The impending death of old age (Eccl 12:3-12:7)

“In the day

When the guards of the house tremble,

The strong men are bent.

The women who grind cease working

Because they are few.

Those who look through the windows see dimly.

The doors on the street are shut.

The sound of the grinding is low.

One rises up at the sound of a bird.

All the daughters of song are brought low.

When one is afraid of heights,

The terrors are in the road.

The almond tree blossoms.

The grasshopper drags itself along.

Desire fails.

Because all must go to their eternal home.

The mourners will go about the streets.

The silver cord is snapped.

The golden bowl is broken.

The pitcher is broken at the fountain.

The wheel is broken at the cistern.

The dust returns to the earth as it was.

The spirit returns to God who gave it.”

This is an ode to old age. The dying old man, with his many servants and guards, comes to an end. The guards tremble. The strong men bend over. The women grinders stop their dancing. They can only see dimly out the window. Everyone has shut their doors. The grinders have ceased. Morning comes early with the first sound of a bird. There are no more singing young girls. The old man is afraid of heights. He dreads going out on the road because of the fear of attack. The old people tend to walk awkwardly like a grasshopper. Their desires fail maybe due to incompetence. The trees still blossom, but the mourners are out on the streets. The signs of death, the snapped silver cord, the broken gold bowl, and the broken pitcher at the fountain all take place. The wheel was broken at the cistern. They return to dust, but their spirit or breath returns to God. This is a depressing description of old age, just before death, along with the symbolic actions that go with death.

Fear of Yahweh (Prov 14:26-14:27)

“In the fear of Yahweh

One has strong confidence.

One’s children will have a refuge.

The fear of Yahweh

Is a fountain of life.

Thus one may avoid the snares of death.”

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Thus, those who fear God have a strong confidence that their children will be fine. This fear of God is a refuge, the fountain, or the source of all life. If you have fear of Yahweh, you will avoid the snares of death.

The solemn processions (Ps 68:24-68:27)

“Your solemn processions are seen!

O God!

The processions

Of my God,

My King,

Into the sanctuary!

The singers are in front.

The musicians are last.

Between them are girls playing tambourines.

‘Bless God in the great congregation!

Yahweh!

O you who are of Israel’s fountain!’

There is Benjamin,

The least of them,

In the lead.

The princes of Judah are in a body.

The princes of Zebulun are there.

The princes of Naphtali are there.”

This is a description of a great procession into the Temple area. Yahweh is king and God. They head into the sanctuary area. The singers are in front with the musicians last, as girls with tambourines are in the middle. They are there to bless God who is the fountain and foundation of Israel. Only 4 tribes are mentioned, 2 from the north, Zebulun and Naphtali, and 2 from the south. Benjamin was the small tribe that King Saul had come from, while King David was from Judah. Thus the solemn march to the temple took place.