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Ecclesiastes 3: The Nature of Man in Time, Texts and Traditions, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman, Ktav Publishing House, Hoboken NJ, 1998.

The Hebrew Bible
The Book of Ecclesiastes, Hebrew Kohelet, like Job and Proverbs, is a wisdom text. Ecclesiastes and Proverbs were taken by later Rabbinic tradition to have been composed by King Solomon. Modern scholars, however, see Hellenistic influence on this book. In the passage that follows, often quoted in Western literature, the author muses upon the meaning of time and the finite nature of human existence.

3- 1 A season is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven-

2 A time for being born and a time for dying,

A time for planting and a time for uprooting the planted;

3 A time for slaying and a time for healing,

A time for tearing down and a time for building up;

4 A time for weeping and a time for laughing,

A time for wailing and a time for dancing;

5 A time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,

A time for embracing and a time for shunning embraces;

6 A time for seeking and a time for losing,

A time for keeping and a time for discarding;

7 A time for ripping and a time for sewing,

A time for silence and a time for speaking;

8 A time for loving and a time for hating;

A time for war and a time for peace.

9 What value, then, can the man of affairs get from what he earns?…

17 I mused- “God will doom both righteous and wicked, for there is a time for every experience and for every happening.” 18 So I decided, as regards men, to dissociate them [from] the divine beings and to face the fact that they are beasts. 19 For in respect of the fate of man and the fate of beast, they have one and the same fate- as the one dies so dies the other, and both have the same lifebreath; man has no superiority over beast, since both amount to nothing. 20 Both go to the same place; both came from dust and both return to dust. 21 Who knows if a man’s lifebreath does rise upward and if a beast’s breath does sink down into the earth?

22 I saw that there is nothing better for man than to enjoy his possessions, since that is his portion. For who can enable him to see what will happen afterward?

Posted in: Literary Prophecy

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