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Light unto my path. I shall light a candle of understanding in Zein heart which shall not be put. Light unto my path an exploration of the books of the Old Testament from these books through the ages has come our concept of man born in the
image of God and made to have dominion over all things. The Bible is the record of man's understanding of the role of the divine in human life. We know examined that record. When it was read. How it was preserved. And why it ranks first in our literature. Light unto my path produced by radio station WAGA of the University of Wisconsin under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. These programs are planned and prepared by Dr. Menachem Mansoor chairman of the department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Professor Mansoor. Today we turn our attention to Ecclesiasticus one of the Wisdom books of the
Bible mentions words from the engine times of the Old Testament but words which speak wisdom to men in the 20th century in a world called New. The man who wrote Ecclesiastes this was a man who danced the dance of despair to the music of time. He felt a literal endless march of time. The cold wind of the days and nights throughout his life on earth he cried out better not to be born better not to have seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun but he was born you could not escape living. And he spent his days under the sun seeking answers to man's time here on Earth. Its purpose and meaning and how best men can endure the days of his life in the flesh. Who was this man who wrote Ecclesiasticus. What were the times the span of history through which he lived. Why do we read his record in our Bibles today.
Before answering these questions let us project ourselves to the lands of the Near East to the ancient walled cities. The caravans that moved between them the struggle of men toward an light meant in those harsh and lonely lands long ago at sundown a man returns from his little field driving before him the ox with with which he plows man and beast are exhausted broken by their labors under the hot sun. Time now for a little food a night of sleep. And again the day's work in the fields. Day after day his struggles for a handful of grain to feed the family to keep alive to work to feed. But the man is not an ox. He differs from the beasts in his immeasurable longing to understanding to understand and to make of his life something meaningful something good.
He looks at this child carrying water to him from the well for his child. Surely there can be a good life for him under standing. These people thirst for it as deeply as for the cool refreshing water in they the common people had no books no libraries nor pens and paper. They had only ears and to quench their thirst for learning. They went to the men called wise men and they listened. We have the writings today. Here is one from Egypt. Let not thy heart be puffed up because of the knowledge be not confident because the art of a wise man and from the Old Testament Hebrews. There is nothing new under the sun. And from Babylonia the dog understands. Take it. He does not understand. Put it down. The wisdom from these countries dovetail
here is a proverb from Egypt beware of robbing the poor and of oppressing the afflicted. This same idea expressed by the Hebrews do not rob the poor because he is poor or crush the afflicted at the gate. And again an advice from the engine Babylonians. My son let not thy foot run after the I friend lest he be surfeited with thee and hate. And from the Hebrew. Let your foot be sold them in your neighbour's house lest he become weary of you and hate you. So we see that wisdom for the ancient Hebrews did not spring out of a vacuum. They shared it like the desert sands with all the nations surrounding them in the Near East. It had its roots in days before Solomon. It came before Jerusalem while the tribes still wandered with their tents seeking the land of milk and honey. We find bits of
them in the Old Testament. These nomad sayings put in the form of simulators. Like mother like daughter like people like priest like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. David himself in the first book of Samuel refers to a proverb which had come down to his time from the Ancients before him as the proverb of the ancients says out of the wicked comes forth wickedness. But my hand shall not be against you. We can see these proverbs being kept alive among the people spoken from father to son through the years and generations handed down among the people are like family treasures. And there were leaders in each generation men of intelligence who publicly proclaimed wisdom. Job was such a wise man at the gates of the city he would sit and talk and the people would listen with respect. Sometimes there would be
a question a discussion even a debate job expresses it beautifully in describing himself. When I went out to the gate of the city when I prepared my seat in the square a young man saw me and withdrew and the aged rose and stood. They listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel. They waited for me as for the rain and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain. There was the wise man at work. Gradually as in Greece the wise men became more like formal teachers in the house of instruction with a circle of regular pupils. All the other wise men a few Israel rank far below the prophets and the priests in the life of years yet there were earnest seekers of the good life and they were close to the people and certainly influential. But now let's try to pinpoint one man one teacher whom we know to have
written this book of Ecclesiastes this I cannot yet give you his name and birthplace but scholars believe he lived and wrote around 250 or 200 B.C. This would place him in the history of Israel following the exile to Babylon Long after the days of King David and Solomon. It was a time of greater sophistication of worldliness of turbulent currents of thought in the Near East. Athens had blaze to glory under Perry Cleese and gone down before Macedonia. Alexander the Great had swept into Asia the Greek spirit of inquiry flooded after him. The Hebrew nation was in the midst of these currents of thought and the realistic search into man and his problems and in the midst of this philosophic melting pot about the time that Rome was fighting Carthage the author of Ecclesiastes his began his
book with these words the words of coal hell of a son of David king of Jerusalem. The vanity of vanities as called Hell of Vanity of vanities of all is vanity. Go Hamlet. What's that immense name. We are not sure the king of Jerusalem. Perhaps a mystery. Yes our best answer is that God is a man who addresses an assembly that is a preacher or a speaker and his book is that of a thinker. He may have taught in a school of wisdom in Jerusalem. Go ahead it was a hero. As a boy he was told of Jehovah the Great Lord God and His covenant with His chosen people. As a young man he heard the teachers and rabbis recited the laws of Forbid eons of sacrifice and worship. He heard the great songs of the Psalmist's their praise and
trust in God their certainty that he God was with them from the generations before him had a heritage of man's personal relationship with the Lord. But this Hebrew wise man this guy had it was a man of his own times. Those times must have tormented him certainly his life wrenched and wrung from him. Questions and doubts and bitter confusions. He can not rejoice. He will not sing. He dares not trust. He is not comforted. I have seen everything that is done under the sun. And behold all is vanity and a striving after wind. What has man from all the toil and strain with which he toils under the sun for all his days are full of pain and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his mind does not rest.
Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong nor bread to the wise nor riches to the intelligent nor favored to the men of skill but time and chance happen to them all. For a man does not know his time like fish which are taken in an evil net and like birds which are caught in a snare. So the sons of man are snared at an evil time. These words might have come from the hearts of many despondent men looking about them in modern America in mid 20th century. Gone is the delight of poets are honest who saw in all the earth about him reflection of his own joy. Take these verse from Psalms let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad. Let the field be joyful and all that is very and then shall all the trees of the world rejoice. Let the floods clap their hands.
Let the hills be joyful together before the Lord. Hell it feels no such spirit or soul in the nature trees floods hills are facts cold and impersonal and related to men being simply the called laws of nature. If the clouds are full of rain they empty themselves on the earth. And if a tree falls to the south or to the north in the place where the tree falls there it will lie. Does this sour mist lift up his eyes unto the hills whence cometh his strength. Does he consider with all in wonder at God's creation. Let's see is these things and feels only weariness. The sun rises and the sun goes down and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes round to the north. Round and round goes the wind and on its circuits the wind
out of things are full of weariness. A man cannot utter it. What has been is what will be and what has been done is what will be done. And there is nothing new under the sun weary. Yes the weary voice of a world grown older. The world of facts and knowledge and no nonsense about nature are skipping and clapping and enjoy nature behaves according to the eternal laws of nature. Men stand stark and alone in an unfeeling universe. Go ahead earth will not hide from this. He demands that it be feast. It is as if you were determined that we stand in tick shock upon shock the unvarnished truth of man struggle through this
rocky world. And yet and yet there is the great and living God looks to his God and sees one enormous truth. He has put eternity into mans mind. It is almost an accusation in one swift sharp stroke. Go ahead with cuts to the heart of the human dilemma. Man is not a beast or a robot or a mere fact of nature. He has a concept of eternity a God given Quest. Let us hear this passage in its larger context. For every thing there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven a time to be born and a time to die a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to weep and a time
to laugh. A time to seek and a time to lose. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. I have seen the business that God has given to the sons of man to be busy with. He has put everything beautiful in it's time. Also he has put eternity into mans mind. Yet so that he cannot find out what God has. From the beginning to the end. This caller or as Franken sais this passage is one of the greatest texts in the Bible. He has put eternity into mans mind from the dim Dorna for religious faith. Life has sought the unseen horizons of the Eternal. It is a quest as old as of this course in which the dead were buried with their faces turned to greet the dawn
of another life. But to hell it sets up a warning. We possess only a limited sense of eternity so that we cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. The ways of God though timeless are beyond our knowing. I know that whatever God does and doors for ever nothing can be added to it nor anything taken from it. God has made it so in order that men should fear before him. All right there to the best of his wisdom is what cohabit understands of God. It is his solid rock of fact and he cannot go further with it. But he can face this determinism and he can live with his God given sense of the Eternal. We have a picture to match the most realistic modern analysis of man's dilemma as we would say in our vernacular. This fellow has laid it on the
line. Nature exists obeying its laws. God has put a longing for something more than brief existence into man. Man cannot understand the meaning of this or change things as they are very well. Go to hell it is not a singer of science nor a priest nor a prophet but given his determination to face facts as he sees them. He must study man's life on Earth and apply what wisdom he has to the two living as best as he can. Let us look at what he sees in the world around him. Remembering that this was the world of rising in the West. Aleksandr star setting in the east and at the vortex of the question who is man and how can he live. I said to myself Come no I will make a test of pleasure and joy
yourself. But this also was vanity I said of laughter it is mad and of pleasure what use is it. I search with my mind how to cheer my body with wine and how to lay hold on Folly. I made great works I built houses I made myself gardens and parks I bought male and female slaves I got singers and many concubines man's delight. I kept my heart from no pleasure for my heart found pleasure in all my toil and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my ands had and the toil I had spent in doing it. And behold was vanity and a striving after wind. And there was nothing to be gained under the sun. So I turn to consider wisdom. Then I saw that wisdom makes folly as light excels darkness. The wise man has
eyes in his head but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceive that one fate comes to all of them. And I said to myself what befalls the fool will be for me also. Why then have I been so very wise. How the wise man dies just like the fool. So I hated life because what is done under the sun was grievous to me. Behold what I have seen to be good and to be fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun. The few days of his life which God has given him for this is his lot. Every man also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them and to accept his lot and find enjoyment in his toil. This is the gift of God. Go eat your bread with enjoyment and drink your wine with a merry heart for God has
already approved of what you do. We can stop here and see this is simple. I have heard this before. Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. What is so difficult. But the Book of Ecclesiastes this is no simple matter. The bits we have just heard seem to follow a pattern almost a guided tour of a man's life. But then we come to Odds and Ends. Bits and pieces without rhyme or reason and this we call them random bits of advice to young students or a kind of diary which changes as immense mood changes from day to day or in a notebook in which various people scribbled ideas as they came upon them. Let's hear some of these puzzling passages. I said in my heart with regard to the sons of man that God is testing them to show them that they are but beasts. They all have the same
breath and man has no advantage over the beasts of go to one place. All are from the dust and all turn to dust again. Guard your steps when you go to the house of God to draw near to listen. It is better than to offer the sacrifice of food for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rush with your mouth nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God. For God is in heaven and you are upon earth. Therefore let your words be few. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting for This Is The End of Men and the living will lay it to heart. I commend enjoyment for man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink and enjoy himself for this will go with him in his toil through the days of life which God gives him under the sun.
Dead flies make the perfumers ointment give off an evil odor. So a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. Bread is made for laughter and wine gladdens life and money. And CERN is everything. Go ahead with with or without collaborators. Answers nothing. His wisdom is perhaps the wisdom of facing the paradox of coming at least as far as stating the riddle. Examining it and admitting his defeated wisdom alone is not enough for a man to live by. Ultimately the wise man dies just like the fool. And for a man in whose mind God has put eternity death becomes the riddle. We see this troubled skeptic
this girl had borne of changing times sitting before his manuscript thinking of the young men whom he has taught. He can give them only a secular view of the world and outlook both bleak and store work and approach both and blinking and confused. Yet he loves his work and his pupils and youth itself. He wants to conclude his book with the old man's advice to the young. The bit of eternal longing which he can be sure of a longing full of pleasant memories Rejoice O young man in your youth and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart in the sight of your eyes but knowing that for all these things God will bring you to judgment then.
In a moment the old man becomes the point. It is regret that shakes him sadness for the days gone by awareness of the brief brief moment before his own candle is burned out. Time time is rushing by for this old man. Born of changing times. The shadows rushed toward him. He must know the young men how it feels how it will be for them to remember also your Creator in the days of your youth before the evil days come and the years draw nigh when you will say I have no pleasure in them. Before the sun and the light the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain in the day when the keepers of the house tremble and the strong men are bent and the grinders cease because they are few and those that look through the windows are dim and the
doors on the street are shut. And all the daughters of song are brought low. They are afraid also of what is nine and terrors are in the way because man goes to his eternal home and the mourners go about the streets and the dust returns to the earth as it was and the spirit returns to God. NATO manager says the bridge to the old man is finished but not the Book of Ecclesiastes just some busybody could not leave his manuscript alone. There had to be an editor's note some added comment or an endorsement. We don't know by whom or when but somebody wrote an anti-climax. Besides being wise the preacher also taught the people knowledge weighing and
studying and arranging Proverbs with great care. The preacher sought to find pleasing words. And up rightly he wrote words of truth anti-climax indeed and still a third party perhaps added a flash of irony. It sounds like a 20th century student of making many books there is no end and much study is awareness of the flesh. But to ensure that this book was not lost to protect its place in the Old Testament writings despite its troubled wisdom and new currents of thought into the ages of ancient Hebrew faith. Another epilogue was added. The end of the matter has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment with every secret thing whether good or evil. Go ahead with would have accepted that and he would not have cared who
wrote it. In fact we may believe he would call our pretenses about our thoughts. Just another vanity of vanities. Lights unto my pay. Radio programs exploring the Old Testament. The series is planned prepared and narrated by Dr Menachem Mansoor. Chairman of the department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin script
Light unto my path
Producing Organization
University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on Ecclesiastes, a canonical book of the Old Testament.
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This series explores the books of the Old Testament, how they were written, how they were preserved, and why they continue to have influence.
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Bible. Ecclesiastes
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Composer: Voegeli, Don
Host: Grauer, Ben
Narrator: Manning, Dean
Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Production Manager: Schmidt, Karl
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-50-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:47
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Chicago: “Light unto my path; Ecclesiastes,” 1960-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 17, 2022,
MLA: “Light unto my path; Ecclesiastes.” 1960-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 17, 2022. <>.
APA: Light unto my path; Ecclesiastes. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from