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Ecclesiastes 12:1-2 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Fear God Now Because Old Age and Death Come Quickly

12 So remember[a] your Creator in the days of your youth—
before[b] the difficult[c] days come,
and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;
before the sun and the light[d] of the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds disappear[e] after the rain;

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 12:1 tn The imperative זְכֹר (zekhor, “Remember!”) is a figurative expression (metonymy of association) for obeying God and acknowledging his lordship over one’s life (e.g., Num 15:40; Deut 8:18; Pss 42:6-7; 63:6-8; 78:42; 103:18; 106:7; 119:52, 55; Jer 51:50; Ezek 20:43; Jonah 2:7; Mal 4:4). The exhortation to fear God and obey his commands in 12:13-14 spells out what it means to “remember” God.
  2. Ecclesiastes 12:1 tn The temporal adjective עַד (ʿad, “before”) appears three times in 12:1-7 (vv. 1b, 2a, 6a). Likewise, the temporal preposition ב (bet, “when”) is repeated (vv. 3a, 4b). These seven verses comprise one long sentence in Hebrew: The main clause is 12:1a (“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth”), while 12:1b-7 consists of five subordinate temporal clauses (“before…before…when…when…before…”).
  3. Ecclesiastes 12:1 tn The adjective רָעָה (raʿah, “evil”) does not refer here to ethical evil, but to physical difficulty, injury, pain, deprivation and suffering (e.g., Deut 31:17, 21; 32:23; 1 Sam 10:19; Neh 1:3; 2:17; Pss 34:20; 40:13; 88:4; 107:26; Eccl 11:10; Jer 2:27; Lam 3:38); see HALOT 1263 s.v. רָעָה 4.b; BDB 949 s.v. רָעָה 2.
  4. Ecclesiastes 12:2 tn Heb “the light and the moon and the stars.” The phrase “the light and the moon” is a hendiadys (two separate terms denoting one idea) or perhaps even a hendiatris (three separate terms denoting one idea) for “the light of the moon and stars” (e.g., Gen 1:14).
  5. Ecclesiastes 12:2 tn The verb שׁוּב (shuv, “to return”) here denotes “to desist” (HALOT 1430 s.v. שׁוּב 3). It pictures the disappearance of the clouds as a result of the precipitation of their contents.
New English Translation (NET)

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