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Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Enjoy Life in the Present

12 I have concluded[a] that there is nothing better for people[b]
than[c] to be happy and to enjoy
themselves[d] as long as they live,
13 and also that everyone should eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all his toil,
for these things[e] are a gift from God.


  1. Ecclesiastes 3:12 tn Heb “I know.”
  2. Ecclesiastes 3:12 tn Heb “for them”; the referent (people, i.e., mankind) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  3. Ecclesiastes 3:12 tn Qoheleth uses the exceptive particle כִּי אִם (ki ʾim, “except”) to identify the only exception to the futility within man’s life (BDB 474 s.v. כִּי 2).
  4. Ecclesiastes 3:12 tn Heb “to do good.” The phrase לַעֲשׂוֹת טוֹב (laʿasot tov) functions idiomatically for “to experience [or see] happiness [or joy].” The verb עָשַׂה (ʿasah) probably denotes “to acquire; to obtain” (BDB 795 s.v. עָשַׂה II.7), and טוֹב (tov) means “good; pleasure; happiness,” e.g., Eccl 2:24; 3:13; 5:17 (BDB 375 s.v. טוֹב 1).
  5. Ecclesiastes 3:13 tn Heb “for it.” The referent of the third person feminine singular independent person pronoun (“it”) is probably the preceding statement: “to eat, drink, and find satisfaction.” This would be an example of an anacoluthon (GKC 505-6 §167.b). Thus the present translation uses “these things” to indicate the reference back to the preceding.
New English Translation (NET)

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