Ecclesiastes 8 – “Reflections”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Qohelet reflects upon wisdom, obeying the king, the unfairness of the world, and how the future is unknowable. He says that enjoying life is the best that one can do.

II. Photo
Death is inevitable: “No man has authority over the lifebreath… there is no authority over the day of death.” (v. 8)

III. Select Verses    
9-14: All these things I observed; I noted all that went on under the sun, while men still had authority over men to treat them unjustly.  And then I saw scoundrels coming from the Holy Site and being brought to burial, while such as had acted righteously were forgotten in the city. And here is another frustration:  the fact that the sentence imposed for evil deeds is not executed swiftly, which is why men are emboldened to do evil —  the fact that a sinner may do evil a hundred times and his [punishment] still be delayed. For although I am aware that “It will be well with those who revere God since they revere Him,  and it will not be well with the scoundrel, and he will not live long, because he does not revere God” —  here is a frustration that occurs in the world: sometimes an upright man is requited according to the conduct of the scoundrel; and sometimes the scoundrel is requited according to the conduct of the upright. I say all that is frustration.
15: I therefore praised enjoyment. For the only good a man can have under the sun is to eat and drink and enjoy himself. That much can accompany him, in exchange for his wealth, through the days of life that God has granted him under the sun.
16-17: For I have set my mind to learn wisdom and to observe the business that goes on in the world — even to the extent of going without sleep day and night —  and I have observed all that God brings to pass. Indeed, man cannot guess the events that occur under the sun. For man tries strenuously, but fails to guess them; and even if a sage should think to discover them he would not be able to guess them.

IV. Outline
1. Wisdom
2-5a. Obey the king
5b-8. The future is unknowable; Death is a certainty
9-14. An unfair world
15. Enjoy life
16-17. The future is unknowable

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
C. L. Seow, Ecclesiastes (Anchor Yale Bible 18C; New Haven: Yale, 1997).
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Ecclesiastes 7 – “Assorted Sayings and Lessons”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Qohelet speaks about revelry, wisdom, women, and a number of other matters.

II. Photo
A lesson about nostalgia: “Don’t say, ‘How has it happened that former times were better than these?’ For it is not wise of you to ask that question.” (v. 10)

III. Select Verses    
1: A good name is better than fragrant oil, and the day of death than the day of birth.
2:  It is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting; for that is the end of every man, and a living one should take it to heart.
5: It is better to listen to a wise man’s reproof than to listen to the praise of fools.
8: The end of a matter is better than the beginning of it. Better a patient spirit than a haughty spirit.
10: Don’t say, “How has it happened that former times were better than these?” For it is not wise of you to ask that question.
15-17:  In my own brief span of life, I have seen both these things: sometimes a good man perishes in spite of his goodness, and sometimes a wicked one endures in spite of his wickedness. So don’t overdo goodness and don’t act the wise man to excess, or you may be dumfounded. Don’t overdo wickedness and don’t be a fool, or you may die before your time.
20: For there is not one good man on earth who does what is best and doesn’t err.
25-26: I put my mind to studying, exploring, and seeking wisdom and the reason of things, and to studying wickedness, stupidity, madness, and folly. Now, I find woman more bitter than death; she is all traps, her hands are fetters and her heart is snares. He who is pleasing to God escapes her, and he who is displeasing is caught by her.

IV. Outline
1. A good name
2. A house of mourning
3. Jokery
4. A house of mourning
5-6a. The wise man and the fool
7b-8. The futility of wisdom
9. The end of a matter
10. The days of old
11-12. Wisdom
13-14. The ways of God
15-18.  Being good and wicked
19-20. Wisdom and sin
21-22. Ignoring what others say
23-26. Wisdom and the bitterness of women
27-29. Wisdom and reasoning

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
C. L. Seow, Ecclesiastes (Anchor Yale Bible 18C; New Haven: Yale, 1997).
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Ecclesiastes 6 – “Reflections”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Qohelet reflects upon satisfaction and the unknowable fate of man.

II. Photo
Nobody has the answers: “Who can possibly know what is best for a man to do in life — the few days of his fleeting life?” (v. 12)

III. Select Verses    
1-2:  There is an evil I have observed under the sun, and a grave one it is for man: that God sometimes grants a man riches, property, and wealth, so that he does not want for anything his appetite may crave, but God does not permit him to enjoy it; instead, a stranger will enjoy it. That is futility and a grievous ill.
3: Even if a man should beget a hundred children and live many years — no matter how many the days of his years may come to, if his gullet is not sated through his wealth, I say: The stillbirth, though it was not even accorded a burial, is more fortunate than he.
10: Whatever happens, it was designated long ago and it was known that it would happen; as for man, he cannot contend with what is stronger than he.
12: Who can possibly know what is best for a man to do in life — the few days of his fleeting life? For who can tell him what the future holds for him under the sun?

IV. Outline
1-6. People who cannot enjoy
7-9. People who are never satisfied
10-12. The fate of man

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
C. L. Seow, Ecclesiastes (Anchor Yale Bible 18C; New Haven: Yale, 1997).
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Ecclesiastes 5 – “Lessons; Reflections”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Qohelet says to guard one’s speech and to accept the realities of financial disparity. He reflects upon greed and says to enjoy life.

II. Photo
A lesson about greed: “A lover of money never has his fill of money, nor a lover of wealth his fill of income.” (v. 9)

III. Select Verses    
1: Keep your mouth from being rash, and let not your throat be quick to bring forth speech before God. For God is in heaven and you are on earth; that is why your words should be few.
3-4: When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. For He has no pleasure in fools; what you vow, fulfill. It is better not to vow at all than to vow and not fulfill.
7:  If you see in a province oppression of the poor and suppression of right and justice, don’t wonder at the fact; for one high official is protected by a higher one, and both of them by still higher ones.
9-10: A lover of money never has his fill of money, nor a lover of wealth his fill of income. That too is futile. As his substance increases, so do those who consume it; what, then, does the success of its owner amount to but feasting his eyes?
17: Only this, I have found, is a real good: that one should eat and drink and get pleasure with all the gains he makes under the sun, during the numbered days of life that God has given him; for that is his portion.

IV. Outline
1-6. Watch your words
7-8. Financial disparity
9-16. Greedy toil
17-19. Enjoy life

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
C. L. Seow, Ecclesiastes (Anchor Yale Bible 18C; New Haven: Yale, 1997).
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Ecclesiastes 4 – “Reflections”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Qohelet reflects upon the futility of existence, toil, loneliness, and kingship.

II. Photo
Friendship is praised: “Two are better off than one, in that they have greater benefit from their earnings.” (v. 9)

III. Select Verses    
1-3:  I further observed all the oppression that goes on under the sun: the tears of the oppressed, with none to comfort them; and the power of their oppressors — with none to comfort them. Then I accounted those who died long since more fortunate than those who are still living; and happier than either are those who have not yet come into being and have never witnessed the miseries that go on under the sun.
9-12: Two are better off than one, in that they have greater benefit from their earnings.  For should they fall, one can raise the other; but woe betide him who is alone and falls with no companion to raise him!  Further, when two lie together they are warm; but how can he who is alone get warm?  Also, if one attacks, two can stand up to him. A threefold cord is not readily broken!
13: Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer has the sense to heed warnings.

IV. Outline
1-3. Better to not be born
4-6. Envious toil
7-8. Lonely toil
9-12. The benefits of comraderie
13-16. Kingship
17. Sacrifice

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
C. L. Seow, Ecclesiastes (Anchor Yale Bible 18C; New Haven: Yale, 1997).
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Ecclesiastes 3 – “Reflections”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Qohelet reflects upon time, the fate of man, and tells people to enjoy their lives.

II. Photo
Qohelet teaches a lesson: “A season is set for everything… A time for wailing and a time for dancing.” (vv. 1, 4)

III. Select Verses    
1-8: A season is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven: A time for being born and a time for dying, A time for planting and a time for uprooting the planted;  A time for slaying and a time for healing, A time for tearing down and a time for building up;  A time for weeping and a time for laughing, A time for wailing and a time for dancing;  A time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones, A time for embracing and a time for shunning embraces;  A time for seeking and a time for losing, A time for keeping and a time for discarding;  A time for ripping and a time for sewing, A time for silence and a time for speaking;  A time for loving and a time for hating; A time for war and a time for peace.
12-13: Thus I realized that the only worthwhile thing there is for them is to enjoy themselves and do what is good in their lifetime; also, that whenever a man does eat and drink and get enjoyment out of all his wealth, it is a gift of God
19-21: For in respect of the fate of man and the fate of beast, they have one and the same fate: as the one dies so dies the other, and both have the same lifebreath; man has no superiority over beast, since both amount to nothing.  20 Both go to the same place; both came from dust and both return to dust.  21 Who knows if a man’s lifebreath does rise upward and if a beast’s breath does sink down into the earth?

IV. Outline
1-8. A time for everything
9-15. God has set man’s place; Enjoy life
16-22. The fate of all living things is the same; Enjoy life

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
C. L. Seow, Ecclesiastes (Anchor Yale Bible 18C; New Haven: Yale, 1997).
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Ecclesiastes 2 – “Reflections”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Qohelet reflects upon the futility of pleasure, wealth, wisdom, and hard work. He believes that people should enjoy life if they can.

II. Photo
Qohelet worked hard: “I laid out gardens and groves, in which I planted every kind of fruit tree.” (v. 5)

III. Select Verses    
1: I said to myself, “Come, I will treat you to merriment. Taste mirth!” That too, I found, was futile.
3: I ventured to tempt my flesh with wine, and to grasp folly, while letting my mind direct with wisdom, to the end that I might learn which of the two was better for men to practice in their few days of life under heaven.
4-11: I multiplied my possessions. I built myself houses and I planted vineyards. I laid out gardens and groves, in which I planted every kind of fruit tree. I constructed pools of water, enough to irrigate a forest shooting up with trees. I bought male and female slaves, and I acquired stewards. I also acquired more cattle, both herds and flocks, than all who were before me in Jerusalem. I further amassed silver and gold and treasures of kings and provinces; and I got myself male and female singers, as well as the luxuries of commoners — coffers and coffers of them. Thus, I gained more wealth than anyone before me in Jerusalem. In addition, my wisdom remained with me: I withheld from my eyes nothing they asked for, and denied myself no enjoyment; rather, I got enjoyment out of all my wealth. And that was all I got out of my wealth. Then my thoughts turned to all the fortune my hands had built up, to the wealth I had acquired and won — and oh, it was all futile and pursuit of wind; there was no real value under the sun!
13-15: I found that Wisdom is superior to folly As light is superior to darkness A wise man has his eyes in his head, Whereas a fool walks in darkness. But I also realized that the same fate awaits them both. So I reflected: “The fate of the fool is also destined for me; to what advantage, then, have I been wise?” And I came to the conclusion that that too was futile.
24: There is nothing worthwhile for a man but to eat and drink and afford himself enjoyment with his means. And even that, I noted, comes from God.

IV. Outline
1-11. The futility of pleasure and wealth
12-17. The wise die just like the foolish
18-23. Future generations and the futility of toil
24-26. Enjoy life if you can

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
C. L. Seow, Ecclesiastes (Anchor Yale Bible 18C; New Haven: Yale, 1997).
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