The futility and uncertainty of life as depicted in the previous chapters could result in paralysis and inertia. Qoheleth will not tolerate this. He now calls for diligence and bold action.
It is difficult to know whether philanthropy or business is in mind in v. 1 (bread suggests either agricultural pursuits or a contribution to the hungry). Either way the emphasis is the same. People must be bold and invest their resources since the return they receive will depend on that investment (cf. Lk 16:1-9; Jn 12:23-26). V. 2 calls for diversification of charitable or business efforts. It is simply unwise to put all our eggs into one basket.
Reference to the generous clouds pouring rain upon the earth may serve here as an analogy of appropriate charitable giving. On the other hand, it may suggest a storm that topples the tree, an unexpected and inconvenient happening (v. 3). In spite of such aggravations, people must not procrastinate. They must not cower before the unknown or inconvenient. The tasks of life must be done now and not be delayed for ideal conditions (vv. 4-6).
Since the same Hebrew word can mean wind or spirit, it is not clear in v. 5 whether the reference is to the path of the wind or the path of the spirit. The former would attach it to the preceding verse, while the latter would connect it with the formation of the fetus. Human ignorance concerning the wind (Jn 3:8) and the human fetus (Ps 139:13-16) serves to remind us of our inability to understand the work of God (v. 5).
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