Ecclesiastes 3

Ecclesiastes 3 is the third chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The book contains philosophical speeches by a character called 'Qoheleth', composed probably between 5th to 2nd century BC. Peshitta, Targum, and Talmud attribute the authorship of the book to King Solomon. The NewCity Editor's Letter cites the first part of this chapter as "one of the world’s earlier and best-known poems".


The original text was written in Hebrew. This chapter is divided into 22 verses.

Textual witnesses

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter in Hebrew are of the Masoretic Text, which includes Codex Leningradensis.
There is also a translation into Koine Greek known as the Septuagint, made in the last few centuries BCE. Extant ancient manuscripts of the Septuagint version include Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, and Codex Alexandrinus.
The Greek text is probably derived from the work of Aquila of Sinope or his followers.


grouped the chapter:
The section calls to 'a view of God's sovereignty which both reassures and yet sobers' the readers, because God is in control, but it remains mysterious.

Verse 1

'There is purposefulness in life' as God always has the oversight over the seasons.
give a list of times for major activities, according to God's plan. It forms a poem, where two Hebrew words are contrasted with two other Hebrew words in each verse. The examples are related to the body, mind and soul. It gives vivid illustration to the statement in [|verse 1] "that every action or event will come to pass", with the explanation in verse 11 that God made everything "suitable for its time". The context of the poem is the lack of freedom in human life, dictated by external and natural constraints as well as no control when one is born or dies, alongside the human incapacity to discern a deeper purpose in life, while being understood as an 'affirmation of the beauty of the life that God has given to human race'.

Contentment and satisfaction (3:9–15)

The question in verse 9 reminds that the desired 'gain' is hard to find, becoming 'the divinely quest for meaningfulness', but only within the limit of human understanding. The phrase 'I know' starts each of two sections to discern the question.

Verse 11

God who made everything suitable for its time is also the one placing a sense of past and future into human consciousness, although paradoxically despite knowing the reality of this eternity, human beings can cope only with the moment.

Verse 12

Eaton sees this verse as a reminder that 'provision and contentment are gifts of God'.

The judgment of God (3:16–22)

God as the controller uses injustices to show that without him human beings are no different than animals, in their dying, and in the appreciation they receive after death, so as the conclusion: 'the remedy to life's enigma is to live on God's goodness'.

Verse 20

Musical settings