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for the laughter

of fools

is like the crackling of thorns under the pot;

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this too is like a vapor.

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The joy derived from the kind of entertainment sought by people with no moral foundation

will only last as long as a short-lived source of fire which flares up and quickly dies back down. They are both loud, but they don’t last. This is another thing that is like a vapor.



There is a Hebrew word that can mean “pot” or “thorns.” To us those two options sound strange together, but there is a logical connection. A pot was something that they placed over the fire in order to cook food. Thorns were often placed under the pot and burned in order to heat up the pot. Both the thorns and the pot were part of the cooking process; that is why one word can mean both things. In this verse, that Hebrew word is used twice, separated only by the word “under.” The words “crackling” and “under” provide the context needed to determine what the intended meaning was. Something was under something else and it is easy to figure out because only one arrangement will cook food. It is also helpful that the first time the word is used it is plural (thus “thorns”) and the second time it is singular (thus “pot”). This phrase is another example of the same word used twice, as Solomon was fond of doing. The intended meaning has to do with something being short-lived. Because wood was often scarce, the people of that day sometimes used things like straw, stubble or thorn bushes as fuel for their cooking fires. What else can you do with these things other than burn them? However, those things did not burn very long. They caught fire quickly, burned quickly and were gone quickly, without leaving any warm embers behind. The laughter and enjoyment of a foolish person is likewise short-lived.


It is like a vapor in that it is S: short-lived and does not last. This is the first S of our acrostic PASSES.