Ecclesiastes 7 Study Notes
7:5-6 Fools can neither give nor take good advice. The song of fools stands for a life of carefree merrymaking. The pain of a rebuke is better than the encouragement to party that fools offer. Also, fools receive wisdom with smirking laughter. The image of thorns under the pot indicates that fools are prickly to those who try to deal with them but ultimately are useless, just as thorns are good for nothing but burning.
7:7-9 In these three maxims, the main focus is on how the wise person confronts political reality. First, corruption is pervasive and can bring anyone down; one should beware of it. Second, one should not judge by first appearances; those who are winning now may someday come to ruin. One should be patient and understand that virtue is proved right in the end, and so flee temptations to bribery. Third, abiding anger over a current situation in life shows you are a fool.
|Hebrew pronunciation||[toh VAH]|
|CSB translation||goodness, well-being, happiness|
|Uses in Ecclesiastes||7|
|Uses in the OT||67|
|Focus passage||Ecclesiastes 6:3,6|
Feminine tovah connotes goodness (Ps 65:11) more often than masculine tov and frequently contrasts with ra‘ah (“evil”). It means good, good things, and good work or deed. Tovah indicates friendship, grace, prosperity, happiness, well-being, or favor. It suggests well (Jdg 9:16), kindly, or favorably. The verb tov (44x) means be better (Sg 4:10), beautiful, favorable, or well off. It connotes prosper (Dt 5:33) or be better (Jdg 11:25). Infinitives signify good or better; causative verbs mean do well (1Kg 8:18). Be good “in the eyes” or “before” indicates please (Nm 24:1), meet/find approval, seem right or good, be agreed on, or prefer. With “heart” as subject, one feels good (Est 1:10) or is in a good mood. Tuv (32x), the most common word for goodness (Ex 33:19), signifies goods, the best, best products, bounty, and prosperity. It implies good, glad, cheerful (Dt 28:47), thriving, lovely, and fine.
7:10 People see the evil in their own times and wrongly presume that earlier times were better.
7:11-14 Ecclesiastes acknowledges that people do need money. In discouraging the pursuit of riches, it does not say that silver is unnecessary or evil. At the same time, we should accept with patience whatever God allots to us.
7:15-18 These verses seem to say that a little sinning is acceptable. That is not the point; the passage is about an extreme zeal for religious duties that makes life unbearably harsh (an example would be constant fasting). In this context, excessively righteous refers to being unreasonably demanding on yourself about moral or religious duties.
7:20-24 Awareness that everyone has sinned should lead to forbearance and patience with others.
|Hebrew pronunciation||[mah TSAH]|
|CSB translation||find, discover|
|Uses in Ecclesiastes||17|
|Uses in the OT||457|
|Focus passage||Ecclesiastes 7:14,24,26-29|
Matsa’ denotes find (Gn 8:9), discover, expose, and find or figure out. Trials happen or come to (Dt 31:21), confront, afflict, overtake, or overwhelm. Matsa’ means encounter (Ps 116:3), meet, see, reach, catch up with, or spread to. People obtain (Lv 25:26), acquire, get, reap, receive, take, or feel (Jr 10:18). They catch (Jr 2:34), seize, or reach out to seize. “Finding favor” involves pleasing (Nm 11:15), allowing, granting, approving, liking, or indulging. “Find hands” implies ability to act (Ps 76:5). “Hand finds” signifies have sufficient means (Lv 12:8) or afford. Passive verbs indicate be, be present (Est 1:5), live (Jr 5:26), or be enough. They suggest be verified (Est 2:23) or traced to. “Be found with” connotes belong to (Dt 21:17), possess, or have. The participle entails surviving (2Kg 19:4) or remaining. Causative verbs denote bring (Lv 9:12), hand or turn over, and cause to happen.
7:25-29 This passage seems to say that women are more evil than men. However, it needs to be understood in its context; this was a male sage giving advice to other male sages and to men generally. Because Ecclesiastes was originally intended for men (few women were literate), it predominantly reflects the man’s point of view. Furthermore, this text is a reflection on the fall into sin, alluded to in v. 29. The point is that because of sin, the fundamental relationship between male and female, especially husband and wife, is broken (as implied in Gn 3:16). This is why men often have better friendships with other men (in the sense that they encourage and accept one another) than they have with their own wives. The phrase none of those was a woman does not mean that women are intrinsically evil, but that Solomon, as a man, could not find a woman with whom his relationship was without guile, tension, or conflict. He also found that such honest friendships were extremely rare (I found one person in a thousand). If Ecclesiastes were written more for women, it would reflect their point of view, rightly stating that many women have more caring relationships with other women than they have with their husbands. As it stands, both genders benefit from the God-given wisdom found in this book.