“The older son called
One of the servants.
‘What is going on?’”
καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος ἕνα τῶν παίδων ἐπυνθάνετο τί ἂν εἴη ταῦτα.
This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories. Luke indicated that Jesus said that the older son called one of his male servants (καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος ἕνα τῶν παίδων) and asked or inquired of him (ἐπυνθάνετο) what was going on (τί ἂν εἴη ταῦτα)? This older hard-working son wanted to know what all the music, dancing, and celebrating was all about. How come nobody told him what was going on? Have you ever been confused about a celebration?”
I say to you!
He will put that one
Of all his possessions.”
ἀληθῶς λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐπὶ πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπάρχουσιν αὐτοῦ καταστήσει αὐτόν.
Luke indicated that Jesus gave a solemn declaration (ἀληθῶς λέγω ὑμῖν) that this master would put his good servant in charge (καταστήσει αὐτόν) of all his possessions (ὅτι ἐπὶ πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπάρχουσιν αὐτοῦ). There is a similar saying about this parable of the good slave in Matthew, chapter 24:47, almost word for word, indicating a possible Q source. Matthew indicated that Jesus gave a solemn proclamation (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν), that this hard-working wise slave would be put in charge of all the master’s possessions (ὅτι ἐπὶ πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπάρχουσιν αὐτοῦ καταστήσει αὐτόν). Do a good job and you will get a promotion! Have you ever been promoted because you did good work?
“I hated all my toil
In which I had toiled under the sun.
I must leave it to
Those who will come after me.
Whether they will be a wise or foolish?
Yet they will be
Master of all for which I toiled.
I used my wisdom under the sun.
This also is vanity.
So I turned about.
I gave my heart up to despair
Concerning all the toil of
My labors under the sun.
Sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom,
Toiled with knowledge,
Toiled with skill,
Must leave all to be enjoyed by another
Who did not toil for it.
This also is vanity.
This is a great evil.
What do mortals get from all the toil?
What do mortals gat from the strain
With which they toil under the sun?
All their days are full of pain.
Their work is a vexation.
Even at night
Their minds do not rest.
This also is vanity.”
Now Qoheleth addressed the problem of hard work. What is its value? He had been a hard working wise man, but he would have to leave all his work to those who would come after him. There was no telling if they would be wise or foolish, but still they would be in charge of all his things. He then realized that with all his wisdom under the sun, everything that he had accomplished was in vain. He then fell into despair, much like Job. He would not enjoy the fruit of his hard work. He had worked with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, but he had to leave the results of his work to be enjoyed by those who would not work hard. This is the problem with parents who work hard to see their children succeed, only to have them dissipate their life away. This painful useless work is a great evil. He wanted to know if there was a reward for this hard work. This work was nothing but a painful troubling vexation that kept him from sleeping at night. Hard work was useless, in vain, vanity itself. This is a very strong indictment against hard work.