|Book||Book of Ecclesiastes|
|Christian Bible part||Old Testament|
|Order in the Christian part||21|
Ecclesiastes 3 is the third chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The book contains philosophical speeches by a character called 'Qoheleth' (="the Teacher"; Koheleth or Kohelet), composed probably between 5th to 2nd century BC. Peshitta, Targum, and Talmud attribute the authorship of the book to King Solomon. The NewCity Editor's Letter cites the first part of this chapter (verses 1–8) as "one of the world’s earlier and best-known poems".
There is also a translation into Koine Greek known as the Septuagint, made in the last few centuries BCE. Extant ancient manuscripts of the Septuagint version include Codex Vaticanus (B; B; 4th century), Codex Sinaiticus (S; BHK: S; 4th century), and Codex Alexandrinus (A; A; 5th century). The Greek text is probably derived from the work of Aquila of Sinope or his followers.
New King James Version grouped the chapter:
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 = Everything Has Its Time
- Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 = The God-Given Task
- Ecclesiastes 3:16-22 = Injustice Seems to Prevail
Everything Suitable for its Time (3:1–8)
The section calls to 'a view of God's sovereignty which both reassures and yet sobers' the readers, because God is in control, but it remains mysterious.
- To every thing there is a season,
- A time for every purpose under the heaven:
- "Season" (Hebrew: זְמָ֑ן, ): refers to "appointed or definite time".
- "Time" (Hebrew: עת, ): means 'occasion', 'period/season' or 'circumstances'.
- "Purpose": from Hebrew word חֵפֶץ, , which can be translated as "delight" or "pleasure" (cf. Psalm 1:2).
Verses 2–8 give a list of times for major activities, according to God's plan. It forms a poem, where two Hebrew words are contrasted with two other Hebrew words in each verse. The examples are related to the body, mind and soul. It gives vivid illustration to the statement in verse 1 "that every action or event will come to pass", with the explanation in verse 11 that God made everything "suitable for its time". The context of the poem is the lack of freedom in human life, dictated by external and natural constraints as well as no control when one is born or dies, alongside the human incapacity to discern a deeper purpose in life, while being understood as an 'affirmation of the beauty of the life that God has given to human race'.
|2a||עת ללדת [et ]||a time to be born||ו [we] (= "and")||עת למות [et la· ]||a time to die|
|2b||עת לטעת [et la· ]||a time to plant||ו [we] (= "and")||עת לעקור נטוע [et la· nā·ṭū·a‘]||a time to pluck up that which is planted|
|3a||עת להרוג [et la· ]||a time to kill||ו [we] (= "and")||עת לרפוא [et li ]||a time to heal|
|3b||עת לפרוץ [et li ]||a time to break down||ו [we] (= "and")||עת לבנות [et li .]||a time to build up|
|4a||עת לבכות [et li ]||a time to weep||ו [we] (= "and")||עת לשחוק [et li||a time to laugh|
|4b||עת ספוד [et||a time to mourn||ו [we] (= "and")||עת רקוד [et ]||a time to dance|
|5a||עת להשליך אבנים [et lə· ]||a time to cast away stones||ו [we] (= "and")||עת כנוס אבנים [et ]||a time to gather stones together|
|5b||עת לחבוק [et la· ]||a time to embrace||ו [we] (= "and")||עת לרחק מחבק [et li ]||a time to refrain from embracing|
|6a||עת לבקש [et lə· ]||a time to get||ו [we] (= "and")||עת לאבד [et lə· ]||a time to lose|
|6b||עת לשמור [et li ]||a time to keep||ו [we] (= "and")||עת להשליך [et lə· ]||a time to cast away|
|7a||עת לקרוע [et li ]||a time to rend||ו [we] (= "and")||עת לתפור [et li ]||a time to sew|
|7b||עת לחשות [et la· ]||a time to keep silence||ו [we] (= "and")||עת לדבר [et lə· ]||a time to speak|
|8a||עת לאהב [et le· ]||a time to love||ו [we] (= "and")||עת לשנא [et li ]||a time to hate|
|8b||עת מלחמה [et ]||a time of war||ו [we] (= "and")||עת שלום [et ]||a time of peace|
Contentment and satisfaction (3:9–15)
The question in verse 9 reminds that the desired 'gain' is hard to find, becoming 'the divinely quest for meaningfulness' (verse 10), but only within the limit of human understanding (verse 11). The phrase 'I know' starts each of two sections (verses 12–13 and 14–15) to discern the question.
- He hath made every thing beautiful in his time:
- also he hath set the world in their heart,
- so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
God who made everything suitable for its time is also the one placing a sense of past and future (lit. 'eternity') into human consciousness, although paradoxically despite knowing the reality of this eternity (transcending the moment), human beings can cope only with the moment.
- I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
- "To do good" (Hebrew: לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת ט֖וֹב, ): is 'to practice a happy life', which is better expressed as 'enjoy good'.
- And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
Eaton sees this verse as a reminder that 'provision and contentment are gifts of God'.
The judgment of God (3:16–22)
God as the controller uses injustices to show that without him human beings are no different than animals (verse 18), in their dying (verses 19–20), and in the appreciation they receive after death (verse 21), so as the conclusion: 'the remedy to life's enigma is to live on God's goodness'.
- All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
- Vier ernste Gesänge, a cycle of four songs for bass and piano by Johannes Brahms written in 1896; the first part is taken from Ecclesiastes 3:19–22.
- The first phrase of verse 11 becomes an inspiration for the popular hymn "In His Time, in His Time" (song and lyrics by Diane Ball in 1978).
- "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)", a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s, which the Byrds scored a 1965 hit with. The lyrics, except for the title which is repeated throughout the song and the final two lines, are adapted word-for-word from the English King James Version of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. The song became an international hit in late 1965 when it was covered by the American folk rock band The Byrds. In the U.S., the song holds distinction as the #1 hit with the oldest lyrics, and also with the oldest lyric writer, King Solomon of Israel.
- Halley 1965, p. 275.
- Holman Illustrated Bible Handbook. Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. 2012.
- Weeks 2007, p. 423.
- Jastrow, Morris; Margoliouth, David Samuel (1901–1906). "Ecclesiastes, Book of". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
- Editor's Letter: November 2018. Brian Hieggelke. NewCity, October 25, 2018.
- Würthwein 1995, pp. 35–37.
- P. W. Skehan (2003), "BIBLE (TEXTS)", New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2 (2nd ed.), Gale, pp. 355–362
- Würthwein 1995, pp. 73–74.
- Eaton 1994, p. 612.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV
- Hebrew Text Analysis: Ecclesiastes 3:12. Biblehub.com
- Stedman, Ray C. (1999) Is This All There Is to Life? Answer from Ecclesiastes. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Discovery House Publishers. First published as "Solomon's Secret". Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press. 1985.
- Chilton et al 2008 pp. 292–293
- Weeks 2007, p. 424.
- Ecclesiastes 3:11 KJV
- Coogan 2007, p. 947 Hebrew Bible.
- Ecclesiastes 3:12 KJV
- Eaton 1994, p. 613.
- Ecclesiastes 3:13 KJV
- Ecclesiastes 3:20 KJV
- Palmer, John (2012). "Vier ernste Gesänge (4), for voice & piano (Four Serious Songs), Op. 121". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- "In his time, in his time". Hymnary.org
- "King Solomon's Writings". United Church of God: An International Association. Retrieved 2009-08-21.
- "Turn! Turn! Turn! – Byrds Version". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
- Hasson, Nir (2009-11-08). "Pete Seeger's role in ending Israeli house demolitions". Haaretz. Retrieved 2009-11-08. Quote: "The lyrics of the song "Turn, Turn, Turn" are the words of King Solomon from the book of Ecclesiastes. "All around the world, songs are being written that use old public domain material, and I think it's only fair that some of the money from the songs go to the country or place of origin, even though the composer may be long dead or unknown," Seeger said in an interview with Acoustic Guitar magazine in 2002, "With 'Turn, Turn, Turn' I wanted to send 45 percent, because [in addition to the music] I did write six words and one more word repeated three times, so I figured I'd keep five percent of the royalties for the words. I was going to send it to London, where I am sure the committee that oversees the use of the King James version exists, and they probably could use a little cash. But then I realized, why not send it to where the words were originally written?"
- Chilton, Bruce; Kee, Howard Clark; Meyers, Eric M.; Rogerson, John; Levine, Amy-Jill; Saldarini, Anthony J., eds. (2008). The Cambridge Companion to the Bible (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521691406.
- Coogan, Michael David (2007). Coogan, Michael David; Brettler, Marc Zvi; Newsom, Carol Ann; Perkins, Pheme (eds.). The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books: New Revised Standard Version, Issue 48 (Augmented 3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195288810.
- Eaton, Michael A. (1994). "Ecclesiastes". In Carson, D. A.; France, R. T.; Motyer, J. A.; Wenham, G. J. (eds.). New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition (4, illustrated, reprint, revised ed.). Inter-Varsity Press. pp. 609–618. ISBN 9780851106489.
- Halley, Henry H. (1965). Halley's Bible Handbook: an abbreviated Bible commentary (24th (revised) ed.). Zondervan Publishing House. ISBN 0-310-25720-4.
- Weeks, Stuart (2007). "20. Ecclesiastes". In Barton, John; Muddiman, John (eds.). The Oxford Bible Commentary (first (paperback) ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 423–429. ISBN 978-0199277186. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
- Würthwein, Ernst (1995). The Text of the Old Testament. Translated by Rhodes, Erroll F. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-0788-7. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
- Brisson, E. Carson (2001). "Ecclesiastes 3:1–8". Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology. 55 (3): 292–295. doi:10.1177/002096430005500307.
- Blenkinsopp, Joseph (1995). "Ecclesiastes 3.1-15: Another Interpretation". Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. 20 (66): 55–64. doi:10.1177/030908929502006603.
- Jarick, John (2000). "The Hebrew Book of Changes: Reflections on Hakkōl Hebel and Lakkōl Zemān in Ecclesiastes". Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. 25 (90): 79–99. doi:10.1177/030908920002509006.
- GREENWOOD, KYLE R. (2012). "Debating Wisdom: The Role of Voice in Ecclesiastes". The Catholic Biblical Quarterly. 74 (3): 476–491. ISSN 0008-7912.
- Crenshaw, James L. (1987). Ecclesiastes: A Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-664-22803-3.
- Fox, Michael V. (2004). The JPS Bible Commentary: Ecclesiastes. Jewish Publication Society. ISBN 978-0-8276-0965-5.
- Longman, Tremper (1998). The Book of Ecclesiastes. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-2366-3.
- Dell, Katharine (2009). "The Cycle of Life in Ecclesiastes". Vetus Testamentum. 59 (2): 181–189. doi:10.1163/156853309X413372.
- Salters, R B. (1976). "A Note on the Exegesis of Ecclesiastes 3 15b". Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. 88 (3): 419–. ProQuest 1818010.
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- Jewish translations:
- Kohelet – Ecclesiastes - Chapter 3 (Judaica Press) translation [with Rashi's commentary] at Chabad.org
- Christian translations:
- Online Bible at GospelHall.org (ESV, KJV, Darby, American Standard Version, Bible in Basic English)
- Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 King James Version
- Ecclesiastes public domain audiobook at LibriVox Various versions