Ecclesiastes 9:5 and Daniel 12:2 What does it mean?

The passage says:

Ecclesiastes 9:5
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt

I thought that when we die, we go somewhere and have consciousness again immediately after death. But these passages apparently contradicts that. Which is quite depressing. To me it says when we die, we go into a sleep state. Ecclesiastes seems more depressing than the Daniel one. I hope I am interpreting it wrong! I really need comfort with this, I am going through a hard time in life and I need comfort to know that I will see my loved ones again when it’s time for me to leave this life.

Ecclesiastes was not written to explain what happens to us after we die. It is not a statement of Christian doctrine on the afterlife.

Ecclesiastes is wisdom literature. Wisdom literature is intended to teach lessons for everyday life - how to stay out of trouble, how to live at peace, how to be content, etc. Ecclesiastes specific message is that one should be content with ordinary, daily life - eating, drinking and working - because these are gifts from God. It has to be read in that context.

This is why I constantly advocate a Bible Study which gives an overview of the books of the Bible. One such study is Bible Timeline from Great Adventure. A good book is “The Bible Compass” by Dr. Edward Sri.


Ok thank you! I’ll look into that book suggestion! But what about Daniel 12:2, it leads to saying that we are like asleep after we die. Also, do you know of anywhere in the bible it says about what happens after we die?

edited to add, I am reading this page and it says we are asleep until we are resurrected. It says the bible compares death to sleep more than 50 times.

Corinthians 15:50-57 They remain asleep in the grave until Jesus returns and raises them to immortal life

This is scary and I don’t like to believe it. If you go to that link, scroll down to the part that says what happens to your soul when you die. If you have time, I hope someone can read the full page and comment.

Don’t be scared. If we just sleep until Christ’s second coming, we won’t be aware of it. It’ll be just like sleeping one night. The important thing is we will awaken and we will see our loved ones again and spend time with them.

I do believe we retain consciousness after death, though. A talk with the right priest i.e. a compassionate one, might help you put your anxieties aside.

Hope things get better and God bless.

“Soul sleep” (a misnomer, as sleeping is a body function and only BODIES can sleep) is **not **a Church teaching and never was. The Church is the final interpreter of Scripture, as it has more man-generations of Scriptural scholarship than anybody now living can match.

Death is often called “sleep” in Scripture as a comforting metaphor because a) sleep is harmless and temporary and b) dead bodies initially resemble sleeping bodies. The term is not meant to imply a state or lack of consciousness.

Our LORD never taught soul-sleep; in fact, His promise to His dying companion that they would be together in Paradise pretty much negates it, as you aren’t “with” somebody if both are asleep.


It is my understanding that in the Old Testament the thinking wasn’t perfectly clear yet on the afterlife.

It is official Catholic teaching that when we die we will be judged and then our life in eternity will begin.
Of course, to be with the Lord forever we will have to pick up our cross and follow Him in this life.

The meaning of Ecclesiastes is made clear in its final two verses

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 10:13-14).

This is crucial to the interpretation of the whole book. The author is stating that obedience to God is the most important part of life.

Both verses refer to in-the-body experiences. In-the-body experiences cease at death and don’t resume again until the bodies of the dead are resurrected at Christ’s second coming. is not a Catholic website. There is a lot of error on that website. Forget it.


In one of the gospels, Jesus is informed of Lazarus’ death. But Jesus tells his apostles he is asleep. Then the apostles reaction to that is, well if he is asleep then everything is ok. Then Jesus says finally … he is dead. Sleep is a gentler word when referring to death.

In death the soul leaves the body. In real sleep, the soul stays with the body.

When the soul leaves, then death takes place in the body, but not in the soul. The soul, after leaving the body, goes on living forever.

In Ecclesiastes 9:5, “the dead(bodies) know not any thing, neither have they any more reward(seeing, tasting, etc); for the memory of them(seeing, tasting, etc) is forgotten”.

In Daniel 12:2, refers to the resurrection of the body, which some Jews held and some did not.

The church has always held the final resurrection of the body on the last day of the world. Body and soul will be reunited.

I don’t want to nitpik or argue, but don’t you mean at the end of human history or the end of time? When Christ returns and the dead are resurrected, the world will still be here. At least that’s my understanding. Correct me if I’m wrong. :shrug:

The last day of the world as we know it. Because from what scripture tells us, all sorts of bad things are going to happen at the end…stars falling, etc.

But you are right, I just didn’t include the rest.

Maybe for some, they are in heaven/ hell instantly, like the ones Jesus told would be in paradise that very day, but if you notice the Daniel verse says ‘MANY’, not all in regards to this sleep.

Daniel 12:2 And** many **of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt

I think it’s a translation problem. Some biblical scholars translate it as “multitudes” rather than “many.”

“The word “many” is used, either because, as all will not sleep, so all will not be awakened; there will be some that will be alive and awake at Christ’s coming, ( 1 Corinthians 15:51 ) ( 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ) , or, as it signifies, a multitude, ( Psalms 97:1 ) and so here the innumerable multitude of the dead, who are afterwards distributively considered; and indeed the word is sometimes used for “all”; see ( Romans 5:15 Romans 5:19 ) : some to everlasting life;…”.

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