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Youssarian
Dec 17th 2009, 02:16 AM
I've noticed that amongst the translations of the Bible, this particular verse has been interpreted in what seems to be two very different ways. Perhaps some kind of reconciliation can be made? I also include verses 24 and 26 to provide clarity of context.

The first way is the one that generally says, "Without God, there is no enjoyment". Some examples:

New International Version: 24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

New American Standard: 24There is (A)nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good This also I have seen that it is (B)from the hand of God. 25For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him? 26For to a person who is good in His sight (C)He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may (D)give to one who is good in God's sight This too is (E)vanity and striving after wind.

The other way seems to say, "And no one can enjoy life more than me."

King James Version: 24There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God. 25For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I? 26For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Amplified: 24There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink and make himself enjoy good in his labor. Even this, I have seen, is from the hand of God. 25For who can eat or who can have enjoyment any more than I can--[a]apart from Him? 26For to the person who pleases Him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and heaping up, that he may give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after the wind and a feeding on it.

I find it slightly strange since in some versions it credits God as the giver of happiness, and in others Solomon declares that no one can be happier than he has been. Can someone give a solution to this? (Actually, the Amplified version has a footnote for this: According to The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) and The Syriac reading: Jesus recognized the unprecedented glory which Solomon's human wisdom had brought him, but He said that Solomon arrayed in all of it was not equal in glory to one tiny lily of the field--which God's wisdom had made (Matt. 6:29).)

leoxiii
Dec 17th 2009, 05:40 AM
Don't forget the Douay-Rheims:

18 Again I hated all my application wherewith I had earnestly laboured under the sun, being like to have an heir after me, 19 Whom I know not whether he will be a wise man or a fool, and he shall have rule over all my labours with which I have laboured and been solicitous: and is there any thing so vain? 20 Wherefore I left off and my heart renounced labouring any more under the sun. 21 For when a man laboureth in wisdom, and knowledge, and carefulness, he leaveth what he hath gotten to an idle man: so this also is vanity, and a great evil. 22 For what profit shall a man have of all his labour, and vexation of spirit, with which he hath been tormented under the sun? 23 All his days are full of sorrows and miseries, even in the night he doth not rest in mind: and is not this vanity? 24 Is it not better to eat and drink, and to shew his soul good things of his labours? and this is from the hand of God. 25 Who shall so feast and abound with delights as I?
26 God hath given to a man that is good in his sight, wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he hath given vexation, and superfluous care, to heap up and to gather together, and to give it to him that hath pleased God: but this also is vanity, and a fruitless solicitude of the mind.



I actually think King Solomon is being sarcastic in that verse.

goykodesh
Dec 18th 2009, 04:46 PM
Happiness in Hebrew (asher) is one of those words that can have a deeper meaning depending on context. It can mean the emotion of 'happy,' but in different context (such as when Jesus used it in "happy are the poor" it means something there is no true English equivalent for. It the context Jesus used, it means something simular to the assurance you have in Jesus. Sorry, it's difficutl to explain. Perhaps this may help - when we lack something or experience a loss we are unhappy. The greatest source of unhappiness is the lack of God in our lives - a walk outside of His ways. "Asher" in this context then, means that lack is filled with the Spirit of God and manifested in walking in His Ways. That is "asher" that can be given only by God.

Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes (Kohelet in Hebrew) to contrast a Spiritual walk (under the heavens) to a worldly walk (under the sun). Any application "under the sun" has the properties of appearance only and therefore done in vain. Happiness under the sun is fleeting and provides only temporal rewards. Under the sun, happiness is but a layer around a core of darkenss. Under the heavens, happiness is at the core.

"When you harvest your crops from your granary and your vineyard, you should be happy on your holiday, you and your children..." (Deuteronomy 16:13)

Tradition says Solomon wrote this as a 'speech' to be read on the feast of Sukkot, which is the most joyous of all feasts, following a great fall harvest. The Many scholars conclude Jesus was born on Sukkot, the most happy event this world (all of creation in fact) has ever known. If the harvest brought a yearly joy, how much more joy does the Son of God bring? The people who were there at the time and understood this must have been beside themselves.

Youssarian
Dec 18th 2009, 09:30 PM
OK, I'm a little lost as to how this applies to the question at hand.

goykodesh
Dec 18th 2009, 10:19 PM
I thought you were asking a question about happiness. Did I mis-read you question?

Youssarian
Dec 19th 2009, 02:26 AM
Yeah, I'm trying to see if some kind of reconciliation can be found for the fact that translations of the Bible render this verse in two seemingly very different ways. But I did learn some Hebrew and history. ^.^