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I returned and I saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the discerning, nor favor to the skillful, but timing and circumstances

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are encountered by everyone.


I returned to my systematic investigation of life, and I saw something else here on earth: The fastest runner doesn’t win every race, the strongest soldier doesn’t survive every battle, the wise people don’t always have more to eat than everyone else, the one with the most knowledge doesn’t always have the most riches, and the most skillful craftsman is not always the one chosen for a job. Instead, bad timing and unfortunate circumstances can be encountered by anyone. There are no guarantees in life.


1: “circumstance”

The word used here is only used twice in the Bible. It can mean “occurrence, chance, or misfortune.” It is obvious that the reference is to things that happen unexpectedly and catch us off guard. The Hebrew says literally, “time and chance happen to them all,” but time doesn’t happen to someone, and chance doesn’t happen to someone. It is obvious that some aspect of time and some aspect of chance are being referred to, and the reader must supply what is missing, including an adjective which will describe this thing as good or bad – in this case bad. For that reason I have rendered it in the translation column as “time and circumstances are encountered by everyone,” and in the paraphrase column as “bad timing and unfortunate circumstances can be encountered by anyone.”