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Over the years I have been attracted to the philosophical Book of Ecclesiastes. Although it seems on the surface to be very pessimistic, the logic within has delighted me deeply and caused me to ponder. I have also been intrigued by the mystery of its origin.
There exists a great many views of its origin. Traditionally it has been considered something that Solomon produced in his old age reflections. He was considered very wise. The other extreme is too say it is a very late work produced as late as 200 BC, which is only because it contains a few Greek words. Both of these have problems and do not fit the evidences well enough. The author refers to himself as Koheleth, or the gatherer of folks (or something like that). He also mentions the many rulers in Jerusalem that came before him, yet only David and Cananite kings (Jebusites) ruled the area before Solomon. Note: Saul did not rule in Jerusalem.
There has been a theory or position that I have found intriging, and is rather between the extremes. This is the view that it was something authored by Zerubbabel, in the 6th century BC. He was a descendant of the David line of kings, and as governor of Judah he was basically a kingpin under Cyrus of Persia. He could reflect upon all those that ruled in jerusalem earlier. He was also wise. There is evidence that he was removed in the end. This view of the origin of Ecclesiastes is between the extremes......
Ecclesiastes contains much Hebrew style and philosophy, for example, it has the cyclical view of time, rather than the Western view of time as linear. We see this in chapter 3 and other verses here and there. I was one time taught that the ancient Hebrews said that the past is in front of you evidently because you experienced it and can see it as if it is a painting or photo you are looking at. It makes sense. The writer says, 'What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, 'See, this is new'? It has already been, in the ages before us." (1:9-10).
One of my favorite verses is chapter 3:1, "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." This has inspired songs, such as "Turn, turn, turn" by the Byrds. With all said, although the writer sounds sad, he does conclude that the best we can do is honor God and keep his commandments (chapter 12:13..)
What are your thoughts?