The Publication of Ecclesiastes uses fascinating insights right into what the Jewish intellect had actually grasped of the objective of life 2 or 3 hundred years prior to Christ. The voice of the book is that of Ecclesiastes, or “the Preacher”, who was King over Jerusalem, and who might be taken in some sense as a depiction of Solomon. The Preacher recounts how he has devoted himself to getting eextremely create of understanding and also wisdom, and also to pursuing the excellent things of the people, only to uncover again and also aobtain that every little thing is “vanity and a striving after wind” (e.g., 2:11).

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The Publication is composed of twelve brief chapters, and In the finish the Preacher concludes that wisdom consists in accepting life as it comes while continuing to carry out the job-related God has offered one to perform, enjoying the fruits of that sober labor, all in the context of the deep ties of family members and area. Thus:

Enjoy life through the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life which he has offered you under the sun, bereason that is your percent in life and also in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand also finds to carry out, perform it with your might; for tbelow is no work or thought or understanding or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. <9:9-10>

In this feeling, the Publication is rather discouraging. It is pervaded with the acceptance of God’s will however betrays virtually no sense of God’s setup extfinishing beyond fidelity to the everyday work-related and also the family members commitments provided by God. The introductory note in the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition compares the spiroutine conmessage to that of the Book of Job, making the following point:

Ecclesiastes hregarding urge on God’s goodness and also power and also providence also though experience appears at times to show the contrary. He has actually no solution to sell various other than belief in God and also trust that he will, in his very own means and also time, punish evil and reward good; cf. 3:17; 8:12-13. He constantly emphasizes the vanity of developed things, which deserve to never before fulfill the heart of male.

But I chose my words carefully in the opening paragraph, when I referred to what the Jewish intellect had actually grasped. There is much more in Sacred Scripture than what we have the right to master through factor, and it seems to me that the many crucial interpretive suggest to make around Ecclesiastes is that the spiritual author deliberately chooses to restrict the horizon to what we have the right to recognize via human reason. The writer could, after all, have actually drawn on the Jewish mystical heritage, and also tbelow are intimations of eternal life through God in various other Biblical books which are also older—flashes of what trust in God will bring about in the finish.

We experienced this in Job (“For I know that my redeemer lives”) and also we check out it repetitively in the Psalms. Even in Ecclesiastes, the Preacher may say more than he realizes as soon as he admits (in evident frustration): “I have seen the business that God has actually provided to the sons of men to be busy via. He has made everything beautiful in its time; likewise he has put eternity right into man’s mind, yet so he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (3:10-11) (focus added).

The Frustration of Desires

Granted, it is a huge step from this to “eye has actually not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has ready for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9), and also yet St. Paul essentially quotes this passage from the prophet Isaiah (64:4 and also 65:17), who was energetic half a millennium prior to the Book of Ecclesiastes was written, though the verses Paul supplies may have been composed somewhat later on than the earlier portions of the prophet’s occupational. Nonethemuch less, even in the somewhat disappointing chapters of Job and also Eccleiastes, foreshadowings of redemption are visible. But the writer of Ecclesiastes deliberately restricts the type of expertise he will certainly use to make his allude.

The caption in the RSV-CE for Ecclesiastes chapter 5 is “Reverence, Humility, Enjoyment” while the caption for chapter 6 is “Frustration of Desires”. These are definitely apt in catching the Preacher’s wisdom (reverence, humility, enjoyment) quite than preoccupying ourselves with vanities, an ultimately unsatisfying striving after wind. The adhering to text expresses his template perfectly:

Tright here is a grievous evil which I have actually watched under the sun: riches were maintained by their owner to his hurt, and those riches were shed in a negative venture; and he is father of a boy, but he has actually nothing in his hand. As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil, which he may carry amethod in his hand. This likewise is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go; and also what get has actually he that he toiled for the wind, and invested all his days in darkness and also grief, in a lot vexation and sickness and also resentment? Behold, what I have viewed to be good and to be fitting is to eat and drink and also discover enjoyment in all the toil via which one toils under the sun the few days of his life which God has offered him, for this is his lot. <5:13-18>

But aget, this must be a deliberately restricted vision—most likely limited to what have the right to be ascertained through huguy reason alone, through the wise man’s unaided rational evaluation. In this deliberately-favored conmessage, we are privy to the spiritual author’s determination to remain within what he knows for sure: Namely, that we have to be content with the life God has offered us, not striving after false goals that cannot fulfill, but quite trusting in God in all points. Even now, through the advantage of Christ, the spiroutine life is composed mainly in this trust, even as soon as the way is dark for us—“bereason we look not to the points that are seen but to the points that are unseen” (2 Cor 4:18).

When we think of the Book of Ecclesiastes in this means, we view a striking parallel through certain forceful lessons taught by Our Lord. Consider, for instance, the parable of the wealthy man that enlarged his barns and storehouses: “ ‘Fool! This night your spirit is compelled of you; and also the things you have actually all set, whose will certainly they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and also is not well-off towards God” (Lk 12:20-21). Or:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, wright here moth and rust consume and wbelow thieves break in and also steal, but lay up for yourselves prizes in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and wbelow thieves do not break in and steal. For wright here your treacertain is, tbelow will certainly your heart be likewise. <6:19-21>

Prelude to the Gospel

The most substantial difference between the book of Ecclesiastes and also the Gospel is that Jesus Christ can soptimal authoritatively of a future life via our Father in Heaven while the authors of the Old Testament books might not. But they had actually plenty to say non-authoritatively, as it were: They had wishes and also also glimpses of a future life through God—the God that, the Preacher assures us, “has put eternity into man’s mind”.

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And occasionally the Preacher’s carefully-created mask slips just a little bit, suggesting aobtain that he knows through trust in God far more than he can prove via also the greatest humale wisdom. “I witnessed all the work-related of God, that man cannot discover out the work that is done under the sun. However before much male might toil in seeking, he will certainly not discover it out; even though a wise male clintends to recognize, he cannot find out” (8:17). Here is the voice of also the best humale wisdeom, and also yet simply a couple of verses earlier, the Preacher had declared:

Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the sons of males is totally collection to carry out evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I understand that it will certainly be well with those that fear God, because they are afraid prior to him; yet it will not be well via the wicked, neither will he expand his days favor a shadow, because he does not are afraid before God. <9:11-13>

The leskid of Ecclesiastes is not almost as bleak as it might seem at initially glance. Succinctly stated, it is ssuggest this: Vanity of vanities. All is vanity. Except to “are afraid god and also save his commandments; for that is the entirety duty of man” (12:13). Man might not understand the outcome of fidelity to this duty, however the last verse of the Book of Ecclesiastes says this: “For God will bring eextremely deed into judgment, with eexceptionally secret point, whether good or evil” (12:14). Without seeing the future, that already tells us rather a lot.

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