Eclesiasties and the Bible

Many commentators have pointed to the apparent contradictions in Ecclesiastes. Consider, for example, the issue of justice. In one instance, the author observes: “the actions of even the righteous and wise are determined by God.” (Eccl. 9:1) Are such assertions meant to deny human free will? If one has no freedom to choose between actions good or bad, on what rationale of fairness can an individual be rewarded or punished for committing them. In another instance, the author concludes: “The sum of the matter, when all is said and done: Revere God and observe His commandments. For this applies to all mankind.” (Eccl. 12: 14) Doesn’t this admonishment assume that individuals have some freedom of choice? In still another instance, the author muses: “God will doom both righteous and wicked…For in respect of the fate of man and the fate of beast, they have one and the same fate: as the one dies so dies the other, and both have the same life-breath; man has no superiority over beast, since both came from dust and both return to dust.” (Eccl. 3:17-19). Given that the same fate is preordained for everyone, why should individuals uphold the commandments? Furthermore, the author points out that the wicked often thrive during their lives while the righteous suffer.


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Question of the essay:

Given that Ecclesiastes was included in the Hebrew canon of sacred writings, it seems safe to assume that its author was a devout Jew. For this exercise, write an essay evaluating whether Ecclesiastes provides a cogent case for the Israelite understanding of divine and human justice or whether this case is irremediably flawed. Does his approach help to illuminate the complexity of the fundamental problems of justice facing the Israelites or is his approach fatally compromised by contradictions? Formulate the core of that case in your introduction’s thesis statement








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In ancient Israelite terms, justice meant “choosing” to obey the rules of the covenant gifted by God to the chosen people with promises of certain rewards. Their relationship with the Higher Power was based on obligations that they have to both God and themselves in order for society to function. They share a mutual understanding to uphold and obey the law in order to work. [It implies a retributive understanding of justice, with of course some exceptions.][ [Justice is served indirectly] through God through these laws.. [[Justice and Judgement have an objective existence derived from God to then be acted upon as a social agreement. This creates the illusion of personal choice of how justice may be served in society itself, but in reality it is the justice of God being served in an indirect way chosen by his people. This creates an indirect relationship between God and the people with the word of God explained out in text on how to deliver that said justice. Ecclesiastes takes a much more out of grasp for human knowledge point of view than what the Israelite understanding is. [He does indeed highlight the complexity of the whole concept of divine justice in a completely different way of thinking and understanding while bringing up gaps in the theory of ancient Israelite theory as well as the Book of Job.] [Ecclesiastes’ understanding of divine justice is more omniscient and omnipotent. ]Similar to one part of the book of [Job, there are things we just will not comprehend in this world because truth is limited by sin as our capacity to understand God’s divine justice is not something we can grasp.] Basically we cannot question god, as all is meaningless because death inevitably conquers all. He believes there are seven things in life that the created cannot control. Death, depravity, deliverance, [delayment] of justice, damages of life, Fate, and discovery. Starting with death, his explanation is even if sinful people go worship just to be praised by it from other people, their attempts of shallow praise is futile because in the end he will still die and be judged on his actions. We cannot control others’ depravity or moral corruption because we cannot stop people from sinning. Only God may do that. We then cannot control the deliverance of this justice, someone who commits a crime is given a short term punishment in life, yet he should die. God allows him to live. God will take care of the injustices we see in this world and deliver us to a just, divine world. Even though there is delayment of divine justice in this world, the “wicked” will receive the rightful punishment for their actions. As human error happens, bad people are rewarded and good people get punished. “There is a futility that is done on the earth: there are righteous people who get what the actions of the wicked deserve, and there are wicked people who get what the actions of the righteous deserve. I say that this too is futile.” (Ecclesiastes 8:14, HCSB)

[The created may not grasp the reasons why but God will deliver divine justice in the end.] We cannot control ultimate fate or justice. Enjoy God’s gifts given to the created for a more fulfilled life. Ecclesiastes claims that one of the primary causes of dissatisfaction in life is our own humanly wrong choices of living. He believes people largely center in on their efforts to attain higher levels of wealth and more surface level as the answer to life’s desire for a sense of satisfaction and well-being instead of the gift of a relationship with the creator. Mankind needs a relationship with The creator so that life may be lived with a deeper understanding of its purpose. Yet, there are limits to what a person can discover. We cannot grasp everything God has done so the only we may do is to accept it. This brings up the question of if God is in control of fate and it is out of our hands and decided, what is in our hands to control then? Ecclesiastes theory is contradictory to ancient Israelite belief because of the lack of control he says the created supposedly has. If God came down to the “chosen people” and gave them obligations and a mutual understanding of how to uphold the law how does the created not have any understanding or control of justice and fate? The question within itself is contradictory.

“The sum of the matter, when all is said and done: Revere God and observe his Commandments. For this applies to all of mankind”. (Eccl.12:14)

This implies some sort of free will to choose to “Revere God and observe his Commandments”.




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