶת is used in collocation with statements about his position as king in Jerusalem (Eccl 1:12), his proclamations about life (Eccl 1:2; 7:27; 12:8), and his teaching of wisdom and writing wise sayings (Eccl 12:9-10). Thus, קֹהֶלֶת probably means “the leader of the assembly” or “speaker of the assembly.”(See also the following study note.) Rabbinic literature treats קֹהֶלֶת as a traditional surname for Solomon, that is, “Qoheleth,” relating it to the noun קָהָל. For example, this explanation is found in rabbinic literature (Qoheleth Rabbah 1:1): “Why was his name called Qoheleth [קֹהֶלֶת]? Because his words were proclaimed in public meeting [קָהַל], as it is written (1 Kgs 8:1).” The LXX rendered it ἐκκλησιαστής (ekklhsiasths, “member of the assembly,” LSJ 509), as was the custom of relating Greek ἐκκλησία (ekklhsia, “assembly”) to Hebrew קָהָל. The book’s English title, “Ecclesiastes,” is simply a transliteration of the Greek term from the LXX. Symmachus’ παροιμιαστής (paroimiasths, “author of proverbs,” LSJ 1342 s.v.) is not a translation of קֹהֶלֶת but refers to his authorship of many proverbs (Eccl 12:9-10). In terms of the participial form, קֹהֶלֶת is used substantively to designate the profession or title of the author. The term is used in 12:8 with the article, indicating that it is a professional title rather than a personal surname: הַקּוֹהֶלֶת (haqqohelet, “the Teacher”). Substantival participles often designate the title or profession of an individual: כֹּהֵן (kohen), “priest”; רֹזֵן (rozen), “ruler”; שֹׁטֵר (shoter), “officer”; נֹקֵד (noqed), “sheep-breeder”; שֹׁפֵט (shofet), “judge”; יֹצֵר (yotser), “potter”; כֹּרֵם (korem), “vine-dresser”; יֹגֵב (yogev), “farmer”; שׁוֹעֵר (shoer), “gate-keeper”; צוֹרֵף (tsoref), “smelter”; and רֹפֵא (rofe’), “doctor” (IBHS 614-15 §37.2a). In terms of its feminine ending with a male referent, Joüon 1:266-67 §89.b suggests that it is intensive, e.g., מוֹדַעַת (modaat) “close relative” from מוֹדָע (moda’) “kinsman.” The feminine ending is used similarly in Arabic in reference to a male referent, e.g., Arabic rawiyat “a great narrator” from rawi “narrator” (C. P. Caspari, A Grammar of the Arabic Language, 1:233c). So קֹהֶלֶת may mean “the leader/teacher of the assembly” from the noun קָהָל. When used in reference to a male referent, feminine forms denote a professional title or vocational office (as in Arabic, Ethiopic, and Aramaic), e.g., סֹפֶרֶת (soferet), “scribe”; פֹּכֶרֶת (pokheret), “gazelle-catcher”; פֶּחָה (pekhah), “provincial governor”; and פְּרָעוֹת (pÿraot), “princes” (GKC 393 §122.r). Occasionally, a professional name later became a personal name, e.g., the title סֹפֶרֶת (“scribe”) became the name “Sophereth” (Ezra 2:55; Neh 7:57), פֹּכֶרֶת (“gazelle-catcher”) became “Pokereth” (Ezra 2:57; Neh 7:59), and perhaps קֹהֶלֶת (“assembler”) became the surname “Qoheleth” (HALOT 926 s.v. פֹּכֶרֶת הַצְּבָיִים). Many translations render קֹהֶלֶת as a professional title: “the Speaker” (NEB, Moffatt), “the Preacher” (KJV, RSV, YLT, MLB, ASV, NASB), “the Teacher” (NIV, NRSV), “the Leader of the Assembly” (NIV margin), “the Assembler” (NJPS margin). Others render it as a personal surname: “Koheleth” (JPS, NJPS) and “Qoheleth” (NAB, NRSV margin).

sn The verbal root קהל means “to assemble; to summon” (HALOT 1078-79 s.v. קהל). It is used of assembling or summoning various groups of people: “all Israel” (1 Chr 13:5; 15:3), “the elders of Israel” (1 Kgs 8:1; 2 Chr 5:2), all the elders of their tribes” (Deut 31:28), “all the princes of Israel” (1 Chr 28:1), “your tribes” (Deut 31:28), “all the house of Judah” (1 Kgs 12:21; 2 Chr 11:1), “the people” (Deut 4:10; 31:12), “the whole congregation” (Lev 8:3; Num 1:18; 16:19; 20:8), “all the congregation of the sons of Israel” (Exod 35:1; Num 8:9), “the assembly” (Num 10:7; 20:10), and “your assembly” (Ezek 38:13). The verb is often used in reference to summoning/assembling people for a religious occasion (Exod 35:1; Lev 8:3-4; Num 8:9; Deut 4:10; Josh 18:1; 22:12; 1 Kgs 8:1; 2 Chr 5:2-3), a political occasion (2 Sam 20:14), a military occasion (Judg 20:11; 2 Chr 11:1), or a judicial occasion (Job 11:10). The Hiphil stem is used to describe the action of the leader (usually a single individual who possesses/commands authority) summoning the people, e.g., Moses (Exod 35:1; Lev 8:3; Num 20:10), Moses and Aaron (Num 1:18), Korah (Num 16:19), King David (1 Chr 13:5; 15:3; 28:1), King Solomon (1 Kgs 8:1; 12:21; 2 Chr 5:2), and King Rehoboam (2 Chr 11:1). In almost every case, he who assembles the people is a person invested with authority; he makes a public proclamation or leads the nation in an important action. The Niphal stem is most often used to describe the people assembling at the direction of the leader (e.g., Lev 8:4; Josh 18:1; 22:12; 1 Kgs 8:2; 2 Chr 5:3). The root קהל is a denominative derived from the noun קָהָל (qahal, “assembly, contingent”; HALOT 1079-80 s.v. קָהָל). The noun has numerous referents: the congregated nation as a whole in the wilderness, assembled for ceremonies and instruction (Exod 16:3; Lev 4:13, 21; 16:17, 33; Num 10:7; 14:5; 15:15; 16:3; 17:12; 19:20; 20:4, 6, 10, 12; Deut 9:10; 10:4; 18:16); the congregation of Israel assembled for divine worship (Pss 22:23, 26; 26:5; 35:18; 40:10; 107:32; 149:1; Lam 1:10); the postexilic community assembled to hear the Torah and instruction (Neh 13:1); a military contingent assembled for warfare (Num 16:3; 20:4; Judg 20:2; 21:5, 8; 1 Sam 17:47; 2 Chr 28:14); people summoned to court (Ezek 16:40; 23:46-47); judicial authorities (Jer 26:17; Prov 5:14; 26:26; Sir 7:7). The term is often used as a designation for Israel: “the assembly of Israel” (Lev 16:17; Deut 31:30; Josh 8:35; 1 Kgs 8:14, 22, 55; 12:3; 2 Chr 6:3, 12-13; Sir 50:13, 20), “the assembly of the congregation” (Exod 12:6); “the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel” (Num 14:5), and “the assembly of God” (Neh 13:1). The related noun קְהִלָּה (qÿhillah) means “assembly, community” (HALOT 1080 s.v. קְהִלָּה), e.g., in the idiom נָתַן קְהִלָּה (natan qÿhillah) “to hold an assembly”: “I called a great assembly to deal with them” (Neh 5:7).

2 tn Heb “son of David” or “a son of David.”

3 sn While 1:1 says only “king in Jerusalem” (מֶלֶךְ בִּירוּשָׁלָםִ, melekh birushalayim), 1:12 adds “king over Israel in Jerusalem” (בִּירוּשָׁלָםִ מֶלֶךְ עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵל, melekhal-yisrael birushalayim). The LXX adds “Israel” in 1:1 to harmonize with 1:12; however, the MT makes sense as it stands. Apart from David, only Solomon was “king over Israel in Jerusalem” – unless the term “Israel” (יִשְׂרָאֵל, yisrael) in 1:12 is used for Judah or the postexilic community. Solomon would fit the description of the author of this book, who is characterized by great wisdom (1:13, 16), great wealth (2:8), numerous servants (2:7), great projects (2:4-6), and the collection, editing and writings of many proverbs (12:9-10). All of this generally suggests Solomonic authorship. However, many scholars deny Solomonic authorship on the basis of linguistic and historical arguments.

4 sn The form of the title is typical: (1) “the words of [the writer],” (2) his family name or name of his father, and (3) his social/political position in Israel (e.g., Prov 22:17; 24:23; 30:1; 31:1). Sometimes, the writer’s qualifications are given in the introduction to an OT book (e.g., Jer 1:1; Amos 1:1). Qoheleth lists his qualifications at the end of the book (12:9-12).

map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

5 tn Heb “says.”

6 sn See the note on “Teacher” in v. 1.

7 tn Heb “futility of futilities.” The phrase “absolutely futile” (הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים, havel havalim) is a superlative genitive construction (GKC 431 §133.i). When a plural genitive follows a singular construct noun of the same root, it indicates the most outstanding example of the person or thing described. Examples: קֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים (qodesh haqqodashim, “holy of holies”), i.e., “the most holy place” (Exod 26:33); שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים (shir hashirim, “song of songs”), i.e., “the most excellent song” (Song 1:1); אֱלֹהֵי הָאֱלֹהִים וַאֲדֹנֵי הַאֱדֹנִים (’elohe haelohim vaadone haedonim, “the God of gods and Lord of lords”), i.e., “the highest God and the supreme Lord” (Deut 10:17). See also R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 17-18, §80; IBHS 154 §9.5.3j.

8 tn Although כֹּל (kol, “everything, all”) is often used in an absolute or comprehensive sense (BDB 481 s.v. כֹּל 1), it is frequently used as a synecdoche of the general for the specific, that is, its sense is limited contextually to the topic at hand (BDB 482 s.v. 2). This is particularly true of הַכֹּל (hakkol, BDB 482 s.v. 2.b) in which the article particularizes or limits the referent to the contextual or previously mentioned topic (e.g., Gen 16:12; 24:1; Exod 29:24; Lev 1:9, 13; 8:27; Deut 2:36; Josh 11:19 [see 2 Sam 19:31; 1 Kgs 14:26 = 2 Chr 12:9]; 21:43; 1 Sam 30:19; 2 Sam 17:3; 23:5; 24:23; 1 Kgs 6:18; 2 Kgs 24:16; Isa 29:11; 65:8; Jer 13:7, 10; Ezek 7:14; Pss 14:3; 49:18; 1 Chr 7:5; 28:19; 29:19; 2 Chr 28:6; 29:28; 31:5; 35:7; 36:17-18; Ezra 1:11; 2:42; 8:34-35; 10:17; Eccl 5:8). Thus, “all” does not always mean “all” in an absolute sense or universally in comprehension. In several cases the context limits its reference to two classes of objects or issues being discussed, so הַכֹּל means “both” (e.g., 2:14; 3:19: 9:1, 2). Thus, הַכֹּל refers only to what Qoheleth characterizes as “futile” (הֶבֶל, hevel) in the context. Qoheleth does not mean that everything in an absolute, all-encompassing sense is futile. For example, the sovereign work of God is not “futile” (3:14:3); fearing God is not “futile” (2:26; 3:14-15; 11:912:1, 9, 13-14); and enjoying life as a righteous person under the blessing of God is not “futile” (2:24-26; 11:9-10). Only those objects or issues that are contextually placed under כֹּל are designated as “futile” (הֶבֶל). The context of 1:3-15 suggests that 1:2 refers to the futility of secular human endeavor. The content and referent of 1:3-15 determines the referent of הַכֹּל in 1:2.

9 tn The term הֶבֶל (hevel, “futile”) is repeated five times within the eight words of this verse for emphasis. The noun הֶבֶל is the key word in Ecclesiastes. The root is used in two ways in the OT, literally and figuratively. The literal, concrete sense is used in reference to the wind, man’s transitory breath, evanescent vapor (Isa 57:13; Pss 62:10; 144:4; Prov 21:6; Job 7:16). In this sense, it is often a synonym for “breath” or “wind” (Eccl 1:14; Isa 57:13; Jer 10:14). The literal sense lent itself to metaphorical senses: (1) breath/vapor/wind is nonphysical, evanescent, and lacks concrete substance thus, the connotation “unsubstantial” (Jer 10:15; 16:19; 51:18), “profitless” or “fruitless” (Ps 78:33; Prov 13:11), “worthless” (2 Kgs 17:15; Jer 2:5; 10:3), “pointless” (Prov 21:6), “futile” (Lam 4:17; Eccl 1:2, 14; 2:1, 14-15), (2) breath/vapor/wind is transitory and fleeting – thus, the connotation “fleeting” or “transitory” (Prov 31:30; Eccl 6:12; 7:15; 9:9; 11:10; Job 7:16) and (3) breath/vapor/wind cannot be seen thus, the idea of “obscure,” “dark,” “difficult to understand,” “enigmatic” (Eccl 11:10). See HALOT 236-37 s.v. I הֶבֶל; BDB 210-11 s.v. I הֶבֶל. The metaphorical sense is used with the following synonyms: תֹּהוּ (tohu, “empty, vanity”; Isa 49:4), רִיק (riq, “profitless, useless”; Isa 30:7; Eccl 6:11), and לֹא הוֹעִיל (lohoil, “worthless, profitless”; Is 30:6; 57:12; Jer 16:19). It is parallel to “few days” and “[days] which he passes like a shadow” (Eccl 6:12). It is used in reference to youth and vigor (11:10) and life (6:12; 7:15; 9:9), which are “transitory” or “fleeting.” The most common parallels to הֶבֶל in Ecclesiastes are the phrases “chasing after the wind” (רְעוּת רוּחַ, rÿut ruakh) in 2:11, 17, 26; 7:14 and “what profit?” (מַה־יִּתְרוֹן, mah-yyitron) or “no profit” (אֵין יִתְרוֹן, ’en yitron) in 2:11; 3:19; 6:9. It is used in reference to enigmas in life (6:2; 8:10, 14) and to the future which is obscure (11:8). It is often used in antithesis to terms connoting value: טוֹב (tov, “good, benefit, advantage”) and יֹתְרוֹן (yotÿron, “profit, advantage, gain”). Because the concrete picture of the “wind” lends itself to the figurative connotation “futile,” the motto “This is futile” (זֶה הֶבֶל, zeh hevel) is often used with the metaphor, “like striving after the wind” (רְעוּת רוּחַ, rÿut ruakh) – a graphic picture of an expenditure of effort in vain because no one can catch the wind by chasing it (e.g., 1:14, 17; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:4, 6, 16; 6:9). Although it is the key word in Ecclesiastes, it should not be translated the same way in every place.

sn The motto Everything is futile! is the theme of the book. Its occurs at the beginning (1:2) and end of the book (12:8), forming an envelope structure (inclusio). Everything described in 1:2–12:8 is the supporting proof of the thesis of 1:2. With few exceptions (e.g., 2:24-26; 3:14-15; 11:9-12:1, 9), everything described in 1:212:8 is characterized as “futile” (הֶבֶל, hevel).

10 tn The term “profit” (יֹתְרוֹן, yotÿron) is used in Ecclesiastes to evaluate the ultimate benefit/effects of human activities, as is טוֹב (tov, “good, worthwhile”) as well (e.g., 2:1, 3). While some relative advantage/profit is recognized (e.g., light over darkness, and wisdom over folly), Qoheleth denies the ultimate advantage of all human endeavors (e.g., 2:11, 15).

11 tn Heb “the man.” The Hebrew term could be used here in a generic sense, referring to the typical man (hence, “a man”). However, it is more likely that the form is collective and that humankind in general is in view (note NIV “man”). Note the reference to “a generation” coming and going in the next verse, as well as v. 13, where the phrase “the sons of man” (= humankind) appears. In this case the singular pronominal suffix and singular verb later in v. 3 reflect grammatical agreement, not individuality.

12 tn The use of the relative pronoun שֶׁ (she, “which”) – rather than the more common אֲשֶׁר (’asher, “which”) – is a linguistic feature that is often used to try to date the Book of Ecclesiastes. Noting that שֶׁ is the dominant relative pronoun in Mishnaic Hebrew and that אֲשֶׁר does not appear as frequently (Jastrow 130 s.v. אֲשֶׁר), many scholars conclude that אֲשֶׁר is early and שֶׁ is late. They conclude that the use of שֶׁ in Ecclesiastes points to a late date for the book. However, as Samuel-Kings suggest, the שֶׁ versus אֲשֶׁר phenomena may simply be a dialectical issue: אֲשֶׁר is commonly used in the south, and שֶׁ in the north. The use of שֶׁ in Ecclesiastes may indicate that the book was written in a northern rather than a southern province, not that it is a late book. This is supported from related Akkadian terms which occur in texts from the same periods: אֲשֶׁר is related to asru (“place”) and שֶׁ is related to sa (“what”).

13 sn The Hebrew root עָמָל, (’amal, “toil”) is repeated here for emphasis: “What gain does anyone have in his toil with which he toils.” For all his efforts, man’s endeavors and secular achievements will not produce anything of ultimate value that will radically revolutionize anything in the world. The term “toil” is used in a pejorative sense to emphasize that the only thing that man obtains ultimately from all his efforts is weariness and exhaustion. Due to sin, mankind has been cursed with the futility of his labor that renders work a “toilsome” task (Gen 3:17-19). Although it was not yet revealed to Qoheleth, God will one day deliver the redeemed from this plight in the future kingdom when man’s labor will no longer be toilsome, but profitable, fulfilling, and enjoyable (Isa 65:17-23).

14 tn Heb “under the sun.”

sn This rhetorical question expects a negative answer: “Man has no gain in all his toil.” Ecclesiastes often uses rhetorical questions in this manner (e.g., 2:2; 3:9; 6:8, 11, 12; see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 949).

15 tn The participle הֹלֵךְ (holekh, “to walk, to go”) emphasizes continual, durative, uninterrupted action (present universal use of participle). The root הָלַךְ (halakh) is repeated in this section (1:4a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 7c) to emphasize the continual action and constant motion of everything in nature. Despite the continual action of everything in nature, there is no completion, attainment or rest for anything. The first use of הָלַךְ is in reference to man; all subsequent usages are in reference to nature – illustrations of the futility of human endeavor. Note: All the key terms used in 1:4 to describe the futility of human endeavor are repeated in 1:5-11 as illustrations from nature. The literary monotony in 1:4-11 mirrors the actual monotony of human action that repeats itself with no real change.

16 tn The participle בָּא (ba’, “to go”) emphasizes continual, durative, uninterrupted action (present universal use of participle). The term is repeated in 1:4-5 to compare the futility of secular human accomplishments with the futile actions in nature: everything is in motion, but there is nothing new accomplished.

17 tn The participle עֹמָדֶת (’omadet, “to stand”) emphasizes a continual, durative, uninterrupted state (present universal condition). Man, despite all his secular accomplishments in all generations, makes no ultimate impact on the earth.

18 tn The term “the same” does not appear in Hebrew, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.

19 tn The term עוֹלָם (’olam) has a wide range of meanings: (1) indefinite time: “long time, duration,” often “eternal” or “eternity”; (2) future time: “things to come”; and (3) past time: “a long time back,” that is, the dark age of prehistory (HALOT 798–99 s.v. עוֹלָם; BDB 761–63 s.v. III עלם). It may also denote an indefinite period of “continuous existence” (BDB 762 s.v. III עלם 2.b). It is used in this sense in reference to things that remain the same for long periods: the earth (Eccl 1:4), the heavens (Ps 148:6), ruined cities (Isa 25:2; 32:14), ruined lands (Jer 18:16), nations (Isa 47:7), families (Ps 49:12; Isa 14:20), the dynasty of Saul (1 Sam 13:13), the house of Eli (2 Sam 2:30), continual enmity between nations (Ezek 25:15; 35:5), the exclusion of certain nations from the assembly (Deut 23:4; Neh 13:1), a perpetual reproach (Ps 78:66).

20 tn The Hebrew text has a perfect verbal form, but it should probably be emended to the participial form, which occurs in the last line of the verse. Note as well the use of participles in vv. 4-7 to describe what typically takes place in the natural world. The participle זוֹרֵחַ (zoreakh, “to rise”) emphasizes continual, durative, uninterrupted action (present universal use of participle): the sun is continually rising (and continually setting) day after day.

21 tn Heb “the sun goes.” The participle בָּא (ba’, “to go”) emphasizes continual, durative, uninterrupted action (present universal use of participle): the sun is continually rising and continually setting day after day. The repetition of בָּא in 1:4-5 creates a comparison between the relative futility of all human endeavor (“a generation comes and a generation goes [בָּא]”) with the relative futility of the action of the sun (“the sun rises and the sun goes” [i.e., “sets,” בָּא]).

22 tn Heb “hastens” or “pants.” The verb שָׁאַף (shaaf) has a three-fold range of meanings: (1) “to gasp; to pant,” (2) “to pant after; to long for,” and (3) “to hasten; to hurry” (HALOT 1375 s.v. שׁאף; BDB 983 s.v. I שָׁאַף). The related Aramaic root שׁוף means “to be thirsty; to be parched.” The Hebrew verb is used of “gasping” for breath, like a woman in the travail of childbirth (Isa 42:14); “panting” with eagerness or desire (Job 5:5; 7:2; 36:20; Ps 119:131; Jer 2:24) or “panting” with fatigue (Jer 14:6; Eccl 1:5). Here שָׁאַף personifies the sun, panting with fatigue, as it hastens to its destination (BDB 983 s.v. I שָׁאַף 1). The participle form depicts continual, uninterrupted, durative action (present universal use). Like the sun, man – for all his efforts – never really changes anything; all he accomplishes in his toil is to wear himself out.

23 tn The verb זוֹרֵחַ (zoreakh, “to rise”) is repeated in this verse to emphasize that the sun is locked into a never changing, ever repeating monotonous cycle: rising, setting, rising, setting.

24 tn The word “again” does not appear in Hebrew, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.

25 tn The Hebrew root סָבַב (savav, “to circle around”) is repeated four times in this verse to depict the wind’s continual motion: “The wind circles around (סוֹבֵב, sovev)…round and round (סוֹבֵב סֹבֵב)…its circuits (סְבִיבֹתָיו, sÿvivotayv).” This repetition is designed for a rhetorical purpose – to emphasize that the wind is locked into a never ending cycle. This vicious circle of monotonous action does not change anything. The participle form is used three times to emphasize continual, uninterrupted action (present universal use of participle). Despite the fact that the wind is always changing direction, nothing really new ever happens. The constant shifting of the wind cannot hide the fact that this is nothing but a repeated cycle; nothing new happens here (e.g., 1:9-10).

26 tn The use of שָׁב (shav, Qal active participle masculine singular from שׁוּב, shuv, “to return”) creates a wordplay (paronomasia) with the repetition of סָבַב (savav, “to circle around”). The participle emphasizes continual, durative, uninterrupted action (present universal use).

27 tn Heb “are going” or “are walking.” The term הֹלְכִים (holÿkhim, Qal active participle masculine plural from הָלַךְ, halakh,“to walk”) emphasizes continual, durative, uninterrupted action (present universal use of participle). This may be an example of personification; this verb is normally used in reference to the human activity of walking. Qoheleth compares the flowing of river waters to the action of walking to draw out the comparison between the actions of man (1:4) and the actions of nature (1:5-11).

28 tn Heb “there they are returning to go.” The term שָׁבִים (shavim, Qal active participle masculine plural from שׁוּב, shuv, “to return”) emphasizes the continual, durative action of the waters. The root שׁוּב is repeated in 1:6-7 to emphasize that everything in nature (e.g., wind and water) continually repeats its actions. For all of the repetition of the cycles of nature, nothing changes; all the constant motion produces nothing new.

sn This verse does not refer to the cycle of evaporation or the return of water by underground streams, as sometimes suggested. Rather, it describes the constant flow of river waters to the sea. For all the action of the water – endless repetition and water constantly in motion – there is nothing new accomplished.

29 tn The word “this” is not in Hebrew, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

30 tn Heb “the things.” The Hebrew term דְּבָרִים (dÿvarim, masculine plural noun from דָּבָר, davar) is often used to denote “words,” but it can also refer to actions and events (HALOT 211 s.v. דָּבָר 3.a; BDB 183 s.v. דָּבָר IV.4). Here, it means “things,” as is clear from the context: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done” (1:9). Here דְּבָרִים can be nuanced “occurrences” or even “[natural] phenomena.”

31 tn Heb “is able.”

32 tn The Hebrew text has no stated object. The translation supplies “it” for stylistic reasons and clarification.

sn The statement no one can bear to describe it probably means that Qoheleth could have multiplied examples (beyond the sun, the wind, and the streams) of the endless cycle of futile events in nature. However, no tongue could ever tell, no eye could ever see, no ear could ever hear all the examples of this continual and futile activity.

33 tn The term מָלֵא (male’, “to be filled, to be satisfied”) is repeated in 1:7-8 to draw a comparison between the futility in the cycle of nature and human secular accomplishments: lots of action, but no lasting effects. In 1:7 אֵינֶנּוּ מָלֵא (’enennu male’, “it is never filled”) describes the futility of the water cycle: “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never filled.” In 1:8 וְלֹא־תִמָּלֵא (vÿlo-timmale’, “it is never satisfied”) describes the futility of human labor: “the ear is never satisfied with hearing.”

34 tn Heb “what is.” The Hebrew verbal form is a perfect. Another option is to translate, “What has been.” See the next line, which speaks of the past and the future.

35 tn The Hebrew verbal form is an imperfect.

36 tn Heb “under the sun.”

37 tn Alternately, “[Even when] there is something of which someone might claim…” The terms יֵשׁ דָּבָר שֶׁיֹּאמַר (yesh davar sheyyomar) may be an interrogative clause without an introductory interrogative particle (GKC 473 §150.a). In questions, יֵשׁ often implies doubt about the existence of something (BDB 441 s.v. יֵשׁ 2.b). The LXX rendered it as a question, as do most English versions: “Is there anything of which it can be said…?” (KJV, ASV, RSV, MLB, NEB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). On the other hand, יֵשׁ is used elsewhere in the Book of Ecclesiastes as a predication of existence (“There is…”) to assert the existence of something (2:13, 21; 4:8, 9; 5:13[12]; 6:1, 11; 7:15; 8:6, 14; 9:4; 10:5). HALOT 443 s.v. יֵשׁ 2 renders יֵשׁ דָּבָר as “There is something….” This view is taken by several translations: “Even the thing of which we say…” (NAB), “Men may say of something …” (Moffatt), and “Sometimes there is a phenomena of which they say…” (NJPS).

38 tn The perfect tense verb הָיָה (hayah) refers to a past perfect situation: It describes an action that is viewed as a remote past event from the perspective of the past. This past perfect situation is brought out by the temporal adverb כְּבָר (kÿvar, “already”; HALOT 459 s.v. I כְּבָר; BDB 460 s.v. I כְּבָר; cf. 1:10; 2:12, 16; 3:15; 4:2; 6:10; 9:6-7). The expression כְּבָר + הָיָה connotes a past perfect nuance: “it has already been” (Eccl 1:10; see BDB 460 s.v.).

39 sn This does not deny man’s creativity or inventiveness, only the ultimate newness of his accomplishments. For example, there is no essential difference between the first voyage to the moon and the discovery of America (different point of arrival, different vehicles of travel, but the same essential action and results).

40 tn Heb “in the ages long ago before us.”

41 tn Heb “There is no remembrance of former things.” The term רִאשֹׁנִים (rishonim, “former things”) is the masculine plural form of the adjective רִאשׁוֹן (rishon,“former, first, chief”; BDB 911 s.v. רִאשׁוֹן). When used in a temporal sense, the singular denotes “former” in time (BDB 911 s.v. 1.a) or “first” in time (BDB 911 s.v. 2.a). The plural form is only used to denote “former” in time: “former persons,” i.e., ancestors, men of old (e.g., Lev 26:45; Deut 19:14; Job 18:20; Isa 61:4; Ps 79:8; Sirach 4:16) or “former things,” i.e., past events (e.g., Isa 41:22; 42:9; 43:9, 18; 46:9; 48:3). See BDB 911 s.v. 1.a, which suggests that this usage refers to “former persons.” This approach is adopted by several translations: “men of old” (NEB, NAB, NIV, Moffatt), “people of long ago” (NRSV), “earlier ones” (NJPS), and “former generations” (ASV). On the other hand, this Hebrew phrase may be nuanced “former things” or “earlier things” (HALOT 1168 s.v. ן(וֹ)רִאשֹׁ). This is adopted by some translations: “former things” (KJV, RSV) and “earlier things” (NASB). Although future generations are mentioned in 1:11, what they will not remember is the past events. The context of 1:3-11 focuses on human achievement, that is, former things.

42 tn The term “remember” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

43 tn Heb “and also of the last things which will be.” The term אַחֲרֹנִים (’akharonim, “the future things”) is the masculine plural form of the adjective אַחֲרוֹן (’akharon) which means “coming after” (BDB 30 s.v. אַחֲרוֹן) or “at the back” (HALOT 36 s.v. אַחֲרוֹן). When used in a temporal sense, it may mean (1) “later one; (2) “in the future”; (3) “last”; or (4) “at the last” or “in the end” (HALOT 36 s.v. 2). The plural form may be used in reference to (1) future generations, e.g., Deut 29:21; Pss 48:14; 78:4, 6; 102:19; Job 18:20; Eccl 4:16, or (2) future events, e.g., Neh 8:18 (BDB 30 s.v.). BDB 30 s.v. b suggests that this usage refers to “future generations,” while HALOT 36 s.v. 2.c suggests future events. As mentioned in the previous note, it probably refers to future events rather than future generations.

sn The Hebrew terms translated former events and future events create a merism (two polar extremes encompass everything in between). This encompasses all secular achievements in human history past to future things yet to be done.

44 tn Heb “There will not be any remembrance of them among those who come after.”

sn According to Qoheleth, nothing new really happens under the sun (1:9). Apparent observations of what appears to be revolutionary are due to a lack of remembrance by subsequent generations of what happened long before their time in past generations (1:10-11a). And what will happen in future generations will not be remembered by the subsequent generations to arise after them (1:11b).

45 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

46 tn Heb “I gave my heart” or “I set my mind.” The term לִבִּי (libbi, “my heart”) is an example of synecdoche of part (heart) for the whole (myself). Qoheleth uses this figurative expression frequently in the book. On the other hand, in Hebrew mentality, the term “heart” is frequently associated with one’s thoughts and reasoning; thus, this might be a metonymy of association (heart = thoughts). The equivalent English idiom would be “I applied my mind.”

47 tn Heb “with wisdom,” that is, with careful reflection in light of principles observed by the sages.

48 tn Heb “to seek and to search out” (לִדְרוֹשׁ וְלָתוּר, lidrosh vÿlatur). This is an example of a verbal hendiadys (the use of two synonymous verbs to state a common idea in an emphatic manner). The terms are used because they are closely related synonyms; therefore, the similarities in meaning should be emphasized rather than the distinctions in meaning. The verb דָּרַשׁ (darash) means “to inquire about; to investigate; to search out; to study” (HALOT 233 s.v. דרשׁ; BDB 205 s.v. דָּרַשׁ). This verb is used literally of the physical activity of investigating a matter by examining the physical evidence and interviewing eye-witnesses (e.g., Judg 6:29; Deut 13:15; 17:4, 9; 19:18), and figuratively (hypocatastasis) of mentally investigating abstract concepts (e.g., Eccl 1:13; Isa 1:17; 16:5; Pss 111:2; 119:45). Similarly, the verb תּוּר (tur) means “to seek out, discover” (HALOT 1708 s.v. תּוּר 1.c; BDB 1064 תּוּר 2). The verb תּוּר is used literally of the physical action of exploring physical territory (Num 13:16-17; 14:6, 34-36; Job 39:8), and figuratively (hypocatastasis) of mentally exploring things (Eccl 1:13; 7:25; 9:1).

49 tn Heb “under heaven.”

sn Qoheleth states that he made a thorough investigation of everything that had been accomplished on earth. His position as king gave him access to records and contacts with people that would have been unavailable to others.

50 tn This phrase does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is added in the translation for clarity.

51 tn Heb “the sons of men/mankind.”

52 tn The phrase עִנְיַן רָע (’inyan ra’, “rotten business, grievous task”) is used only in Ecclesiastes (1:13; 2:23, 26; 3:10; 4:8; 5:2, 13; 8:16). It is parallel with הֶבֶל (hevel) “futile” in 4:8, and describes a “grave misfortune” in 5:13. The noun עִנְיַן (’inyan, “business”) refers to something that keeps a person occupied or busy: “business; affair; task; occupation” (HALOT 857 s.v. עִנְיָן; BDB 775 s.v. עִנְיָן). The related verb עָנַה (’anah) means “to be occupied, to be busy with” (with the preposition בְּ, bet), e.g., Eccl 1:13; 3:10; 5:19 (HALOT 854 s.v. III עָנָה; BDB 775 s.v. II עָנָה). The noun is from the Aramaic loanword עִנְיָנָא (’inyana’, “concern, care”). The verb is related to the Aramaic verb “to try hard,” the Arabic verb “to be busily occupied; to worry to be a matter of concern,” and the Old South Arabic root “to be troubled; to strive with” (HALOT 854 s.v. III עָנָה). The phrase עִנְיַן רָע is treated creatively by English translations: “sore travail” (KJV, ASV), “sad travail” (YLT), “painful occupation” (Douay), “sorry business” (NEB), “sorry task” (Moffatt), “thankless task” (NAB), “grievous task” (NASB), “trying task” (MLB), “unhappy business” (RSV, NRSV, NJPS), and “heavy burden” (NIV).

53 tn The syntax of this line in Hebrew is intentionally redundant, e.g. (literally), “It is a grievous task [or “unpleasant business”] that God has given to the sons of man to be occupied with it.” The referent of the third masculine singular suffix on לַעֲנוֹת בּוֹ (laanot bo, “to be occupied with it”) is עִנְיַן רָע (’inyan ra’, “a grievous task, a rotten business”).

54 tn Or “that keeps them occupied” or “that busies them.” The verb II עָנַה (’anah, “to be occupied with”) is related to the noun עִנְיַן (’inyan, “business, task, occupation”) which also occurs in this verse. The verb עָנַה means “to be occupied, to be busy with” (with the preposition בְּ, bet), e.g., Eccl 1:13; 3:10; 5:19 (HALOT 854 s.v. III עָנָה; BDB 775 s.v. עָנָה). The Hebrew verb is related to the Aramaic verb “to try hard,” the Arabic verb “to be busily occupied; to worry; to be a matter of concern,” and the Old South Arabic root “to be troubled; to strive with” (HALOT 854).

55 tn The phrase “by man” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

56 tn Heb “under the sun.”

57 tn As mentioned in the note on “everything” in 1:2, the term הַכֹּל (hakkol, “everything”) is often limited in reference to the specific topic at hand in the context (e.g., BDB 482 s.v. כֹּל 2). The argument of 1:12-15, like 1:3-11, focuses on secular human achievement. This is clear from the repetition of the root עָשַׂה (’asah, “do, work, accomplish, achieve”) in 1:12-13.

58 tn The phrase “he has accomplished” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

59 tn This usage of הֶבֶל (hevel) denotes “futile, profitless, fruitless” (e.g., 2 Kgs 17:15; Ps 78:33; Prov 13:11; 21:6; Eccl 1:2, 14; 2:1, 14-15; 4:8; Jer 2:5; 10:3; Lam 4:17; see HALOT 236–37 s.v. I הֶבֶל; BDB 210–11 s.v. I הֶבֶל). The term is used with the simile “like striving after the wind” (רְעוּת רוּחַ, rÿut ruakh) – a graphic picture of an expenditure of effort in vain because no one can catch the wind by chasing it (e.g., 1:14, 17; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:4, 6, 16; 6:9; 7:14). When used in this sense, the term is often used with the following synonyms: לְתֹהוּ (lÿtohu, “for nothing, in vain, for no reason”; Isa 49:4); רִיק (riq, “profitless; useless”; Isa 30:7; Eccl 6:11); לֹא הוֹעִיל (“worthless, profitless”; Is 30:6; 57:12; Jer 16:19); “what profit?” (מַה־יִּתְרוֹןֹ, mah-yyitron); and “no profit” (אֵין יִּתְרוֹן, en yyitron; e.g., 2:11; 3:19; 6:9). It is also used in antithesis to terms connoting value: טוֹב (tov, “good, benefit, advantage”) and יֹתְרוֹן (yotÿron, “profit, advantage, gain”). Despite everything that man has accomplished in history, it is ultimately futile because nothing on earth really changes.

60 tn Heb “striving of wind.” The word “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text; it has been added in the translation to make the comparative notion clear.

61 tn The term מְעֻוָּת, mÿuvvat (Pual participle masculine singular from עָוַת, ’avat, “to bend”) is used substantively (“what is bent; what is crooked”) in reference to irregularities in life and obstacles to human secular achievement accomplishing anything of ultimate value.

62 tn A parallel statement occurs in 7:13 which employs the active form of עָוַת, (’avat, “to bend”) with God as the subject: “Who is able to strengthen what God bends?” The passive form occurs here: “No one is able to straighten what is bent” (מְעֻוָּת לֹא־יוּכַל לֹתְקֹן, mÿuvvat lo-yukhal lotÿqon). In the light of 7:13, the personal agent of the passive form is God.

63 tn The Hebrew noun חֶסְרוֹן (khesron) is used in the OT only here and means “what is lacking” (as an antonym to יִתְרוֹן [yitron], “what is profitable”; HALOT 339 s.v. חֶסְרוֹן; BDB 341 s.v. חֶסְרוֹן). It is an Aramaic loanword meaning “deficit.” The related verb חָסַר (khasar) means “to lack, to be in need of, to decrease, to lessen [in number]”; the related noun חֹסֶר (khoser) refers to “one in want of”; and the noun חֶסֶר (kheser) means “poverty, want” (HALOT 338 s.v. חֶסֶר; BDB 341 s.v. חֶסֶר). It refers to what is absent (zero in terms of quantity) rather than what is deficient (poor in terms of quality). The LXX misunderstood the term and rendered it as ὑστέρημα (usterhma, “deficiency”): “deficiency cannot be numbered.” It is also misunderstood by a few English versions: “nor can you count up the defects in life” (Moffatt); “the number of fools is infinite” (Douay). However, most English versions correctly understand it as referring to what is lacking in terms of quantity: “what is lacking” (RSV, MLB, NASB, NIV, NRSV), “a lack” (NJPS), “that which is wanting” (KJV, ASV), “what is not there” (NEB), and “what is missing” (NAB).

64 tn Heb “cannot be counted” or “cannot be numbered.” The term הִמָּנוֹת (himmanot, Niphal infinitive construct from מָנָה, manah, “to count”) is rendered literally by most translations: “[cannot] be counted” or “[cannot] be numbered” (KJV, ASV, RSV, MLB, NEB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, JPS, NJPS). However, the nuance “count” might function as a metonymy of effect for cause, that is, “to supply.” What is absent cannot be supplied (cause) therefore, it cannot be counted as present (effect). NAB adopts this approach: “what is missing cannot be supplied.”

65 tn Heb “I spoke, I, with my heart.”

66 tn Heb “I, look, I have made great and increased wisdom.” The expression הִגְדַּלְתִּי וְהוֹסַפְתִּי (higdalti vÿhosafti) is a verbal hendiadys; it means that Qoheleth had become the wisest man in the history of Jerusalem.

67 tn The phrase “who ruled” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

68 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

69 tn Heb “my heart” (לִבִּי, libbi). The term “heart” is a metonymy of part for the whole (“my heart” = myself).

70 tn Heb “My heart has seen much wisdom and knowledge.”

71 tn Heb “gave my heart,” or “set my mind.” See v. 13.

72 tn The phrase “the benefit of” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

73 tn The word “over” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

74 tn The terms שִׂכְלוּת (sikhlut, “folly”) and הוֹלֵלוֹת (holelot, “foolishness”) are synonyms. The term שִׂכְלוּת (alternate spelling of סִכְלוּת, sikhlut) refers to foolish behavior (HALOT 755 s.v. סִכְלוּת), while הוֹלֵלוֹת refers to foolish ideas and mental blindness (HALOT 242 s.v. הוֹלֵלוֹת). Qoheleth uses these terms to refer to foolish ideas and self-indulgent pleasures (e.g., Eccl 2:2-3, 12-14; 7:25; 9:3; 10:1, 6, 13).

75 tn Heb “I know.”

76 tn The term גַּם (gam, “even”) is a particle of association and emphasis (HALOT 195 s.v. גַּם).

77 tn This term does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

78 tn This term does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

79 tn Heb “striving of wind.”

80 tn This term does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

81 tn This term does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

82 tn This term does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

83 tn This term does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

84 tn Heb “I said, I, in my heart” (אָמַרְתִּי אֲנִי בְּלִבִּי, ’amartiani bÿlibbi). The term “heart” (לֵב, lev) is a synecdoche of part (“heart”) for the whole (the whole person), and thus means “I said to myself” (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 648).

85 tn The Hebrew verb לְכָה (lÿkhah, “Come!”) is a weakened imperative, used merely as an introductory word, e.g., Gen 19:32; 31:44; Judg 19:11; 1 Sam 9:9-10; 11:14; 2 Kgs 3:7; Ps 66:5; Song 7:12; Isa 1:18; 2:3; Mic 4:2 (HALOT 246 s.v. הָלַךְ 2; BDB 234 s.v. הָלַךְ I.5.f.2). Whenever לְכָה introduces an exhortation, it functions as an invitation to the audience to adopt a course of action that will be beneficial to the addressee or mutually beneficial to both the speaker and the addressee. Here, Qoheleth personifies his “heart” (לִבִּי, libbi) and addresses himself. The examination of self-indulgent pleasure is designed to be beneficial to Qoheleth.

86 tn Or “test.” The cohortative אֲנַסְּכָה (’anassÿkhah) emphasizes the resolve of the speaker. The term נָסַה (nasah, “to test”) means “to conduct a test,” that is, to conduct an experiment (Judg 6:39; Eccl 2:1; 7:23; Dan 1:12, 14; see HALOT 702 s.v. נסה 3; BDB 650 s.v. נָסָה 1). The verb נָסַה is often used as a synonym with בָּחַן (bakhan, “to examine”; BDB 103 s.v. בָּחַן and 650 s.v. נָסָה 1) and לָדַעַת (ladaat, “to ascertain”; Deut 8:2).

87 tn Heb “I will test you with pleasure.” The term שִׂמְחַה (simkhah, “pleasure”) has a two-fold range of meanings: (1) it can refer to the legitimate enjoyment of life that Qoheleth affirms is good (5:17; 8:15; 9:7; 11:8, 9) and that God gives to those who please him (2:26; 5:19); or (2) it can refer to foolish pleasure, self-indulgent, frivolous merrymaking (2:1, 2; 7:4). The parallelism in 2:2 between שִׂמְחַה and שְׂחוֹק (sÿkhoq, “laughter, frivolous merrymaking”), which always appears in the context of banqueting, drinking, and merrymaking, suggests that the pejorative sense is in view in this context.

sn The statement I will try self-indulgent pleasure is a figurative expression known as metonymy of association. As 2:1-3 makes clear, it is not so much Qoheleth who is put to the test with pleasure, but rather that pleasure is put to the test by Qoheleth.

88 tn Heb “See what is good!” The volitive sequence of the cohortative (אֲנַסְּכָה, ’anassÿkhah, “I will test you”) followed by vav + imperative (וּרְאֵה, urÿeh, “and see!”) denotes purpose/result: “I will test you…in order to see….” The verb רָאָה (raah, “to see”) has a broad range of meanings (e.g., in the Qal stem 16 categories are listed in HALOT 1157–1160 s.v.). In this context it means “to discover; to perceive; to discern; to understand” (HALOT 1159 s.v. ראה 13; BDB 907 s.v. רָאָה 5).

89 sn The phrase “to see what is good” (רָאָה, raah, “to see” + טוֹב, tov, “good”) is repeated twice in 2:1-3. This is the key phrase in this section of Ecclesiastes. Qoheleth sought to discover (רָאָה) whether merry-making offered any value (טוֹב) to mankind.

90 tn The particle וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh, literally “Behold!”) occurs after verbs of perception to introduce what was seen, understood or discovered (HALOT 252 s.v. הִנֵּה 8). It is used to make the narrative graphic and vivid, enabling the reader to enter into the surprise of the speaker (BDB 244 s.v. הִנֵּה c). This is an example of the heterosis of the deictic particle (“Behold!”) for a verb of perception (“I found”). See E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 510-34.

91 tn This use of הֶבֶל (hevel) denotes “futile, worthless, fruitless, pointless” (HALOT 237 s.v. I הֶבֶל 2; BDB 210–11 s.v. I הֶבֶל 2). It is a synonym to מְהוֹלָל (mÿholal, “folly”) in 2:2a and an antonym to טוֹב (tov, “worthwhile, beneficial”) in 2:1b and 2:3c.

92 tn Heb “laughter.” The term שְׂחוֹק (sÿkhoq, “laughter”) has a fourfold range of meanings: (1) “joyful laughter” (Ps 126:2; Prov 14:13; Job 8:21); (2) “frivolous laughter, merrymaking” (Eccl 2:2; 7:3, 6); (3) “pleasure, sport” (Prov 10:23; Eccl 10:19); and (4) “derision, mockery, laughingstock” (Jer 20:7; 48:26, 27, 39; Job 12:4; Lam 3:14). See HALOT 1315 s.v שְׂחוֹק; BDB 966 s.v. שְׂחֹק. In Ecclesiastes, שְׂחוֹק is always used in contexts of self-indulgent banqueting, drinking, frivolous partying and merrymaking (Eccl 2:2; 7:3, 6; 10:19). It is distinct from “healthy” joy and laughter (Ps 126:2; Job 8:21). The connotation of “frivolous merrymaking” fits this context best.

93 tn The term שִׂמְחָה (simkhah, “pleasure”) has a two-fold range of meanings in Ecclesiastes: (1) it can refer to the enjoyment of life that Qoheleth affirms is good (5:17; 8:15; 9:7; 11:8, 9) and that God gives to those who are pleasing to him (2:26; 5:19); and (2) it can refer to foolish pleasure, that is, frivolous merrymaking (2:1, 2; 7:4). The parallelism between שִׂמְחָה and שְׂחוֹק (sÿkhoq, “laughter, frivolous merrymaking”) in 2:2 suggests that the pejorative sense is in view here.

94 tn Heb “What does it accomplish?” The rhetorical question “What does it accomplish?” expects a negative answer: “It accomplishes nothing!” (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 949–51). See, e.g., Gen 1:19; 18:14, 17; Deut 7:17; 1 Sam 2:25; Job 40:2; Pss 56:7[8]; 90:11; 94:16; 106:2; Eccl 3:21.

95 tn Heb “In my heart I explored.” The verb תּוּר (tur, “to seek out, to spy out, to explore”) is used in the OT to describe: (1) the physical activity of “spying out” or “exploring” geographical locations (Num 13:2, 16, 17, 21, 25, 32; 14:6, 7, 34, 36, 38; Job 39:8) and (2) the mental activity of “exploring” or “examining” a course of action or the effects of an action (Eccl 1:13; 2:3; 7:25; 9:1). See BDB 1064 s.v. תּוּר 2; HALOT 1708 s.v. תּוּר. It was used as a synonym with דָרָשׁ (darash, “to study”) in 1:13: “I devoted myself to study (לִדְרוֹשׁ, lidrosh) and to explore (לָתוּר, latur).”

sn As the repetition of the term לֵב (lev, “heart” or “mind”) indicates (2:1, 3), this experiment appears to have been only an intellectual exercise or a cognitive reflection: “I said to myself (Heb “in my heart [or “mind”],” 2:1); “I explored with my mind (Heb “heart,” 2:3a); and “my mind (Heb “heart”) guiding me with wisdom” (2:3b). Qoheleth himself did not indulge in drunkenness; but he contemplated the value of self-indulgence in his mind.

96 tn The phrase “the effects of” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

97 tn Or “I sought to cheer my flesh with wine.” The term לִמְשׁוֹךְ (limshokh, Qal infinitive construct from מָשַׁךְ, mashakh, “to draw, pull”) functions in a complementary sense with the preceding verb תּוּר (tur “to examine”): Heb “I sought to draw out my flesh with wine” or “I [mentally] explored [the effects] of drawing out my flesh with wine.” The verb מָשַׁךְ means “to draw, to drag along, to lead” (BDB 604 s.v. מָשַׁךְ) or “to draw out; to stretch out [to full length]; to drag; to pull; to seize; to carry off; to pull; to go” (HALOT 645–46 s.v. משׁך). BDB suggests that this use be nuanced “to draw, to attract, to gratify” the flesh, that is, “to cheer” (BDB 604 s.v. מָשַׁךְ 7). While this meaning is not attested elsewhere in the OT, it is found in Mishnaic Hebrew: “to attract” (Qal), e.g., “it is different with heresy, because it attracts [i.e., persuades, offers inducements]” (b. Avodah Zarah 27b) and “to be attracted, carried away, seduced,” e.g., “he was drawn after them, he indulged in the luxuries of the palace” (b. Shabbat 147b). See Jastrow 853-54 s.v. מְשַׂךְ. Here it denotes “to stretch; to draw out [to full length],” that is, “to revive; to restore” the body (HALOT 646 s.v. משׁד [sic] 3). The statement is a metonymy of cause (i.e., indulging the flesh with wine) for effect (i.e., the effects of self-indulgence).

98 tn Heb “my flesh.” The term בְּשָׂרִי (bÿsari, “my flesh”) may function as a synecdoche of part (i.e., flesh) for the whole (i.e., whole person). See E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 642. One could translate, “I sought to cheer myself.”

99 tn The phrase “all the while” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

100 tn The word “me” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

101 tn Heb “and my heart was leading along in wisdom.” The vav + noun, וְלִבִּי (vÿlibbi) introduces a disjunctive, parenthetical clause designed to qualify the speaker’s remarks lest he be misunderstood: “Now my heart/mind….” He emphasizes that he never lost control of his senses in this process. It was a purely mental, cognitive endeavor; he never actually gave himself over to wanton self-indulgence in wine or folly.

102 tn The phrase “the effects of” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

103 tn Heb “embracing folly.” The verb אָחָז (’akhaz, “to embrace”) is normally used to describe the physical action of taking hold of an object. Here is it is used metaphorically to describe a person’s choice of lifestyle, that is, adopting a particular course of moral conduct (e.g., Job 17:9); see HALOT 31–32 s.v. אחז; BDB 28 s.v. אָחַז.

104 tn Or “until.” The construction עַד אֲשֶׁר (’adasher, “until”) introduces a temporal result clause (e.g., Gen 27:44; 28:15; Num 21:35; Isa 6:11); see HALOT 787 s.v. III עַד B.b. With an imperfect verb (such as אֶרְאֶה, ’ereh, Qal imperfect first common singular from רָאָה, raah, “to see”), the compound construction עַד אֲשֶׁר usually refers to future time (Gen 27:44; 29:8; Exod 23:30; 24:14; Lev 22:4; Num 11:20; 20:17; 1 Sam 22:3; Hos 5:15), but it also rarely refers to past time (Jonah 4:5; Eccl 2:3); see BDB 725 s.v. III עַד II.1.a.b. Joüon 2:370 §113.k notes that when the compound construction עַד אֲשֶׁר is occasionally used with an imperfect depicting past action to denote a virtual nuance of purpose: “until” = “so that,” e.g., Jonah 4:5; Eccl 2:3.

105 tn Heb “I might see where is the good?” The interrogative particle אֵי (’e, “where?”) used with the demonstrative pronoun זֶה (zeh, “this”) forms an idiom: “where [then]?” (HALOT 37–38 s.v. אֵי 2.a; see, e.g., 1 Sam 9:18; 1 Kgs 13:12; 2 Kgs 3:8; Isa 50:1; 66:1; Jer 6:16; Job 28:12, 20; 38:19, 24; Esth 7:5). The phrase אֵי־זֶה טוֹב (’e-zeh tov) is an indirect question that literally means, “Where is the good?” that is, “what good?” (HALOT 38 s.v. אֵי 2.d).

106 tn Heb “the sons of man.”

107 tn Heb “under the heavens.”

108 tn Heb “number of the days.” The Hebrew noun מִסְפַּר (mispar, “number, quantity”) sometimes means “few” (e.g., Gen 34:30; Num 9:20; Deut 4:27; 33:6; Isa 10:19; Jer 44:28; Ezek 12:16; Ps 105:12; Job 16:22; 1 Chr 16:19); see HALOT 607 s.v. מִסְפָּר 2.b; BDB 709 s.v. מִסְפָּר 1.a. This phrase is an idiom that means, “during all their lives” (BDB 709 s.v.), “during their total [short] time of life,” that is, “as long as they live” (HALOT 608 s.v. מִסְפָּר 3.d). Ecclesiastes often emphasizes the brevity of life (e.g., 5:17; 6:12; 9:9). The LXX rendered מִסְפַּר in a woodenly literal sense: ἀριθμόν (ariqmon, “the number [of days of their lives]”). Several English translations adopt a similar approach: “all the days of their life” (ASV, Douay) and “the number of days of their lives” (YLT). However, this idiom is handled well by a number of English translations: “during the few days of their lives” (RSV, NRSV, NASB, NIV, Moffatt, NJPS), “during the limited days of their life” (NAB), and “throughout the brief span of their lives” (NEB).

109 tn Or “my works”; or “my accomplishments.” The term מַעֲשָׂי (maasay, “my works”) has been handled in two basic ways: (1) great works or projects, and (2) possessions. The latter assumes a metonymy, one’s effort standing for the possessions it produces. Both interpretations are reflected in the major English translations: “works” (KJV, NEB, NAB, ASV, NASB, MLB, RSV, Douay, Moffatt), “projects” (NIV), and “possessions” (NJPS).

sn This section (2:4-11) is unified and bracketed by the repetition of the verb גָּדַל (gadal, “to increase”) which occurs at the beginning (2:4) and end (2:9), and by the repetition of the root עשה (noun: “works” and verb: “to do, make, acquire”) which occurs throughout the section (2:4, 5, 6, 8, 11).

110 sn The expression for myself is repeated eight times in 2:4-8 to emphasize that Qoheleth did not deny himself any acquisition. He indulged himself in acquiring everything he desired. His vast resources as king allowed him the unlimited opportunity to indulge himself. He could have anything his heart desired, and he did.

111 tn Heb “made.”

112 tn The term does not refer here to vegetable gardens, but to orchards (cf. the next line). In the same way the so-called “garden” of Eden was actually an orchard filled with fruit trees. See Gen 2:8-9.

113 tn The noun פַּרְדֵּס (pardes, “garden, parkland, forest”) is a foreign loanword that occurs only 3 times in biblical Hebrew (Song 4:13; Eccl 2:5; Neh 2:8). The original Old Persian term pairidaeza designated the enclosed parks and pleasure-grounds that were the exclusive domain of the Persian kings and nobility (HALOT 963 s.v. פַּרְדֵּס; LSJ 1308 s.v παράδεισος). The related Babylonian term pardesu “marvelous garden” referred to the enclosed parks of the kings (AHw 2:833 and 3:1582). The term passed into Greek as παράδεισος (paradeisos, “enclosed park, pleasure-ground”), referring to the enclosed parks and gardens of the Persian kings (LSJ 1308). The Greek term has been transliterated into English as “paradise.”

114 tn Heb “to water from them a grove” (or “forest).

115 tn The phrase “sons of a house” (בְנֵי בַיִת, vÿne vayit) appears to be parallel to “a son of my house” (בֶן־בֵּיתִי, ven-beti) which refers to a person born into slavery from male and female servants in the master’s possession, e.g., Eleazar of Damascus (Gen 15:3). The phrase appears to denote children born from male and female slaves already in his possession, that is, “homeborn slaves” (NASB) or “other slaves who were born in my house” (NIV). Apparently confusing the sense of the phrase with the referent of the phrase in Gen 15:3, NJPS erroneously suggests “stewards” in Eccl 2:7.

116 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

117 tn The term סְגֻלָּה (sÿgullah) denotes “personal property” (HALOT 742 s.v. סְגֻלָּה 1) or “valued property, personal treasure” (BDB 688 s.v. סְגֻלָּה 2). Elsewhere, it refers to a king’s silver and gold (1 Chr 27:3). It is related to Akkadian sug/kullu “flock” (AHw 2:1053-54) and sikiltu “private property [belonging to the king]” (AHw 2:1041). The term refers to the personal, private and valued possessions of kings, which do not pass into the hands of the state.

118 tn Heb “of kings and provinces.” This personal treasure was taken as tribute from other kings and governors. See T. Longman III, Ecclesiastes (NICOT), 92.

119 tn Heb “and sensual delights of the sons of man.” The noun תַּעֲנוּג (taanug) has a three-fold range of meanings: (1) “luxury; comfort” (Mic 2:9; Prov 19:10; Sir 6:28; 11:27; 14:16; 37:29; 41:1); (2) “pleasure; delight” of sexual love (Song 7:7); and (3) “daintiness; feminine” (Mic 1:16); see HALOT 1769 s.v. תַּעֲנוּג; BDB 772 s.v. תַּעֲנוּג. The related adjective עָנֹג (’anog, “pampered; dainty”) is used to describe a pampered woman (Deut 28:56), to personify Babylon as a delicate woman (Isa 47:1), and to ridicule delicate men (Deut 28:54); see HALOT 851 s.v. עָֹנֹג; BDB 772 עָנֹג. It is related to the noun עֹנֶג (’oneg, “pleasure; exquisite delight; daintiness”; see HALOT 851 s.v. עֹנֶג; BDB 772 s.v. עֹנֶג) and the verb עָנֹג which means “to be soft; to be delicate” and “pleasurable” (Pual) and “to pamper oneself” and “to take delight or pleasure in” (HALOT 851 s.v. ענג; BDB 772 s.v. עָנֹג). The root ענג is paralleled with רֹךְ (rokh, Deut 28:56), רַךְ (rakh, Deut 28:54), and רַכָּה (rakkah, Deut 28:56) with the meanings “delicate; soft; tender; weak; coddled; pampered.” The context of Eccl 2:4-11 suggests that it denotes either “luxury” as in “the luxuries of commoners” (NJPS) or “pleasure; delight” as in “the delights of men” (KJV, NASB, NIV). Part of the difficulty in determining the meaning of this term is caused by the ambiguity in meaning of its referent, namely, the appositional phrase שִׁדָּה וְשִׁדּוֹת (shiddah vÿshiddot), the meaning of which is uncertain (see the note on the phrase “a harem of beautiful concubines” at the end of this verse).

120 tn The meaning of the superlative construction שִׁדָּה וְשִׁדּוֹת (shiddah vÿshiddot) is uncertain because the term שִׁדָּה (shiddah) occurs only here in the OT. There are four basic approaches to the phrase: (1) Most scholars suggest that it refers to a royal harem and that it is in apposition to “the sensual delights of man” (וְתַעֲנוּגֹת בְּנֵי הָאָדָם, vÿtaanugot bÿne haadam). There are four variations of this approach: (a) There is a possible connection to the Ugaritic sht “mistress, lady” and the Arabic sitt “lady” (HALOT 1420 s.v. שִׁדָּה). (b) German scholars relate it to Assyrian sadadu “love” (Delitzsch, Konig, Wildeboer, Siegfried); however, BDB questions this connection (BDB 994 s.v. שׁדה). (c) Ibn Ezra relates it to II שַׁד (shad) “plunder; spoil” or שׁדה “[women] taken by violence,” and suggests that it refers to the occupants of the royal harem. (d) BDB connects it to the Hebrew noun I שַׁד (shad, “breast”; e.g., Isa 28:9; Ezek 16:7; 23:3, 21, 34; Hos 2:4; 9:14; Song 1:13; 4:5; 7:4, 8, 9; 8:1, 8, 10; Job 3:12) adding that שׁדה is related to the cognate Arabic and Aramaic roots meaning “breast” (BDB 994 s.v.). This would be a synecdoche of part (i.e., breast) for the whole (i.e., woman), similar to the idiom “one womb, two wombs” (רַחַם רַחֲמָתַיִם, rakham rakhamatayim) where “womb” = woman (Judg 5:30). This is the approach taken by most English versions: “many concubines” (NASB, RSV, NRSV), “a wife and wives” (YLT), “mistresses galore” (MLB), “many a mistress” (Moffatt), and “a harem” (NIV). This is the approach suggested by the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project: “une femme et des femmes” = one or two women (e.g., Judg 5:30); see D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 3:566. (2) The NJPS connects it to the Mishnaic Hebrew noun שִׁדָּה which became שִׁידָּה (“a strong box, chest”; Jastrow 1558 s.v. שִׁידָּה) and renders the phrase “coffers and coffers of them” in apposition to the phrase “the luxuries of commoners” (וְתַעֲנוּגֹת בְּנֵי הָאָדָם). (3) KJV and ASV take the phrase in apposition to “male and female singers” and translate it as “musical instruments.” However, there is no known Hebrew term that would justify this approach. (4) The LXX related the term to the Aramaic root שׁדא (“to pour out [wine]”) and rendered the phrase as οἰνοχόον καὶ οἰνοχόας (oinocoon kai oinocoas), “a male-butler and female cupbearers.” Aquila took a similar approach: κυλίκιον καὶ κυλίκια (kulikion kai kulikia), “wine cups and wine vessels.” This is reflected in the Vulgate and Douay: “cups and vessels to serve to pour out wine.” Although the semantic meaning of the term שִׁדָּה וְשִׁדּוֹת (“a breast of breasts”) is uncertain, the grammatical/syntactical form of the phrase is straightforward: (1) It is in apposition to the preceding line, “the delights of the son of men” (וְתַעֲנוּגֹת בְּנֵי הָאָדָם). (2) The phrase is a superlative construction. When the second word is plural and it follows a noun from the same root which is singular, it indicates the best or most outstanding example of the person or thing so described. In addition to the Judg 5:30 parallel cited above, see the expression “a generation, generations” in Pss 72:5; 102:25; Isa 51:8. Unlike, Eccl 2:8, this juxtapositioning of the singular and plural to express the superlative usually involves a construct form. See קֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים (qodesh haqqodashim, “the holy of holies,” i.e., the most holy place”; Exod 26:33), שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים (shir hashirim, “the song of songs,” i.e., “the most excellent song”; Song 1:1), אֱלֹהֵי הָאֱלֹהִים וַאֲדֹנֵי הַאֲדֹנִים (’elohe haelohim vaadone haadonim, “the God of gods and Lord of lords,” i.e., “the Highest God and the Supreme Lord”; Deut 10:17), and עֶבֶד עֲבָדִים (’evedavadim, “a slave of slaves,” i.e., “the most abject slave”; Gen 9:25). See GKC 431 §133.i; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 17-18, §80; IBHS 154 §9.5.3j. If the semantic meaning of the terms שִׁדָּה וְשִׁדּוֹת denotes “a breast (among) breasts” or “a lady (among) ladies” (Eccl 2:8, but see the previous note on the phrase “a man’s sensual delights”), the superlative construction may connote “the most beautiful breasts” (metonymy of part for the whole) or “the most beautiful woman.” This might refer to a harem of concubines or to one woman (the wife of the king?) who was the most beautiful woman in the land.

sn Concubines were slave women in ancient Near Eastern societies who were the legal property of their master, but who could have legitimate sexual relations with their master. A concubine’s status was more elevated than a mere servant, but she was not free and did not have the legal rights of a free wife. The children of a concubine could, in some instances, become equal heirs with the children of the free wife. After the period of the Judges concubines may have become more of a royal prerogative (2 Sam 21:10-14; 1 Kgs 11:3).

121 tn The vav prefixed to וְגָדַלְתִּי (vÿgadalti, vav + Qal perfect first common singular from גָּדַל, gadal, “to be great; to increase”) functions in a final summarizing sense, that is, it introduces the concluding summary of 2:4-9.

122 tn Heb “I became great and I surpassed” (וְהוֹסַפְתִּי וְגָדַלְתִּי, vÿgadalti vÿhosafti). This is a verbal hendiadys in which the second verb functions adverbially, modifying the first: “I became far greater.” Most translations miss the hendiadys and render the line in a woodenly literal sense (KJV, ASV, RSV, NEB, NRSV, NAB, NASB, MLB, Moffatt), while only a few recognize the presence of hendiadys here: “I became greater by far” (NIV) and “I gained more” (NJPS).

123 tn Heb “yet my wisdom stood for me,” meaning he retained his wise perspective despite his great wealth.

124 tn Heb “all which my eyes asked for, I did not withhold from them.”

125 tn Heb “I did not refuse my heart any pleasure.” The term לִבִּי (libbi, “my heart”) is a synecdoche of part (i.e., heart) for the whole (i.e., whole person); see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 648. The term is repeated twice in 2:10 for emphasis.

126 tn Heb “So my heart was joyful from all my toil.”

127 tn Heb “and this was my portion from all my toil.”

128 tn Heb “all my works that my hands had done.”

129 tn Heb “and all the toil with which I had toiled in doing it.” The term עָמַל (’amal, “toil”) is repeated to emphasize the burden and weariness of the labor which Qoheleth exerted in his accomplishments.

130 tn Heb “Behold!”

131 tn The term הַכֹּל (hakkol, “everything” or “all”) must be qualified and limited in reference to the topic that is dealt with in 2:4-11. This is an example of synecdoche of general for the specific; the general term “all” is used only in reference to the topic at hand. This is clear from the repetition of כֹּל (kol, “everything”) and (“all these things”) in 2:11.

132 tn The phrase “achievements and possessions” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in translation for clarity.

133 tn The term “ultimately” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

134 tn The parallelism with יִתְרוֹן (yitron), “profit; advantage; gain”) indicates that הֶבֶל (hevel) should be nuanced as “profitless, fruitless, futile” in this context. While labor offers some relative and temporal benefits, such as material acquisitions and the enjoyment of the work of one’s hands, there is no ultimate benefit to be gained from secular human achievement.

135 tn The noun יִתְרוֹן (yitron, “profit”) has a two-fold range of meanings: (1) “what comes of [something]; result” (Eccl 1:3; 2:11; 3:9; 5:8, 15; 7:12; 10:10) and (2) “profit; advantage” (Eccl 2:13; 10:11); see HALOT 452–53 s.v. יִתְרוֹי. It is derived from the noun יֶתֶר (yeter, “what is left behind; remainder”; HALOT 452 s.v. I יֶתֶר). The related verb יָתַר (yatar) denotes “to be left over; to survive” (Niphal) and “to have left over” (Hiphil); see HALOT 451–52 s.v. יתר. When used literally, יִתְרוֹן refers to what is left over after expenses (gain or profit); when used figuratively, it refers to what is advantageous or of benefit. Though some things have relative advantage over others (e.g., light over darkness, and wisdom over folly in 2:13), there is no ultimate profit in man’s labor due to death.

136 tn The phrase “from them” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

137 tn Heb “under the sun.”

138 tn Heb “and I turned to see.”

139 sn See 1:17 for the same expression. Throughout 2:1-11, Qoheleth evaluated the merits of merrymaking (2:1-3), accomplishing grand things (2:4-6), amassing great wealth (2:7-8), and secular acquisitions and accomplishments (2:9-10). Now, he reflects on the benefit in life in living wisely and not giving oneself over to frivolous self-indulgence.

140 tc The Hebrew text reads עָשׂוּהוּ (’asuhu, “they have done it”; Qal perfect 3rd person masculine plural from עָשַׂה [’asah] + 3rd person masculine singular suffix). However, many medieval Hebrew mss read עָשָׂהוּ (’asahu, “he has done”; Qal perfect 3rd person masculine singular from עָשַׂה), reflected in the LXX and Syriac. The error was caused by dittography (ו, vav, written twice) or by orthographic confusion between ו and ה (hey) in הוו (confused as והוו) at the end of 2:12 and beginning of 2:13. The 3rd person masculine singular referent of עָשׂוּהוּ “what he has done” is the king, that is, Qoheleth himself. The referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

141 tn Heb “and I saw that there is profit for wisdom more than folly.”

142 tn Heb “has his eyes in his head.” The term עַיִן (’ayin, “eye”) is used figuratively in reference to mental and spiritual faculties (BDB 744 s.v. עַיִן 3.a). The term “eye” is a metonymy of cause (eye) for effect (sight and perception).

143 sn The common fate to which Qoheleth refers is death.

144 tn The term כֻּלָּם (kullam, “all of them”) denotes “both of them.” This is an example of synecdoche of general (“all of them”) for the specific (“both of them,” that is, both the wise man and the fool).

145 tn The emphatic use of the 1st person common singular personal pronoun אֲנִי (’ani, “me”) with the emphatic particle of association גַּם (gam, “even, as well as”; HALOT 195–96 s.v. גַּם) appears to emphasize the 1st person common singular suffix on יִקְרֵנִי (yiqreni) “it will befall [or “happen to”] me” (Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular + 1st person common singular suffix from קָרָה, qarah, “to befall; to happen to”); see GKC 438 §135.e. Qoheleth laments not that the fate of the wise man is the same as that of the fool, but that even he himself – the wisest man of all – would fare no better in the end than the most foolish.

146 tn The adjective יוֹתֵר (yoter) means “too much; excessive,” e.g., 7:16 “excessively righteous” (HALOT 404 s.v. יוֹתֵר 2; BDB 452 s.v. יוֹתֵר). It is derived from the root יֶתֶר (yeter, “what is left over”); see HALOT 452 s.v. I יֶתֶר. It is related to the verbal root יתר (Niphal “to be left over”; Hiphil “to have left over”); see HALOT 451–52 s.v. I יתר. The adjective is related to יִתְרוֹן (yitron, “advantage; profit”) which is a key-term in this section, creating a word-play: The wise man has a relative “advantage” (יִתְרוֹן) over the fool (2:13-14a); however, there is no ultimate advantage because both share the same fate, i.e., death (2:14b-15a). Thus, Qoheleth’s acquisition of tremendous wisdom (1:16; 2:9) was “excessive” because it exceeded its relative advantage over folly: it could not deliver him from the same fate as the fool. He had striven to obtain wisdom, yet it held no ultimate advantage.

147 tn Heb “And why was I wise (to) excess?” The rhetorical question is an example of negative affirmation, expecting a negative answer: “I gained nothing!” (E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 949).

148 tn Heb “So I said in my heart.”

149 tn Heb “and also this,” referring to the relative advantage of wisdom over folly.

150 tn The word “ultimately” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

151 tn The preposition עִם (’im, “with”) may occasionally function in a comparative sense, meaning “together with; even as; like” (e.g., Eccl 1:11; 2:16; 7:11; Job 9:26; 1 Chr 14:10: 20:6; 25:8; see HALOT 839 s.v. עִם 2). When used to describe a common lot, it connotes “together with” (Gen 18:23, 25; 1 Chr 24:5; Job 3:14, 15; 30:1; Pss 26:9; 28:3; 69:29; Isa 38:11), hence “like” (Pss 73:5; 106:6; Eccl 2:16; see BDB 767–68 s.v. עִם 1.e).

152 tn As HALOT 798–99 s.v. עוֹלָם and BDB 762-64 s.v. עוֹלָם note, עוֹלָם (’olam) has a wide range of meanings: (1) indefinite time: “long time; duration,” (2) unlimited time: “eternal; eternity,” (3) future time: “things to come,” and (4) past time: “a long time back,” that is, the dark age of prehistory. The context here suggests the nuance “a long time.”

153 tn The preposition בְּ (bet) on בְּשֶׁכְּבָר (bÿshekkÿvar, the adverb כְּבָר [kÿvar,“already”] + relative pronoun שֶׁ [she] + preposition בְּ) is probably best classified as causal: “Because…already.”

154 tn The verb נִשְׁכָּח (nishkakh) is a future perfect – it describes an event that is portrayed as a past event from the perspective of the future: “they will have been forgotten.” The emphasis of the past perfect is not simply that the future generations will begin to forget him, but that he will already have been forgotten long ago in the past by the time of those future generations. This past perfect situation is brought out by the emphatic use of the temporal adverb כְּבָר (kÿvar) “already” (HALOT 459 s.v. I כְּבָר; BDB 460 s.v. I כְּבָר); see, e.g., Eccl 1:10; 2:12, 16; 3:15; 4:2; 6:10; 9:6-7.

155 tn The particle אֵיךְ (’ekh, “Alas!”) is an exclamation of lamentation and mourning (e.g., 2 Sam 1:19; Isa 14:4, 12; Jer 2:21; 9:18; Ezek 26:17; Mic 2:4); see HALOT 39 s.v. אֵיךְ 5; BDB 32 s.v. אֵיךְ 2; also E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 955.

156 tn The preposition עִם (’im, “with”) may occasionally function in a comparative sense, meaning “together with; even as; like” (e.g., Eccl 1:11; 2:16; 7:11; Job 9:26; 1 Chr 14:10: 20:6; 25:8); see HALOT 839 s.v. עִם 2. When used to describe a common lot, it connotes “together with” (Gen 18:23, 25; 1 Chr 24:5; Job 3:14, 15; 30:1; Ps 26:9; 28:3; 69:29; Isa 38:11), hence “like” (Pss 73:5; 106:6; Eccl 2:16); see BDB 767–68 s.v. עִם 1.e.

157 tn Or “I hated.”

158 tn The term הַחַיִּים (hakhayyim, “life”) functions as a metonymy of association, that is, that which is associated with life, that is, the profitlessness and futility of human secular achievement.

159 tn Heb “the deed that is done.” The root עָשָׂה (’asah, “to do”) is repeated in הַמַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה (hammaaseh shennaasah, “the deed that is done”) for emphasis. Here, the term “deed” does not refer to human accomplishment, as in 2:1-11, but to the fact of death that destroys any relative advantage of wisdom over folly (2:14a-16). Qoheleth metaphorically describes death as a “deed” that is “done” to man.

160 tn Heb “under the sun.”

161 tn Heb “all,” referring here to the relative advantage of wisdom.

162 tn The phrase “the fruit of” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity (see the following note on the phrase “hard labor”).

163 tn Heb “I hated all my toil for which I had toiled.” The term עֲמָלִי (’amali, “my toil”) is repeated throughout 2:18-21. In each case, it functions as a metonymy of cause (i.e., toil) for effect (i.e., fruit of labor). See, e.g., Ps 105:44; BDB 765 s.v עָמַל 3. The metonymy is indicated by several factors: (1) The 3rd person masculine singular suffix (“it”) on אַנִּיחֶנּוּ (’annikhennu, “I must leave it”) in 2:18, and on יִתְּנֶנּוּ (yittÿnennu, “I must give it”) in 2:21 refer to his wealth, that is, the fruit of his labor. (2) In 2:21 the 3rd person masculine singular suffix on שֶׁלֹּא עָמַל־בּוֹ (shello’ ’amal-bo, “who did not work for it”) refers to the inheritance that Qoheleth must turn over to his successor, namely, the fruit of his labor. (3) While he himself enjoyed the fruit of his labor, he despaired that he had to turn the fruit of his labor over to his successor: “So I loathed all the [fruit of] my labor” (2:18a) and “I began to despair about the [fruit of] my labor” (2:20a). Although most translations render עֲמָלִי as “my toil” in 2:18, the metonymy is recognized by several English translations: “So I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored” (NASB); “So I detested all the fruits of my labor” (NAB); “I hated all the things I had toiled for” (NIV); and “So I loathed all the wealth that I was gaining” (NJPS).

164 tn Qoheleth uses an internal cognate accusative construction (accusative noun and verb from the same root) for emphasis: עֲמָלִי שֶׁאֲנִי עָמֵל (’amali sheaniamel, “my toil for which I had toiled”). See IBHS 167 §10.2.1g.

165 tn Heb “under the sun.”

166 tn The relative pronoun שֶׁ (she) on שֶׁאַנִּיחֶנּוּ (sheannikhennu, relative pronoun שֶׁ + Hiphil imperfect 1st person common singular from נוּחַ, nuakh, “to leave” + 3rd person masculine singular suffix) is causal: “Because I must leave it behind.”

167 tn The 3rd person masculine singular suffix on אַנִּיחֶנּוּ (’annikhennu, “I must leave it”) refers to Qoheleth’s wealth, that is, the fruit of his labor (see the note on the phrase “hard labor” in 2:18). The suffix is rendered literally by nearly all translations; however, a few make its referent explicit: “I have to leave its fruits” (NEB), “I must leave them [= all the fruits of my labor]” (NAB).

168 tn The verb נוּחַ (nuakh, “to rest”) denotes “to leave [something] behind” in the hands of someone (e.g., Ps 119:121; Eccl 2:18); see HALOT 680 s.v. נוח B.2.c. The imperfect functions in a modal sense of obligation or necessity. At death, Qoheleth will be forced to pass on his entire estate and the fruit of his labors to his successor.

169 tn Heb “to a man who will come after me.”

170 tn The vav on וְיִשְׁלַט (vÿyishlat, conjunction + Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from שָׁלַט, shalat, “to be master”) is adversative (“yet”).

171 tn The phrase “the fruit of” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity (see the following note on the word “labor”).

172 tn Heb “my labor.” As in 2:18, the term עֲמָלִי (’amali, “my labor”) is a metonymy of cause (i.e., my labor) for effect (i.e., fruit of my labor). The metonymy is recognized by several translations: “he will control all the wealth that I gained” (NJPS); “he will have control over all the fruits of my labor” (NAB); “he will have mastery over all the fruits of my labor” (NEB); “he will have control over all the fruit of my labor” (NASB); “he will be master over all my possessions” (MLB).

173 tn An internal cognate accusative construction (accusative and verb from same root) is used for emphasis: שֶׁעָמַלְתִּי עֲמָלִי (’amali sheamalti, “my toil for which I had toiled”); see IBHS 167 §10.2.1g. The two verbs שֶׁעָמַלְתִּי וְשֶׁחָכַמְתִּי (sheamalti vÿshekhakhamti, “for which I had labored and for which I had acted wisely”) form a verbal hendiadys (two separate verbs used in association to communicate one idea): “for I had labored so wisely.” The second verb is used adverbially to modify the first verb, which functions in its full verbal sense.

174 tn Heb “under the sun.”

175 tn Heb “I turned aside to allow my heart despair.” The term לִבִּי (libbi, “my heart”) is a synecdoche of part (i.e., heart) for the whole (i.e., whole person); see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 648.

176 tn The phrase “the fruit of” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity (see the following note on the word “labor”).

177 tn Heb “all my toil.” As in 2:18-19, the term עֲמָלִי (’amali, “my labor”) is a metonymy of cause (i.e., my labor) for effect (i.e., the fruit of my labor). The metonymy is recognized by several translations: “all the fruits of my labor” (NAB); “all the fruit of my labor” (NASB); “all the gains I had made” (NJPS).

178 tn Here the author uses an internal cognate accusative construction (accusative noun and verb from the same root) for emphasis: שֶׁעָמַלְתִּי הֶעָמָל (heamal sheamalti, “the toil for which I had toiled”); see IBHS 167 §10.2.1g.

179 tn Heb “under the sun.”

180 tn Heb “he must give.” The 3rd person masculine singular suffix on יִתְּנֶנּוּ (yittÿnennu, Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from נָתַן, natan, “to give” + 3rd person masculine singular suffix) refers back to עֲמָלוֹ (’amalo, “his labor”) which is treated in this line as a metonymy of cause for effect, that is, “he must give it” = “he must give his labor” = “he must give the fruit of his labor.”

sn As in 2:18-19, Qoheleth laments the injustice that a person who works diligently in wisdom must one day hand over the fruit of his labor (i.e., his fortune and the care of his achievements) to his successor. There is no guarantee that one’s heir will be wise and be a good steward of this wealth, or be foolish and squander it – in which case, the former man’s entire life’s work would be in vain.

181 tn Heb “it”; the referent (“the fruit of his labor”) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

182 tn Or “he must turn over an inheritance”; or “he must turn it over, namely, an inheritance.” There are two approaches to the syntax of חֶלְקוֹ (khelqo, “his inheritance”): (1) The 3rd person masculine singular suffix is a subjective genitive: “his inheritance” = the inheritance which he must give to his heir. The referent of the 3rd person masculine singular suffix is Qoheleth in 2:21a who worked hard to amass the fortune. The noun חֵלֶק (kheleq, “inheritance”) functions as an adverbial accusative of state (GKC 372 §118.a) or a predicate accusative (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 12-13, §57): “He must give it [i.e., his fortune] as an inheritance.” (2) The 3rd person masculine singular suffix is an objective genitive: “his inheritance” = the inheritance which the heir will receive from Qoheleth. The referent of the 3rd person masculine singular suffix is the heir in 2:21b. The noun חֵלֶק (“inheritance”) functions as the accusative direct object in apposition (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 15-16, §71) to the 3rd person masculine singular suffix on יִתְּנֶנּוּ (yittÿnennu, “he must give it”; Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from נָתַן, natan, + 3rd person masculine singular suffix): “He must give it, namely, his inheritance, to one who did not work for it.”

183 tn The noun רָעָה (raah, “evil”) probably means “misfortune” (HALOT 1263 s.v. רָעָה 4) or “injustice; wrong” (HALOT 1262 s.v. רָעָה 2.b). The phrase רָעָה רַבָּה (raah rabbah) connotes “grave injustice” or “great misfortune” (e.g., Eccl 2:17; 5:12, 15; 6:1; 10:5). It is expressed well as: “This too is…a great misfortune” (NAB, NIV, MLB) and “utterly wrong!” (NEB).

sn Verses 18-21 are arranged into two sub-units (2:18-19 and 2:20-21). Each contains a parallel structure: (1) Introductory lament: “I hated all my toil” and “I began to despair about all my toil.” (2) Reason for the lament: “I must turn over the fruit of my labor to the hands of my successor” and “he must hand over the fruit of his work as an inheritance.” (3) Description of successor: “who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool?” and “he did not work for it.” (4) Concluding statement: “This also is fruitless!” and “This also is profitless and an awful injustice!”

184 tn Heb “under the sun.” The rhetorical question is an example of negative affirmation, expecting a negative answer: “Man acquires nothing” (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 949-51).

185 tn Heb “all his days.”

186 tn The syntax of this verse has been interpreted in two different ways: (1) The phrase “all his days” (כָל־יָמָיו, khol-yamayv) is the subject of a verbless clause, and the noun “pain” (מַכְאֹבִים, makhovim) is a predicate nominative or a predicate of apposition (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 15-16, §71). Likewise, the noun “his work” (עִנְיָנוֹ, ’inyano) is the subject of a second verbless clause, and the vexation” (כַעַס, khaas) is a predicate nominative: “All his days are pain, and his work is vexation.” (2) The noun “his work” (עִנְיָנוֹ) is the subject of both nouns, “pain and vexation” (וָכַעַס מַכְאֹבִים, makhovim vakhaas), which are predicate nominatives, while the phrase “all his days” (כָל־יָמָיו) is an adverbial accusative functioning temporally: “All day long, his work is pain and vexation.” The latter option is supported by the parallelism between “even at night” and “all day long.” This verse draws out an ironic contrast/comparison between his physical toil/labor during the day and his emotional anxiety at night. Even at night, he has no break!

187 tn Heb “his heart (i.e., mind) does not rest.”

188 tn The preposition בְּ (bet) on בָּאָדָם (baadam) has been taken in two ways: (1) locative with טוֹב (tov, “good”) in reference to man’s moral nature: “There is nothing [inherently] good in man.” (2) advantage with טוֹב (“good”) in reference to the enjoyment theme of 2:24-26: “There is nothing better for a man than…” (this assumes a comparative מִן, min, on מִשֶׁיֹּאכַל, misheyyokhal); see text critical note on the word “than” below). The latter is preferred for two reasons: (1) The preposition בְּ is used with a similar idiom in 3:12 in collocation with the particle phrase אִםכִּי (ki…’im, “except”): “There is nothing better…than to rejoice/be happy” (NASB, NIV). (2) The theme of 2:1-26 focuses on the futility of human toil, concluding that the only real reward that man has in his labor is to find enjoyment in it (e.g., 2:10, 24-26). The section says nothing about man’s inherent sinful nature.

189 tn Heb “man.”

190 tc The MT reads שֶׁיֹּאכַל (sheyyokhal, “that he should eat”; Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from אָכַל, ’akhal, “to eat,” with relative pronoun שֶׁ, she, “that”). However, the variant textual tradition of מִשֶּׁיֹּאכַל (misheyyokhal, “than he should eat” (comparative preposition מִן, min, “than” + Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from אָכַל “to eat”) is reflected in the LXX, Coptic, Syriac, Aramaic Targum, Old Latin, and Jerome. The textual error, an example of haplography, arose from a single writing of מ (mem) from בָּאָדָם מִשֶּׁיֹּאכַל (baadam misheyyokhal). The same idiom appears in the expanded form אִםכִּי followed by טוֹבאֵין (’en tovkiim, “there is nothing better for man than …”) in Eccl 3:12; 8:15.

191 tn Heb “to cause his soul to see good.” The idiom רָאָה טוֹב (raah tov, “to see good”) is a metonymy of association, meaning “to find enjoyment” (e.g., 3:13; 5:17; 6:6). In 3:12-13 and 5:17-18 it is in collocation and/or parallelism with בְּ (bet) + שָׂמַח (samakh, “to rejoice in,” or “to find satisfaction or pleasure in” something). Here, it is used in collocation with חוּשׁ (khush, “to enjoy”). The term נַפְשׁוֹ (nafsho, “his soul”) is a metonymy of part (i.e., soul) for the whole (i.e., whole person), e.g., Num 23:10; Judg 16:30; Pss 16:10; 35:13; 103:1 (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 640-41).

192 tn Heb “his.”

193 tn The phrase “ability to find enjoyment” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

194 tn Heb “is from the hand of God.”

sn The phrase “from the hand of God” is an anthropomorphism (depicting God, who is an invisible spirit, in the form of man with hands) or anthropopatheia (depicting God performing human-like actions). The “hand of God” is a figure often used to portray God’s sovereign providence and benevolence (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 878). The phrase “the hand of God” is often used to connote the favor or grace of God (2 Chr 30:12; Ezra 7:9; 8:18; Neh 2:8, 18; see BDB 390 s.v. יָד 1.e.2).

195 tn Heb “For who can…?” The rhetorical question is an example of negative affirmation, expecting a negative answer: “No one can!” (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 949-51).

196 tn The phrase “and drink” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for stylistic harmonization with v. 24.

197 tn The verb II חוּשׁ (khush, “to enjoy”) is a hapax legomenon which BDB defines as “to feel; to enjoy [with the senses]” on the basis of the context, and the cognates: Arabic “to feel; to perceive [by senses]”; Aramaic חושׁ “to feel pain,” and New Hebrew חושׁ “to feel pain” (BDB 301 s.v. II חֹוּשׁ). HALOT relates the Hebrew root to Akkadian havavu “to be delighted with” (HALOT 300 s.v. II חושׁ 1). The Vulgate renders this term as “to enjoy.” The Greek versions (LXX, Theodotion) and the Syriac Peshitta, however, did not understand this hapax; they rendered it as “to drink,” making some sense of the line by filling out the parallelism “to eat [and drink]” (e.g., Eccl 8:15).

198 tc The MT reads מִמֶּנִּי (mimmenni, “more than I”). However, an alternate textual tradition of מִמֶּנּוּ (mimmennu,“apart from him [= God]”) is preserved in several medieval Hebrew mss, and is reflected in most of the versions (LXX, Syriac, Syro-Hexapla, and Jerome). The textual deviation is a case of simple orthographic confusion between י (yod) and ו (vav) as frequently happened, e.g., MT צו לצו צו לצו (tsv ltsv tsv ltsv) versus 1QIsaa 28:10 צי לצי צי לצי (tsy ltsy ts ltsy); see P. K. McCarter, Jr., Textual Criticism, 47. It is difficult to determine which reading is original here. The MT forms a parenthetical clause, where Qoheleth refers to himself: no one had more of an opportunity to experience more enjoyment in life than he (e.g., 2:1-11). The alternate textual tradition is a causal clause, explaining why the ability to enjoy life is a gift from God: no one can experience enjoyment in life “apart from him,” that is, apart from “the hand of God” in 2:24. It is possible that internal evidence supports the alternate textual tradition. In 2:24-26, Qoheleth is not emphasizing his own resources to enjoy life, as he had done in 2:1-11; but that the ability to enjoy life is the gift of God. On the other hand, the Jerusalem Hebrew Bible project retains the MT reading with a “B” rating; see D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 3:570. The English versions are split on the textual problem: a few retain MT מִמֶּנִּי (“more than I”), e.g., KJV, ASV, YLT, Douay, NJPS, while others adopt the alternate reading מִמֶּנּוּ, “apart from him” (NEB, NAB, MLB, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NIV, Moffatt).

199 tn Heb “for to a man who is good before him.”

200 sn The phrase the task of amassing wealth (Heb “the task of gathering and heaping up”) implicitly compares the work of the farmer reaping his crops and storing them up in a barn, to the work of the laborer amassing wealth as the fruit of his labor. However, rather than his storehouse being safe for the future, the sinner is deprived of it.

201 tn The word “wealth” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

202 sn The three-fold repetition of the Hebrew word translated “give” in the first part of this verse creates irony: God “gives” the righteous the ability to prosper and to find enjoyment in his work; but to the wicked He “gives” the task of “giving” his wealth to the righteous.

203 tn The word “it” (an implied direct object) does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

204 tn The antecedent of the demonstrative pronoun זֶה (zeh, “this”) is debated: (1) Some refer it to the enjoyment which Qoheleth had just commended in 2:24-26. However, this is inconsistent with the enjoyment theme found elsewhere in the book. It also ignores the fact that 2:24-26 states that such enjoyment is a good gift from God. (2) Others refer it to the term “toil” (עָמָל, ’amal) which is repeated throughout 2:18-26. However, Qoheleth affirmed that if one is righteous, he can find enjoyment in his toil, even though so much of it is ultimately futile. (3) Therefore, it seems best to refer it to the grievous “task” (עִנְיָן, ’inyan) God has given to the sinner in 2:26b. Consistent with the meaning of הֶבֶל (hevel, “futile; profitless; fruitless”), 2:26b emphasizes that the “task” of the sinner is profitless: he labors hard to amass wealth, only to see the fruit of his labor given away to someone else. The righteous man’s enjoyment of his work and the fruit of his labor under the blessing of God (2:24-26a) is not included in this.

205 tn The phrase “task of the wicked” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

206 tn Verse 1 is arranged in an ABB’A’ chiasm (לַכֹּל זְמָן וְעֵת לְכָל־חֵפֶץ, lakkol zÿman vÿet lÿkhol-khefets): (A) “for everything”; (B) “a season”; (B’) “a time”; (A’) “for every matter.” The terms “season” (זְמָן, zÿman) and “time” (עֵת, ’et) are parallel. In the light of its parallelism with “every matter” (כָל־חֵפֶץ, khol-khefets), the term “everything” (כָל, khol) must refer to events and situations in life.

207 tn The noun זְמָן (zÿman) denotes “appointed time” or “appointed hour” (HALOT 273 s.v. זְמָן; BDB 273 s.v. זְמָן; see Eccl 3:1; Esth 9:27, 31; Neh 2:6; Sir 43:7), e.g., the appointed or designated time for the Jewish feasts (Esth 9:27, 31), the length of time that Nehemiah set for his absence from Susa (Neh 2:6), and the appointed times in the Jewish law for the months to begin (Sir 43:7). It is used in parallelism with מועד (“appointed time”), i.e., מועד ירח (“the appointed time of the moon”) parallels זמני חק (“the appointed times of the law”; Sir 43:7). The related verb, a Pual of זָמַן (zaman), means “to be appointed” (HALOT 273 s.v. זְמָן); e.g. Ezra 10:14; Neh 10:35; 13:31. These terms may be related to the noun I זִמָּה (zimmah, “plan; intention”; Job 17:11; HALOT 272 s.v. I זִמָּה) and מְזִמָּה (mÿzimmah, “purpose; plan; project”), e.g., the purposes of God (Job 42:2; Jer 23:20; 30:24; 51:11) and man’s plan (Isa 5:12); see HALOT 566 s.v. מְזִמָּה; BDB 273 s.v. מְזִמָּה.

sn Verses 1-8 refer to God’s appointed time-table for human activities or actions whose most appropriate time is determined by men. Verses 9-15 state that God is ultimately responsible for the time in which events in human history occur. This seems to provide a striking balance between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Man does what God has willed, but man also does what he “pleases” (see note on the word “matter” in 3:1).

208 tn The noun עֵת (’et, “point in time”) has a basic two-fold range of meanings: (1) “time of an event” and (2) “time for an event” (BDB 773 s.v. עֵת). The latter has subcategories: (a) “usual time,” (b) “the proper, suitable or appropriate time,” (c) “the appointed time,” and (d) “uncertain time” (Eccl 9:11). Here it connotes “a proper, suitable time for an event” (HALOT 900 s.v. עֵת 6; BDB s.v. עֵת 2.b). Examples: “the time for rain” (Ezra 10:13), “a time of judgment for the nations” (Ezek 30:3), “an appropriate time for every occasion” (Eccl 3:1), “the time when mountain goats are born” (Job 39:1), “the rain in its season” (Deut 11:14; Jer 5:24), “the time for the harvest” (Hos 2:11; Ps 1:3), “food in its season” (Ps 104:27), “no one knows his hour of destiny” (Eccl 9:12), “the right moment” (Eccl 8:5); cf. HALOT 900 s.v. עֵת 6.

209 tn The noun חֵפֶץ (khefets, here “matter, business”) has a broad range of meanings: (1) “delight; joy,” (2) “desire; wish; longing,” (3) “the good pleasure; will; purpose,” (4) “precious stones” (i.e., jewelry), i.e., what someone takes delight in, and (5) “matter; business,” as a metonymy of adjunct to what someone takes delight in (Eccl 3:1, 17; 5:7; 8:6; Isa 53:10; 58:3, 13; Pss 16:3; 111:2; Prov 31:13); see HALOT 340 s.v. חֵפֶץ 4; BDB 343 s.v. חֵפֶץ 4. It is also sometimes used in reference to the “good pleasure” of God, that is, his sovereign plan, e.g., Judg 13:23; Isa 44:28; 46:10; 48:14 (BDB 343 s.v. חֵפֶץ). While the theme of the sovereignty of God permeates Eccl 3:1–4:3, the content of 3:1-8 refers to human activities that are planned and purposed by man. The LXX translated it with πράγματι (pragmati, “matter”). The term is translated variously by modern English versions: “every purpose” (KJV, ASV), “every event” (NASB), “every delight” (NASB margin), “every affair” (NAB), “every matter” (RSV, NRSV), “every activity” (NEB, NIV), “every project” (MLB), and “every experience” (NJPS).

210 tn Heb “under heaven.”

211 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).

212 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).

213 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).

214 tn The term הָעוֹשֶׂה (haoseh, article + Qal active participle ms from עָשַׂה, ’asah, “to do”) functions substantively (“the worker”); see BDB 794 s.v. עָשַׂה II.1. This is a figurative description of man (metonymy of association), and plays on the repetition of עָשַׂה (verb: “to do,” noun: “work”) throughout the passage. In the light of God’s orchestration of human affairs, man’s efforts cannot change anything. It refers to man in general with the article functioning in a generic sense (see IBHS 244-45 §13.5.1f; Joüon 2:511 §137.m).

215 sn This rhetorical question is an example of negative affirmation, expecting a negative answer: “Man gains nothing from his toil!” (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 949-51). Any advantage that man might gain from his toil is nullified by his ignorance of divine providence.

216 tn Heb “the sons of man.”

217 sn The Hebrew adjective translated beautifully functions as a metonymy of effect (i.e., to appear beautiful) for cause (i.e., to make it fit): “to fit beautifully.” It is used in parallelism with Qoheleth’s term for evaluation: טוֹב (tov, “good”) in 5:17.

218 tn The word “but” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

219 tn Heb “darkness”; perhaps “eternity” or “the future.” The meaning of the noun עֹלָם (’olam) is debated. It may mean: (1) “ignorance”; (2) time reference: (a) “eternity” or (b) “the future”; or (3) “knowledge” (less likely). The arguments for these options may be summarized: (1) Most suggest that עֹלָם is the defectively written form of עוֹלָם “duration; eternity” (e.g., Eccl 1:4; 2:16; 3:14; 9:6; 12:5); see BDB 762 s.v. III עוֹלָם 2.k. Within this school of interpretation, there are several varieties: (a) BDB 762 s.v. III עוֹלָם 2.k suggests that here it denotes “age [i.e., duration] of the world,” which is attested in postbiblical Hebrew. The term III עֹלָם “eternity” = “world” (Jastrow 1084 s.v. עָלַם III) is used in this sense in postbiblical Hebrew, mostly in reference to the Messianic age, or the world to come (e.g., Tg. Genesis 9:16; Tg. Onq. Exodus 21:6; Tg. Psalms 61:7). For example, “the world (עֹלָם) shall last six thousand years, and after one thousand years it shall be laid waste” (b. Rosh HaShanah 31a) and “the world (עֹלָם) to come” (b. Sotah 10b). The LXX and the Vulgate took the term in this sense. This approach was also adopted by several English translations: “the world” (KJV, Douay, ASV margin). (b) HALOT 799 s.v. עוֹלָם 5 and THAT 2:242 suggest that the term refers to an indefinite, unending future: “eternity future” or “enduring state referring to past and future” (see also BDB 762 s.v. III עוֹלָם 2.i). In this sense, the noun עֹלָם functions as a metonymy of association: “a sense of eternity,” but not in a philosophical sense (see J. Barr, Biblical Words for Time [SBT], 117, n. 4). This approach is supported by three factors: (i) the recurrence of עוֹלָם (“eternity”) in 3:14, (ii) the temporal qualification of the statement in the parallel clause (“from beginning to end”), and (iii) by the ordinary meaning of the noun as “eternity” (HALOT 798–799 s.v. עוֹלָם). The point would be that God has endowed man with an awareness of the extra-temporal significance of himself and his accomplishments (D. R. Glenn, “Ecclesiastes,” BKCOT, 984). This is the most frequent approach among English versions: “the timeless” (NAB), “eternity” (RSV, MLB, ASV, NASB, NIV, NJPS), “a sense of time past and time future” (NEB), and “a sense of past and future” (NRSV). (3) Other scholars suggest that עוֹלָם simply refers to the indefinite future: “the future,” that is, things to come (e.g., HALOT 799 s.v. עוֹלָם 2; BDB 762 s.v. III עוֹלָם 2.a; THAT 2:241). The plural עֹלָמִים (’olamim, “things to come”) was used in this sense in Eccl 1:10 (e.g., 1 Kgs 8:13 = 2 Chr 6:2; Pss 61:5; 77:8; 145:13; Dan 9:24; cf. HALOT 799 s.v. עוֹלָם 2). The point would simply be that God has not only ordained all the events that will take place in man’s life (3:1-8), but also preoccupies man with the desire to discover what will happen in the future in terms of the orchestration or timing of these events in his life (3:9-11). This fits well with the description of God’s orchestration of human events in their most appropriate time (3:1-10) and the ignorance of man concerning his future (3:11b). Elsewhere, Qoheleth emphasizes that man cannot learn what the future holds in store for him (e.g., 8:7, 17). This approach is only rarely adopted: “the future” (NJPS margin). (2) The second view is that עֹלָם is not defectively written עוֹלָם (“eternity”) but the segholate noun II עֶלֶם (’elem) that means “dark” (literal) or “ignorance; obscurity; secrecy” (figurative). The related noun תַּעֲלֻמָה (taalumah) means “hidden thing; secret,” and the related verb עָלַם (’alam) means “to hide; to conceal” (BDB 761 s.v. I עָלַם; HALOT 834–35 s.v. עלם). This is related to the Ugaritic noun “dark” and the Akkadian verb “to be black; to be dark” (see HALOT 834-35 s.v. עלם). In postbiblical Hebrew the root II עֶלֶם means (i) “secret” and (ii) “forgetfulness” (Jastrow 1084 s.v. עֶלֶם I). Thus the verse would mean that God has “obscured” man’s knowledge so that he cannot discover certain features of God’s program. This approach is adopted by Moffatt which uses the word “mystery.” Similarly, the term may mean “forgetfulness,” that is, God has plagued man with “forgetfulness” so that he cannot understand what God has done from the beginning to the end (e.g., Eccl 1:11). (3) The third view (Delitzsch) is to relate עֹלָם to a cognate Arabic root meaning “knowledge.” The point would be that God has endowed man with “knowledge,” but not enough for man to discover God’s eternal plan. This approach is only rarely adopted: “knowledge” (YLT).

220 tn Heb “in their heart.” The Hebrew term translated heart functions as a metonymy of association for man’s intellect, emotions, and will (BDB 524–25 s.v. לֵב 3–6, 9). Here, it probably refers to man’s intellectual capacities, as v. 11 suggests.

221 tn The compound preposition מִבְּלִי (mibbÿli, preposition מִן [min] + negative particle בְּלִי [bÿli]) is used as a conjunction here. Elsewhere, it can express cause: “because there is no [or is not]” (e.g., Deut 9:28; 28:55; Isa 5:13; Ezek 34:5; Lam 1:4; Hos 4:6), consequence: “so that there is no [or is not]” (e.g., Ezek 14:5; Jer 2:15; 9:9-11; Zeph 3:6), or simple negation: “without” (e.g., Job 4:11, 20; 6:6; 24:7-8; 31:19). BDB 115 s.v. בְּלִי 3.c.β suggests the negative consequence: “so that not,” while HALOT 133 s.v. בְּלִי 5 suggests the simple negation: “without the possibility of.”

222 tn Heb “man.”

223 tn Heb “the work that God has done.” The phrase אֶת־הַמַּעֲשֶׂה אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂה (’et-hammaasehasher-asah, “the work which he [i.e., God] has done”) is an internal cognate accusative (direct object and verb are from the same root), used for emphasis (see IBHS 167 §10.2.1g). The repetition of the verb עָשַׂה (“to do”) in 3:11 and 3:14 suggests that this phrase refers to God’s foreordination of all the events and timing of human affairs: God has “made” ( = “foreordained”; עָשַׂה) everything appropriate in his sovereign timing (3:11a), and all that God has “done” ( = “foreordained”; עָשַׂה) will come to pass (3:14). Thus, the verb עָשַׂה functions as a metonymy of effect (i.e., God’s actions) for cause (i.e., God’s sovereign foreordination). The temporal clause “from beginning to end” (3:11) supports this nuance.

224 tn Traditionally, “what God has done from the beginning to the end.” The temporal clause מֵרֹאשׁ וְעַד־סוֹף (merosh vÿad-sof, “from the beginning to the end”) is traditionally taken in reference to “eternity” (the traditional understanding of הָעֹלָם [haolam] earlier in the verse; see the note on “ignorance”), e.g., KJV, NEB, NAB, ASV, NASB, NIV, RSV, NRSV. However, if הָעֹלָם simply denotes “the future” (e.g., HALOT 799 s.v. עוֹלָם 2; BDB 762 s.v. III עוֹלָם 2.a; THAT 2:241), this temporal clause would refer to the events God has ordained to transpire in an individual’s life, from beginning to end. This approach is adopted by one English version: “but without man ever guessing, from first to last, all the things that God brings to pass” (NJPS). This would fit well in the context begun in 3:1 with the fourteen merisms encompassing man’s life, starting with “a time to be born” (i.e., from the beginning in 3:11) and concluding with “a time to die” (i.e., to the end in 3:11). This approach is also supported by the admonition of 3:12-13, namely, since no one knows what will happen to him in the future days of his life, Qoheleth recommends that man enjoy each day as a gift from God.

225 tn The phrase “of their lives” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

226 tn Heb “I know.”

227 tn Heb “for them”; the referent (people, i.e., mankind) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

228 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).

229 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).

230 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.

231 tn The phrase “to do again” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

232 tn Heb “God will seek that which is driven away.” The meaning of יְבַקֵּשׁ אֶת־נִרְדָּף (yÿvaqqeshet-nirdaf) is difficult to determine: יְבַקֵּשׁ (yÿvaqqesh) is Piel imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from בָּקַשׁ (baqash, “to seek”) and נִרְדָּף (nirdaf) is a Niphal participle 3rd person masculine singular from רָדַף (radaf, “to drive away”). There are several options: (1) God watches over the persecuted: יְבַקֵּשׁ (“seeks”) functions as a metonymy of cause for effect (i.e., to protect), and אֶת־נִרְדָּף (“what is driven away”) refers to “those who are persecuted.” But this does not fit the context. (2) God will call the past to account: יְבַקֵּשׁ functions as a metonymy of cause for effect (i.e., to hold accountable), and אֶת־נִרְדָּף is a metonymy of attribute (i.e., the past). This approach is adopted by several English translations: “God requires that which is past” (KJV), “God will call the past to account” (NIV) and “God summons each event back in its turn” (NEB). (3) God finds what has been lost: יְבַקֵּשׁ functions as a metonymy of cause for effect (i.e., to find), and אֶת־נִרְדָּף refers to what has been lost: “God restores what would otherwise be displaced” (NAB). (4) God repeats what has already occurred: יְבַקֵּשׁ functions as a metonymy of effect (i.e., to repeat), and אֶת־נִרְדָּף is a metonymy (i.e., that which has occurred). This fits the context and provides a tight parallel with the preceding line: “That which is has already been, and that which will be has already been” (3:15a) parallels “God seeks [to repeat] that which has occurred [in the past].” This is the most popular approach among English versions: “God restores that which has past” (Douay), “God seeks again that which is passed away” (ASV), “God seeks what has passed by” (NASB), “God seeks what has been driven away” (RSV), “God seeks out what has passed by” (MLB), “God seeks out what has gone by” (NRSV), and “God is ever bringing back what disappears” (Moffatt).

233 tn The phrase “in the past” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

234 tn Heb “under the sun.”

235 tn Or “righteousness.”

236 tn The phrase “a time of judgment” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

237 tn The phrase “it is” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

238 tn Heb “the sons of man.” The phrase עַל־דִּבְרַת בְּנֵי הָאָדָם (’al-divrat bÿne haadam) is handled variously: (1) introduction to the direct discourse: “I said to myself concerning the sons of men” (NASB), (2) direct discourse: “I thought, ‘As for men, God tests them’” (NIV), (3) indirect discourse: “I said in my heart concerning the estate of the sons of men” (KJV), and (4) causal conjunction: “I said, ‘[It is] for the sake of the sons of men.” Since the phrase “sons of men” is contrasted with “animals” the translation “humans” has been adopted.

239 tn The meaning of לְבָרָם (lÿvaram, preposition + Qal infinitive construct from בָּרַר, barar, + 3rd person masculine plural suffix) is debated because the root has a broad range of meanings: (1) “to test; to prove; to sift; to sort out” (e.g., Dan 11:35; 12:10); (2) “to choose; to select” (e.g., 1 Chr 7:40; 9:22; 16:41; Neh 5:18); (3) “to purge out; to purify” (e.g., Ezek 20:38; Zeph 3:9; Job 33:3); and (4) “to cleanse; to polish” (Isa 49:2; 52:11); see HALOT 163 s.v. בָּרַר; BDB 141 s.v. בָּרַר. The meanings “to prove” (Qal), as well as “to cleanse; to polish” (Qal), “to keep clean” (Niphal), and “to cleanse” (Hiphil) might suggest the meaning “to make clear” (M. A. Eaton, Ecclesiastes [TOTC], 85-86). The meaning “to make clear; to prove” is well attested in postbiblical Mishnaic Hebrew (Jastrow 197-98 s.v. בָּרַר). For example, “they make the fact as clear (bright) as a new garment” (b. Ketubbot 46a) and “the claimant must offer clear evidence” (b. Sanhedrin 23b). The point would be that God allows human injustice to exist in the world in order to make it clear to mankind that they are essentially no better than the beasts. On the other hand, the LXX adopts the nuance “to judge,” while Targum and Vulgate take the nuance “to purge; to purify.” BDB 141 s.v. בָּרַר 4 suggests “to test, prove,” while HALOT 163 s.v. בָּרַר 2 prefers “to select, choose.”

240 tn The two infinitives לְבָרָם (lÿvaram, “to make it clear to them”) and וְלִרְאוֹת (vÿlirot, “and to show”) function as a verbal hendiadys (the two verbs are associated with one another to communicate a single idea). The first verb functions adverbially and the second retains its full verbal force: “to clearly show them.”

241 tn Heb “of the sons of man.”

242 tn Heb “the spirit of the sons of man.”

243 tn Heb “man.”

244 tn Heb “his works.”

245 tn Heb “his.”

246 tn Heb “what will be after him” (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV) or “afterward” (cf. NJPS).

247 tn The prefixed vav on וְשַׁבְתִּי (vÿshavti, vav + perfect 1st person common singular from שׁוּב, shuv, “to turn”) might be: (1) introductory (and left untranslated): “I observed again”; (2) consequence of preceding statement: “So I observed again”; or (3) continuation of preceding statement: “And I observed again.”

sn This section is closely related to the preceding: Qoheleth’s observation of oppression (4:1-3) links back to his previous observation of oppression and injustice (3:16). It stands in stark contrast with his admonition for man to enjoy life on earth as the reward for one’s work (3:22). Now, Qoheleth turns his attention to consider the sorry fate of those who are not able to enjoy life on earth and their work because of oppression (4:1-3), over-obsessive competitiveness (4:4-6), and loneliness (4:7-12).

248 tn Heb “I turned and I saw.” The phrase וָאֶרְאֶהוְשַׁבְתִּי (vÿshavtivaereh, “I turned and I saw”) is a verbal hendiadys (the two verbs represent one common idea). Normally in a verbal hendiadys, the first verb functions adverbially, modifying the second verb which retains its full verbal force. The verb וְשַׁבְתִּי (vav + perfect 1st person common singular from שׁוּב “to turn”) is used idiomatically to denote repetition: “to return and do” = “to do again” (e.g., Gen 26:18; 30:31; 43:2) or “to do repeatedly” (e.g., Lam 3:3); see HALOT 1430 s.v. שׁוב 5; BDB 998 s.v. שׁוּב 8; GKC 386 §120.e: “I observed again” or “I repeatedly observed.” On the other hand, the shift from the perfect וְשַׁבְתִּי to the preterite וָאֶרְאֶה (vav + Qal preterite 1st person common singular from רָאָה, raah, “to see”) might indicate a purpose clause: “I turned [my mind] to consider.” The preterite וָאֶרְאֶה follows the perfect וְשַׁבְתִּי. When a wayyiqtol form (vav + preterite) follows a perfect in reference to a past-time situation, the preterite also represents a past-time situation. Its aspect is based on the preceding perfect. In this context, the perfect and preterite may denote definite past or indefinite past action (“I turned and considered” as hendiadys for “I observed again” or “I repeatedly observed”) or past telic action (“I turned [my mind] to consider”). See IBHS 554-55 §33.3.1a.

249 tn Heb “all the oppressions” or “all the oppression”; alternately, “all the various kinds of oppression.” The term עֹשֶׁק (’osheq) denotes “oppression,” e.g., Jer 6:6; 22:17; Ezek 18:18; 22:7, 12, 29; Pss 73:8; 119:134 (see HALOT 897 s.v. עֹשֶׁק 1; BDB 799 s.v. עֹשֶׁק 1). It occurs several times in the book, always in reference to personal rather than national oppression (4:1; 5:8 ET [5:7 HT]; 7:7). The noun הָעֲשֻׁקִים (haashuqim) is plural and articular (Heb “the oppressions”). The article indicates a generic class (“oppression”). The plural may be classified in one of two ways: (1) a plural of number, which refers to specific kinds of oppression that occur on earth: “the various kinds of oppression”; (2) an abstract plural, which is used to refer to abstract concepts: “the oppression”; or (3) a plural of intensity, which describes the oppression at hand as particularly grievous: “awful oppression” or “severe oppression.” The LXX renders it as a plural of number: συκοφαντίας (sukofantias, “oppressions”), as does the Vulgate. Most English versions treat it as a plural of number: “the oppressions” (KJV, ASV, NAB, RSV, NRSV, MLB, YLT); however, a few treat it as an abstract plural: “the oppression” (NJPS, NIV, Moffatt).

250 tn Heb “is done.” The term נַעֲשִׂים (naasim, Niphal participle mpl from עָשַׂה, ’asah, “to do”) is a probably a verbal use of the participle rather than a substantival use (NEB: “all the acts of oppression”). This verbal use of the participle depicts durative or universal gnomic action. It emphasizes the lamentable continuity of oppression throughout human history. The English versions translate it variously: “[all the oppressions that] are done” (KJV, ASV, Douay, YLT), “[all the oppression] that goes on” (NJPS, Moffatt), “[all the oppressions] that are practiced” (RSV, NRSV), “[all the oppressions] that occur” (MLB), “[all the acts of oppression] which were being done” (NASB), “[all the oppressions] that take place” (NAB), “[all the oppression] that was taking place” (NIV).

251 tn Heb “under the sun.”

252 tn Heb “and behold.” The deictic particle וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh, “and behold!”) often occurs after verbs of perceiving, such as רָאָה, raah, “to see” (e.g., Gen 19:28; 22:13; Exod 3:2; Lev 13:8). It introduces the content of what the character or speaker saw (HALOT 252 s.v. הִנֵּה 8). It is used for rhetorical emphasis, to draw attention to the following statement (e.g., Gen 1:29; 17:20; Num 22:32; Job 1:19; cf. HALOT 252 s.v. 5). It often introduces something surprising or unexpected (e.g., Gen 29:6; Num 25:6; cf. HALOT 252 s.v. 6).

253 tn The term הָעֲשֻׁקִים (haashuqim, Qal passive participle mpl from עָשַׁק, ’ashaq, “to oppress”) is a passive form, emphasizing that they are the objects of oppression at the hands of their oppressors. The participle functions as a noun, emphasizing the durative aspect of their condition and that this was the singular most characteristic attribute of this group of people: Their lives were marked by oppression.

254 tn Heb “the tear of the oppressed.” Alternately, “the oppressed [were in] tears.” The singular noun דִּמְעָה (dimah, “tear”) is used as a collective for “tears” (2 Kgs 20:5; Isa 16:9; 25:8; 38:5; Jer 8:23; 19:7; 13:17; 14:17; 31:16; Ezek 24:16; Mal 2:13; Pss 6:7; 39:13; 42:4; 56:9; 80:6; 116:8; 126:5; Lam 1:2; 2:18; Eccl 4:1); see HALOT 227 s.v. דִּמְעָה; BDB 199 s.v. דִּמְעָה. It is often used in reference to lamentation over calamity, distress, or oppression (e.g., Ps 6:7; Lam 1:2; 2:11; Jer 9:17; 13:17; 14:17). The LXX translated it as singular δάκρουν (dakroun, “the tear”); however, the Vulgate treated it as a collective (“the tears”). Apart from the woodenly literal YLT (“the tear”), the major English versions render this as a collective: “the tears” or “tears” (KJV, ASV, NEB, NAB, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NJPS, MLB, NIV). The term דִּמְעָה functions as a metonymy of association for “weeping” (e.g., Isa 16:9; 8:23): “the oppressed [were weeping with] tears.” The genitive construct דִּמְעָת הָעֲשֻׁקִים (dimat haashuqim, literally, “tear of the oppressed”) is a subjective genitive construction, that is, the oppressed are weeping. The singular דִּמְעָת (dimat, “tear”) is used as a collective for “tears.” This entire phrase, however, is still given a woodenly literal translation by most English versions: “the tears of the oppressed” (NEB, NAB, ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, MLB, NIV, NJPS). Some paraphrases attempt to fill out the meaning, e.g., “the oppressed were in tears” (Moffatt).

255 tn Heb “comforts.” The verb נָחַם (nakham, “to comfort”) is used as a metonymy of effect (i.e., comfort) for cause (i.e., deliverance), e.g., it is used in parallelism with גָאַל (gaal, “to deliver”) in Isa 52:9 (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 560-67).

256 tn Heb “from the hand of their oppressors is power.”

257 tn The verb שָׁבַח (shavakh) has a two-fold range of meaning: (1) “to praise; to laud”; and (2) “to congratulate” (HALOT 1387 s.v. I שׁבח; BDB 986 s.v. II שָׁבַח). The LXX translated it as ἐπῄνεσα (ephnesa, “I praised”). The English versions reflect the range of possible meanings: “praised” (KJV, ASV, Douay); “congratulated” (MLB, NASB); “declared/judged/accounted/thought…fortunate/happy” (NJPS, NEB, NIV, RSV, NRSV, NAB).

258 tn Heb “the dead who had already died.”

259 tn Heb “the living who are alive.”

260 tn The word “born” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

261 tn Heb “under the sun.”

262 tn Heb “saw.”

263 tn Heb “all the toil and all the skill.” This Hebrew clause (אֶת־כָּל־עָמָל וְאֵת כָּל־כִּשְׁרוֹן, ’et-kol-amal vÿet kol-kishron) is a nominal hendiadys (a figurative expression in which two independent phrases are used to connote the same thing). The second functions adverbially, modifying the first, which retains its full nominal function: “all the skillful work.”

264 tn The phrase “nothing more than” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

265 tn The noun קִנְאַה (qinah, “competition”) has a wide range of meanings: “zeal; jealousy; envy; rivalry; competition; suffering; animosity; anger; wrath” (HALOT 1110 s.v.; BDB 888 s.v.). Here, as in 9:6, it denotes “rivalry” (BDB 888 s.v. 1) or “competitive spirit” (HALOT 1110 s.v. 1.b). The LXX rendered it ζῆλος (zhlos, “envy; jealousy”). The English versions reflect this broad range: “rivalry” (NEB, NAB, NASB), “envy” (KJV, ASV, RSV, NRSV, MLB, NIV, NJPS), and “jealousy” (Moffatt).

266 tn Heb “a man and his neighbor.”

267 tn The word “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

268 tn Heb “the fool folds his hands.” The Hebrew idiom means that he does not work (e.g., Prov 6:10; 24:33). In the translation the words “and does no work” (which do not appear in the Hebrew text) have been supplied following the idiom to clarify what is meant.

269 tn Heb “and eats his own flesh.” Most English versions render the idiom literally: “and eats/consumes his flesh” (KJV, AS, NASB, NAB, RSV, NRSV, NJPS). However, a few versions attempt to explain the idiom: “and lets life go to ruin” (Moffatt), “and wastes away” (NEB), “and ruins himself” (NIV).

270 sn Qoheleth lists three approaches to labor: (1) the competitive workaholic in 4:4, (2) the impoverished sluggard in 4:5, and (3) the contented laborer in 4:6. The balanced approach rebukes the two extremes.

271 tn The prefixed vav on וְשַׁבְתִּי (vÿshavti, vav + perfect 1st person common singular from שׁוּב, shuv, “to turn”) might be: (1) introductory (and left untranslated): “I observed again…”; (2) consequence of preceding statement: “So I observed again…”; or (3) continuation of preceding statement: “And I observed again….”

272 tn Heb “I turned and I saw…”; or “I again considered.” The Hebrew phrase וָאֶרְאֶהוְשַׁבְתִּי (vÿshavtivaereh, “I turned and I saw”) is a verbal hendiadys (the two verbs represent one common idea). Normally in a verbal hendiadys, the first verb functions adverbially, modifying the second verb which retains its full verbal force. The verb שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn”) is used idiomatically to denote repetition: “to return and do” = “to do again” (e.g., Gen 26:18; 30:31; 43:2) or “to do repeatedly” (e.g., Lam 3:3); see HALOT 1430 s.v. שׁוב 5; BDB 998 s.v. שׁוּב 8; GKC 386 §120.e: “I observed again” or “I repeatedly observed.” On the other hand, the shift from the perfect וְשַׁבְתִּי (vav + perfect 1st person common singular from שׁוּב, “to turn”) to the preterite וָאֶרְאֶה (vav + Qal preterite 1st person common singular from רָאָה, raah, “to see”) might indicate a purpose clause: “I turned [my mind] to consider….” The preterite וָאֶרְאֶה follows the perfect וְשַׁבְתִּי. When a wayyiqtol form (vav + preterite) follows a perfect in reference to a past-time situation, the preterite also represents a past-time situation. Its aspect is based on the preceding perfect. In this context, the perfect and preterite may denote definite past or indefinite past action (“I turned and considered …” as hendiadys for “I observed again” or “I repeatedly observed”) or past telic action (“I turned [my mind] to consider…”). See IBHS 554-55 §33.3.1a.

273 tn The word “another” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

274 tn Heb “under the sun.”

275 tn Heb “There is one and there is not a second.”

276 tn Heb “son nor brother.” The terms “son” and “brother” are examples of synecdoche of specific (species) for the general (genus). The term “son” is put for offspring, and “brother” for siblings (e.g., Prov 10:1).

277 tn Heb “his eye.” The term “eye” is a synecdoche of part (i.e., the eye) for the whole (i.e., the whole person); see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 647.

278 tn The phrase “he laments” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity. The direct discourse (“For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?”) is not introduced with an introductory structure. As in the LXX, some translations suggest that these words are spoken by a lonely workaholic, e.g., “He says…” (NAB, NEB, ASV, NIV, NRSV). Others suggest that this is a question that he never asks himself, e.g., “Yet he never asks himself…” (KJV, RSV, MLB, YLT, Douay, NASB, Moffatt).

279 tn Heb “my soul.”

280 tn This rhetorical question is an example of negative affirmation, that is, it expects a negative answer: “No one!” (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 949-51).

281 tn The adjective רָע (ra’, “evil”) here means “misfortune” (HALOT 1263 s.v. רָעָה 4) or “injustice, wrong” (HALOT 1262 s.v. רָעָה 2.b). The phrase עִנְיַן רָע (’inyan ra’, “unhappy business; rotten business; grievous task”) is used only in Ecclesiastes (1:13; 2:23, 26; 3:10; 4:8; 5:2, 13; 8:16). It is parallel with הֶבֶל (hevel, “futile”) in 4:8, and describes a “grave misfortune” in 5:13. The noun עִנְיַן (’inyan, “business”) refers to something that keeps a person occupied or busy: “business; affair; task; occupation” (HALOT 857 s.v. עִנְיָן; BDB 775 s.v. עִנְיָן). The related verb עָנָה (’anah) means “to be occupied; to be busy with (בְּ, bet),” e.g., Eccl 1:13; 3:10; 5:19 (HALOT 854 s.v. III עָנָה; BDB 775 s.v. II עָנָה). The noun is from the Aramaic loanword עִנְיָנָא (’inyana’, “concern; care.” The verb is related to the Aramaic verb “to try hard,” the Arabic verb “to be busily occupied; to worry; to be a matter of concern,” and the Old South Arabic root “to be troubled; to strive with” (HALOT 854 s.v. III ענה). HALOT 857 s.v. עִנְיָן renders the phrase as “unhappy business” here. The phrase עִנְיַן רָע, is treated creatively by English versions: KJV, ASV “sore travail”; YLT “sad travail”; Douay “grievous vexation”; RSV, NRSV, NJPS “unhappy business”; NEB, Moffatt “sorry business”; NIV “miserable business”; NAB “worthless task”; NASB “grievous task”; MLB “sorry situation”; NLT “depressing.”

282 tn Heb “they have.”

283 tn Heb “a good reward.”

284 tn Heb “woe to him.”

285 tn The verbal root תקף means “to overpower; to prevail over” e.g., Job 14:20; 15:24; Eccl 4:12; 6:10 (HALOT 1786 s.v. תקף).

286 tn Heb “came from the house of bonds.”

287 tn The phrase “what would become” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity. However, it is not altogether clear whether the 3rd person masculine singular suffix (“his”) on בְּמַלְכוּתוֹ (bÿmalkhuto, “his kingdom”) refers to the old foolish king or to the poor but wise youth of 4:13.

288 tn Heb “under the sun.”

289 tn Heb “the second youth.” It is not clear whether “the second” (הַשֵּׁנִי, hasheni) refers to the young man who succeeds the old king or a second youthful successor.

290 tn The verb עָמַד (’amad, “to stand”) may denote “to arise; to appear; to come on the scene” (e.g., Ps 106:30; Dan 8:22, 23; 11:2-4; 12:1; Ezra 2:63; Neh 7:65); cf. BDB 764 s.v. עָמַד 6.a; HALOT 840 s.v. עמד 1.a.

291 tn Heb “the people.” The term עַם (’am, “people”) can refer to the subjects of the king (BDB 766 s.v. עַם 2).

292 tn Heb “those who were before them.”

293 tn Heb “those coming after.” The Hebrew term הָאַחֲרוֹנִים (haakharonim, “those coming after”) is derived from the preposition אַחַר (’akhar, “behind”). When used in reference to time, it refers to future generations (e.g., Deut 29:21; Pss 48:14; 78:4, 6; 102:19; Job 18:20; Eccl 1:11; 4:16); cf. HALOT 36 s.v. אַחַר B.3; BDB 30 s.v. אַחַר 2.b).

294 tn The word “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

295 sn Beginning with 5:1, the verse numbers through 5:20 in the English Bible differ by one from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 5:1 ET = 4:17 HT, 5:2 ET = 5:1 HT, etc., through 5:20 ET = 5:19 HT. Beginning with 6:1 the verse numbers in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible are again the same.

296 tn Heb “Guard your feet.” The Kethib is the plural רַגְלֶיךָ (raglekha, “your feet”), while the Qere is the singular רַגְלְךָ (raglÿkha, “your foot”), which is preserved in several medieval Hebrew mss and is reflected in the versions (LXX, Aramaic Targum, Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta). For example, the LXX reads πόδα σου (poda sou, “your foot”) which reflects רַגְלְךָ.

sn The exhortation, “Guard your feet” is an idiom for “Watch your steps,” i.e., “Be careful what you do.” This is a compound figure: “foot” is a metonymy for “step,” and “step” is a metonymy for “action” (e.g., Job 12:5; 23:11; 31:5; Pss 119:59, 101, 105; Prov 1:16; 3:23; 4:26-27; 6:18; 19:2; Isa 58:13; 59:7; Jer 14:10). For example, “I have refrained my feet from every evil way” (Ps 119:101); see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 648.

297 tn Heb “the house of God.” The term “house” (בַּיִת, bayit) is a synecdoche of general (i.e., house) for specific (i.e., temple), e.g., 1 Kgs 6:3; 7:12; 1 Chr 9:11; 2 Chr 3:8; 28:11. See E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 620.

298 tn Alternately, “to obey.” The term לִשְׁמֹעַ (lishmoa’, preposition + Qal infinitive construct from שָׁמַע, shama’, “to hear”) may be taken in one of two ways: (1) literal: “to listen” in contrast to speak or (2) figurative (metonymy of cause for effect) “to obey” in contrast to sacrifice (HALOT 1572 s.v. שׁמע 4; BDB 1033–34 s.v. שָׁמַע). The LXX took the term in the literal sense: τοῦ ἀκούειν (tou akouein, “to listen”). The English versions reflect both literal and figurative options: “obedience” (NJPS, Douay, NAB, NEB) versus “to hear [or listen]” (KJV, ASV, YLT, MLB, RSV, NASB, NIV, NRSV). The section warns against rash vows therefore, the nuance “to listen” is more appropriate: the wise man will be slow to speak and quick to listen in the presence of God; however, the fool is unrestrained and speaks rashly.

299 tn The term “sacrifice” (זֶבַח, zevakh) is the general term that refers to the thank offering and free will offering (Lev 7:12, 16). This section focuses on making vows in prayer and fulfilling them, such as the vow offering. The term “sacrifice” functions as a synecdoche of general (i.e., sacrifice) for specific (i.e., vow offering).

300 tn Heb “the fools, a sacrifice.” The term “fools” (הַכְּסִילִים, hakkÿsilim) is an adverbial accusative of comparison (e.g., GKC 375 §118.r): “rather than giving a sacrifice like fools” (מִתֵּת הַכְּסִילִים זָבַח, mittet hakkÿsilim zavakh). Contextually, the “sacrifice” is a rash vow made to God that is not fulfilled. The rash vow is referred to in 5:2 as the “voice of a fool.” Qoheleth admonishes the fool against making a rash vow that is not paid: “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in paying it; for God takes no pleasure in fools: Pay what you vow! It is better for you not to vow than to vow and not pay it” (vv. 4-5 [3-4 HT]).

301 tn The term עִנְיַן (’inyan) means “business; affair; task; occupation” (HALOT 857 s.v. עִנְיָן; BDB 775 s.v. עִנְיָן). HALOT nuances עִנְיַן בְּרֹב (bÿrov ‘inyan) as “excessive activity” (HALOT 857 s.v. עִנְיָן). Here, it is used as a metonymy of cause (i.e., tasks) for effect (i.e., cares). The term is nuanced variously: (1) literal sense: “business” (KJV, ASV, YLT, NEB, RSV) and “effort” (NASB), and (2) metonymical: “cares” (NAB, NIV, NRSV), “concerns” (MLB, Douay), “worries” (Moffatt) and “brooding” (NJPS). The LXX mistakenly related עִנְיַן to the root II עָנַה (’anah) “to afflict,” and rendered it as πειρασμοῦ (peirasmou, “trial”).

302 tn The juxtaposition of the two lines joined by vav (“just as…so…”) suggests a comparison (BDB 253 s.v. ו 1.j); see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 71, §437.

303 tn Heb “voice.” The Hebrew term קוֹל (qol, “voice”) is used as a metonymy of cause (i.e., voice) for the contents (i.e., the thing said), e.g., Gen 3:17; 4:23; Exod 3:18; 4:1, 9; Deut 1:45; 21:18, 20; 1 Sam 2:25; 8:7, 9; 2 Sam 12:18); see HALOT 1084 s.v. קוֹל 4.b; BDB 877 s.v. קוֹל 3.a; also E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 545–46. Contextually, this refers to a rash vow made by a fool who made a mistake in making it because he is unable to fulfill it.

304 tn The word “occurs” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

305 tn Heb “vow a vow.” The phrase תִּדֹּר נֶדֶר (tiddor neder, “to vow a vow”) is a Hebrew idiom in which the root נדר is repeated for emphasis. The construction is a cognate accusative (see IBHS 166-67 §10.2.1f). The verb נָדַר (nadar, “to vow”) refers to the action of making a solemn promise to the Lord to perform an action or offer a sacrifice, e.g., Lev 27:8; Num 6:21; 30:11; Deut 23:23-24; Jonah 2:10; Mal 1:14; Pss 76:12; 132:2; see HALOT 674 s.v. נדר. The noun נֶדֶר (“vow”) was a gift or offering promised to be given to the Lord (Num 30:3; Deut 12:11; 23:19; Isa 19:12; Nah 2:1 [ET 1:15]; Ps 61:6, 9); see HALOT 674–75 s.v. נֵדֶר. It usually was a sacrifice or free-will offering (Deut 12:6; Ps 66:13) that was often promised during times of pressure (Judg 11:30; 1 Sam 1:11; 2 Sam 15:7-8; Pss 22:25; 66:13; 116:14, 18; Jonah 2:9).

306 tn The term לְשַׁלְּמוֹ (lÿshallÿmo, preposition + Piel infinitive construct from שָׁלַם, shalam + 3rd person masculine singular suffix) is derived from the root שׁלם which is used in a general sense of paying a debt (2 Kgs 4:7; Ps 37:21; Prov 22:27; Job 41:3), and more specifically of fulfilling a vow to the Lord (Deut 23:22; 2 Sam 15:7; Pss 22:26; 50:14; 61:9; 66:13; 76:12; 116:14, 18; Prov 7:14; Job 22:27; Isa 19:21; Jonah 2:10; Nah 2:1); see HALOT 1535 s.v. שׁלם 3a; BDB 1022 s.v. שָׁלֵם 4. An Israelite was never required to make a vow, but once made, it had to be paid (Lev 22:18-25; 27:1-13; Num 15:2-10; Nah 1:15 [2:1 HT]).

307 tn Heb “he”; the referent (“God”) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

308 tn The word “it” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

309 tn Heb “your flesh.” The term בָּשָׂר (basar, “flesh”) is a synecdoche of part (i.e., flesh) for the whole (i.e., whole person), e.g., Gen 2:21; 6:12; Ps 56:4[5]; 65:2[3]; 145:21; Isa 40:5, 6; see HALOT 164 s.v. בָּשָׂר; E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 642.

310 tc The MT reads הַמַּלְאָךְ (hammalakh, “messenger”), while the LXX reads τοῦ θεοῦ (tou qeou, “God”) which reflects an alternate textual tradition of הָאֱלֹהִים (haelohim, “God”). The textual problem was caused by orthographic confusion between similarly spelled words. The LXX might have been trying to make sense of a difficult expression. The MT is preferred as the original. All the major translations follow the MT except for Moffatt (“God”).

tn Heb “the messenger.” The term מַלְאָךְ (malakh, “messenger”) refers to a temple priest (e.g., Mal 2:7; cf. HALOT 585 s.v. מַלְאָךְ 2.b; BDB 521 s.v. מַלְאָךְ 1.c). The priests recorded what Israelite worshipers vowed (Lev 27:14-15). When an Israelite delayed in fulfilling a vow, a priest would remind him to pay what he had vowed. Although the traditional rabbinic view is that Qoheleth refers to an angelic superintendent over the temple, Rashi suggested that it is a temple-official. Translations reflect both views: “his representative” (NAB), “the temple messenger” (NIV), “the messenger” (RSV, NRSV, NASB, MLB, NJPS), “the angel” (KJV, ASV, Douay) and “the angel of God” (NEB).

311 tn The Hebrew noun שְׁגָגָה (shÿgagah) denotes “error; mistake” and refers to a sin of inadvertence or unintentional sin (e.g., Lev 4:2, 22, 27; 5:18; 22:14; Num 15:24-29; 35:11, 15; Josh 20:3, 9; Eccl 5:5; 10:5); see HALOT 1412 s.v. שְׁגָגָה; BDB 993 s.v. שְׁגָגָה. In this case, it refers to a rash vow thoughtlessly made, which the foolish worshiper claims was a mistake (e.g., Prov 20:25).

312 tn Heb “at your voice.” This is an example of metonymy (i.e., your voice) of association (i.e., you).

313 tn The syntax of this verse is difficult. Perhaps the best approach is to classify the vav on וַהֲבָלִים (vahavalim, “futilities”) as introducing the predicate (e.g., Gen 40:9; 2 Sam 23:3; Prov 10:25; Isa 34:12; Job 4:6; 36:26); BDB 255 s.v. ו 5.c.γ: “There is futility….” The phrase בְרֹב הֲלֹמוֹת (vÿrob halomot) is an adverbial modifier (“in many dreams”), as is דְבָרִים הַרְבֵּה (dÿvarim harbeh, “many words”). The vav prefixed to וּדְבָרִים (udÿvarim) and the juxtaposition of the two lines suggests a comparison: “just as…so also…” (BDB 253 s.v. ו 1.j). The English versions reflect a variety of approaches: “In the multitude of dreams and many words there are also diverse vanities” (KJV); “In the multitude of dreams there are vanities, and in many words” (ASV); “When dreams increase, empty words grow many” (RSV); “In many dreams and follies and many words” (MLB); “In the abundance of dreams both vanities and words abound” (YLT); “Where there are many dreams, there are many vanities, and words without number” (Douay); “Many dreams and words mean many a vain folly” (Moffatt); “Much dreaming leads to futility and to superfluous talk” (NJPS); “In many dreams and in many words there is emptiness” (NASB); “Much dreaming and many words are meaningless” (NIV); “With many dreams comes vanities and a multitude of words” (NRSV).

314 tn Alternately, “oppression.” The term עֹשֶׁק (’osheq) has a basic two-fold range of meaning: (1) “oppression; brutality” (e.g., Isa 54:14); and (2) “extortion” (e.g., Ps 62:11); see HALOT 897 s.v. עֹשֶׁק; BDB 799 s.v. עֹשֶׁק. The LXX understands the term as “oppression,” as the translation συκοφαντίαν (sukofantian, “oppression”) indicates. Likewise, HALOT 897 s.v. עֹשֶׁק 1 classifies this usage as “oppression” against the poor. However, the context of 5:8-9 [7-8 HT] focuses on corrupt government officials robbing people of the fruit of their labor through extortion and the perversion of justice.

315 tn Heb “robbery.” The noun גֵזֶל (gezel, “robbery”) refers to the wrestling away of righteousness or the perversion of justice (HALOT 186 s.v. גֵּזֶל). The related forms of the root גזל mean “to rob; to loot” (HALOT 186 s.v. גֵּזֶל). The term “robbery” is used as a figure for the perversion of justice (hypocatastasis): just as a thief robs his victims through physical violence, so corrupt government officials “rob” the poor through the perversion of justice.

316 tn Heb “in the province.”

317 tn The word “official” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

318 sn And there are higher ones over them! This may describe a corrupt system of government in which each level of hierarchy exploits its subordinates, all the way down to the peasants: “Set in authority over the people is an official who enriches himself at their expense; he is watched by a more authoritative governor who also has his share of the spoils; and above them are other officers of the State who likewise have to be satisfied”; see A. Cohen, The Five Megilloth (SoBB), 141.

319 tn The phrase “is seized” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

320 tn The function of the term נֶעֱבָד (neevar, Niphal participle ms from עָבַד, ’avar, “to serve”) has been understood in four ways: (1) adjectival use of the participle, modifying the noun שָׂדֶה (sadeh, “field”): “cultivated field” (RSV, NRSV, NJPS, NAB); (2) adjectival use of the participle, modifying מֶלֶךְ (melekh, “king”): “the king who cultivates” (NASB); (3) verbal use of the participle, taking שָׂדֶה (“field”) as the subject: “field is cultivated” (NEB); and (4) verbal use of the participle, taking מֶלֶךְ (“king”) as the subject: “the king is served” (KJV, NASB); also “the king profits” (NIV). BDB 713 s.v. עָבַד 2 lists both the adjectival and verbal options: “a king for [i.e., devoted to] the cultivated field” and “a king that makes himself servant to the field [i.e., devoted to agriculture].” HALOT 774 s.v. עבד suggests the line be rendered as “a king who serves the land.” In the Qal stem the verb עָבַד (’avar) is sometimes used in reference to tribute imposed upon a king’s subjects (e.g., Jer 25:14; 27:7; 30:8; Ezek 34:27) and in reference to subjects serving a king (e.g., Judg 9:28, 38; 1 Sam 11:1; 1 Kgs 5:1; 2 Sam 22:44; Jer 27:7; 28:14; 2 Kgs 25:24); cf. BDB 713 s.v. עָבַד 3; HALOT 773 s.v. עבד 3. Likewise, it is also used in reference to tilling the ground (e.g., Gen 2:5; 4:2, 12; 2 Sam 9:10; Isa 30:24; Jer 27:11; Zech 13:5; Prov 12:11; 28:19) and a vineyard or garden (Gen 2:15; Deut 28:39); cf. HALOT 773 s.v. עבד 3; BDB 713 s.v. עָבַד 3.

321 tn The syntax and exegesis of the line is difficult. There are three basic interpretive options: (1) the king takes care of the security of the cultivated land: “in any case, the advantage of a country is that there is a king for the cultivated land”; (2) the king is in favor of a prosperous agricultural policy: “in any case, the advantage of a country is that there is a king who is obeyed for the sake of the agriculture”; and (3) the king exploits the poor farmers: “the produce of the land is [seized] by all, even the king is served by the fields.” Perhaps the best option in the light of the context is to take the referent of כֹּל (kol, “all”) to the government officials of 5:8 rather than to the people as a whole. The verse depicts the exploitation of the poor farmers by corrupt government officials. This is reflected in two English versions: “the increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields” (NIV); “the profit of the land is among all of them; a cultivated field has a king” (RSV margin). On the other hand, the LXX treated the syntax so the king is viewed in a neutral sense: και περισσεια γης ἐπι παντι ἐστι, βασιλευς του αργου εἰργασμενου (“The abundance of the earth is for everyone; the king is dependent on the tilled field”). Most English versions deal with the syntax so that the king is viewed in a neutral or positive sense: “the profit of the earth is for all; the king himself is served by the field” (KJV); “a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land” (NASB); “this is an advantage for a land: a king for a plowed field” (NRSV); “the greatest advantage in all the land is his: he controls a field that is cultivated” (NJPS); “a country prospers with a king who has control” (Moffatt); “a king devoted to the field is an advantage to the land” (MLB); “a king is an advantage to a land with cultivated fields” (RSV); “the best thing for a country is a king whose own lands are well tilled” (NEB); and “an advantage for a country in every respect is a king for the arable land” (NAB). See D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 3:576–77.

322 tn Heb “silver.” The Hebrew term כֶּסֶף (kesef, “silver”) refers to “money” (HALOT 490–91 s.v. כֶּסֶף 3). It is a synecdoche of specific (i.e., silver) for the general (i.e., money); see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 625-29.

323 sn The Hebrew term “silver” (translated “money”) is repeated twice in this line for rhetorical emphasis.

324 tn The term הָמוֹן (hamon, “abundance; wealth”) has a wide range of meanings: (1) agitation; (2) turmoil; (3) noise; (4) pomp; (5) multitude; crowd = noisy crowd; and (6) abundance; wealth (HALOT 250 s.v. הָמוֹן 1–6). Here, it refers to abundant wealth (related to “pomp”); cf. HALOT 250 s.v. הָמוֹן 6, that is, lavish abundant wealth (Ezek 29:19; 30:4; 1 Chr 29:16).

325 tn The phrase “will never be satisfied” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity. Note the previous line.

326 tn The word “his” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

327 tn The word “someone’s” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

328 tn The term טוֹבָה (tovah, “good”) connotes “prosperity” (Deut 23:7; Job 9:25; 21:25; Ps 106:5; Lam 3:17; Eccl 4:8; 5:10, 17; 6:3, 6; 7:14; 9:18; Neh 2:10; Sir 6:11; 41:13); cf. HALOT 372 s.v. טוֹבָה 2. The related term טוֹב (tov, “good”) connotes “prosperity” as well (Prov 11:10; Job 20:21; 21:16); cf. HALOT 372 s.v. טוֹבָה 1.b. Here, it refers to the possessions and wealth a person acquires as the fruit of his labors. This nuance is well reflected in several English versions: “The more a man gains, the more there are to spend it” (Moffatt); “When riches multiply, so do those who live off them” (NEB); “As his substance increase, so do those who consume it” (NJPS); and “Where there are great riches, there are also many to devour them” (NAB). The line does not describe the economic law of “supply and demand,” as some versions seem to imply, e.g., “As goods increase, so do those who consume them” (NIV); “When goods increase, those who eat them increase” (NRSV); cf. also KJV, ASV, RSV, MLB, NASB.

329 tn The form is plural in the Hebrew text, but the plural is one of intensification; it is used here to emphasize the owner’s authority over his wealth. See GKC 399 §124.i. See v 13 as well.

330 tn The rhetorical question is an example of negative affirmation, expecting a negative answer: “There is no ultimate advantage!” (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 947-48).

331 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]).

332 tn The noun רָעָה (raah, “evil”) probably means “misfortune” (HALOT 1263 s.v. רָעָה 4) or “injustice, wrong” (HALOT 1262 s.v. רָעָה 2.b). The phrase רָעָה רַבָּה (raah rabbah) connotes “grave injustice” or “great misfortune” (Eccl 2:17; 5:12, 15; 6:1; 10:5).

333 tn Heb “under the sun.”

334 tn Or “through a bad business deal.” The basic meaning of עִנְיַן (’inyan) is “business; affair” (HALOT 857 s.v. עִנְיָן) or “occupation; task” (BDB 775 s.v. עִנְיָן). The term is used in a specific sense in reference to business activity (Eccl 8:16), as well as in a more general sense in reference to events that occur on earth (Eccl 1:13; 4:8). BDB suggests that the phrase עִנְיַן רָע (’inyan ra’) in 5:13 refers to a bad business deal (BDB 775 s.v. עִנְיָן); however, HALOT suggests that it means “bad luck” (HALOT 857 s.v. עִנְיָן). The English versions reflect the same two approaches: (1) bad luck: “some misfortune” (NAB, NIV) and (2) a bad business deal: “a bad investment” (NASB), “a bad venture” (RSV, NRSV, MLB), “some unlucky venture” (Moffatt, NJPS), “an unlucky venture” (NEB), “an evil adventure” (ASV).

335 tn Heb “there is nothing in his hand.”

336 tn See the note on the phrase “depressing misfortune” in v. 13.

337 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.

338 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.

339 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).

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

341 tn Heb “the toil which one toils.”

342 tn Heb “under the sun.”

343 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).

344 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.

345 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.

346 tn The verb זָכַר (zakhar, “to remember”) may be nuanced “to call to mind; to think about,” that is, “to reflect upon” (e.g., Isa 47:7; Lam 1:9; Job 21:6; 36:24; 40:32; Eccl 11:8); cf. BDB 270 s.v. זָכַר 5; HALOT 270 s.v. I זכר 2.

347 tn The word “fleeting” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

348 tn The term מַעֲנֵה (maaneh, Hiphil participle ms from II עָנָה, ’anah, “to be occupied”) refers to activity that keeps a person physically busy and mentally preoccupied, e.g., Eccl 1:13; 3:10; 5:19 (HALOT 854; BDB 775 s.v. עָנָה II). The related noun עִנְיַן (’inyan,“business; occupation; task”) refers to activity that keeps man busy and occupies his time, e.g., Eccl 1:13; 2:26; 3:10 (HALOT 857; BDB 775 s.v. עִנְיָן). The participle form is used to emphasize durative, uninterrupted, continual action.

349 tn Heb “with the joy of his heart.” The words “he derives from his activity” do not appear in the Hebrew, but they are added to clarify the Teacher’s point in light of what he says right before this.

350 tn 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” (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]).

351 tn The noun רָעָה (raah, “evil”) probably means “misfortune” (HALOT 1263 s.v. רָעָה 4) or “injustice, wrong” (HALOT 1262 s.v. רָעָה 2.b); see, e.g., Eccl 2:17; 5:12, 15; 6:1; 10:5.

352 tn Heb “under the sun.”

353 tn The word “weighs” does not appear in Hebrew, but is added in the translation for smoothness.

354 tn Heb “it is great upon men.” The phrase וְרַבָּה הִיא עַל־הָאָדָם (vÿrabbah hi’ ’al-haadam) is taken in two basic ways: (1) commonality: “it is common among men” (KJV, MLB), “it is prevalent among men” (NASB), “that is frequent among men” (Douay). (2) oppressiveness: “it lies heavy upon men” (RSV, NRSV), “it weighs heavily upon men” (NEB, NAB, NIV), “it presses heavily on men” (Moffatt), “it is heavy upon men” (ASV), and “a grave one it is for man” (NJPS). The preposition עַל (’al, “upon”) argues against the first in favor of the second; the notion of commonality would be denoted by the preposition בְּ (bet, “among”). The singular noun אָדָם (’adam) is used as a collective, denoting “men.” The article on הָאָדָם (haadam) is used in a generic sense referring to humankind as a whole; the generic article is often used with a collective singular (IBHS 244 §13.5.1f).

355 tn Heb “his appetite.”

356 tn Heb “There is no lack in respect to his appetite”; or “his desire lacks nothing.”

357 tn The verb שָׁלַט (shalat) in the Qal stem means “to domineer; to dominate; to lord it over; to be master of” and in the Hiphil stem “to give power to” (BDB 1020 s.v. שָׁלַט) and “to grant” (HALOT 1522 s.v. שׁלט). God must grant a person the ability to enjoy the fruit of his labor, otherwise a person will not be able to enjoy his possessions and wealth. The ability to partake of the fruit of one’s labor and to find satisfaction and joy in it is a gift from God (e.g., Eccl 2:24-26; 3:13; 5:18 [19]; 9:7).

358 tn Heb “to eat of it.” The verb אָכַל (’akhal, “to eat”) functions as a metonymy of association, that is, the action of eating is associated with the enjoyment of the fruit of one’s labor (e.g., Eccl 2:24-26; 3:12-13, 22; 5:17-19; 8:15; 9:9).

359 tn The phrase “the fruit of his labor” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

360 tn Heb “a stranger.” The Hebrew expression אִיש נָכְרִי (’ish nokhri, “stranger”) sometimes refers not to a foreigner or someone that the person does not know, but simply to someone else other than the subject (e.g., Prov 27:2). In the light of 6:3-6, it might even refer to the man’s own heirs. The term is used as a synecdoche of species (foreigner for stranger) in the sense of someone else other than the subject: “someone else” (BDB 649 s.v. נָכְרִי 3).

361 tn Heb “eats.”

362 sn Instead, someone else enjoys it. A person may be unable to enjoy the fruit of his/her labor due to an unfortunate turn of events that robs a person of his possessions (5:13-14) or a miserly, lifelong hoarding of one’s wealth that robs him of the ability to enjoy what he has worked so hard to acquire (5:15-17). Qoheleth recommends the enjoyment of life and the fruit of one’s labor, as God enables (5:18-20). Unfortunately, the ability to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor is often thwarted by the obstacles described in 6:1-2 and 6:3-9.

363 tn Heb “an evil sickness.”

364 tn Heb “the days of his years are many.”

365 tn Heb “he has no burial.” The phrase וְגַם־קְבוּרָה לֹא־הָיְתָה (vÿgam-qÿvurah lo-haytah, “he even has no burial”) is traditionally treated as part of a description of the man’s sorry final state, that is, he is deprived of even a proper burial (KJV, NEB, RSV, NRSV, ASV, NASB, NIV, NJPS, MLB, Moffatt). However, the preceding parallel lines suggest that this a hyperbolic protasis: “If he were to live one hundred years…even if he were never buried [i.e., were to live forever]….” A similar idea occurs elsewhere (e.g., Pss 49:9; 89:48). See D. R. Glenn, “Ecclesiastes,” BKCOT, 990.

366 tn The noun נֶפֶל (nefel) denotes “miscarriage” and by metonymy of effect, “stillborn child” (e.g., Ps 58:9; Job 3:16; Eccl 6:3); cf. HALOT 711. The noun is related to the verb נָפַל (nafal, “to fall,” but occasionally “to be born”; see Isa 26:18); cf. HALOT 710 s.v. נפל 5.

367 sn The point of 6:3-6 is that the futility of unenjoyed wealth is worse than the tragedy of being stillborn.

368 tn Heb “he”; the referent (“the stillborn child”) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

369 tn The phrase “into the world” does not appear in Hebrew, but is added in the translation for clarity.

370 sn The birth of the stillborn was in vain – it did it no good to be born.

371 sn The name of the stillborn is forgotten.

372 tn Heb “it never saw the sun.”

373 tn The word “anything” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

374 sn The Hebrew term translated rest here refers to freedom from toil, anxiety, and misery – part of the miserable misfortune that the miserly man of wealth must endure.

375 tn Heb “Do not all go to the same place?” The rhetorical question is an example of erotesis of positive affirmation, expecting a positive answer, e.g., Ps 56:13 [14] (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 947). It affirms the fact that both the miserly rich man who lives two thousand years, as well as the stillborn who never lived one day, both go to the same place – the grave. And if the miserly rich man never enjoyed the fruit of his labor during his life, his fate was no better than that of the stillborn who never had opportunity to enjoy any of the blessings of life. In a sense, it would have been better for the miserly rich man to have never lived than to have experienced the toil, anxiety, and misery of accumulating his wealth, but never enjoying any of the fruits of his labor.

376 tn The phrase “for nothing more than” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

377 tn Heb “All man’s work is for his mouth.” The term “mouth” functions as a synecdoche of part (i.e., mouth) for the whole (i.e., person), substituting the organ of consumption for the person’s action of consumption (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 641-43), as suggested by the parallelism with נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “his appetite”).

378 tn The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “desire; appetite”) is used as a metonymy of association, that is, the soul is associated with man’s desires and appetites (BDB 660 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ 5.c; 6.a).

379 sn So what advantage does the wise man have over a fool? The rhetorical question in Hebrew implies a negative answer: the wise man has no absolute advantage over a fool in the sense that both will share the same fate: death. Qoheleth should not be misunderstood here as denying that wisdom has no relative advantage over folly; elsewhere he affirms that wisdom does yield some relative benefits in life (7:1-22). However, wisdom cannot deliver one from death.

380 sn As in the preceding parallel line, this rhetorical question implies a negative answer (see the note after the word “fool” in the preceding line).

381 tn Heb “ What to the pauper who knows to walk before the living”; or “how to get along in life.”

382 tn The phrase “to be content with” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

383 tn The expression מַרְאֵה עֵינַיִם (marehenayim, “the seeing of the eyes”) is a metonymy of cause (i.e., seeing an object) for effect (i.e., being content with what the eyes can see); see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 552-54.

384 tn Heb “the roaming of the soul.” The expression מֵהֲלָךְ־נָפֶשׁ (mehalakh-nafesh, “the roaming of the soul”) is a metonymy for unfulfilled desires. The term “soul” (נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh) is used as a metonymy of association for man’s desires and appetites (BDB 660 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ 5.c; 6.a). This also involves the personification of the roving appetite as “roving” (מֵהֲלָךְ); see BDB 235 s.v. הָלַךְ II.3.f; 232 I.3.

385 tn The phrase “continual longing” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

386 tn The term “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.

387 tn Heb “already its name was called.”

388 tn Or “and what a person (Heb “man”) is was foreknown.”

389 tn Heb “he cannot contend with the one who is more powerful than him.” The referent of the “the one who is more powerful than he is” (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The words “with God about his fate” have been added for clarity as well.

390 tn Heb “The more the words, the more the futility.”

391 tn Or “What benefit does man have [in that]?”

392 tn Heb “For who knows what is good for a man in life?” The rhetorical question (“For who knows…?”) is a negative affirmation, expecting a negative answer: “For no one knows…!” (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 949-51). The translation renders this rhetorical device as a positive affirmation.

393 tn The vav prefixed to וְיַעֲשֵׂם (vÿyaasem, conjunction + Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from עָשַׂה, ’asah, “to do” + 3rd person masculine plural suffix) functions in an explanatory or epexegetical sense (“For …”).

394 tn The 3rd person masculine plural suffix on the verb וְיַעֲשֵׂם (vÿyaasem, conjunction + Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from ָָעשַׂה, ’asah, “to do” + 3rd person masculine plural suffix) refers to מִסְפַּר יְמֵי־חַיֵּי הֶבְלוֹ (mispar yÿme-khayye hevlo, “the few days of his fleeting life”). The suffix may be taken as an objective genitive: “he spends them [i.e., the days of his life] like a shadow” (HALOT 891 s.v. I ָָעשַׂה 8) or as a subjective genitive: “they [i.e., the days of his life] pass like a shadow” (BDB 795 s.v. ָָעשַׂה II.11).

395 tn Heb “Who can tell the man what shall be after him under the sun?” The rhetorical question (“For who can tell him…?”) is a negative affirmation, expecting a negative answer: “For no one can tell him…!” (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 949-51). The translation renders this rhetorical device as a positive affirmation.

396 tn Heb “name.” The Hebrew term שֵׁם (shem, “name”) is used metonymically for a person’s reputation (e.g., Prov 22:1; Deut 22:14, 19; Neh 6:13; also Gen 6:4; 12:2; 2 Sam 7:9; 8:13; 23:18, 22; 1 Chr 5:24; 12:31; 2 Chr 26:15; Neh 9:10; Isa 63:12, 14; Jer 32:20; Ezek 16:14; Dan 9:15); cf. HALOT 1549 s.v. שֵׁם D.2; BDB 1028 s.v. שֵׁם 2.b.

397 tn The comparative term טוֹב (tov, “better”) is repeated throughout 7:1-12. It introduces a series of “Better-than sayings,” particularly in 7:1-6 in which every poetic unit is introduced by טוֹב.

398 tn Heb “good.” The repetition of טוֹב (tov, “good”) forms an inclusion (a structural device that rounds off the unit), while the two internal terms מִשֶּׁמֶןשֵׁם (shem mishemen, “name …ointment”) create a paronomastic wordplay (see the note on the word “perfume”). The combination of these two sets of literary devices creates an AB:B'A' chiasm: מִשֶּׁמֶן טוֹב // שֵׁם טוֹב (tov shem // mishemen tov, e.g., “good name”// “ointment good”).

399 tn Or “oil”; or “ointment.” The term שֶׁמֶן (shemen) refers to fragrant “perfume; cologne; ointment” (Amos 6:6; Eccl 10:1; Song 1:2 [1:3 HT]; 4:10); see HALOT 1568 s.v. שֶׁמֶן A.2.c. Bodily oils were expensive (1 Kgs 17:12; 2 Kgs 2:4). Possession of oils and perfumes was a sign of prosperity (Deut 32:8; 33:24; Job 29:6; Prov 21:17; Ezek 16:13, 20). Wearing colognes and oils was associated with joy (Ps 45:8; Eccl 9:8; Isa 61:3) because they were worn on festive occasions (Prov 27:9). The similar sounding terms “name” (שֵׁם, shem) and “perfume” (שֶׁמֶן) create a wordplay (paronomasia). See W. G. E. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry (JSOTSup), 242–43; J. J. Glück, “Paronomasia in Biblical Literature,” Semitics 1 (1970): 50–78; A. Guillaume, “Paronomasia in the Old Testament.” JSS 9 (1964): 282–90; J. M. Sasson, “Wordplay in the OT,” IDBSup 968-70.

400 tn The vav prefixed to the form וְיוֹם (vÿyom) functions in a comparative sense, e.g., Job 5:7; 12:11; 16:21; Prov 25:25 (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 71, §437).

401 tn The word “one’s” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

402 tn The article prefixed to הַמָּוֶת (hammavet, “death”) probably functions in an indefinite possessive sense or in a generic sense: “one’s death,” e.g., Gen 44:2 (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 19, §86, §92).

403 sn There are two ways to understand this proverb: (1) Happy times (characterized by celebration and “fragrant perfume”) teach us less than hard times (“the day of one’s death”) which can bring about moral improvement (“a good reputation”). (2) It is better to come to the end of one’s life (“day of one’s death”) with a good reputation (“a good name”) than to merely be starting life (“day of one’s birth”) in an auspicious manner in joy and wealth (“fine perfume”). Folly and wickedness could foil a good beginning so that a person ends life as a fool. For example, Solomon began as the wisest man who ever lived, only to end life as one of history’s greatest fools.

404 tn Heb “house of mourning.” The phrase refers to a funeral where the deceased is mourned.

405 tn Heb “house of drinking”; or “house of feasting.” The Hebrew noun מִשְׁתֶּה (mishteh) can denote (1) “feast; banquet,” occasion for drinking-bouts (1 Sam 25:36; Isa 5:12; Jer 51:39; Job 1:5; Esth 2:18; 5:14; 8:17; 9:19) or (2) “drink” (exilic/postexilic – Ezra 3:7; Dan 1:5, 8, 16); see HALOT 653 s.v. מִשְׁתֶּה 4; BDB 1059 s.v. שָׁתַה.

sn Qoheleth recommended that people soberly reflect on the brevity of life and the reality of death (It is better to go to a house of mourning) than to waste one’s life in the foolish pursuit of pleasure (than to go to a house of banqueting). Sober reflection on the brevity of life and reality of death has more moral benefit than frivolous levity.

406 tn Heb “it”; the referent (“death”) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

407 tn Heb “the end.” The noun סוֹף (sof) literally means “end; conclusion” (HALOT 747 s.v. סוֹף 1; BDB 693 s.v. סוֹף). It is used in this context in reference to death, as the preceding phrase “house of mourning” (i.e., funeral) suggests.

408 tn Heb “all men” or “every man.”

409 tn The imperfect tense verb יִתֵּן, yitten (from נָתָן, natan, “to give”) functions in a modal sense, denoting obligation, that is, the subject’s obligatory or necessary conduct: “should” or “ought to” (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 31-32, §172; IBHS 508-9 §31.4g).

410 tn The word “this” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for smoothness.

411 tn NEB suggests “grief”; NJPS, “vexation.”

412 tn Heb “in sadness of face there is good for the heart.”

413 tn Or possibly “Though the face is sad, the heart may be glad.”

414 sn The expression the house of merrymaking refers to a banquet where those who attend engage in self-indulgent feasting and riotous drinking.

415 tn Heb “hear.”

416 tn Heb “rebuke of the wise,” a subjective genitive (“the wise” administer the rebuke).

417 tn Or “praise.” The antithetical parallelism between “rebuke” (גַּעֲרַת, gaarat) and “song” (שִׁיר, shir) suggests that the latter is figurative (metonymy of association) for praise/flattery which is “music” to the ears: “praise of fools” (NEB, NJPS) and “flattery of fools” (Douay). However, the collocation of “song” (שִׁיר) in 7:5 with “laughter” (שְׂחֹק, sÿkhoq) in 7:6 suggests simply frivolous merrymaking: “song of fools” (KJV, NASB, NIV, ASV, RSV, NRSV).

418 tn The term “thorns” (הַסִּירִים, hassirim) refers to twigs from wild thorn bushes which were used as fuel for quick heat, but burn out quickly before a cooking pot can be properly heated (e.g., Pss 58:9; 118:12).

419 tn The word “kind of folly” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

420 tn It is difficult to determine whether the Hebrew term הֶבֶל (hevel) means “fleeting” or “useless” in this context. The imagery of quick-burning thorns under a cooking pot is ambiguous and can be understood in more than one way: (1) It is useless to try to heat a cooking pot by burning thorns because they burn out before the pot can be properly heated; (2) the heat produced by quick-burning thorns is fleeting – it produces quick heat, but lasts only for a moment. Likewise, the “laughter of a fool” can be taken in both ways: (1) In comparison to the sober reflection of the wise, the laughter of fools is morally useless: the burning of thorns, like the laughter of fools, makes a lot of noise but accomplishes nothing; (2) the laughter of fools is fleeting due to the brevity of life and certainty of death. Perhaps this is an example of intentional ambiguity.

421 tn Or “extortion.” Scholars debate whether the noun עֹשֶׁק (’osheq, “oppression; extortion”) in this context denotes “oppression” (HALOT 897 s.v. עֹשֶׁק 1) or “gain of extortion” (BDB 799 s.v. עֹשֶׁק 3). The parallelism between עֹשֶׁק and מַתָּנָה (mattanah, “bribe”) seems to suggest the latter; but the prominence of the theme of oppression in 7:8-10 argues for the former. Elsewhere in Ecclesiastes, the noun עֹשֶׁק denotes “oppression” (Eccl 4:1) and “extortion” (Eccl 5:8 [Heb 5:7]). The LXX rendered it as συκοφαντία (sukofantia, “oppression”). English translations are split between these two options: “extortion” (ASV, MLB, NIV), “oppression” (KJV, NAB, NASB, RSV, NRSV, YLT, Douay, Moffatt), as well as “cheating” (NJPS) and “slander” (NEB).

422 tn Or “Oppression drives a wise person crazy”; or “Extortion drives a wise person crazy.” The verb III הלל (“to be foolish”) denotes “to make foolish; to make a fool out of someone; to make into a madman” (Job 12:17; Isa 44:25); cf. HALOT 249 s.v. III הלל; BDB 239 s.v. II הלל. It has been handled variously: “makes a wise man mad” (KJV, NASB); “drives a wise man crazy” (NEB); “can make a fool of a wise man” (NAB); “makes the wise man foolish” (RSV, NRSV); and “turns a wise man into a fool” (NIV).

423 tn The vav prefixed to וִיאַבֵּד (viabbed, “corrupts”) may function in a comparative sense, e.g., Job 5:7; 12:11; 16:21; Prov 25:25 (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 71, §437).

424 tc The text has וִיאַבֵּד (viabbed, conjunction + Piel imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from אָבַד, ’avad, “to destroy”), but the Dead Sea Scrolls text 4Q109 (Qoha), which reads ,ויעוה assumes ויעוה “twists” or “perverts” (conjunction + Piel imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from עָוָה I, ’avah, “to bend; to twist.” See J. Muilenburg, “A Qoheleth Scroll from Qumran,” BASOR 135 [1954]: 27). The verb I עָוָה (“to bend; to twist”) is used in reference to moral perversion (e.g., 2 Sam 7:14; 19:20; 24:17; 1 Kgs 8:47; Job 33:27; Prov 12:8; Jer 9:4); cf. HALOT 796–97 s.v. עוה; BDB 730 s.v. I עָוָה. The verb ויאבד is used similarly in reference to moral corruption, e.g., Eccl 3:6; 9:18; Jer 23:1 (HALOT 3 s.v. I אבד; BDB 2 s.v. אָבַד 2).

425 tn Or “and a bribe drives a person mad.” The noun לֵב (lev, “heart”) may be taken as a synecdoche of part (i.e., heart) for the whole (i.e., a person). HALOT 3 s.v. I אבד suggests that וִיאַבֵּד לֵב (viabbed lev, “destroys the heart”) is an idiom meaning, “drives a person mad.” The B-line is taken as a comparison with the preceding A-line. On the other hand, the A-line and B-line might be in synonymous parallelism in which case the two lines could be rendered: “Surely [the gain of] extortion turns a wise man into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart.” On the other hand, the lines could be rendered, “Surely oppression drives a wise man crazy, and a bribe drives a person mad.”

426 tn The term דָבָר (davar) denotes “matter; thing” here rather than “speech; word,” as the parallelism with “patience” suggests. The term was misunderstood as “speech; word” by the Vulgate (so also Douay).

427 tn Heb “the patient of spirit.”

428 tn Heb “the proud of spirit.”

429 tn Heb “Do not be hasty in your spirit to become angry.”

430 tn Heb “bosom.”

431 tn Heb “these.” “Days” does not appear in the Hebrew text as second time, but is supplied in the translation for smoothness.

432 tn Heb “It is not from wisdom that you ask about this.”

433 tn Or “Wisdom with an inheritance, is good”; or “Wisdom is as good as an inheritance.” This use of the preposition עִם (’im) may denote: (1) accompaniment: “together with,” or (2) comparison: “as good as; like; in comparison to” (HALOT 839–40 s.v. עִם; BDB 767–69 s.v. עִם). BDB 767 s.v. 1 suggests the accompaniment nuance “together with,” while HALOT 840 s.v. 2.c suggests the comparative sense “in comparison to.” The translations are also divided: “wisdom with an inheritance is good” (KJV, ASV margin, RSV, NASB, YLT); “wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing” (NIV); “wisdom is as good as an inheritance” (ASV, NRSV, MLB, NJPS, Moffatt); “wisdom is better than an inheritance” (NEB). Because v. 12 compares wisdom with money (i.e., an inheritance), v. 11 is probably making a comparison as well: “Wisdom, like an inheritance, is good” (7:11a) = “Wisdom provides protection, just as money provides protection” (7:12a). The “good thing” that wisdom – like an inheritance or money – provides is protection.

434 tn Heb “see the sun.”

435 tn Heb “wisdom is a shade.” When used with a predicate nominative in a verbless clause, the preposition בְּ (bet) which appears twice in the line בְּצֵל הַחָכְמָה בְּצֵל הַכָּסֶף (bÿtsel hakhokhmah bÿtsel hakkasef) denotes identity, the so-called bet of essence (HALOT 104 s.v. בְּ 3; BDB 88 s.v. בְּ 1.7; see also R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 45, §249).

436 tn The term צֵל (tsel, “shade, shadow”) refers to that which provides protection or a shelter from the sun (Gen 19:8; Judg 9:36; Isa 25:5; 32:2; Jer 48:45; Jonah 4:5). It is used often in a figurative sense (hypocatastasis) to connote “protection” from calamity (Num 14:9; Isa 49:2; Hos 14:8; Pss 17:8; 36:8; 57:2; 63:8; 91:1; 121:5; Lam 4:20).

437 tn The phrase “just as” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for smoothness and clarity.

438 tn Heb “Wisdom is a shade, money is a shade.” The repetition of בְּצֵל (bÿtsel, “shade; protection”) suggests that the A-line and B-line function as comparisons. Thus the Hebrew phrases “Wisdom is a shade, money is a shade” may be nuanced, “Wisdom [provides] protection [just as] money [provides] protection.” This approach is adopted by several translations: “wisdom is a defense, as money is a defense” (ASV), “wisdom is protection just as money is protection” (NASB), “wisdom like wealth is a defense” (Moffatt), “the protection of wisdom is as the protection of money” (NAB), “the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money” (RSV, NRSV), “wisdom protects as wealth protects” (MLB), and “wisdom is a shelter, as money is a shelter” (NIV). The comparison is missed by KJV: “wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense.” Less likely is taking בְּ (bet) in a locative sense: “to be in the shelter of wisdom is to be in the shelter of money” (NJPS).

439 tn The verb חָיָה (khayah, “to live”) in the Piel denotes (1) “to let live; to keep alive; to preserve alive; to allow to live happily” (Gen 12:12; Exod 1:17; Num 31:15; Deut 6:24; Josh 9:15; Isa 7:21; Jer 49:11) and (2) “to bring back to life” persons who are ill (Ps 30:4) or deceased (Hos 6:2); HALOT 309 s.v. חָיָה. Its parallelism with צֵל (tsel, “protection”) indicates that it means “to preserve someone’s life” from premature death or calamity. Therefore, “preserves the life” (RSV, NAB, ASV, NASB, NIV, NJPS) is preferable to “gives life to” (KJV, Douay, NRSV, YLT).

440 tn Heb “the day of good.”

441 tn Heb “the day of evil.”

442 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).

443 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).

444 tn The word “life” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for smoothness and clarity.

445 tn As is the case throughout Ecclesiastes, the term הַכֹּל (hakkol) should be nuanced “both” rather than “all.”

446 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” (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]).

447 tn Heb “perishes.”

448 tn Or “in his righteousness.” The preposition בְּ (bet) on the terms בְּצִרְקוֹ (bÿtsirqo, “his righteousness”) and בְּרָעָתוֹ (bÿraato, “his evil-doing”) in the following line are traditionally taken in a locative sense: “in his righteousness” and “in his wickedness” (KJV, NASB, NIV). However, it is better to take the בְּ (bet) in the adversative sense “in spite of” (e.g., Lev 26:27; Num 14:11; Deut 1:32; Isa 5:25; 9:11, 16, 20; 10:4; 16:14; 47:9; Pss 27:3; 78:32; Ezra 3:3); cf. HALOT 104 s.v. בְּ 7; BDB 90 s.v. בְּ 3.7. NJPS renders it well: “Sometimes a good man perishes in spite of his goodness, and sometimes a wicked one endures in spite of his wickedness.” In a similar vein, D. R. Glenn (“Ecclesiastes,” BKCOT, 993–94) writes: “The word ‘in’ in the phrases ‘in his righteousness’ and ‘in his wickedness’ can here mean ‘in spite of.’ These phrases…argue against the common view that in 7:16 Solomon was warning against legalistic or Pharisaic self-righteousness. Such would have been a sin and would have been so acknowledged by Solomon who was concerned about true exceptions to the doctrine of retribution, not supposed ones (cf. 8:10–14 where this doctrine is discussed again).”

449 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” (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]).

450 tn Heb “a wicked man endures.”

451 tn The adjective יוֹתֵר (yoter) means “too much; excessive,” e.g., 2:15 “excessively wise” (HALOT 404 s.v. יוֹתֵר 2; BDB 452 s.v. יוֹתֵר). It is derived from the root יֶתֶר (yeter, “what is left over”; cf. HALOT 452 s.v. I יֶתֶר) and related to the verb יָתַר (yatar, Niphal “to be left over” and Hiphil “to have left over”; cf. HALOT 451-52). In 2:15 the adjective יוֹתֵר is used with the noun יִתְרוֹן (yitron, “advantage; profit”) in a wordplay or pun: The wise man has a relative “advantage” (יִתְרוֹן) over the fool (2:13-14a); however, there is no ultimate advantage because both share the same fate – death (2:14b-15a). Thus, Qoheleth’s acquisition of tremendous wisdom (1:16; 2:9) was “excessive” because it exceeded its relative advantage over folly: it could not deliver him from the same fate as the fool. He strove to obtain wisdom, yet it held no ultimate advantage. Likewise, in 7:16, Qoheleth warns that wisdom and righteous behavior do not guarantee an advantage over wickedness and folly, because the law of retribution is sometimes violated.

452 tn Heb “So do not be overly righteous and do not be overly wise.” The Hitpael verb תִּתְחַכַּם (titkhakkam, from חָכַם, khakham, “to be wise”) means “to make or show yourself wise” (HALOT 314 s.v. חכם; BDB 314 s.v. חָכַם). The Hitpael may be understood as: (1) benefactive reflexive use which refers to an action done for one’s own behalf (e.g., Gen 20:7; Josh 9:12; 1 Kgs 8:33; Job 13:27): because the law of retribution is sometimes violated, it is not wise for a person to be overly dependent upon wisdom or righteousness for his own benefit; (2) estimative-declarative reflexive which denotes esteeming or presenting oneself in a certain state, without regard to the question of truthfulness (e.g., 2 Sam 13:5; Prov 13:6; Esth 8:17): it is useless to overly esteem oneself as wise or to falsely present oneself as wiser than he really is because the law of retribution sometimes fails to reward the wise. The enigma of this line – “overly righteous and overly wise” – may be resolved by proper classification of the Hitpael stem of this verb.

453 tn Heb “Why?” The question is rhetorical.

454 tn The imperfect of שָׁמֵם (shamem) functions in a modal sense, denoting possibility: “you might be…” (see IBHS 508 §31.4e).

455 tn Or “Why should you ruin yourself?”; or “Why should you destroy yourself?” The verb שָׁמֵם (shamem) is traditionally taken as “to destroy; to ruin oneself.” For its use here HALOT 1566 s.v. שׁמם 2 has “to cause oneself ruin”; BDB 1031 s.v. שָׁמֵם 2 has “cause oneself desolation, ruin.” Most English versions take a similar approach: “Why destroy yourself?” (KJV, ASV, NEB, NRSV, MLB, NIV); “Why ruin yourself?” (NAB, NASB). However, in the Hitpolel stem the root שׁמם never means this elsewhere, but is always nuanced elsewhere as “to be appalled; to be astonished; to be dumbfounded; to be confounded; to be horrified” (e.g., Ps 143:4; Isa 59:16; 63:5; Dan 8:27); cf. BDB 1031 s.v. שָׁמֵם 1; HALOT 1566 s.v. שׁמם 1. It is taken this way in the English version of the Tanakh: “or you may be dumbfounded” (NJPS). Likewise, Cohen renders, “Why should you be overcome with amazement?” (A. Cohen, The Five Megilloth [SoBB], 154). If a person was trusting in his own righteousness or wisdom to guarantee prosperity, he might be scandalized by the exceptions to the doctrine of retribution that Qoheleth had observed in 7:15. D. R. Glenn (“Ecclesiastes,” BKCOT, 994) notes: “This fits in nicely with Solomon’s argument here. He urged his readers not to be over-righteous or over-wise ‘lest they be confounded or astonished.’ He meant that they should not depend on their righteousness or wisdom to guarantee God’s blessing because they might be confounded, dismayed, or disappointed like the righteous people whom Solomon had seen perishing in spite of their righteousness [in 7:15].” See GKC 149 §54.c.

456 tn Heb “Why?” The question is rhetorical.

457 tn The word “warning” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation two times in this line for clarity.

458 sn The other warning. Qoheleth is referring to the two words of advice in 7:16-17. He is not, as some suggest, urging his readers to grasp righteousness without letting go of wickedness. His point is not that people should live their lives with a balance of modest righteousness and modest wickedness. Because he urges the fear of God in 7:18b, he cannot be inconsistent in suggesting that his readers offend the fear of God by indulging in some degree of sin in order to counterbalance an overly righteous life. Rather, the proper fear of God will prevent a person from trusting in righteousness and wisdom alone for his security, and it will also prevent indulgence in wickedness and folly.

459 tn Or “will escape both”; or “will go forth in both.” The Hebrew phrase יֵצֵא אֶת־כֻּלָּם (yetse’ ’et-kullam, “he will follow both of them”) has been interpreted in several ways: (1) To adopt a balanced lifestyle that is moderately righteous while allowing for self-indulgence in moderate wickedness (“to follow both of them,” that is, to follow both righteousness and wickedness). However, this seems to unnecessarily encourage an antinomian rationalization of sin and moral compromise. (2) To avoid the two extremes of being over-righteous and over-wicked. This takes יֵצֵא in the sense of “to escape,” e.g., Gen 39:12, 15; 1 Sam 14:14; Jer 11:11; 48:9; cf. HALOT 426 s.v. יצא 6.c; BDB 423 s.v. יָצָא 1.d. (3) To follow both of the warnings given in 7:16-17. This approach finds parallels in postbiblical rabbinic literature denoting the action of discharging one’s duty of obedience and complying with instruction. In postbiblical rabbinic literature the phrase יַדֵי יֵצֵא (yetseyade, “to go out of the hands”) is an idiom meaning “to comply with the requirements of the law” (Jastrow 587 s.v. יָצָא Hif.5.a). This fits nicely with the context of 7:16-17 in which Qoheleth issued two warnings. In 7:18a Qoheleth exhorted his readers to follow both of his warnings: “It is best to grasp the first warning without letting go of the second warning.” The person who fears God will heed both warnings. He will not depend upon his own righteousness and wisdom, but upon God’s sovereign bestowal of blessings. Likewise, he will not exploit the exceptions to the doctrine of retribution to indulge in sin, rationalizing sin away just because the wicked sometimes do not get what they deserve.

460 tn Heb “both.” The term “warnings” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity. Alternately, “both [extremes]” or “both [fates].” The point of this expression is either (1) “ he achieves both things,” (2) “he escapes all these misfortunes,” (3) “he does his duty by both,” or (4) “he avoids both extremes.” See D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 3:580–81.

461 tn Heb “gives strength.”

462 tn The introductory particle כִּי (ki) is rendered variously: “for” (KJV); “indeed” (NASB); not translated (NIV); “for” (NJPS). The particle functions in an explanatory sense, explaining the need for wisdom in v. 19. Righteousness alone cannot always protect a person from calamity (7:15-16); therefore, something additional, such as wisdom, is needed. The need for wisdom as protection from calamity is particularly evident in the light of the fact that no one is truly righteous (7:19-20).

463 tn The term “truly” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity. Qoheleth does not deny the existence of some people who are relatively righteous.

464 tn Heb “they”; the referent (people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

465 tn Heb “so that you do not hear…”; or “lest you hear….”

466 tn The imperfect tense verb תִשְׁמַע (tishma’; from שָׁמַע [shama’, “to hear”]) functions in a modal sense, denoting possibility: “you might hear” (see IBHS 508 §31.4e).

467 tn Heb “your heart knows.”

468 tn The cohortative אֶחְכָּמָה (’ekhkamah, from חָכַם, khakham,“to be wise”) emphasizes the resolve (determination) of Qoheleth to become wise enough to understand the perplexities of life.

469 tn Or “I am determined to become wise”

470 tn Or “but it eluded me”; Heb “but it was far from me.”

471 tn The word “human” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

472 tn Heb “is far away.”

473 tn Heb “It is deep, deep – who can find it?” The repetition of the word “deep” emphasizes the degree of incomprehensibility. See IBHS 233-34 §12.5a.

474 tn Heb “I turned, I, even my heart.”

475 tn Heb “to seek.”

476 tn The phrase “the role of” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.

477 tn The phrase חָכְמָה וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן (khokhmah vÿkheshbon, “wisdom and the scheme of things”) is a hendiadys (a figure of speech in which two nouns connote one idea): “wisdom in the scheme of things.” This is similar to the hendiadys עִצְּבוֹנֵךְ וְהֵרֹנֵךְ (’itsÿvonekh vÿheronekh, “pain and childbearing”) which connotes “pain in childbearing” (Gen 3:16).

478 tn Or “the evil of folly” The genitive construct phrase רֶשַׁע כֶּסֶל (reshakesel) may be taken as a genitive of attribution (“the wickedness of folly”) or as a genitive of attribute (“the folly of wickedness”). The English versions treat it in various ways: “wickedness of folly” (KJV); “wrong of folly” (YLT); “evil of folly” (NASB); “stupidity of wickedness” (NIV); “wickedness, stupidity” (NJPS); “wickedness is folly [or foolish]” (ASV, NAB, NRSV, MLB, Moffatt), and “it is folly to be wicked” (NEB).

479 tn Or “the folly of madness” The genitive construct phrase וְהַסִּכְלוּת הוֹלֵלוֹת (vÿhassikhlut holelot) may be taken as a genitive of attribution (“the stupidity of wickedness”) or a genitive of attribute (“the evil of folly”). The phrase is rendered variously: “foolishness and madness” (KJV); “foolishness of madness” (NASB); “madness of folly” (NIV); “madness and folly” (NJPS); “the foolishness which is madness” (NEB); and “foolishness [or folly] is madness” (ASV, NAB, NRSV, MLB, Moffatt).

480 tn The word “this” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for smoothness.

481 tn The phrase “kind of” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity (see the following note on the word “woman”).

482 tn The article on הָאִשָּׁה (haishah) functions in a particularizing sense (“the kind of woman”) rather than in a generic sense (i.e., “women”).

483 tn Heb “is snares.” The plural form מְצוֹדִים (mÿtsodim, from the noun I מָצוֹד, matsod, “snare”) is used to connote either intensity, repeated or habitual action, or moral characteristic. For the function of the Hebrew plural, see IBHS 120-21 §7.4.2. The term II מָצוֹד “snare” is used in a concrete sense in reference to the hunter’s snare or net, but in a figurative sense of being ensnared by someone (Job 19:6; Prov 12:12; Eccl 7:26).

484 tn The word “only” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for smoothness.

485 tn The word “upright” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation twice, here and in the following line, for clarity.



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