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Behold, what I have seen to be good and to be fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoy- ment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life which God has given him, for this is his lot. Every man also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and find enjoyment in his toil--this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy upon men: a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them; this is vanity; it is a sore affliction. 73

Unfortunately, even with the righteous and the wise, God's disposition towards them is unknown. It is true that their deeds are in the hand of God, but "whether it is love or hate no one knows" (9:1). This arbitrariness in life (for which God is ultimately responsible) is most pointedly articulated a few verses later.

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intel- ligent, nor favor to the man of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. For man does not know his time. Like fish which are caught in an evil net, and like birds which are caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared at an evil time when it suddenly falls upon them.

Qoheleth 9:11-12

Vol. II (New York: KTAV, 1970), 301, read MT as it stands. Lauha takes the question to be a quote of God ("Who can eat or enjoy apart from me?") while Ginsburg takes it to mean "except I" (i.e., Qoheleth).


See the same ideas in 8:14-15 and 9:9-10.

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