Ecclesiastes 5:3 question


#1

I saw an alleged quotation from Ecclesiastes 5:3 that read, “A dream comes from much activity.” This sounds pretty inspirational and motivating - dreams come true if through hard work.

Yet, I have noticed that translations of this verse vary significantly – the 2011 New American Bible has it at 5:2 and reads, “As dreams come along with many cares, so a fool’s voice along with a multitude of words.” An older NAB translation has it as, “For nightmares come with many cares, and a fool’s utterances with man words.”

I’m curious what this verse is actually intended to mean - that too many worries lead to bad dreams, perhaps? We use the word “dream” in our culture to refer to one’s wishes for the future, but here I wonder if the writer meant literal dreams, and not as a positive thing.

Any thoughts?


#2

The author seems to mean literal dreams, as shown in Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary:

Ver. 2. Folly. Under anxiety a person is naturally disturbed with dreams, in which some true ideas may present themselves; in like manner, as a great talker will say some things respecting God, which may not be reprehensible, though the greatest part of his discourse will be nothing to the purpose. This is another abuse. All must speak of God and religion, though few are able to do it, with propriety! (Calmet)


#3

Interesting how that version differs from this Haydock’s.
Della, is that one available online also?

And this from the Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

ECCLESIASTES - Chapter 5
6. Where there are many dreams, there are many vanities, and words without number: but do thou fear God.

Commentary:
Those who observe dreams, are filled with apprehension. The Jews were very subject to this superstition. — As dreams are vain, so are many words or excuses to evade a vow. — Such pretences must not be made.


#4

Hi, B!

…I think part of the problem you are having is dissection of Scriptures… too many times we tend to take that which seems pleasing or that supports our preconceptions/arguments as that which Scriptures mean… however if we view Scriptures within Scriptures we can get a better picture (understanding) of what is being laid down:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]1 Speak not any thing rashly, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter a word before God. For God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 2 Dreams follow many cares: and in many words shall be found folly. 3 If thou hast vowed any thing to God, defer not to pay it: for an unfaithful and foolish promise displeaseth him: but whatsoever thou hast vowed, pay it.

(Ecclesiastes 5:1-3–DRA)
…working hard to accomplish our dreams is hollowood’s spirituality: “believe.”

…this spirituality excludes God (unless it is hollowood’s version of God).

The passage is actually speaking about our relationship with God; man should not make haste of words and promises since God will hold us to our vows; a fool (in Scriptures’ term it means one who is devoid of trust in God–refuses Fellowship with and reliance upon God) would utter many words (promises/vows) and would have great expectations and imageries of what he/she would “one day” achieve and be able to offer; yet, he/she would make very little effort in accomplishing (paying) his/her vows/promises.

…so “dreams follow many cares” would be a warning not to behave in a grandiose manner when addressing/vowing to God (some version use “house of God”), multiplying the debt that we are incurring with God…

…and “let thy words be few,” and “if thou hast vowed… defer not to pay it” would brings us to: ]stop acting the fool, make your vows few, within your means, and, quickly, own up to your obligations.’

Merry Christmas!
Maran atha!

Angel

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#5

Despite many worries and distractions, give God his due reverence.


#6

Interesting. So if I’m reading you correctly, your saying that the scripture is saying: the foolish man, who talks a lot, inevitably makes a lot of ‘promises’ to God that he cannot keep. In turn, his heart would be troubled by those empty promises; so, his worrying would cause him to have dreams…the kind of dreams which were understood by Jews, at that time, to be the product of “many cares”.


#7

That is what prompted my question. I initially saw the quote verse among a list of bible quotes. I was surprised not to have seen it before, so I looked it up and learned that the quote I saw was not the complete verse and the translation was questionable. Plus, in context, it would seem an odd place for an enjoiner to follow one’s dreams. Further, I can’t think of any other place where scripture uses the word “dream” in that sense, although I am no scriptural scholar.

It irks me when a verse (or half of a verse in this case) is pulled from context to suggest a meaning almost certainly not intended.

…so “dreams follow many cares” would be a warning not to behave in a grandiose manner when addressing/vowing to God (some version use “house of God”), multiplying the debt that we are incurring with God…

From looking at various translations and considering the context, I am inclined to think it is saying that just as those who worry about many things will dream a lot, fool’s will babble a lot. Perhaps he is equating dreams - usually a series of randomly imagined sights, sounds and scenarios, and often disturbing - with the random utterances of fools. This would seem to me in keeping with the book’s theme of turning away from vanities, constant worrying being in vain, as well as the section’s overall admonition to focus on hearing the word of God as opposed to speaking to God.

Actually, I am inclined to wonder if Ecclesiastes 4:17 might have been better placed with this passage (which it is in some translations), in which case the passage would be primarily about one’s behavior in the temple, or in our case, church. The message, then, would be along the lines of, “Don’t come to the temple (or church) focused on your many worries or what you plan to say to and sacrifice before God. Be quiet and listen. Don’t make promises to God that you may not be able to keep, and in fact, the less you promise, probably the better. However, if you make a promise to God, keep it!”

Anyway, thanks to everyone for their input.


#8

Hi!

…firstly I define the fool as one who negotiates in pretense and grandiosness… he/she would multiply words and augment his/her capabilities… and of course the promises he/she would make; but the most important thing about the fool is that he/she has already determined in his/her mind and heart that there’s no God; his vows/promises are empty from the get-go because he/she has not intent on living up to them (this of course is representative of many in the political arena).

The second part of this response is not just that of those dreams that may keep them awake (wrestles sleep) but also of the actual ambitions which a fool would set his/her life’s goal/s… since God is not part of his/her anthropology there’s none to whom she/he feels an obligation so the dreams (even when they enter into the nightmarish state) have no limits… the fool would spend his/her life attempting the next quest… the next risk… gaining the next step to “happiness” or “joy;” all the while that which he/she seeks is forever to be found on the other side (as in the greener grass folly).

So Scriptures are warning us about not playing the fool–God wants a relationship that is free of emptiness and procrastination.

[FONT=“Palatino Linotype”][size=]Merry Christmas!
Maran atha!

Angel

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#9

Hi, B!

…yeah, I fully concur; sadly, as long as there are those bent on rejecting God’s Authority there will be the practice of clipping (cutting and pasting) the Word of God… (‘don’t judge,’ ‘don’t worry, be happy,’ ‘God loves you just the way you are,’ ‘believe,’ and the closest to correct ‘word is bond!’)

…what is truly troublesome is that “scholars” and “theologians” have followed suit (they get derail from Truth seeking to seeking the adulation and power of "knowledge).

From looking at various translations and considering the context, I am inclined to think it is saying that just as those who worry about many things will dream a lot, fool’s will babble a lot. Perhaps he is equating dreams - usually a series of randomly imagined sights, sounds and scenarios, and often disturbing - with the random utterances of fools. This would seem to me in keeping with the book’s theme of turning away from vanities, constant worrying being in vain, as well as the section’s overall admonition to focus on hearing the word of God as opposed to speaking to God.

Exactly! How can God’s Word enter a man’s heart/mind if he is speaking incessantly or engrossed in idle machinations?

Actually, I am inclined to wonder if Ecclesiastes 4:17 might have been better placed with this passage (which it is in some translations), in which case the passage would be primarily about one’s behavior in the temple, or in our case, church. The message, then, would be along the lines of, “Don’t come to the temple (or church) focused on your many worries or what you plan to say to and sacrifice before God. Be quiet and listen. Don’t make promises to God that you may not be able to keep, and in fact, the less you promise, probably the better. However, if you make a promise to God, keep it!”

Anyway, thanks to everyone for their input.

…actually if we read it as a continuation we may find that the thought of 4:17 is being expanded on the following verses in chapter 5.

…the only thing I would correct from your exegesis is that it is no longer about being careful about our relationship with God at the Temple/Church but, in view of St. John 4:23-24, it is in our continual relationship with God–as St. Paul puts it:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]17 All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

(Colossians 3:17)

Merry Christmas!
Maran atha!

Angel

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#10

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