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

Chapter 12

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1Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the bad times come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them,’ 2before the sun and the light of day give place to darkness, before the moon and the stars grow dim, and the clouds return with the rain.

3Remember him in the day when the guardians of the house become unsteady, and the strong men stoop, when the women grinding the meal cease work because they are few, and those who look through the windows can see no longer, 4when the street doors are shut, when the sound of the mill fades, when the chirping of the sparrow grows faint a 12:4 grows faint: prob. rdg; Heb. obscure. and the songbirds fall silent b fall silent: prob. rdg; Heb. sink low. ; 5when people are afraid of a steep place and the street is full of terrors, when the blossom whitens on the almond tree and the locust can only crawl and the caper-buds no longer give zest. For mortals depart to their everlasting home, and the mourners go about the street.

6Remember your Creator before the silver cord is snapped and the golden bowl is broken, before the pitcher is shattered at the spring and the wheel broken at the well, 7before the dust returns to the earth as it began and the spirit c 12:7 spirit: or breath. returns to God who gave it.

8Utter futility, says the Speaker, everything is futile.

9So the Speaker, in his wisdom, continued to instruct the people. He turned over many maxims in his mind and sought how best to set them out. 10He chose his words to give pleasure, but what he wrote was straight truth. 11The sayings of the wise are sharp as goads, like nails driven home; they guide the assembled people, for they come from one shepherd. 12One further warning, my son: there is no end to the writing of books, and much study is wearisome.

13This is the end of the matter: you have heard it all. Fear God and obey his commandments; this sums up the duty of mankind. 14For God will bring everything we do to judgement, every secret, whether good or bad.

Notes:

a 12:4 grows faint: prob. rdg; Heb. obscure.

b fall silent: prob. rdg; Heb. sink low.

c 12:7 spirit: or breath.

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