Departmental Papers (Jewish Studies)

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Journal Article

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Biblical Interpretation



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There has been a consensus among biblical scholars that the epilogue of Ecclesiastes (Eccl 12:9-14) was written by an editor-the same one who supplied the title of the book, "The words of Qohelet, song of David, king in Jerusalem" (1:1)-in order to frame "the words of Qohelet" in a particular way. According to this understanding, the editor was someone of a mainstream religious viewpoint, whose advice to "fear God and obey His commandments" (12:14) served to package Qohelet's more radical teachings in a framework that renders their radicalism harmless. The rabbinic remark that Ecclesiastes was accepted into the canon because "its beginning is words of Torah and its end is words of Torah," though not based on a two-voice theory of the composition of the book, provides an early attestation of the book as a radical teaching within a normative frame. The medieval commentator Samuel B. Meir (Rashbam), in his comments to 1:2 and 12:8, was apparently the first to attribute the frame to editors other than Qohelet, but he does not suggest that the editors were trying to tame the book's radical content.

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© 2006 Brill. Originally published in Biblical Interpretaion, a Brill Journal. This is a pre-publication version of this article; the version of record can be found at



Date Posted: 14 June 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.