Interpreting Eccl. 3:11

Q. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 depending on which Bible you are using, King James says world, others say eternity, when you look the word world in Hebrew in that verse it says eternity for a meaning, wouldn’t this change the meaning of the verse?

A. Yes it does. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

The word translated eternity above in the NIV version and world in the KJV is olam. Out of 439 times the Hebrew word olam appears in the Bible, it’s only translated world 4 times. The concept of eternity is by far the most prevalent use. I don’t know what the King James translators were thinking, but I definitely prefer the use of eternity in Eccl.3:11.

By the way, an often used Hebrew prayer begins:

Baruch ata Adonai Elohanyu, Melech haOlam.

It means:

Blessed art thou o Lord our God, King of the Universe (olam).

Maybe that’s where the KJV got the idea.

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