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Ecclesiastes (21) The fool's heart inclines to the left

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posted on Feb, 12 2021 @ 05:02 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”.

From ch9 v13 to ch10 v7

The most recent theme, occupying the last couple of chapters, has been the puzzle of the injustice of the way life treats the wicked and the righteous, with rewards going to the wrong people. Before then, I noticed that “wisdom is a good thing” statements were being inserted at intervals, apparently serving as “paragraph breaks” between themes. Another one is now coming up.

V13 “I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun.”
This introduces a story. A small city was besieged by a great king, but a poor wise man lived there “and by his wisdom delivered the city.”

In those days, he won’t have saved the city by inventing a new weapon. It has to be something to do with his righteousness. Did he speak to the rest of the city and persuade them to repent, as Jonah persuaded Nineveh? (Jonah ch3) No, because we are told that the people did not listen to him.

Did he save the city by his prayers, as Abraham might have saved Sodom? Possibly. Or was it enough, to win God’s aid, that he was present there as a righteous man, as ten righteous men might have saved Sodom? (Genesis ch18 v32). Or as Noah, Daniel and Job might have saved Jerusalem by their righteousness, if God’s patience had not been exhausted (Ezekiel ch14 v14).

“Yet no-one remembered that poor man… his wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.”
This may have been the original point of the anecdote. For this context, a fresh conclusion is added; “But I say that wisdom is better than might.”

The next couple of chapters look more like a chapter in Proverbs. That is, we are offered a series of more-or-less self-contained proverbial statements. The one thread running through the series is that nearly all of them are about folly, describing it or comparing it with wisdom. I take seven of them now.

V17 “The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.”
A chief among fools shows his nature by his noise. We may compare “A prudent man conceals his knowledge, but fools proclaim their folly” (Proverbs ch12 v23).

V18 “Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.”
In classic Proverbs style, this contrast implicitly identifies wisdom with righteousness and sin with folly.
Wisdom/righteousness is the better defence against the evils of the world, including human enemies. Yet it only takes one sinner in the community to undermine much of this valuable power.

Paul says “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Corinthians ch5 v6). Or as we say, “One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.”

Ch10 v1 “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off an evil odour.”
I once embarrassed the young lady who was trying to convert me by asking her to explain that statement. In fact this verse is making the same point as the previous verse, this time about the different qualities within one person;
“So a little folly outweighs wisdom and honour.”

V2 “A wise man’s heart inclines him toward the right, but a fool’s heart toward the left.”
English translation allows a wordplay between “right- the opposite of left” and “right- the opposite of wrong”, but that wordplay isn’t available in Hebrew. The two meanings are also distinct in Latin- the connection seems to have been set up in the Germanic language tradition.

So the identity of “left” and “wrong”, though it’s implied in this contrast, doesn’t come from the language being used. It must come straight from the psychology of the fact that the left is the “wrong” side of the body for most of us humans. Only alien readers will need to be told why.

Incidentally, the “heart” in the Bible is not the place where we feel emotional attachments. It is the place where we make decisions about our behaviour. When Paul says we must believe in our heart, he’s telling us to make a faith-commitment. The heart that inclines toward the left is thinking about doing the wrong thing.

V3 “Even when the fool walks on the road he lacks sense, and he says to everyone that he is a fool.”
This would be easy to illustrate on modern roads. If he’s an American fool, he keeps wandering onto the pavement. If he’s a British fool, he keeps wandering OFF the pavement (this is another linguistic conundrum).

The roads in ancient Israel would be more roughly-made, so the fool might show himself by tripping over things or getting lost.

V4 “If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for deference will make amends for great offences.”
What is happening here? Is the king getting drunk as he feasts and throwing things at his guests, as Alexander used to do? Are we being advised not to leave our place at the table, but to sit it out patiently?

Alternatively, “your place” means “your post in the king’s service”. The king is justifiably angry at
our mismanagement of his affairs. The second half of the sentence makes this the better interpretation. We should accept the rebuke in humbleness and resolve to do better. Only the fool would sulk and resign.

We may apply this advice to the just rebukes of God. The fool is the one who does not listen.

Vv5-7 Finally there is the observation that high places and low places are given to the wrong people. Folly and slaves in high place, on horseback. Rich men and princes in low place, on foot. (Surely the second group are “wise” only in a more secular sense than we normally find in Proverbs.)

This arrangement is “as it were an error proceeding from the ruler”. He may mean “from the king”, if the proverb was originally just a social comment. But this tentative way of putting it suggests that he (now) means “from God”. In that case, this observation returns to the theme of the previous chapter.

“Ruler” in v4 and “ruler” in v5 are different Hebrew words, but the meaning seems to be the same.

posted on Feb, 12 2021 @ 05:30 PM
Brother you throw pearls after swines here at ATS.

Christian conversion if a lost soul will never happen at ATS.

Don't you think you have wasted enough time teaching here at ATS?

The faithful appreciate your hard work but are you winning souls here at ATS? NO. You are wasting your time here trying to lead souls to Christ.

It is time to remove the dust from your soles and move on.

Wouldn't your time be better spent in the house of God, or a missionary position, or street Ministry? You will find your time much more rewarding. Personally I find street ministry much more rewarding.

I commend you for your effort.

Your brother in Christ,


a reply to: DISRAELI

posted on Feb, 12 2021 @ 05:37 PM
a reply to: DeathSlayer
There is also a useful function in teaching those who are Christians already, and they are present on this site as members and also as visitors. God called me as a teacher, not an evangelist, and this is the place whe he wants me to be for the moment. Actually, I'm also teaching myself in the process, especially in this book. There is now an ongoing project of turning some of my back catalogue into book MSS for potential publication. Trust me, I know what I'm doing.

P.S. The church does not want me as a minister (because I have no pastoral calling), and I have no gift whatever for speaking. So writing on the internet is the only outlet currently available to me, and God was evidently training me for it even before the internet existed (which was very frustrating at the time, because he couldn't tell me what he was doing).

edit on 12-2-2021 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 12 2021 @ 05:41 PM
You do this for money?

a reply to: DISRAELI

posted on Feb, 12 2021 @ 05:42 PM
a reply to: DeathSlayer
Nobody's paying me.

posted on Feb, 12 2021 @ 05:44 PM
You are looking to have your MSS published?

a reply to: DISRAELI

posted on Feb, 12 2021 @ 05:47 PM
a reply to: DeathSlayer
I'm certainly going to offer them around. There are several about ready to be offered, but I may want to start with Revelation (which is where I started here), so I'm even now on the fiddly task of updating the original Bible Reference index.

posted on Feb, 12 2021 @ 05:48 PM
God bless you brother.

a reply to: DISRAELI

posted on Feb, 12 2021 @ 05:50 PM
a reply to: DeathSlayer
Thank you.

posted on Feb, 12 2021 @ 06:19 PM
a reply to: DeathSlayer

I actually enjoy reading his posts and look forward to them every Friday. No. He's not winning a convert because I'm already there even if I don't always articulate my positions/beliefs as well as I should. But he always has interesting things to say.

posted on Feb, 12 2021 @ 08:52 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Nice commentary.

Ecclesiastes contains pure wisdom.

Like an apple of gold in a picture of silver.

posted on Feb, 12 2021 @ 09:24 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI
I enjoy reading what you write

posted on Feb, 13 2021 @ 03:22 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Make a fool king of the world. And watch the world slowly burn. But what are the chances that a wise man will be elected or even listened to, in a world of fools? Basically.....Absolutely zero change.

Ever seen a movie called ideocracy?
edit on 3amSaturdayam132021f6amSat, 13 Feb 2021 03:58:49 -0600 by galadofwarthethird because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 13 2021 @ 03:37 AM
a reply to: galadofwarthethird
"The poor man's wisdom is despised and his words are not heeded" (ch9 v16).
I think I'd better stay off politics, though.

posted on Feb, 13 2021 @ 10:58 AM
Ive heard that there can be much wisdom in playing thr fool, then not being actually being one. Yet, it is said thete even more to admitting that one would not know, or in some tenses, defeat?

The bible does use left an right, an to a certain point it doesnt sound that much different with current mainstream politics. Sheep an Goats, nations being under the hands of god, Michael an Gabriel( or even Samael) to name a few.

I try not let one bad apple spoil a batch, that be racist...also budget costs. The adage, in the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

edit on 13-2-2021 by Specimen88 because: (no reason given)

edit on 13-2-2021 by Specimen88 because: (no reason given)

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