Ecclesiastes 3:15

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.[a]

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 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
17 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.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. that which is past: Heb. that which is driven away
The King James Version is in the public domain.