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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 3

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1 FOR everything its season, and for every activity under heaven its time:

2a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; 3a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up; 4a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time for mourning and a time for dancing; 5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them; a time to embrace and a time to abstain from embracing; 6a time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to discard; 7a time to tear and a time to mend; a time for silence and a time for speech; 8a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.

9What profit has the worker from his labour? 10I have seen the task that God has given to mortals to keep them occupied. 11He has made everything to suit its time; moreover he has given mankind a sense of past and future, but no comprehension of God's work from beginning to end. 12I know that there is nothing good for anyone except to be happy and live the best life he can while he is alive. 13Indeed, that everyone should eat and drink and enjoy himself, in return for all his labours, is a gift of God. 14I know that whatever God does lasts for ever; there is no adding to it, no taking away. And he has done it all in such a way that everyone must feel awe in his presence. 15Whatever is has been already, and whatever is to come has been already, with God summoning each event back in its turn.

16Moreover I saw here under the sun that, where justice ought to be, there was wickedness; and where righteousness ought to be, there was wickedness. 17I said to myself, ‘God will judge the just and the wicked equally; for every activity and every purpose has its proper time a 3:17 proper time: prob. rdg; Heb. adds there. .’ 18I said to myself, ‘In dealing with human beings it is God's purpose to test them and to see what they truly are b 3:18 what…are: prob. rdg; Heb. adds they to them. . 19Human beings and beasts share one and the same fate: death comes to both alike. They all draw the same breath. Man has no advantage over beast, for everything is futility. 20All go to the same place: all came from the dust, and to the dust all return. 21Who knows whether the spirit of a human being goes upward or whether the spirit of a beast goes downward to the earth?’ 22So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, since that is their lot. For who will put them in a position to see what will happen afterwards?

Notes:

a 3:17 proper time: prob. rdg; Heb. adds there.

b 3:18 what…are: prob. rdg; Heb. adds they to them.

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