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Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes is perhaps the most negative book in the Bible. "We get there a clear, cold picture of man's life without God." [2] It is the musings of someone who searches after deep wisdom, but concludes that it is better to just get on with life and mind one's own business.

Ecclesiastes is read in synagogues at the Feast of Tabernacles.

The book frequently declares "all is vanity". Perhaps he means that the earthly things which we hold important prove ephemeral in the long term.

Commentary

3:1–8

See also Appendix 2 Time.

3:19–21

Humans are called to be "a little lower than the angels" (Hebrews 2:7) but tend to fail to achieve that calling, behaving instead like animals.

6:6

Here is the reason for the thoroughly depressing tone of the whole book: the writer thinks that all have the same fate whatever they do during their life, so there is no point in striving for anything. That would be logical if it was based on a correct understanding of the facts (the idea recurs in chapter 9 verse 2–3) but Luke 16:26, for example, disagrees.

7

These verses may have inspired Jesus's Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–11.

9:2–3

See comment on Ecclesiastes 6:6.

9:3–7

We should not take this life too seriously.[1] cf. Romans 8:18.

11:1

"The Preacher" recommends diversifying your business and acquiring friends through generosity. That is what the unjust steward did in Luke 16:1–13.

12

This chapter appears to be a series of metaphors for old age; for instance, the few grinders are an incomplete set of teeth.

cf. Genesis 2:7.

References:

  1. Naomi Starkey writing in New Daylight 1 July 2008
  2. C S Lewis Reflections on the Psalms page 96

© David Billin 2002–2021