“Vanity of vanities,
All is vanity.”
This book ends where it began. All is vanity. Qoheleth repeats the opening lines of this book. We have come full cycle. The life and death of humans is useless, vanity. Everything is useless. This is a kind of cynicism and depression. However, there still was the hope of the human spirit or breath returning to God. Other than that, all the rest was must plain vapor, vanity of vanities.
“It is a snare for one to say rashly.
‘It is holy.’
Then only begin to reflect after making a vow.
A wise king winnows the wicked.
He drives the wheel over them.
The human spirit is the lamp of Yahweh.
It searches every innermost part.
Loyalty and faithfulness preserve the king.
His throne is upheld by righteousness.
The glory of young men is their strength.
The beauty of the aged is their gray hair.
Blows that wound
Cleanse away evil.
Strokes make clean the innermost parts.”
Watch out for snares or traps. When someone thinks that something is holy and then makes a vow, they might be caught because only later do they think about what they just agreed to do. A wise king winnows or gets rid of the wicked ones. Then he drives a wheel over them. The human spirit is like God’s lamp that searches his most inner part. If the king is loyal and faithful he will preserve himself. Righteousness keeps the king on his throne. The glory of young people is their strength. However, the aged are beautiful because of their wonderful gray hair. Any blows that wound people clean up any evil in them. These strokes clean the innermost parts of their human bodies. This seems like an argument for corporal punishment.
“If one gives an answer before hearing,
It is folly and shame.
The human spirit will endure sickness.
But who can bear a broken spirit?
An intelligent mind acquires knowledge.
The ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
A gift opens doors.
Gifts give access to the great.
Whoever first states a case seems right,
Until the other comes,
Until the other cross-examines him.”
The intelligent mind is always acquiring knowledge. The wise ones always have an ear seeking knowledge. Inquiring minds want to know. It is folly and your shame if you give an answer before you hear the question. The human spirit can endure sickness, but a broken spirit is more difficult to bear. A gift will open doors for you, especially to the great ones. If you go to court, your case may seem right until you are cross-examined by somebody else.