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10

I think the best answer is summed up by Peter Leithart (who admits to borrowing liberally from James Jordan on this): To get the point of Ecclesiastes, we have to ignore the usual translations of several key words or phrases. The Hebrew hebel has been translated as "vanity" (NASB, KJV, ESV, ASV) or "meaningless" (NIV, New Living Translation). The ...


7

The word 'return' Yes, 'return' is an accurate translation. The Hebrew verb is shūb (שוב), and means 'to turn back'. But what is 'spirit' referring to? Ecclesiastes 12.7 uses a handful of certain words and ideas: the body is made of dust and returns to the earth upon death; the spirit is from God and returns to him upon death. We're in the same realm of ...


7

There does seem to be some confusion early on: Ecclesiastes 3:21 (NASB) Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth? Later, though, we see that the author of Ecclesiastes believes in the place called "Sheol" Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NASB) Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all ...


7

I guess I prefer the "on earth" reading because the "life without God" reading requires a bit more pressing. I also wonder if the sun plays such an important role in Ecclesiastes because they may represent a common set of wisdom that was not specific to just Qoheleth. There are apparently some interesting parallels between Eccl. and Egyptian literature and ...


7

Based on the uses in Eccl 1:2 the use of the word vanity in English was likely built on the Latin Vulgate use of "Vanitas Vanitatum". It was then translated Vanity of Vanities in a number of English translations including ESV, NASB(U), KJV, NKJV, ASV, RSV, Darby, Douay-Rheims, Noah Webster's, World English Bible and Young's Literal Translation. The idea of ...


6

Well, it's certainly has to be taken as wisdom, since it's in the Bible it says it is wisdom (Ecc 7:23) it was written by the wisest man on the earth up to his time (Ecc 1:16, 1 Kings 4:29) While it is on the cynical side, that's because he relates his whole journey which also includes the learning experiences before he fully recognized the sovereignty ...


6

Absurd, as in this school of philosophy, does a good job of capturing what the book is all about. Chapter 1 3. What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?  4. Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. 5. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises...7. All streams ...


6

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: 18Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will ...


5

A look at a couple translations reflecting modern and classic scholarship offers some helpful insight. 24 The best thing we can do is to enjoy eating, drinking, and working.[a] I believe these are God’s gifts to us, 25 and no one enjoys eating and living more than I do. 26 If we please God, he will make us wise, understanding, and happy. But if we ...


5

Ecclesiastes is a contemplation of meaning by the philosopher king (notionally Solomon), who calls himself Qoheleth. Unlike most wisdom literature in the Bible, which is phrased as dialog between the wise teacher and the student reader1, this text is semi-autobiographical meditations that dwell on the vanity of various aspects of life. The crux of the book ...


5

As I've looked into it further, I think we have something along the lines of connotation verses denotation. The denotative meaning of the phrase "under the sun" in Ecclesiastes is "on earth," and this is neutral in meaning. Something being "under the sun" just means it is on the earth. Indeed, "within the realm of God's dominion" would fit there. ...


5

According to The Interpreter's Bible, the language is written in a late form of Hebrew and so: As judged by it's language, the book of Ecclesiastes is much later than the work of the Chronicler and later than the book of Esther (ca. 300 B.C.). If you agree with the 3rd century B.C. dating of Ecclesiastes, then perhaps it could be seen as an analogy, ...


5

Metaphors are a pithy way to express truth, and as such are heavily employed in proverbs such as this one, and indeed in all of wisdom literature. This metaphor should communicate strongly to anyone familiar with rope (or, interestingly, in our own day, cable). A rope woven from two strands is so easily unravelled that its disintegration is automatic—even ...


5

I found this obvious, and I can't resist referencing my own translation work that you can find posted on Wikisource: Cast your bread onto the waters, because in the many days, you shall find it. Give a part to seven, even to eight, because you will not know what evil will be on the Earth This is saying if you have bread, share it, let it "drift out on ...


4

The NET Bible notes: 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) ...


4

Interesting question. The common uses of gathering stones -- to build buildings or monuments -- don't have an obvious inverse. (Yes, idols have to be knocked down, but that's broader than stones.) And the only use of casting stones I can think of is judicially (for executions), which is pretty specialized. With that as background I consulted Rashi, who ...


4

We have to look at the verse in a broader context. The whole book is a collection of wisdom from the perspective of one who has lived a full life. Within this chapter, the lead-up to this verse is: 8 There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second; yea, he hath neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labour, neither is his eye ...


4

The Short Answer The word "evil" in context is best translated "injustice," although "evil" is a fine translation. Here are some variations in versions: ESV,NASB + others - "evil" NET - "injustice" ISV - "troublesome" HCSB - "wrong" Contextual Analysis Some features to notice: The passage describes more than one outcome, the opinion of the ...


3

This verse you are noticing is within the overall concept of a peaceful contentment in the moment which is not really a human ability but is a spiritual attitude that can only come from God. This simple contentment, such as the simple relaxed enjoyment of our daily eating and drinking as part of the essentials of living is contrasted with a meaningless ...


2

Proverbs is wisdom for children: do this and this will happen. It's basic mechanics. Plant and you will get a harvest. It is all true, but life is more complicated. The harvest doesn't always come, even though we are to plant in expectation. So Ecclesiastes is the admission that wisdom simply isn't enough. Attempting to figure everything out is often an ...


2

The book is not a book of negative wisdom exactly, it is a complementary, but realistic philosophy, composed by a person who struggles for wisdom in a state of complete doubt. This is the position of a Greek scholar (or a modern scientist). The book is a warning to Jewish scholars --- don't read too much and don't think too much--- you'll be a lonely ...


2

Under the sun—how beautiful is the poetry of the Old Testament! The swasheck and Frank Luke's answers, as well as the question itself, all contain some helpful thoughts. However, I think they have still failed to capture the full sense of the phrase. I would argue that its meaning is somewhere between in the physical world and life without God: more ...


2

Your link is behind a login. Here's an alternative source. The short answer to your question is "No".1 1 If I am wrong, the person on the planet who will know is Stuart Weeks. See his very recent paper on the interpretation of Qohelet (unpublished). His contact details are on his staff page, and if you sent him a short, polite request on Graetz, he might ...


1

The 12th Century scholar Rashi addressed your issue. My translation follows The Complete Jewish Bible (in Hebrew and English) with Rashi Commentary, which you can access on-line here. My translation differs somewhat from yours. Verse 24 states: Is it not good for a man that he eat and drink and show himself enjoyment in his toil? This too have I seen that ...


1

A "cord of three strands" is a figurative expression. When applied to marriage, it includes the husband and wife, two strands, who are intertwined with the central strand, God. Being united with God gives a couple the spiritual strength to cope with problems and to achieve happiness.


1

I read an interesting explanation of this on the Biblical Horizons blog a while back. Jeff Meyers pulls an idea from Michael Homan and suggests that this could be an allusion to a form of beer making used in the ancient world. I don't have direct access to Homan's work, but here's a snippet from the Wikipedia article on Ancient Egyptian Cuisine: ...


1

It may also mean that we gather stones before we go to war and we throw away them after war. We would not just cast away stones in that time period because stones were used in every aspect of life to grind wheat, to build walls, houses and as weapons in war.


1

I actually think vanity is a really good word for translating this passage. Let's have a look at the definition of vanity: vanity: 1 : something that is vain, empty, or valueless 2 : the quality or fact of being vain 3 : inflated pride in oneself or one's appearance : conceit and the root word, vain: 1 : having no real value : idle, ...



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