Qoheleth "hated" (xnW) life. He sees with throbbing
clarity that life finally issues in a single fate--death-- for wise and fool alike.92 His response to social oppres- sion is not only "quietism" (5:7). The perception of this social distortion also leads him to consider the dead
more fortunate than the living who are still alive; but better than both is he who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
Once, Qoheleth seems to grant the living some advantage over the dead. After reflecting upon the inscrutability of the "work of God," of which even a wise man is ignorant (8:16-17), and the single fate of death which comes to all, regardless of moral or cultic behavior (9:1-3), he says,
. . . But he who is joined with all the living has hope (NvhFb), for a living dog is
better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and they have no more for ever any share in all that is done under the sun.
92 2:12-17; cf. 7:2-4 which values the "house of mourning" and "sorrow" over the "'house of feasting/mirth" and "laughter."
93 Cf. 6:1-6 which also rates the stillborn above the living.