Ecclesiastes is written from the point of view of a man looking back on life in order to discover its meaning. It is
classified as Wisdom Literature, but also belongs to, and is the exclusive member of a special category of
philosophical context (Unger 1069). It contains a negative view of wisdom and illustrates the vanity (emptiness and
futility) of "all that is under the sun" to natural man. It is, for the most part, accepted as being written around 940
BCE. I will attempt to interpret these passages in five sections, starting with verses 1-3.
Verses 1-3 identify that all things are the same and everything is evil, so there is basically no reason to exist. This
first passage shows the author reflecting on his life (9:1), and realizing that it doesn't matter how one lives (9:2), but
there is evil in everything, and everything will receive the same destiny (9:3). This passage contains the term
"common destiny" which is depicted by a following list of opposites. This common destiny is then shown in verse
three as to being the reason of evil being in everything. These first three verses seem to be the opening points to be
made because the subject matter of the next section is a complete turn around.
Since the author has now illustrated evil mans destiny for nothing but death, he now turns full circle and reveals
hope. This is the hope that if in being alive, we are more knowledgeable than the dead (9:4), because the dead know
nothing (9:5), and all that they had is gone forever (9:6). Basically, this section says that even though everything has
the same destiny, and there is evil in all that is on the planet, there is still hope - for everybody. Which is the reason
for the third section.
Verses 7-10 informs the reader what to do with his life now that hope is restored. It's by far the section of this
passage I find to be the most intriguing. It begins by telling the reader to be joyful, because he is accepted by God
(9:7), to "always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil"(9:8). Because the wording was
extremely similar in all three versions of the bible I have been referring to, (NIV, King James, and New English) I
desired to find why wearing white was important. White was the usual color for Hebrew people and was appropriate
for all occasions. It was also a sign of purity since dirt could be easily detected (Wycliffe 476). I believe that the
Hebrew people may have done this to be looked at as different from the rest, as something special. The information
of the color of dress was somewhat difficult to find and could only be located briefly in the Wycliffe Bible
Dictionary. It has helped me to realize that the author tells his re!
aders to always wear white, because it is the symbol for purity in an inherently evil world.
The section goes on to advise the reader to enjoy life with the one you love, "all the days of this meaningless life that
God has given you under the sun - all of your meaningless days." What you choose to do, you should do with all
your might while you live, because you can't do any of it when your dead (9:9). Because the term "meaningless" is
repeated twice in this selected verse and many times throughout Ecclesiastes and because it is replaced by "vanity"
in the King James Version, I chose to look it up in the NIV Complete Concordance. I found that of the 35 times
"meaningless" is used in the Old Testament, all but two of the times it's used in Ecclesiastes, the others being Job
27:10 and Isa 1:13. In these other two passages, it was talk of justice that God deemed meaningless in Job and evil
offerings in Isaiah. In Ecclesiastes, the word "everything" precedes "meaningless" in about seven instances and in
the rest such things as work, pleasure, and wisdom are all noted!
as being totally meaningless. This leads me to believe that the author had a very negative attitude towards most
everything in this life.
The last verse in this section tells