A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)2 Samuel 1:2, 2 Samuel 1:11 ff.
a time of war … peace—(Lu 14:31).A time to love; when God will stir up the affection of love, or give occasion for the exercise or discovery of it to others. 2 Samuel 13:15. A time of unregeneracy is a time of loving worldly lusts and sinful pleasures, the company of wicked men, and all carnal delights and recreations; and a time of conversion is a time to hate what was before loved, sin, and the conversion of sinners, the garment spotted with the flesh, the principles and practices, though not the persons, of ungodly men; and even to hate, that is, less love, the dearest friends and relations, in comparison of, or when in competition with, Christ;
a time of war, and a time of peace; for nations to be engaged in war with each other, or to be at peace, which are continually revolving; and there is a time when there will be no more war. In a spiritual sense, the present time, or state of things, is a time of war; the Christian's life is a warfare state, though it will be soon accomplished, in which he is engaging in fighting with spiritual enemies, sin, Satan, and the world: the time to come, or future state, is a time of peace, when saints shall enter into peace, and be no more disturbed by enemies from within or from without. In the Midrash, all the above times and seasons are interpreted of Israel, and applied to them.A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. A time to love, and a time, to hate] Greek thought again supplies us with a parallel,
ἡμεῖς δὲ πῶς οὐ γνωσόμεσθα σωφρονεῖν;
ἐγὼ δʼ, ἐπίσταμαι γὰρ ἀρτίως ὅτι
ὅ τʼ ἐχθρὸς ἡμῖν ἐς τοσόνδʼ ἐχθαρτέος,
ὡς καὶ φιλήσων αὖθις, ἔς τε τὸν φίλον
τοσαῦθʼ ὑπουργῶν ὠφελεῖν βουλήσομαι,
ὡς αἰὲν οὑ μενοῦντα.
“Shall not we too learn
Our lesson of true wisdom? I indeed
Have learnt but now that we should hate a foe
Only so far as one that yet may love,
And to a friend just so much help I’ll give
As unto one that will not always stay.”
Soph. Aias, 680–686.
a time of war, and a time of peace] The change in the Hebrew, as in the English, from verbs in the infinitive to substantives is probably intended to emphasize the completion of the list. The words are of course closely connected with the “love” and “hate” of the preceding clause, but differ in referring to the wider range of national relations. Here also the wisdom of a king or statesman lies in discerning the opportuneness of war or peace, in seeing when the maxim “si vis pacem para bellum” is applicable or inapplicable.
It may be well to repeat here what was said at the outset in reference to this list of times and seasons, that the idea of a Necessity, Fate, Predestination, which many interpreters, bent on finding traces of a Stoic fatalism, have read into the teaching of the section, is really foreign to the writer’s thoughts. That which he insists on is the thought that the circumstances and events of life form part of a Divine Order, are not things that come at random, and that wisdom, and therefore such a measure of happiness as is attainable, lies in adapting ourselves to the order and accepting the guidance of events in great things and small, while shame and confusion come from resisting it. The lesson is in fact identical with one very familiar to us at once in the commonest of all proverbs, “Take time by the forelock;” “Time and tide wait for no man,” and in a loftier strain,
“There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the remnant of their lives
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, iv. 3.
It is well to remember such counsels of prudence. It is well also to remember that a yet higher wisdom bids us in the highest work “to be instant, in season, out of season” (εὐκαίρως, ἀκαίρως, 2 Timothy 4:2).Verse 8. - A time to love, and a time to hate. This reminds one of the gloss to which our Lord refers (Matthew 5:43), "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy," the first member being found in the old Law (Leviticus 19:18), the second being a misconception of the spirit which made Israel God's executioner upon the condemned nations. It was the maxim of Bias, quoted by Aristotle, 'Rhet.,' 2:13, that we should love as if about some day to hate, and hate as if about to love. And Philo imparts a still more selfish tone to the gnome, when he pronounces ('De Carit.,' 21, p. 401, Mang.), "It was well said by them of old, that we ought to deal out friendship without absolutely renouncing enmity, and practice enmity as possibly to turn to friendship. A time of war, and a time of peace. In the previous couplets the infinitive mood of the verb has been used; in this last hemistich substantives are introduced, as being more concise and better fitted to emphasize the close of the catalogue. The first clause referred specially to the private feelings which one is constrained to entertain towards individuals. The second clause has to do with national concerns, and touches on the statesmanship which discovers the necessity or the opportuneness of war and peace, and acts accordingly. In this and in all the other examples adduced, the lesson intended is this - that man is not independent; that under all circumstances and relations he is in the hand of a power mightier than himself, which frames time and seasons according to its own good pleasure. God holds the threads of human life; in some mysterious way directs and controls events; success and failure are dependent upon his will. There are certain laws which, regulate the issues of actions and events, and man cannot alter these; his free-will can put them in motion, but they become irresistible when in operation. This is not fatalism; it is the mere statement of a fact in experience. Koheleth never denies man's liberty, though he is very earnest in asserting God's sovereignty. The reconciliation of the two is a problem unsolved by him. Joshua 12:9., and Esther 9:7., arranged in the form of a song, so that one עת (time) always stands under another, after the scheme described in Megilla 16b, Massecheth Sofrim xiii. 3, but without any express reference to this passage in Koheleth. J has a different manner of arranging the words, the first four lines of which we here adduce: -
'ēth lāmoth veeth lalěděth 'ēth 'ēth nathu'ǎ lǎ'ǎqor veeth lathǎ'ǎth 'ēth lirpō veeth lǎhǎrog 'ēth livnoth veeth liphrots)
"To be born has its time, and to die has its time; to plant has its time, and to root up that which is planted has its time." The inf. ללדת signifies nothing else than to bring forth; but when that which is brought forth comes more into view than she who brings forth, it is used in the sense of being born (cf. Jeremiah 25:34, לט equals להטּבח); ledah, Hosea 9:11, is the birth; and in the Assyr., li-id-tu, li-i-tu, li-da-a-tu, designates posterity, progenies. Since now lālǎděth has here lāmuth as contrast, and thus does not denote the birth-throes of the mother, but the child's beginning of life, the translation, "to be born has its time," is more appropriate to what is designed than "to bring forth has its time." What Zckler, after Hitzig, objects that by lěděth a הפץ an undertaking, and thus a conscious, intended act must be named, is not applicable; for לכּל standing at the beginning comprehends doing and suffering, and death also (apart from suicide) is certainly not an intended act, frequently even an unconscious suffering. Instead of לטעת (for which the form לטּעת
(Note: This Abulwalid found in a correct Damascus ms., Michlol 81b.)
is found, cf. למּוט, Psalm 66:9), the older language uses לנטע, Jeremiah 1:10. In still more modern Heb. the expression used would be ליטע, i.e., לטּע (Shebith ii. 1). עקד has here its nearest signification: to root up (denom. of עקּד, root), like עקר, 2 Kings 3:25, where it is the Targ. word for הפּיל (to fell trees).
From out-rooting, which puts an end to the life of plants, the transition is now made to putting to death.
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