Ecclesiastes 3:21

21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

Read Ecclesiastes 3:21 Using Other Translations

Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?
For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth?

What does Ecclesiastes 3:21 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Ecclesiastes 3:21

Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward?
&c.] There is indeed a difference between a man and a beast; though they have one breath, they have not one spirit or soul; man has a rational and immortal soul, which, when he dies, goes upwards to God that gave it; to be judged by him, and disposed of by him, in its proper apartment, until the day of the resurrection of the body; and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
when the beast dies, its spirit goes down to the earth, from whence it came, and is resolved into it, and is no more. But who is it that sees, or can see and know with the eyes of his body, the difference of these two spirits, or the ascent of the one, and the descent of the other?, Or who knows by the dint of reason, by the strength of his own understanding, without a divine revelation, that man has an immortal soul which goes upwards at death, when that of a beast goes downwards? No man, clearly and fully, as appears from the doubts and half faith of the wisest Heathens concerning it: or rather who knows and considers this difference between the spirit of a man and the spirit of a beast, and thinks within himself what a precious and immortal soul he has, and is concerned for the salvation of it? Very few; and hence it is they live and die like beasts, as they do. The Midrash interprets this of the souls of the righteous that go up to heaven, and of the souls of the wicked that go down to hell.

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