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Fear

Qoheleth's vision of life is exceedingly pessimistic. Strangely, it is precisely this pessimistic attitude toward life which motivates his counsel of enjoyment and amusement in the face of such an existence. God stands behind all of the attacks which issue from life. Qoheleth's response to

God is quite simply fear (xry), for he knows better than

to "dispute with one stronger than himself" (6:10).

The sources of Qoheleth's fear of God are stated clearly in two places. One is the knowledge that "the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hate man does not know" (9:1). Human ignorance of God's intention surely explains one factor in this fearful response before God.

Human ignorance, however, is not its ultimate source. After his magnificent poem on the "times" for all of human existence, from birth to death and war to peace (3:1-9). Qoheleth reflects on the nature of existence and its implications.

I have seen the business that God has given to the sons of men to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful into in its time; also he has put

eternity115 into man's mind, yet so that he cannot

115

The word translated "eternity" is Mlfh.

J. Crenshaw, "The Eternal Gospel (Eccl. 3:11)," in Essays in Old Testament Ethics, p. 40, comments that "four basic solutions to the meaning of this word have inevitably sug- gested themselves: (1) eternity, (2) world, (3) course of

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