Ecclesiastes 3:3
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
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3:1-10 To expect unchanging happiness in a changing world, must end in disappointment. To bring ourselves to our state in life, is our duty and wisdom in this world. God's whole plan for the government of the world will be found altogether wise, just, and good. Then let us seize the favourable opportunity for every good purpose and work. The time to die is fast approaching. Thus labour and sorrow fill the world. This is given us, that we may always have something to do; none were sent into the world to be idle.Everything - More particularly, the actions of people (e. g. his own, Ecclesiastes 2:1-8) and events which happen to people, the world of Providence rather than the world of creation. It would seem that most of his own works described in Ecclesiastes 2:1-8 were present to his mind. The rare word translated "season" means emphatically "fitting time" (compare Nehemiah 2:6; Esther 9:27, Esther 9:31). 3. time to kill—namely, judicially, criminals; or, in wars of self-defense; not in malice. Out of this time and order, killing is murder.

to heal—God has His times for "healing" (literally, Isa 38:5, 21; figuratively, De 32:39; Ho 6:1; spiritually, Ps 147:3; Isa 57:19). To heal spiritually, before the sinner feels his wound, would be "out of time," and so injurious.

time to break down—cities, as Jerusalem, by Nebuchadnezzar.

build up—as Jerusalem, in the time of Zerubbabel; spiritually (Am 9:11), "the set time" (Ps 102:13-16).

A time to kill; when a man shall die a violent death, either by chance, as Exodus 21:13, or by the sentence of the magistrate, or by the hands of murderers.

A time to heal; when he who seemed to be mortally wounded shall be healed and restored.

A time to break down; when houses shall be demolished, either by the fancy of the owner, or by the rage of other men, or otherwise. A time to kill, and a time to heal,.... A time to kill may be meant of a violent death, as a time to die is of a natural one; so the Targum,

"a time to kill in war;''

or else, by the hand of the civil magistrate, such who deserve death. Aben Ezra interprets it "to wound", because of the opposite "to heal"; and so there is a time when wounds and diseases are incurable, and baffle all the skill of the physician, being designed unto death; and there is a time when, by the blessing of God on means, they are healed; the wound or sickness not being unto death: so the Targum paraphrases the last clause,

"to heal one that lies sick.''

This may be applied in a civil sense to calamities in kingdoms, and a restoration of peace and plenty to them; which is the property of God alone, who in this sense kills and makes alive in his own time, Deuteronomy 32:39; And in a spiritual sense to the ministers of the word, who are instruments of slaying souls by the law, which is the killing letter, and of healing them by the Gospel, which pours in the oil and wine of peace and pardon through the blood of Christ, and so binds up and heals the broken hearted; and there is a time for both;

a time to break down, and a time to build up; to break down a building, and build a waste, as the Targum; to break down cities and the walls of them, as the of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; and to build them up: as in the times of Nehemiah and Zerubbabel: and so in a spiritual sense to break down the church of God, the tabernacle of David, and to raise up and repair the breaches of it; to build up Zion, and the walls of Jerusalem, or to restore the Gospel church state to its glory, for which there is a set time; see Amos 9:11.

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
3. a time to kill, and a time to heal] The first group had brought together natural death and natural birth. This includes in the induction the death which man inflicts in battle or single combat, in attack or self-defence, or in administering justice, and with it the verb that includes all the resources of the healing art which can raise men from all but actual death. Here also there is an appointed order, and man’s wisdom lies in accepting it. This, rather than a fatalistic theory of Necessity, as being what man cannot, even if he will, resist, seems the thought expressed. The wise man knows when to slay and when to heal.

a time to break down, and a time to build up] The grouping reminds us as before of Jeremiah 1:10 and may possibly be extended so as to take in a figurative as well as a literal building. We may perhaps trace an allusive reference, if not to the text, yet to the thought which it expresses, in St Paul’s language in Galatians 2:18, “If I build again the things which I destroyed I make myself a transgressor.” His wisdom lay in recognising that the “fulness of time” had come for breaking down the old structure of Judaism and building up the new structure of the kingdom of God. Of the mere literal sense we have a striking illustration in the paraphrase of the words of Elisha to Gehazi (2 Kings 5:26) as given in the Christian Year.

“Is this a time to plant and build,

Add house to house and field to field?”Verse 3. - A time to kill, and a time to heal. The time to kill might refer to war, only that occurs in ver. 8. Some endeavor to limit the notion to severe surgical operations performed with a view of saving life; but the verb harag does not admit of the meaning "rewound" or" cut." It most probably refers to the execution of criminals, or to the defense of the oppressed; such emergencies and necessities occur providentially without man's prescience. So sickness is a visitation beyond man's control, while it calls into exercise the art of healing, which is a gift of God (see Ecclus. 10:10 Ecclus. 38:1, etc.). A time to break down, and a time to build up. The removal of decaying or unsuitable buildings is meant, and the substitution of new and improved structures. A recollection of Solomon's own extensive architectural works is here introduced. "For what has man of all his labour, and the endeavours of his heart with which he wearies himself under the sun? All his days are certainly in sorrows, and his activity in grief; his heart resteth not even in the night: also this is vain." The question literally is: What is (comes forth, results) to a man from all his labour; for "to become, to be, to fall to, happen to," is the fundamental idea of הוה (whence here הוה, γινόμενον, as at 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).

(Note: But cf. also ולא with Zakeph Katan, 2 Kings 5:17; ואר וגו with Tiphcha, Isaiah 26:19; and וריב under Psalm 45:10.)

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.

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