The hidden work of God (Eccl 8:16-8:17)

“I applied my mind to know wisdom.

When I wanted to see the business

That is done on earth,

How one’s eyes see sleep

Neither day nor night.

Then I saw all the work of God.

No one can find out

What is happening

Under the sun.

However much they may toil in seeking,

They will not find it out.

Even though those who are wise

Claim to know,

They cannot find it out.”

Qoheleth wanted to know about wisdom so he applied his mind. He wanted to see everything that was done on earth. However, no one could tell him what was happening here on earth, under the sun. Even the wise ones could not find out, despite their labors. These wise humans were not able to discern the wisdom of the work of God.

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Enjoy yourself (Eccl 8:15-8:15)

“So I commend enjoyment.

There is nothing better for people

Under the sun

Than to eat and drink.

Let them enjoy themselves.

This will go with them

In their toil

Through the days of life

That God gives him

Under the sun.”

Qoheleth has a response to all this ambiguity that was also found with Job. His recommendation is that they should enjoy yourselves. There is nothing better under the sun than to eat and drink. Enjoy your labor under the sun during all the days of your life that God has given you. Just relax and enjoy life.

The wicked (Eccl 8:10-8:14)

“Then I saw the wicked buried.

They used to go in to the holy place.

They used to go out of the holy place.

They were praised in the city

Where they had done such things.

This also is vanity.

Because sentence against an evil deed

Is not executed speedily.

The human heart is fully set to do evil.

Though sinners do evil a hundred times,

They still prolong their lives.

Yet I know

That it will be well with those who fear God,

Because they stand in fear before him.

But it will not be well with the wicked.

Neither will they prolong their days like a shadow,

Because they do not stand in fear before God.

There is a vanity which takes place on earth.

There are righteous people

Who are treated according to the conduct of the wicked.

There are wicked men

Who are treated according to the conduct of the righteous.

I said that this also is vanity.”

The wicked people die. However, they too went in and out of the holy place, the Temple. Everyone praised them for this, but it still was useless, vanity. The problem is that the sentence against an evil person is not carried out quickly. Humans see this, so that they continue to do evil deeds a hundred times more. This is the problem of the criminal justice system that takes too long to punish people. Thus the wicked continue to live a long life. However, Qoheleth knows that those who fear God will be okay. Those who do not fear God will only have a shadowy life, not the full life of those who fear God. However, there are vain or useless things here on earth. Sometimes the righteous are treated as if they are wicked. Vice versa, some wicked are treated as if they were righteous. This whole life is vanity or futile.

The right time (Eccl 8:6-8:9)

“Every matter has its time,

Every matter has its way,

Even though the troubles of mortals

Lie heavy upon them.

Indeed they do not know

What is to be.

Who can tell him

How it will be?

No one has power over the wind,

To restrain the wind.

No one has power over the day of death.

There is no discharge from the battle.

Wickedness does not deliver

Those who practice it.

All this I observed.

I applied my mind to all

That is done

Under the sun.

One person exercises authority over another

To the other’s hurt.”

You have to know the right time and the correct way to do things. Those with wisdom will be able to do these things. No knows how to stop the wind or the day of their death. You cannot be excused from the battle. Wickedness has its own reward. Qoheleth knows all about these things because he observed them. He saw how one person exercised authority over another that caused harm. That is our way of life under the sun.

The power of the king (Eccl 8:2-8:5)

“Keep the king’s command

Because of your sacred oath.

Do not be terrified.

Go from his presence!

Do not delay

When the matter is unpleasant.

He does whatever he pleases.

The word of the king is powerful.

Who can say to him?

‘What are you doing?’

Whoever obeys a command

Will meet no harm.

The wise mind will know

The time.

The wise mind will know

The way.”

Once again, the basic assumption is that the king in acting in the name of God, what later was called the divine right of a king. You have sworn to follow the king. Do not be afraid. Go to him even if the matter is unpleasant. He is going to do whatever he pleases anyway. The word of the king is powerful. No one can ask him what he is doing. If you obey his command, everything will be okay. The wise person will know the right time and way to do this.

Watch out for women (Eccl 7:26-7:29)

“I found that the woman,

Who is a trap,

Is more bitter than death.

Her heart is snares.

Her hear is nets.

Her hands are fetters.

‘One who pleases God escapes her.

But the sinner is taken by her.’

See!

This is what I found,

Says Qoheleth,

Adding one thing to another

To find the sum.

My mind has sought this repeatedly,

But I have not found it.

‘One man among a thousand

I found.

But a woman among all these

I have not found.’

See!

This alone I found.

God made human beings straightforward.

However they have devised many schemes.”

In this anti-feminine diatribe, Qoheleth believed that women were a trap, more bitter than death. Female hearts were like a snare and a net, while their hands were like chains. If you were pleasing to God, you escaped from this woman. However, the sinner could be taken by her. Qoheleth could find only one good man among 1,000, but he could not find even one good person among the women. He had found out that God made humans straight forward, but humans just devised many schemes.