A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
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"As in its mother's womb the embryo lies
A space determined; to full growth arrived,
From its dark prison bursts, and sees the light;
So is the period fix'd when man shall drop
Into the grave - A time there is to plant,
And sow; another time to pluck and reap.
Even nations have their destined rise and fall:
Awhile they thrive; and for destruction ripe,
"to beget sons and daughters;''
but rather it is to bear them, there being a time in nature fixed for that, called the hour of a woman, Job 14:1;
and a time to die; the time of a man's coming into the world and going out of it, both being fixed by the Lord (f): this is true of all men in general, of all men that come into the world, for whom it is appointed that they shall die; and particularly of Christ, whose birth was at the time appointed by the Father, in the fulness of time; and whose death was in due time, nor could his life be taken away before his hour was come, John 7:30; and this holds good of every individual man; his birth is at the time God has fixed it; that any man is born into the world, is of God; no man comes into it at his own pleasure or another's, but at the will of God, and when he pleases, not sooner nor later; and the time of his going out of the world is settled by him, beyond which time he cannot live, and sooner he cannot die, Job 14:5; and though no mention is made of the interval of life between a man's birth and death, yet all events intervening are appointed by God; as the place of his abode; his calling and station of life; all circumstances of prosperity and adversity; all diseases of body, and what lead on to death, and issue in it: the reason why these two are put so close together is, to show the certainty of death; that as sure as a man is born, so sure shall he die; and the frailty and shortness of life, which is but an hand's breadth, passes away like a tale that is told, yea, is as nothing; so that no account is made of it, as if there was no time allotted it, or that it deserved no mention; and also to observe that the seeds of mortality and death are in men as soon as they are born; as soon as they begin to live they begin to die, death is working in them;
a time to plant; a tree, as the Targum, or any herb;
and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a tree or herb, as before, when grown to its ripeness, and fit for use; or when grown old, barren, and unfruitful; there are particular seasons for planting plants, and some for one and some for another. This may be applied in a civil sense to planting and plucking up kingdoms and states; see Jeremiah 1:10; as it is by the Jews, particularly to the planting and plucking up of the kingdom of Israel; the people of Israel were a vine brought out of Egypt and planted in the land of Canaan, and afterwards plucked up and carried captive into Babylon; and afterwards planted again, and then again plucked up by the Romans; and will be assuredly planted in their own land again; see Psalm 80:8; It may be illustrated in a spiritual sense by the planting of the Jewish church, sometimes compared to a vineyard; and the plucking it up, abolishing their church state and ordinances; and by planting Gospel churches in the Gentile world, and plucking them up again, as in the seven cities of Asia; or removing the candlestick out of its place; and by planting particular persons in churches, and removing them again: some indeed that are planted in the house of the Lord are planted in Christ, and rooted and grounded in the love of God; are plants which Christ's Father has planted, and will never be rooted up; but there are others who are planted through the external ministry of the word, or are plants only by profession, and these become twice dead, plucked up by the roots; and there are times for these things, Psalm 92:14.A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
plant—A man can no more reverse the times and order of "planting," and of "digging up," and transplanting, than he can alter the times fixed for his "birth" and "death." To try to "plant" out of season is vanity, however good in season; so to make earthly things the chief end is vanity, however good they be in order and season. Gill takes it, not so well, figuratively (Jer 18:7, 9; Am 9:15; Mt 15:13).Nehemiah 6:6, γενεεσόμενος) or היה, the root signification of which is deorsum ferri, cadere, and then accidere, fieri, whence הוּה, eagerness precipitating itself upon anything (vid., under Proverbs 10:3), or object.: fall, catastrophe, destruction. Instead of שׁהוּא, there is here to be written שׁהוּא,
(Note: Thus according to tradition, in H, J, P, vid., Michlol 47b, 215b, 216a; vid., also Norzi.)
as at Ecclesiastes 3:18 שׁהם. The question looks forward to a negative answer. What comes out of his labour for man? Nothing comes of it, nothing but disagreeableness. This negative contained in the question is established by כּי, 23a. The form of the clause, "all his days are sorrows," viz., as to their condition, follows the scheme, "the porch was 20 cubits," 2 Chronicles 3:4, viz., in measurement; or, "their feast is music and wine," Isaiah 5:12, viz., in its combination (vid., Philippi's Stat. Const. p. 90ff.). The parallel clause is וכעם ענינו, not כו; for the final syllable, or that having the accent on the penult, immediately preceding the Athnach-word, takes Kametz, as e.g., Leviticus 18:5; Proverbs 25:3; Isaiah 65:17 (cf. Olsh. 224, p. 440).
Many interpreters falsely explain: at aegritudo est velut quotidiana occupatio ejus. For the sake of the parallelism, ענינו (from ענה, to weary oneself with labour, or also to strive, aim; vid., Psalmen, ii. 390) is subj. not pred.: his endeavour is grief, i.e., brings only grief or vexation with it.
Even in the night he has no rest; for even then, though he is not labouring, yet he is inwardly engaged about his labour and his plans. And this possession, acquired with such labour and restlessness, he must leave to others; for equally with the fool he fails under the stroke of death: he himself has no enjoyment, others have it; dying, he must leave all behind him, - threefold הבל, Ecclesiastes 2:17, Ecclesiastes 2:21, Ecclesiastes 2:23, and thus הבלים הבל.Verse 2. - A time to be born, and a time to die. Throughout the succeeding catalogue marked contrasts are exhibited in pairs, beginning with the entrance and close of life, the rest of the list being occupied with events and circumstances which intervene between those two extremities. The words rendered, "a time to be born," might more naturally mean "a time to bear;" καιρὸς τοῦ τεκεῖν, Septuagint; as the verb is in the infinitive active, which, in this particular verb, is not elsewhere found used in the passive sense, though other verbs are so used sometimes, as in Jeremiah 25:34. In the first case the catalogue commences with the beginning of life; in the second, with the season of full maturity: "Those who at one time give life to others, at another have themselves to yield to the law of death" (Wright). The contrast points to the passive rendering. There is no question of untimely birth or suicide; in the common order of events birth and death have each their appointed season, which comes to pass without man's interference, being directed by a higher law. "It is appointed unto men once to die" (Hebrews 9:27). Koheleth's teaching was perverted by sensualists, as we read in Wisd. 2:2, 3, 5. A time to plant. After speaking of human life it is natural to turn to vegetable life, which runs in parallel lines with man's existence. Thus Job, having intimated the shortness of life and the certainty of death, proceeds to speak of the tree, contrasting its revivifying powers with the hopelessness of man's decay (Job 14:5, etc.). And to pluck up that which is planted. This last operation may refer to the transplanting of trees and shrubs, or to the gathering of the fruits of the earth in order to make room for new agricultural works. But having regard to the opposition in all the members of the series, we should rather consider the "plucking up" as equivalent to destroying, if we plant trees, a time comes when we cut them down, and this is their final cause. Some commentators see in this clause an allusion to the settling and uprooting of kingdoms and nations, as Jeremiah 1:10; Jeremiah 18:9. etc. but this could not have been the idea in Koheleth's mind.
time to be born
and a time
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