oa Conspectus : The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary - The meaning of hebel in Ecclesiastes - research

Volume 27 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1996-8167



The interpretation of hebel in Ecclesiastes has a great influence on one’s understanding of the message of the book. This article discusses six different proposals for the meaning of hebel using the criteria of usage outside of Ecclesiastes, of natural prototype extensions from the attested meanings, of contextual fit, and of authorial cues to the reader. Using these criteria, it is argued that in Ecclesiastes the word means ’futile’ without implying worthlessness. Ecclesiastes makes a case to value joy over pursuing the impossible task of achieving permanent profit in life and losing joy in the process.

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