The following passage is Ecclesiastes 9:14

A small city, and few people in it, and a great king comes there, and encircled it and built upon it great fortifications. And he found in it, a poor wise man, who delivered the city in his wisdom, and nobody remembered this poor man.

Upon reading this, I immediately thought of Archimedes. I found people calling this an analogy.

But considering the late date of Ecc, could this be a direct reference to the siege of Syracuse? Is it consistent with the dating of the text to identify the "poor wise man" as Archimedes?

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    It is hard to be precise about the date of Ecclesiastes for a variety of reasons Apr 11 '12 at 7:11
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    I thought the latest dates are the only plausible ones, and then Archimedes refers to current events. Funny enough, everybody remembers the poor man today, nobody remembers the king.
    – Ron Maimon
    Apr 11 '12 at 17:51

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, however I would argue against it being direct reference because of two points:

  1. Archimedes is famous today and was famous then - orders were given for him not to be harmed (although despite this he was killed)
  2. In Ecclesiastes 9:15 the little city was delivered. This was not the case for Syracuse.
  • I agree it's mangled, but this is the type of thing one would expect from hearsay. It is not clear that Archimedes was famous in the Aramaic world, his great fame was only in the Greek world, and then only among the literati. I will accept this answer, regardless, since I can't imagine a better one.
    – Ron Maimon
    May 27 '12 at 5:49
  • It's also key to note that communication, trade, etc was substantially more widespread and advanced than typically credited in this era. Whereas they didn't have electronics, they certainly had routine news and trade routes that carried goods and information around the globe :)
    – warren
    Oct 25 '12 at 15:42

The book of Ecclesiastes is more abstract. It's talking more in general about several cases rather than one specific city, one specific king, and one specific poor man.

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