There is an evil which I have been amused at under the sun, as it were an error proceeding from the ruler: folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. I have been amused at slaves on horses, and princes walking on foot like slaves.
Qoheleth 10:5-7113 However these and other passages114 are translated, the conclusion is easily drawn that Qoheleth's "seeing" (hxr)
is more than simple observance. A grin is lurking in his eyes. Without the word bvF ("good") in the same syntactic
unit, a meaning of "enjoy" is probably more than hxr will
bear. Yet, Qoheleth's "seeing" does seem to connote a kind of savoring of life's ironies. It is evidently this savoring of life's ironies, this amusement in the face of life, this refusal to take himself too seriously, that preserves Qoheleth from choosing suicide. Although it may be a sign of how distant Qoheleth is from the twentieth century, perhaps it is necessary to draw out the meaning of the citation in Qoheleth 9:4 by amplifying it:
An amused living dog is better than a dead lion.
113 Other occurrences of the qal pf. 1st common singular form of hxr which might be translated "be amused at" are 1:14; 2:13, 24; 3:10, 16, 22; 4:4;, 5:12, 17; 6:1; 7:15; 8:9, 10, 17.
114 hxr also appears at 1:8, 16; 2:3, 12; 3:13, 18, 22; 4:1, 3, 7; 5:7, 17; 6:5, 6; 7:11; 8:16 (2x); 9:11; 11:4, 7; 12:3. The noun hxrm at 6:9 and 11:9 could bear the meaning "amusement."