How did the author of Ecclesiastes understand life after death and man's relationship to eternity? What passages in the book address or allude to this topic?
Inspired by a reading of Ecclesiastes 3:19-22.
One of the themes of Ecclesiastes is the ignorance of the 'Preacher' and his intended audience, especially when it comes to the future, eg in chapter 2:
and chapter 11:
And it seems clear that while the author understands that we have an eternal home (at least by chapter 12), the nature of that home is something he knows very little about:
He does, however, understand that God will judge all, and concludes God is to be feared regardless. In the context of the rest of the book, which refers overwhelmingly to a lack of justice in this life, he must be referring to justice after death:
Quotations are Copyright The Lockman Foundation
There does seem to be some confusion early on:
Later, though, we see that the author of Ecclesiastes believes in the place called "Sheol"
He describes this in 9:5-6:
Sheol is often translated as "the grave", but that translation is questionable.
Professors James Tabor believe that Sheol is a place of nothingness that occurs after death, where both the righteous and unrighteous go.