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Ecclesiastes 7:28 while I was still searching but not finding-- I found one upright man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all.

Solomon was a sexist.

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  • One tolerates in friends things which one would not otherwise tolerate in a spouse. – Lucian Sep 2 '20 at 1:00
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    Down-voted for repeated non-sequiturs. – Lucian Sep 4 '20 at 20:27
  • Solomon is stating a fact of his own experience. Solomon was given wisdom by God Almighty. And Solomon states what he found, by experience, in his own lifetime. And his words became part of holy scripture. And these words have been known and quoted throughout the whole world for over three thousand years. And they shall be, till the end of time. – Nigel J Sep 5 '20 at 0:11
  • And I'm stating a fact of my own experience too. I wonder how Solomon's wives felt about that – LisaMclaren Sep 5 '20 at 1:10
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    @LisaMclaren: Solomon's wives were idolaters (1 Kings 11:1-8). – Lucian Sep 5 '20 at 1:31
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How to interpret: not one upright woman? Eccl. 7:26

Ecclesiastes 7:26-29 (NASB)

26 "And I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her. 27 “Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “adding one thing to another to find an explanation, 28 which [a]I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these. 29 Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”

Was Solomon was a sexist?

No Solomon was not a sexist, in fact, he loved women, 1 Kings 11:1-4 says that he married 700 women from many lands as well as 300 concubines, that eventually turned his heart to other gods.

How to interpret: not one upright woman? Eccl. 7:26

The context indicates the low moral standards of people that prevailed in general among women and men during King Solomon's days. Not one woman he found upright, and only one man in a thousand, it is indeed a rarity, an insignificant figure and concludes (Eccl. 7:29 )"Behold, I have found only this, that God made men ( and women) upright, but they have sought out many devices.”

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First a note about the authorship of Ecclesiastes. Here are a few quotes from Michael V. Fox's commentary of Ecclesiastes (or Hebrew, Qohelet - which can mean 'teacher to the public'):

"Koheleth was traditionally identified with Solomon...since the nineteenth century, critical scholarship has not regarded Solomon as the actual author. Though modern scholars do not think that Koheleth was Solomon, almost all of them believe that the author wants us to make that identification.

We don't know who wrote Ecclesiastes, but it likely was not Solomon. You can check out a short video regarding who wrote Ecclesiastes, from an Old Testament scholar/professor, John Walton, here

This verse certainly has a misogynistic tone. That tone has caused significant scholarly debate which you can see by the variations in translations. Many translators have attempted to soften the tone.

The NIV reads:

I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare.

On the other hand, Michael V. Fox, in his Jewish Publication Society (JPS) Commentary on Ecclesiastes, translates the verse:

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.

Fox notes though,

"It is the only such remark in the Hebrew Bible, and even in Koheleth's own teachings it is not central. In any case, we should not treat Koheleth's grousing about the opposite sex as a philosophical proposition. It is clearly hyperbolic."

Fox also notes that within Ecclesiastes there are many contradictions.

For instance Ecclesiastes 9:9

Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun--all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.

On this verse, Fox notes:

"If Koheleth truly believed that all women were this malign, he could not have urged the enjoyment of life 'with a woman you love," for such enjoyment would be impossible.

The entire passage is difficult. Overall, the author doesn't seem to have a high view of humanity as a whole.

One final quote from Fox:

"Koheleth has some unusual things to say, and his views should not be forced to fit presuppositions of what a biblical book must say. One need not grant the truth of all his opinions; the other biblical authors would not have.

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