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Truthseeker
02-03-2014, 11:29 AM
"Cast your bread upon the waters and you will find it after many days." Ecclesiastes 11.1

The ESV has a note about that verse that says at least three suggestions have been made what the verse means.

If this is the wrong forum for this thread, my apologies.

John Reece
02-03-2014, 01:27 PM
"Cast your bread upon the waters and you will find it after many days." Ecclesiastes 11.1

The ESV has a note about that verse that says at least three suggestions have been made what the verse means.

If this is the wrong forum for this thread, my apologies.

This is the right forum.

Do you have a question or a comment about the text or the ESV note?

Christianbookworm
02-03-2014, 01:36 PM
What are the suggested meanings? I'd like to know what it means also.

John Reece
02-03-2014, 03:17 PM
What are the suggested meanings? I'd like to know what it means also.

According to Thomas Krüger in Qoheleth (Hermeneia: Augsburg Press, 2004), the three understandings of Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 are as follows:


1. The two exhortations are related to dealing with one's own wealth in business activities. Whereas verse 1 encourages one to engage in risky businesses such as shipping (cf. Isa 18:2; Prov 31:14), verse 2 counsels investing in various businesses, in order not to lose everything all at once in a disaster. Against this interpretation are, above all, the fact that "(your) bread" as a metaphor for trade goods is not otherwise attested, the point that in shipping one does not expect to "find again" what one has sent off on a voyage but rather to receive other goods for it and if possible make a profit thereby, and the fact "giving a portion" (נתן חֵלֶק ntn ḥēleq) seems to mean not "investing one's capital (in various businesses) but rather turning over a share of one's goods (to other people)" (cf. 2:21).

2. The two verses juxtapose the paradoxes that a foolish action can be successful, whereas wise actions can fail. "Although one ventures something unwisely, one may find success in it (verse 1), and, vice versa, when someone cautiously divides the risks, disaster can come and wipe out all of one's successes (verse 2)" (Zimmerli). This would presuppose, however, that the introductory כִּי ki in verse 1b and verse 2b is to be understood adversatively ("nevertheless, even so"), which seems rather unlikely both in regard to the lexical spectrum of meaning of ki and in consideration of the form of verses 1 and 2 (imperative + כִּי ki + indicative), which suggests interpretation as an exhortation with following justification (cf. e.g. 4:17―5:6; 11:6, 9-10).

3. Thus the traditional interpretation of verses 1-2 as a call to generosity and charity (cf. e.g. ... Rashi, and Ibn Ezra) seems to come the closest to doing justice to the text. A calculating and profit-oriented "rationality" makes charity seem as senseless as throwing one's bread into the water. With a similar image Pseudo-Phocylides (152) warns against charity toward "evil" people: "Do nothing good for the evil person; you are only sowing your seed in the ocean." Like Qoh 11:1, the Egyptian Teaching of Ankh-Sheshonq (301) states fundamentally that charity is by no means senseless: even if it is done without any expectation of "gain," it can still over the long term return to the benefactor: "Do a good deed and throw it into the flood; when the water recedes you will find it again."

Qoheleth 11:1-2 does not assert that charity assures the prosperity of the benefactor. The idea that after a long time one will again find the bread that one has thrown into the water (verse 1) is at first glance not what one would expect. Since, however, in view of the unpredictability of the future (verse 2; cf. 7:12, 14; 8:7; 9:12; 10:14), everyone must take into account the possibility of falling victim to misfortune, it is quite reasonable, and in one's own interest, to display generosity toward people who are in need. For within the context of a "community of solidarity" ("seven or eight"; cf. "two" and "three" in 4:9-12) there is at least the possibility of receiving the help of others if one should fall into misfortune oneself. Not even charity can eliminate the uncertainty of the future; nonetheless, it offers a reasonable strategy for taking into account this uncertainty in life. For "not even the outcome of insecurity can be taken for granted!"

....

Truthseeker
02-03-2014, 06:51 PM
Try to do as much good to others as you can not expecting any specific return or profit. If you do good that way, you shall get a return even if it is not something you expect or it comes at an unexpected time. What do you think of that?

The ESV takes the business view of verse 2: "It is financially more prudent to explore multiple avenues for making one's living and investing one's resources, which could involve giving a 'portion' or 'compensation' to several different areas ... because such diversification gives protection against unforeseen disaster in one or two of the areas." I doubt that if there are many people to which you could do good, you should always divide your alms (or whatever) among them. What do you think of that?