The false pursuits (Bar 3:15-3:19)

“Who has found

Her place?

Who has entered

Her storehouses?

Where are the rulers

Of the nations?

Where are those

Who lorded it over

The animals on earth?

Where are those

Who have made sport

Of the birds of the air?

Where are those

Who hoarded up

Silver with gold

In which people trust ?

Where are those

With no end

To their getting?

Where are those

Who schemed

To get silver?

Where are those

Who are anxious?

There is no trace

Of their works.

They have vanished.

They have gone down

To Hades.

Others have arisen

In their place.”

Baruch talks about the vanity and uselessness of various life pursuits as in wisdom literature. What happens to people who store up treasures in a storehouse? Where are all the rulers of the various nations? Where are all the people who felt superior to animals. Where are the sportsmen who tried to shoot the birds in the air with their arrows? What happened to all those who hoarded up and put their trust in silver and gold? Where are all the people who never had enough? Where are those who schemed to get silver? Where are all the people who were so anxious? Baruch’s response is simple and clear. There is no trace of any of these people and their works. They have vanished and gone to hell, Hades, the Greek word for Sheol, the shadowy underworld that we often call hell. However, there are always others to take their place to do the same thing over and over again.

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Enjoy life (Wis 2:6-2:9)

“Come!

Therefore!

Let us enjoy the good things that exist!

Make use of creation to the full

As in youth.

Let us take our fill of costly wine!

Let us take our fill of perfumes!

Let no flower of spring pass us by.

Let us crown ourselves

With rosebuds before they wither.

Let none of us fail to share in our revelry.

Everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment.

Because this is our portion,

This is our lot.”

Once again, following the advice of Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes, we should enjoy life and not worry because all is vanity. These impious people want to enjoy all the existing good things, the use of all creation as they had done in their youth. They wanted to enjoy costly wine, perfumes, and the flowers of spring. They should be crowned with rosebuds as well as share in their revelry. They should enjoy themselves because this was their portion and lot in life.

Qoheleth (Eccl 12:9-12:10)

“Besides being wise,

Qoheleth also taught the people knowledge.

He weighed many proverbs.

He studied many proverbs.

He arranged many proverbs.

Qoheleth sought to find pleasing words.

He wrote words of truth plainly.”

Now we have a description, eulogy, or explanation of Qoheleth by another author in this epilogue. Qoheleth was wise. He taught the people knowledge. He studied and arranged many of the proverbs in this book. He weighted their value. But as we have seen most were useless vanity. He wanted to find pleasing words as he had a good literary Hebrew style. He spoke plain truth. There was nothing fancy about his work.

Vanity (Eccl 12:8-12:8)

“Vanity of vanities,

Says Qoheleth

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.

Happy youth (Eccl 11:9-11:10)

“Rejoice!

Young man!

While you are young.

Let your heart cheer you

In the days of your youth.

Follow the inclinations of your heart.

Follow the desire of your eyes.

But know that for all these things

God will bring you into judgment.

Banish anxiety from your mind.

Put away pain from your body.

Youth is vain.

The dawn of life is vanity.”

Now Qoheleth has an ode to youth. Young men should rejoice while they are young. They should be cheerful and happy. They should follow the inclinations and desires of their hearts and eyes. However, they should be aware that God will judge them. Despite that, they should banish an anxious mind or a painful body. After all, all of this is in vain. Youth and the dawn of life is useless vanity.

Light (Eccl 11:7-11:8)

“Light is sweet.

It is pleasant for the eyes

To see the sun.

Even those who live many years,

Should rejoice in them all.

Yet let them remember

That the days of darkness

Will be many.

All that comes is vanity.”

Light is sweet as it provides your eyes with the pleasant sight of the sun. Even those who get to live a happy long life should remember that there will be plenty of long dark days to come. Your long light filled life is mere vanity or useless, because it will come to an end.

We do not know love (Eccl 9:1-9:1)

“All this I laid to heart,

Examining it all.

The righteous are in the hand of God.

The wise are in the hand of God.

Their deeds are in the hand of God.

Whether it is love or hate,

One does not know.

Everything that confronts them is vanity.”

Once again, we have the reflective Qoheleth examining his heart. Life and all the deeds of the righteous and the wise are in the hand of God. No one really knows love or hate, since everything they confront is useless or vanity.