Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Heaven, in this world, where alone things change. (St. Jerome) — Nothing is here perpetual, but to be used in a proper manner. (Worthington) — The heart must not be attached to any thing created. (Calmet) — Pleasure had been condemned and approved, chap. 2. He shews that all must have its time. (Menochius)
Ver. 5. Stones, with a sling, or to render a field useless, 4 Kings iii. 25., and Isaias v. 2. — Embraces. Continence was sometimes prescribed to married people, Leviticus xx. 18., and 1 Corinthians vii. (St. Jerome) (St. Augustine, Enchiridion 78.) (Calmet) — Hatred often succeeds love, ver. 8., and 2 Kings xiii. 14. (Haydock)
Ver. 9. Labour? What advantage does he derive from any of these things? (Chap. i. 3.) (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Consideration. Literally, “dispute.” Hebrew and Septuagint, “heart.” (Haydock) — Pagnin, “He has implanted the desire of immortality in their hearts.” — End. If we could discover the properties of each thing, we should be in raptures; (Calmet) but as we cannot, this increases our vexation. (Menochius)
Ver. 12. Well; virtuously: or, perhaps, as literally, to enjoy himself, ver. 13. (Calmet) — Thus thinks the man of pleasure, Isaias xxii. 31. (St. Jerome)
Ver. 13. God. He gives peace and plenty; and still more, the grace to use these things, so as to obtain heaven. (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Feared. The order of the seasons, &c., teaches men to adore Providence. (St. Jerome) — He has arranged every thing, how mutable soever. (St. Augustine, Confessions i. 6.)
Ver. 15. Past. He causes plants to spring forth afresh. Hebrew, Septuagint, &c., “But will God seek after the oppressed?” Here commences another objection. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. And then. Protestants, “for there is a time there (ver. 1.) for every purpose, and for every work.” At the day of judgment all will receive their due. (Haydock)
Ver. 18. Beasts. Another doubt; or suggestion of infidels. (St. Gregory, Dial. iv. 4.)
Ver. 19. Man hath nothing more, &c., viz., as to the life of the body. (Challoner)
Ver. 21. Who knoweth, &c., viz., experimentally; since no one in this life can see a spirit. But as to the spirit of the beasts, which is merely animal, and becomes extinct by the death of the beast, who can tell the manner it acts so as to give life and motion, and by death to descend downward, that is, to be no more? (Challoner) — Few are able to prove that the soul of man is immortal rather than that of beasts, since the bodies of both are subject to the like inconveniences. The objection is answered [in] chap. xii. 7. (Calmet) — The difficulty of answering is intimated by “Who?” &c., Psalm xiv. 1. (Menochius)
Ver. 22. After him. He knows not who shall be his heir, or how soon he may die. None returns from the other world to inform him of what is there transacted. Thus the libertine encourages himself. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
All human things are liable to perpetual changes. We are to rest on God’s providence, and cast away fruitless cares.
1 All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven.
2 A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to destroy, and a time to build.
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather. A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
6 A time to get, and a time to lose. A time to keep, and a time to cast away.
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
8 A time of love, and a time of hatred. A time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What hath man more of his labour?
10 I have seen the trouble, which God hath given the sons of men, to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made all things good in their time, and hath delivered the world to their consideration, so that man cannot flnd out the work which God hath made from the beginning to the end.
12 And I have known that there was no better thing than to rejoice, and to do well in this life.
13 For every man that eateth and drinketh, and seeth good of his labour, this is the gift of God.
14 I have learned that all the works which God hath made, continue for ever: we cannot add any thing, nor take away from those things which God hath made, that he may be feared.
15 That which hath been made, the same continueth: the things that shall be, have already been: and God restoreth that which is past.
16 I saw under the sun in the place of judgment, wickedness, and in the place of justice, iniquity.
17 And I said in my heart: God shall judge both the just and the wicked, and then shall be the time of every thing.
18 I said in my heart concerning the sons of men, that God would prove them, and shew them to be like beasts.
19 Therefore the death of man, and of beasts is one, and the condition of them both is equal: as man dieth, so they also die: all things breathe alike, and man hath nothing more than beast: all things are subject to vanity,
20 And all things go to one place: of earth they were made, and into earth they return together.
21 Who knoweth if the spirit of the children of Adam ascend upward, and if the spirit of the beasts descend downward?
22 And I have found that nothing is better than for a man to rejoice in his work, and that this is his portion. For who shall bring him to know the things that shall be after him?