Ecclesiastes 3:15

15 Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.[a]

Ecclesiastes 3:15 in Other Translations

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.
15 What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.
15 Whatever was, is. Whatever will be, is. That's how it always is with God.
15 Whatever is, has already been, and whatever will be, already is. God repeats what has passed.

Ecclesiastes 3:15 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 3:15

That which hath seen is now; and that which is to be hath
already been
That which has been from the beginning now is; that which cometh, and what shall be in the end of days, has been already, as the Targum. Jarchi interprets this of God and his attributes, which are always the same; he is the "I am that I am", ( Exodus 3:14 ) ; the immutable and eternal Jehovah, which is, and was, and is to come, invariably the same. Or rather it designs his decrees and purposes; what has been decreed in his eternal mind is now accomplished; and what is future has been already in his decrees; nor does anything come to pass but what he has appointed. So it is interpreted, in an ancient tract F16 of the Jews, of

``what was before it came into the world, so that there is nothing new under the sun; now it is obliged to come into this world, as it is said, "before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee", ( Jeremiah 1:5 ) .''
This will also hold true of natural things, and of the identity of them; of some individuals, as the sun, moon, and stars, which are as they always were, and will be; the sun rises and sets as it used to do; and the moon increases and decreases, as it always has done; and the stars keep the same station or course, and so they ever will, as they have: the same seasons are now in their turn as heretofore, and such as will be have been already; as summer, winter, spring, autumn, seedtime, harvest, cold, heat, night, and day: the same kinds and species of creatures, that have been, are; and what will be have been already; so that there is no new thing under the sun; the same thing is here expressed as in ( Ecclesiastes 1:9 ) ; and God requireth that which is past;
his decrees and purposes to be fulfilled, which are past in his mind; the same seasons to return which have been; and the same kinds and species of creatures to exist which have already. The words may be rendered, "and God seeketh that which is pursued", or "persecuted" F17: and accordingly the whole will bear a different sense; and the preacher may be thought to have entered upon a new subject, which he continues in some following verses, the abuse of power and authority: and the meaning then is, the same acts of injustice, violence, and persecution, have been done formerly as now, and now as formerly; and what hereafter of this kind may be, will be no other than what has been; from the beginning persecution was; Cain hated and slew his brother, because of his superior goodness; and so it always has been, is, and will be, that such who are after the flesh persecute those who are after the spirit; but God will make inquisition for blood, and require it at the hands of those that shed it; he will seek out the persecuted, and vindicate him, and, avenge his persecutor. This way the Midrash, Jarchi, and Alshech, and the Septuagint version, render the words; and so the Syriac version, "God seeketh him that is afflicted, who is driven away"; and to this agrees the Targum,
``and in the great day which shall be, the Lord will require the mean and poor man of the hands of the wicked that persecute him.''
And what follows seems to confirm this sense.

F16 Tikkune Zohar Correct. 69. fol. 104. 2.
F17 (Pdrn ta vqby Myhlaw) "Deus quaerit propulsum, seu quod persecutionem veluti passum est", Gejerus, Schmidt.

Ecclesiastes 3:15 In-Context

13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
15 Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.
16 And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
17 I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”

Cross References 2

  • 1. Ecclesiastes 6:10
  • 2. S Ecclesiastes 1:9

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "God calls back the past"
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