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I made many enclosed family plots

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and many enclosed arboreal paradises

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for myself and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.


I went way beyond what average people can afford regarding the provisions of life, and I had many luxuries that only kings can afford.


1: “enclosed family plots”

This word is usually translated simply as ‘garden;” it comes from another word that means “enclosure” or “garden;” it is used to describe a family terrace or other naturally enclosed area where a family would plant a wide variety of trees and vines. These were often on hillsides in the form of a long terrace; they were not large, but just enough to provide for the family’s needs. On these terraces they would plant grape vines, olive trees, fig trees, and possibly some herbs (although the herbs were usually grown next to the house, and these family plots were some distance away). It is also the word used in Genesis 2 for the “Garden” of Eden, where the emphasis is possibly on the idea of an enclosure that contains all the fruit trees and herbs one might need. Those who planted grains did so in open fields, not on these enclosures or terraces. Ray Vanderlaan has an excellent video about these terraces in his series That the World may Know, Volume 10.  The point of this part of the text is this: while most people had only one family plot (one step in the terraced hillside) which was just enough to meet their needs, Solomon planted several of these, meaning he went way beyond what was needed. This fact should be obvious because he was a king and he was wealthy, but this is a very Jewish way of making that point.

2: “Arboreal paradises”

Just like the previous word, this one has the idea of an “enclosure” as its root meaning. However, what was in the enclosure this time was a luxurious paradise of all kinds of shade trees, fruit trees, exotic or rare plants, and lots of birds and other animals. It was the kind of “garden or park” that only existed in ancient times in conjunction with a king’s palace and the homes of extremely wealthy noblemen. The word sounds like our word “paradise” and its Greek equivalent is indeed the word for “paradise.” Both of the places mentioned were enclosed, either naturally, or with a wall in order to protect one’s family provision, or the exotic plants and the fruits they bore. But an enclosure also communicates to us that God is protecting us. Notice that human history started in an “enclosed place” that fits best with our idea of “orchard,” and it will end in ”paradise,” an “enclosed place” we call a “park;” the entirety of human history is held within God’s protection! But in this passage in Ecclesiastes both of the words serve to show excess; first Solomon went beyond what was needed in the necessities of life, secondly he had multiple kingly luxuries.