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Ecclesiastes (8) Coveting and isolation

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posted on Oct, 23 2020 @ 05:00 PM
The book of Ecclesiastes tends to be neglected.
I must admit that I’ve been neglecting it myself.
So I come to this book with no preconceptions, except that a book found in the Old Testament must be intended to have a spiritual meaning. The people who compiled the canon were not in the business of collecting an anthology of “Hebrew literature.

The main theme of the early chapters has been that natural life and human life in the natural world do not go beyond a series of cycles of alternating events. Any apparent changes are discovered to be stages within these cycles, while the overall system itself does not change.

It is “vanity” for humans to look for anything beyond these things in the natural world, trying to transcend the system on their own. It is better, and the gift of God, for them to find their enjoyment in the world as it is, maintaining themselves in the way which God has provided.

Nevertheless, God has “put eternity into man’s mind”, in such a way that eternity cannot be known completely. Thus man is made aware of something greater than himself. “God has made it so, in order that men should fear before him.”

It seems that this nearly completes the central message of the book. Much of what follows looks like an assortment of “footnotes” under the general heading “other flaws noticeable in human life when God is disregarded”.

Ch4 vv1-12

V1 “Again, I saw all the oppressions that are practised under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed… On the side of their oppressors there was power, and they had no one to comfort them.”
The verses in the first part of this chapter can be linked together as treating covetousness or envy. Oppression is what happens when the powerful covet what belongs to the less powerful.

Vv2-3. The dead are more fortunate than those who are still alive.
He who is not yet born is better off than both, because he has “not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.”

The above resembles the first complaints of Job; ch3; “Why did I not die at birth?... For then I should have lain down and ben quiet, I should have been at rest… Or why was I not as a hidden birth, as infants that never see the light?”
Job’s complaint is a response to the oppressions which he experienced in the first chapter, partly at the hands of the Sabaeans and the Chaldeans. In the same way, these two verses must be reflecting on the complaint in the first verse.

V4 Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work comes from a man’s envy of his neighbour. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.”
Envy is what happens when men covet the sense of wealth which has been achieved by the more fortunate. This drive can be added to the second chapter’s list of “kinds of wasted toil”.

I am reminded of a Feiffer cartoon seen decades ago. A man in a business suit explaining the progression of the effects of envy in promoting trade, concluding with the injunction “Trust envy- It makes the system work.” (What English newspaper was publishing Feiffer cartoons? Probably the Observer.)

V5 “The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.”
V6”Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.”
If someone is told that he mustn’t work too hard, he may be tempted to rush to the opposite extreme and not work at all. The first of these two verses rebukes that mistake. It sounds like the kind of thing that Proverbs says about the sluggard.

The second verse also looks like something that might be found in Proverbs. It offers a more balanced view, echoing the conclusions found in the second chapter- i.e., “there is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.”
Another possible way of putting it could be that the Old Testament ideal of “contentment in a state of peace” is better than the American ideal, “the pursuit of happiness”, which by definition is always looking for something more.

VV7-8 deal with the vanity of the miser, who toils to accumulate and never attains a level of wealth which satisfies him. Yet he has no one at all who could inherit the wealth from him, and he does not allow himself to gain any enjoyment from it. This is covetousness for its own sake, “an unhappy business”. A variant of the complaint in ch2, that wealth would be inherited by people who did not deserve it. Another example to add to the list of “wasted toil”.

So far we have had examples of “working covetously”.
Working covetously, against the less powerful.
Working covetously, inspired by the more wealthy..
Working covetously, alone.

That last one has the effect of shifting the discussion to a theme of “working alone”, which provides another set of examples.

V9 “Two is better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.”
A man in his own can achieve less than half what a partnership achieves.

V10 “If they fall, one will lift up his fellow”.
Partners will have different strengths and weaknesses, which will complement each other.

V11 Two people lying together in a bed are warmer than one.

V12. Two people can more easily defend themselves against an enemy.

“A three-fold cord is not quickly broken”.
This metaphor doesn’t quite match the pattern of “two working together”, so it may be a separate proverb drawn in to illustrate the theme.

We might take the moral of vv9-12 as “If a man tries to work on his own, that is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

posted on Oct, 24 2020 @ 04:51 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI
Trust makes the system work.

One upmanship is why everyone is against each other.

Competition sets people against people.

No one is content with what actually is ......they want more and better.

Always seeking something.....never content with nothing.

Nothing is the peace that surpasses all understanding.

posted on Oct, 24 2020 @ 05:57 AM

Another possible way of putting it could be that the Old Testament ideal of “contentment in a state of peace” is better than the American ideal, “the pursuit of happiness”, which by definition is always looking for something more.

The wind is the apple. Our free choice is either to empower our will (chase the wind=egoism) or the Fathers will (not chase the wind=altruism). Light is only permitted to pass the gates when we abide to the Fathers will.

Personally I would rate Ecclesiastes as one of the most powerful spiritual books that you have shared with us.

Thank you.

posted on Oct, 25 2020 @ 07:10 AM
Just a reminder that there are still a lot of mistranslated and missing words from the Hebrew and Majority Text in this bible version. That is because the version being quoted does not consider all available text except three corrupt text the Vaticanus, Sinaiticus and the Alexandrinus, Jerome's Greek Septuagint (which never existed in whole before 250AD) some papyrus pieces and Greek Text put together in the 1800's.

This is very important when a man or woman wants the WHOLE COUNCIL OF GO'S WORDS.

Please see chart and compare to the Authorized King James Bible (not a version but the TRUE HOLY BIBLE PRESERVED in English as God Promised in Psalm 12:6-7).

edit on 10/25/2020 by ChesterJohn because: (no reason given)

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