Ecclesiastes

General Christian Theology
PositiveSeeker
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby PositiveSeeker » Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:21 pm

Actually, his conclusion was to fear God and keep his commandments. The difference between the two is significant, and I will need to add a chapter or postlude to my book to deal with that. I think that this aptly portrays the difference between the two covenants.


You are correct.
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lesterb
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Sat Feb 18, 2017 6:33 pm

PositiveSeeker wrote:
Actually, his conclusion was to fear God and keep his commandments. The difference between the two is significant, and I will need to add a chapter or postlude to my book to deal with that. I think that this aptly portrays the difference between the two covenants.


You are correct.

Just to enlarge a little on this, here is something I wrote to my reviewers....
Solomon’s answer, in the end, was “Fear God and keep His commandments.” But Jesus said “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” There is a substantial difference between the two perspectives.

I did notice that there are about ten OT verses that speak of loving God, too. However, these are mostly in the form of a command to love, like “I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply.” The NT takes a different perspective, in the form of an invitation such as “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

By the end of the book, I’d like to be focusing on a God who loves us and invites us to love him and serve him, rather than a distant authority that we’d better love and obey, or else.
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When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Pro 16:7 ESV)

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lesterb
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Mon Feb 27, 2017 2:49 pm

Quoted from this thread.

lesterb wrote:I can't read Greek. So I have to use a lexicon / dictionary if I want to know more about a word. It is often hard to catch all the nuances of a Greek or Hebrew word in a single word or phrase, which is all that the translations can do, so I like at times to get a broader perspective of the word. That is one reason I really like the NET notes.

My first court of appeal is pretty well always a comparison of translations. If I discover a lot of variation in thinking, then I check further. Some passages simply are obscure, even for Greek or Hebrew scholars and the best they can do is look at the context and try to figure out what it is all about.

For instance...


Note the footnote in the ESV

The NET note for this verse reads...

N27 tn The syntax and exegesis of the line is difficult. There are three basic interpretive options:

(1) the king takes care of the security of the cultivated land: "in any case, the advantage of a country is that there is a king for the cultivated land";

(2) the king is in favor of a prosperous agricultural policy: "in any case, the advantage of a country is that there is a king who is obeyed for the sake of the agriculture"; and

(3) the king exploits the poor farmers: "the produce of the land is [seized] by all, even the king is served by the fields."

Perhaps the best option in the light of the context is to take the referent of כֹּל (kol, "all") to the government officials of Ecc_5:8 rather than to the people as a whole. The verse depicts the exploitation of the poor farmers by corrupt government officials. This is reflected in two English versions: "the increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields" (NIV); "the profit of the land is among all of them; a cultivated field has a king" (RSV margin).

On the other hand, the Septuagint (LXX) treated the syntax so the king is viewed in a neutral sense: και περισσεια γης ἐπι παντι ἐστι, βασιλευς του αργου εἰργασμενου ("The abundance of the earth is for everyone; the king is dependent on the tilled field").

Most English versions deal with the syntax so that the king is viewed in a neutral or positive sense: "the profit of the earth is for all; the king himself is served by the field" (KJV); "a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land" (NASB); "this is an advantage for a land: a king for a plowed field" (NRSV); "the greatest advantage in all the land is his: he controls a field that is cultivated" (NJPS); "a country prospers with a king who has control" (Moffatt); "a king devoted to the field is an advantage to the land" (MLB); "a king is an advantage to a land with cultivated fields" (RSV); "the best thing for a country is a king whose own lands are well tilled" (NEB); and "an advantage for a country in every respect is a king for the arable land" (NAB). See D. BarthÈlemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 3:576-77.


While a knowledge of Hebrew would be helpful, the layout of this note give a lot of information that people without that knowledge can understand. The overview of various translations saves a lot of work. This is what I look for when I hit something like this.

[I will reproduce this in the Ecclesiastes threat, along with what I wrote for an explanation. Note that I wrote this before I read the NET note, so it is possible to take this understanding from these verses simply by comparing translations.]


Corruption (Ecc 5:8, 9)

Solomon, again, looked at his subject from a philosophical perspective, not a human rights perspective. The poor were oppressed by those who were stronger than they were, or who had more authority. Those people in turn were oppressed by those above them. The chain of oppression reached all the way to the top, and may have even included the king.

The perversion of justice is common. In some countries of the world, a person is better off to accept oppression than to report it or to try to get justice. Solomon wasn’t commenting on the right or wrong of this (it is obviously wrong). Instead, he was describing a basic reality of life along with a little lesson on economics.

Solomon used a field as a simple example of economic supply and demand. Many people needed to live from the economic product of the field. The people who planted the field, watered it, and harvested it were the most obvious economic beneficiaries. In Bible times these people didn’t own the field or finance the crop, they were just laborers who were paid for their work. So, they needed to get enough of the field’s economic product to live on, probably in the form of wages. The man who owned the field, also financed the crop and paid the laborers. He too needed to receive a benefit because he also had to eat and probably had a family to support. He may have sold the crop to a miller, who produced flour from it. That man also needed to make some income from the field’s product to feed his family. So, he sold the flour to a baker, who baked bread and sold it to a local store. The local store finally sold it to the person who ate it. So, the laborers, the farmer, the miller, the baker, and the store all needed to have a share of the economic product of the field to live. (FTNT 21)

But the process goes beyond that. Some of these people might have borrowed money to finance their operations, so the economic product of the field also paid the interest on their loans. And finally, the government collected sales taxes and income taxes from these people. So even the government lived from the field’s economic product.

Now, none of this is wrong. But it does give a lot of opportunity for doing wrong. At any link of this economic chain, someone could oppress the person who depended on him for his income. The most obvious point was at the bottom of the ladder. If the farmer was greedy, and many people were looking for work in the fields, he could make extra money by paying unfair wages. The laborers had little recourse, because they had less money and less authority and fewer powerful friends than the farmer did.

Some people try to take advantage of others by bribing them. Some threaten them by using their authority. And on and on it goes. The king (ie. the government) was at the top of the ladder and had the most power and authority of all. It is very easy for government to use this power to take advantage of the population.

The process of corruption is prompted by greed, of course. But it is also prompted by the fact that the economic resources of the field are limited. Finally, you can only stretch a natural resource so far. The people in the line for getting a piece of the pie are afraid that the economic profit won’t reach around, and so they fight over it. In cases like this it isn’t the early bird that gets the worm. Rather, the biggest bird gets it, even though he may the last one to reach the table.

People living in democratic countries like to think that these things only happen in third world countries or countries run by dictators or crooked governments. But anyone studying the effects of capitalism, lobbying and big money in our time will soon realize that these things happen to us as well.

Corruption is one of the realities caused by the love of money. If we depend on money for happiness or meaning in life, we will be disappointed. Which, I believe, was Solomon’s point in these verses.

Edited to add: Ftnt 21 Not every step is necessarily present all the time. The householder in Bible times probably bought the flour and baked his own bread. The poorer people probably bought grain and ground it and baked their own bread. The baker probably took the bread to a local market and sold it directly to the householder, but he probably had to pay a fee to the market owner. These principles take many different shapes, but the basic principle Solomon gave here is part of the economic cycle everywhere.
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lesterb
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:13 pm

Solomon was ready to start his third theme in Ecclesiastes. His first picture had been almost incoherent, painted with brilliant but clashing colors. It especially portrayed his frustration with a life that had gotten out of his control. He liked logical, sensible conclusions, like the ones he had written in Proverbs when he was younger. But life wasn’t like that anymore. Something had changed and he realized all of a sudden that his life was coming to a close. He was king. This meant that he was a dictator and his word was law. But that would mean nothing when he died.

His first word picture illustrated his anger at a life that made no sense in the light of death. I think it may even have shown us his anger towards the God he had drifted away from.

His second picture was more coherent but also more drab. It had some brilliant bursts of color here and there, but the effect wasn’t really that pleasing. It spoke about the “inevitables” of life, the things that even a king couldn’t change. He had calmed down, and his anger and frustration had faded, but the picture was still joyless. Shouldn’t a man in his situation be joyous in his relation to the God who had done so much for him?

He had that joy at one point. But it had faded away, like the sun fades behind the clouds on a dreary, drizzly day in the fall.

He tore that second picture from his easel as well. It was time for a third picture. He pondered for a long time before reaching for his brush and dipping it into a pot of paint…
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:25 pm

Here's another snapshot...

It had been many years since Solomon had felt intimidated by another man. He had intimidated many others, especially as he grew older and his temper grew shorter. But he had seldom been intimidated by someone else, especially not when he was sitting on his throne with his guards on both sides of him.

This was different, however.

He looked at the prophet again. He wasn’t particularly appealing to look at. His hair was unkempt, and his robe was ragged. Even his sandals had seen better days. But his eyes caught and held Solomon’s attention. They seemed to glow with a fierce inner light.

Their eyes locked for a moment or two, but Solomon looked away first. He felt foolish for his feelings. He could have this man removed with the wave of a hand. His guards were watching him for the signal to move in on him. But Solomon couldn’t make himself do it.

The prophet simply stood there, apparently waiting for a response from Solomon. His steady gaze disconcerted Solomon and he started to become irritated. “Don’t you know that I’m the king?” Solomon’s voice was a little sharper than he had intended, but the prophet didn’t cringe.

“I serve a King who is mightier than you are,” he answered calmly. “What answer shall I take back to Him?”

Solomon squirmed a little. “Tell Him that I have heard His message.”

The prophet’s gaze held him captive. “He will want to know how you plan to respond.”

Solomon just wanted this standoff to end, but he didn’t know what to say. He dropped his eyes to the prophet’s sandals and noted that one of the thongs was torn. It had already been knotted once and would soon need to be fixed again, unless the prophet wanted to go barefooted.

He forced his mind back to the present. “Tell Him… tell Him, that I will think on what you have told me.” It annoyed him that his voice shook. He sighed with relief, almost audibly, when the prophet acknowledged his answer with a slight bow, turned, and strode from the audience chamber.

“Close the door behind him,” he said to the guard at the doorway. “If anyone else is waiting to see me, tell them to come back tomorrow, or better yet, next week.” He hesitated before adding, “I need some time alone, to think.” He seldom explained his actions to his guards but they stood at attention, waiting until he had left the room before they looked at each other.
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lesterb
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Thu Mar 09, 2017 2:26 pm

Solomon said...



George Orwell said...
Remedy of Six Rules

Orwell said it was easy for his contemporaries to slip into bad writing of the sort he had described and that the temptation to use meaningless or hackneyed phrases was like a "packet of aspirins always at one's elbow". In particular, such phrases are always ready to form the writer's thoughts for him to save him the bother of thinking, or writing, clearly. However, he concluded that the progressive decline of the English language was reversible, and suggested six rules which, he claimed, would prevent many of these faults although, "one could keep all of them and still write bad English".

  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. (Examples which Orwell gives of breaking this rule include ring the changes, Achilles' heel, swan song, and hotbed. He describes these as "dying metaphors", and argues that these phrases are used without knowing what is truly being said. Furthermore, he says that using metaphors of this kind makes the original meaning of the phrases meaningless, because those using the phrases do not know their original meaning. Orwell states that "some metaphors now current have been twisted out of their original meaning without those who use them even being aware of the fact.")
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
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lesterb
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Thu Mar 09, 2017 3:23 pm

So, my question is: Will following Orwell's "rules" destroy literature? Is the only alternative to Orwellian English, third grade English? At one point, I would have agreed with his list, except I though the Rudolph Fleisch wrote them. :-| But when I look at my bookshelves at the books that have passed the tests of time to become classics, I see books that you have to slow down a bit to read.

But I'm still not sure if this is because the English they use is more complex, or whether they are just promoting ideas that are complex. Take the KJV, for instance. We hear a lot about how difficult it is to understand, yet it's written at about a sixth grade English level. Some of the vocabulary is archaic, but that isn't the total problem.

Do Solomon and Orwell contradict each other? Can you write thought provoking material using Orwell's methods? What would you use for an illustration of this?
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby cmbl » Thu Mar 09, 2017 4:08 pm

lesterb wrote:So, my question is: Will following Orwell's "rules" destroy literature? Is the only alternative to Orwellian English, third grade English? At one point, I would have agreed with his list, except I though the Rudolph Fleisch wrote them. :-| But when I look at my bookshelves at the books that have passed the tests of time to become classics, I see books that you have to slow down a bit to read.

But I'm still not sure if this is because the English they use is more complex, or whether they are just promoting ideas that are complex. Take the KJV, for instance. We hear a lot about how difficult it is to understand, yet it's written at about a sixth grade English level. Some of the vocabulary is archaic, but that isn't the total problem.

Do Solomon and Orwell contradict each other? Can you write thought provoking material using Orwell's methods? What would you use for an illustration of this?

I don't think they contradict each other, because I think they're referring to different things. I think Solomon is saying something like, "the sayings of the wise will stand the test of time," while Orwell was fed up with people abusing the English language to create confused admiration of political speech. So I don't think Solomon is saying "use long words," nor do I think Orwell is... :? unequivocally...saying "use short words."
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lesterb
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:53 pm

Solomon was old. He wasn’t sure when it happened. But it had dawned on him one time while he was writing about old people. He decided to describe how it felt to be old, then realized that he didn’t need to use his imagination. He knew, from experience, what it meant to be old.

It was a deflating experience. But he should have known. He had just been avoiding the truth because he didn’t want to admit it. His father had given in to old age when he was about ten years older than Solomon was now. But suddenly, he knew — he wasn’t sure how he knew, but he did — that the end was close at hand.

He looked down at the pieces of papyri on his writing table. “I’m almost done,” he told himself. “Just a few more hours to go. I might be able to finish tomorrow evening.”

But in the meantime, he had better try to get some sleep. Sleep had become precious the last while. It seemed that he was always tired, yet he could never sleep soundly when he did go to bed.

His steps dragged as he shuffled his way to his bed chamber. His servant had been waiting outside that door and heard him coming.

“You should have called me, Master,” he scolded gently, as he helped Solomon take the last few steps. “You might fall and hurt yourself.”

Solomon trembled from exertion as he sat on the side of his bed. “You will soon be rid of me,” he told his servant. “I hope your next master is as good to you as you have been to me.”

“No, master,” the servant replied. “I will never find another master like you.” He helped Solomon to lie down, and pulled the covers over him. Solomon often got cold at night.

He paused at the door. “Remember, I’m sleeping right out here. If you need anything, please call.”
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lesterb
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:57 pm

Solomon laid down his quill. He was finished. Now he could die in peace, his final great work accomplished.

He had given the responsibility of running the kingdom to his son some months ago. He had spent much of the time since then in reading and thinking. He had done a lot of reminiscing, pondering over his past life and sorting out what had all happened. He knew now that he had made many mistakes. He also knew that the increasing troubles he and the kingdom had faced in the last several years were part of his punishment.

Even worse, he knew, from what the prophet had told him, that his son would face even more repercussions. He had tried to find and get rid of Jeroboam, to protect his son from him, but failed.

“Maybe I should have told Rehoboam about Jeroboam and the prophecy that he would become king of ten of Israel’s tribes.” He shook his head broodingly. “I guess he can figure it out for himself. I’ve tried to help him get ready, but he thinks he can do so much better than I did. He’ll have to learn the hard way.”

He called for his servant who came running. “I want to go to bed,” he said. His voice shook. After all, he was old and he had worked hard. He gathered together the loose scraps of parchment, covered with a somewhat shaky script. “Give these to my scribes,” he told the servant. “They will know what to do. But first help me to my bed.”

He paused for a moment at the door. The servant saw him glance around the room, as if saying goodbye. . . .



And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father:
and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead. (1 Kings 11:43)
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When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Pro 16:7 ESV)


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