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26 For to the one who pleases him,[a] God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy,
but to the sinner, he gives the task of amassing[b] wealth[c]
only to give[d] it[e] to the one who pleases God.
This[f] task of the wicked[g] is futile—like chasing the wind!

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Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 2:26 tn Heb “for to a man who is good before him.”
  2. Ecclesiastes 2:26 sn The phrase the task of amassing wealth (Heb “the task of gathering and heaping up”) implicitly compares the work of the farmer reaping his crops and storing them up in a barn, to the work of the laborer amassing wealth as the fruit of his labor. However, rather than his storehouse being safe for the future, the sinner is deprived of it.
  3. Ecclesiastes 2:26 tn The word “wealth” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
  4. Ecclesiastes 2:26 sn The three-fold repetition of the Hebrew word translated “give” in the first part of this verse creates irony: God “gives” the righteous the ability to prosper and to find enjoyment in his work, but to the wicked He “gives” the task of “giving” his wealth to the righteous.
  5. Ecclesiastes 2:26 tn The word “it” (an implied direct object) does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
  6. Ecclesiastes 2:26 tn The antecedent of the demonstrative pronoun זֶה (zeh, “this”) is debated: (1) Some refer it to the enjoyment which Qoheleth had just commended in 2:24-26. However, this is inconsistent with the enjoyment theme found elsewhere in the book. It also ignores the fact that 2:24-26 states that such enjoyment is a good gift from God. (2) Others refer it to the term “toil” (עָמָל, ʿamal) which is repeated throughout 2:18-26. However, Qoheleth affirmed that if one is righteous, he can find enjoyment in his toil, even though so much of it is ultimately futile. (3) Therefore, it seems best to refer it to the grievous “task” (עִנְיָן, ʿinyan) God has given to the sinner in 2:26b. Consistent with the meaning of הֶבֶל (hevel, “futile; profitless; fruitless”), 2:26b emphasizes that the “task” of the sinner is profitless: he labors hard to amass wealth, only to see the fruit of his labor given away to someone else. The righteous man’s enjoyment of his work and the fruit of his labor under the blessing of God (2:24-26a) is not included in this.
  7. Ecclesiastes 2:26 tn The phrase “task of the wicked” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

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