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By Jacques B. Doukhan

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Ecclesiastes : all is vanity

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Ecclesiastes is simply urging us, in concrete terms, to think about death, so that we realize the vanity of life. And as we contemplate the vanity of our own life, we will subsequently be reoriented to the true face of life. We will reconnect with the essence of ourselves, the "good" hidden in the deep folds of our souls. Then we will belong to another world, what the New Testament called the kingdom of God. Ironically, by making us confront the reality of death, Ecclesiastes takes us to the other reality.

Ecclesiastes' seeking for wisdom is associated with his seeking for folly: one thing to the other to find out the reason" (literally, "one to one to find the balance," 7:27). The word heshbon, "accounting" or "bal­ ance," is used, just as in 7:25. Ecclesiastes describes himself strug­ gling to sort out the positive and the negative. " Most of the occurrences of the word "to find" are concen­ trated in this paragraph (five out of the seven). The word "still" indi­ cates that this search is not new, "which my soul still seeks, but I cannot find" (7:28).

1 The point of Ecclesiastes was the failure of the world, the vanity of life itself. " (6:12). Ecclesiastes implied that no one knew what was good. He did not just mean that humans lacked information; in Hebrew thought, "knowing" is a dynamic and existential experience. Not knowing good means, then, that we are un­ able to experience what is good; we are unable to be good. It is remarkable that the same association of the two words "to know" and "good" is used in Genesis 2 and 3 in relation to the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

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