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The labor of the extremely foolish

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him, for he doesn’t even know how to go to the city.

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For the one who is a complete fool, his wearisome toil wears him out because he is focused on the wrong things; why, he is so foolish

he doesn’t even know how to find the obvious!


1: “fool”

In Hebrew this word is plural but the rest of the sentence is singular. Such an inconsistency in plural/singular could serve as a form of emphasis. Some scholars think that in this case it was showing habitual foolishness or intense foolishness.


Earlier Solomon has made the case that toil is wearisome for everyone, but here he seems to be saying that it depends on something, but he does not say what that something is, though we know it is more of a problem for fools than for the wise. In the paraphrase I have inserted the reason which seems to come from other parts of Ecclesiastes, that being wrong focus or wrong attitudes.


In those days finding the city should have been obvious. Although there weren’t any road signs that we are aware of, there were huge differences between the heavily travelled road to a major city and the rest of the paths that led elsewhere. Even the blind could find their way to the nearest large city.