Ecclesiastes 3:17
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.

King James Bible
I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

American Standard Version
I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And I said in my heart: God shall judge both the just and the wicked, and then shall be the time of every thing.

English Revised Version
I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

Webster's Bible Translation
I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

Ecclesiastes 3:17 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

"I saw the travail, which God gave to the children of men to fatigue themselves with it - : He hath well arranged everything beautiful in its appointed time; He hath also put eternity in their heart, so that man cannot indeed wholly search through from beginning to end the work which God accomplisheth." As at Ecclesiastes 1:14, ראיתי is here seeing in the way of research, as elsewhere, e.g., at Ecclesiastes 2:24, it is as the result of research. In Ecclesiastes 3:10 the author says that he closely considered the labour of men, and in Ecclesiastes 3:11 he states the result. It is impossible to render the word ענין everywhere by the same German (or English) word: Ecclesiastes 1:13, wearisome trouble; Ecclesiastes 2:26, business; here: Geschftigkeit, the idea is in all the three places the same, viz., an occupation which causes trouble, costs effort. What presented itself to the beholder was (1) that He (viz., God, cf. Ecclesiastes 3:10 and Ecclesiastes 3:11) has made everything beautiful in its time. The author uses יפה as synon. of טוב (Ecclesiastes 3:17); also in other languages the idea of the beautiful is gradually more and more generalized. The suffix in בּעתּו does not refer to God, but to that which is in the time; this word is equals ἐν καιρῷ ιδίῳ (Symm.), at its proper time (vid., Psalm 1:3; Psalm 104:27; Jeremiah 5:24, etc.), since, as with יחדּו (together with) and כּלּו (every one), the suffix is no longer thought of as such. Like יפה, בעתו as pred. conception belongs to the verb: He has made everything beautiful; He has made everything (falling out) at its appointed time. - The beauty consists in this, that what is done is not done sooner or later than it ought to be, so as to connect itself as a constituent part to the whole of God's work. The pret. עשׂה is to be also interpreted as such: He "has made," viz., in His world-plan, all things beautiful, falling out at the appointed time; for that which acquires an actual form in the course of history has a previous ideal existence in the knowledge and will of God (vid., under Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 37:26).

That which presented itself to the beholder was - (2) the fact that He (God) had put את־העלם in their hearts (i.e., the hearts of men). Gaab and Spohn interpret 'olam in the sense of the Arab. 'ilam, knowledge, understanding; and Hitz., pointing the word accordingly עלם, translates: "He has also placed understanding in their heart, without which man," etc. The translation of אשׁר אשׁלי is not to be objected to; מבּ is, however, only seldom a conjunction, and is then to be translated by eo quod, Exodus 14:11; 2 Kings 1:3, 2 Kings 1:6, 2 Kings 1:16, which is not appropriate here; it will thus be here also a prep., and with asher following may mean "without which," as well as "without this, that" equals "besides that" (Venet. ἄνευ τοῦ ὃτι, "except that"), as frequently כּי אפס, e.g., at Amos 9:8. But that Arab. 'ilam is quite foreign to the Heb., which has no word עלם in the sense of "to rise up, to be visible, knowable," which is now also referred

(Note: Vid., Fried. Delitzsch's Assyr. Stud. (1874), p. 39. Otherwise Fleischer, who connects 'alima, "to know," with 'alam, "to conceal," so that to know equals to be concealed, sunk deep, initiated in something (with ba of the obj., as sh'ar, whence shâ'ir, the poet as "one who marks").)

to for the Assyr. as the stem-word of עילם equals highland. It is true Hitzig believes that he has found the Heb. עלם equals wisdom, in Sir. 6:21, where there is a play on the word with נעלם, "concealed:" σοφία γὰρ κατὰ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτῆς ἐστί, καὶοὐ πολλοῖς ἐστὶ φανερά. Drusius and Eichhorn have here already taken notice of the Arab. 'ilam; but Fritzsche with right asks, "Shall this word as Heb. be regarded as traceable only here and falsely pointed only at Ecclesiastes 3:11, and shall no trace of it whatever be found in the Chald., Syr., and Rabbin.?" We have also no need of it. That Ben-Sira has etymologically investigated the word חכמה as going back to חכם, R. chap, "to be firm, shut up, dark" (vid., at Psalm 10:8), is certainly very improbable, but so much the more probable (as already suggested by Drusius) that he has introduced

(Note: Grtz translates eth-ha'olam by "ignorance" (vid., Orelli, p. 83). R. Achwa in the Midrash has added here the scriptio defectiva with the remark, שהועלם וגו, "for the mysterious name of God is concealed from them.")

into חכמה, after the Aram. אכם, nigrescere, the idea of making dark. Does eth-ha'olam in this passage before us then mean "the world" (Jerome, Luther, Ewald), or "desire after the knowledge of the world" (Rashi), or "worldly-mindedness" (Gesen., Knobel)? The answer to this has been already given in my Psychol. p. 406 (2nd:ed.): "In post-bibl. Heb. 'olam denotes not only 'eternity' backwards and forwards as infinite duration, but also 'the world' as that which endures for ever (αἰών, seculum); the world in this latter sense is, however, not yet known

(Note: In the Phoen. also, 'olam, down to a late period, denotes not the world, but eternity: melek 'olam, βασιλεὺς αἰώνος (αἰώνιος), seculo frugifero on a coin equals the fruit-bringing 'olam (Αἰών).)

to the bibl. language, and we will thus not be able to interpret the words of Koheleth of the impulse of man to reflect on the whole world." In itself, the thought that God has placed the whole world in man's heart is not untrue: man is, indeed, a micro-cosmos, in which the macrocosmos mirrors itself (Elster), but the connection does not favour it; for the discussion does not proceed from this, that man is only a member in the great universe, and that God has given to each being its appointed place, but that in all his experience he is conditioned by time, and that in the course of history all that comes to him, according to God's world-plan, happens at its appointed time. But the idea by which that of time, את (זמן), is surpassed is not the world, but eternity, to which time is related as part is to the whole (Cicero, Inv. i. 26. 39, tempus est pars quaedam aeternitatis). The Mishna language contains, along with the meaning of world, also this older meaning of 'olam, and has formed from it an adv. עולמית, aeterne. The author means to say that God has not only assigned to each individually his appointed place in history, thereby bringing to the consciousness of man the fact of his being conditioned, but that He has also established in man an impulse leading him beyond that which is temporal toward the eternal: it lies in his nature not to be contented with the temporal, but to break through the limits which it draws around him, to escape from the bondage and the disquietude within which he is held, and amid the ceaseless changes of time to console himself by directing his thoughts to eternity.

This saying regarding the desiderium aeternitatis being planted in the heart of man, is one of the profoundest utterances of Koheleth. In fact, the impulse of man shows that his innermost wants cannot be satisfied by that which is temporal. He is a being limited by time, but as to his innermost nature he is related to eternity. That which is transient yields him no support, it carries him on like a rushing stream, and constrains him to save himself by laying hold on eternity. But it is not so much the practical as the intellectual side of this endowment and this peculiar dignity of human nature which Koheleth brings her to view.

It is not enough for man to know that everything that happens has its divinely-ordained time. There is an instinct peculiar to his nature impelling him to pass beyond this fragmentary knowledge and to comprehend eternity; but his effort is in vain, for (3) "man is unable to reach unto the work which God accomplisheth from the beginning to the end." The work of God is that which is completing itself in the history of the world, of which the life of individual men is a fragment. Of this work he says, that God has wrought it עשׂה; because, before it is wrought out in its separate "time," it is already completed in God's plan. Eternity and this work are related to each other as the accomplished and the being accomplished, they are interchangeably the πλήρωμα to each other. ימצא is potential, and the same in conception as at Ecclesiastes 8:17; Job 11:7; Job 37:23; a knowledge is meant which reaches to the object, and lays hold of it. A laying hold of this work is an impossibility, because eternity, as its name 'olam denotes, is the concealed, i.e., is both forwards and backwards immeasurable. The desiderium aeternitatis inherent in man thus remains under the sun unappeased. He would raise himself above the limits within which he is confined, and instead of being under the necessity of limiting his attention to isolated matters, gain a view of the whole of God's work which becomes manifest in time; but this all-embracing view is for him unattainable.

If Koheleth had known of a future life - which proves that as no instinct in the natural world is an allusion, so also the impulse toward the eternal, which is natural to man, is no illusion-he would have reached a better ultimatum than the following: -

Ecclesiastes 3:17 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

said

Ecclesiastes 1:16 I communed with my own heart, saying, See, I am come to great estate...

Ecclesiastes 2:1 I said in my heart, Go to now, I will prove you with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.

God

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Genesis 18:25 That be far from you to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked...

Psalm 98:9 Before the LORD; for he comes to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.

Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Matthew 25:31-46 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory...

John 5:22,26-29 For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son...

Acts 17:31 Because he has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained...

Romans 2:5-9 But after your hardness and impenitent heart treasure up to yourself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation...

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness...

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body...

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you...

Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away...

for

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Jeremiah 29:10,11 For thus said the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you...

Daniel 11:40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind...

Daniel 12:4,9,11-13 But you, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro...

Acts 1:7 And he said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.

1 Thessalonians 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you.

2 Peter 3:7,8 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store...

Revelation 11:2,3,18 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles...

Revelation 17:12-17 And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet...

Revelation 20:7-9 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison...

Cross References
Matthew 16:27
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Romans 2:6
He will render to each one according to his works:

2 Thessalonians 1:6
since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you,

Genesis 18:25
Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?"

Psalm 96:13
before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Psalm 98:9
before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Ecclesiastes 3:1
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

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