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Document Details :
Title: Qohelet in his Context
Subtitle: Ecclesiastes 4,13-16 and the Dating of the Book
Author(s): ATHAS, George
Volume: 100 Issue: 3 Date: 2019
The enigmatic anecdote of the old and foolish king in Ecclesiastes 4,13-16 is a key text for identifying the specific context of Qohelet. This article argues that the anecdote is not merely proverbial and abstract, but reflects actual political events in the second half of the third century BCE. The old and foolish king, and the two youths who follow him, may be identified with specific figures from the Seleucid Kingdom. This identification is upheld by further clues in the rest of Qohelet’s discourse and provides us with a specific dating of Ecclesiastes in the 220s BCE. The context of the struggles between the Ptolemies and Seleucids demonstrates that the book of Ecclesiastes provides not just abstract philosophical wisdom but also pointed political commentary on developments in Judea during this time.