Ecclesiastes 3:20
All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
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Ecclesiastes 3:20-21. All go unto one place — To the earth, as it is expressed Ecclesiastes 3:21, out of which they were both taken. All turn to dust again — All their bodies, as it is explained Ecclesiastes 12:7. Who knoweth the spirit of a man — True it is, there is a difference, which is known by good men, but the generality of mankind never mind it; their hearts are wholly set on present and sensible things, and take no thought for the things of the future and invisible world.

3:16-22 Without the fear of the Lord, man is but vanity; set that aside, and judges will not use their power well. And there is another Judge that stands before the door. With God there is a time for the redressing of grievances, though as yet we see it not. Solomon seems to express his wish that men might perceive, that by choosing this world as their portion, they brought themselves to a level with the beasts, without being free, as they are, from present vexations and a future account. Both return to the dust from whence they were taken. What little reason have we to be proud of our bodies, or bodily accomplishments! But as none can fully comprehend, so few consider properly, the difference between the rational soul of man, and the spirit or life of the beast. The spirit of man goes upward, to be judged, and is then fixed in an unchangeable state of happiness or misery. It is as certain that the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth; it perishes at death. Surely their case is lamentable, the height of whose hopes and wishes is, that they may die like beasts. Let our inquiry be, how an eternity of existence may be to us an eternity of enjoyment? To answer this, is the grand design of revelation. Jesus is revealed as the Son of God, and the Hope of sinners.That which befalleth the sons of men - literally, the event (happenstance) of the sons of men, i. e., what comes upon them from outside, by virtue of the ordinance of God. See the Ecclesiastes 2:14 note. Death in particular Ecclesiastes 3:2, Ecclesiastes 3:11 is a part of the "work that God doeth."19. Literally, "For the sons of men (Adam) are a mere chance, as also the beast is a mere chance." These words can only be the sentiments of the skeptical oppressors. God's delay in judgment gives scope for the "manifestation" of their infidelity (Ec 8:11; Ps 55:19; 2Pe 3:3,4). They are "brute beasts," morally (Ec 3:18; Jude 10); and they end by maintaining that man, physically, has no pre-eminence over the beast, both alike being "fortuities." Probably this was the language of Solomon himself in his apostasy. He answers it in Ec 3:21. If Ec 3:19, 20 be his words, they express only that as regards liability to death, excluding the future judgment, as the skeptic oppressors do, man is on a level with the beast. Life is "vanity," if regarded independently of religion. But Ec 3:21 points out the vast difference between them in respect to the future destiny; also (Ec 3:17) beasts have no "judgment" to come.


All go unto one place; to the earth, as it is expressed, Ecclesiastes 3:21, out of which they were both taken.

All turn to dust again; which is meant only of their bodies, as it is explained, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

All go unto one place,.... The earth (w) from whence they came;

all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again; Adam's body was made of the dust of the earth, and so all his posterity, all of them; in which they agree with beasts, who are made of the dust also; and, when they die, return to it; see Genesis 2:7.

(w) "Magna parens terra est", Ovid. Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 7.

All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
20. All go unto one place] The “place” thus spoken of is not the Sheol of the Hebrews or the Hades of the Greeks, which implied, however vaguely, some notion of a shadowy disembodied existence, for the souls of men as distinct from those of brutes, but simply the earth as at once the mother, the nourisher, and the sepulchre of every form of life. So Lucretius, as a disciple of Epicurus, speaks (De Rer. Nat. v. 259) of earth as being

“Omniparens eadem rerum commune sepulcrum.”

“The mother and the sepulchre of all.”

all are of the dust] There is an obviously deliberate reference to the narrative of the Creation in Genesis 2:7. To those who did not see below the surface, it seemed to affirm, as it did to the Sadducee, the denial of a life to come. “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return” was the sentence passed, they might say, as on the brute creation, so on man also (Genesis 3:19).

Verse 20. - All go unto one place. All, men and brutes, are buried in the earth (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The author is not thinking of Sheol, the abode of departed spirits, but merely regarding earth as the universal tomb of all creatures. Plumptre quotes Lueretius, 'De Rer. Nat.,' 5:260 -

"Omniparens eadem rerum commune sepulchrum."

"The mother and the sepulcher of all." Thus Bailey, 'Festus' -

"The course of nature seems a course of death;
The prize of life's brief race, to cease to run;
The sole substantial thing, death's nothingness."
All are of the dust (Genesis 3:19; Psalm 104:29; Psalm 146:4). So Ecclus. 41:10, "All things that are of earth shall turn to earth again." This is true of the material part of men and brutes alike; the question of the destiny of the immaterial part is touched in the next verse. Ecclesiastes 3:20"All goes hence to one place; all has sprung out of the dust, and all returns to the dust again." The "one place" is (as at Ecclesiastes 6:6) the earth, the great graveyard which finally receives all the living when dead. The art. of the first העפר is that denoting species; the art. of the second is retrospective: to the dust whence he sprang (cf. Psalm 104:29; Psalm 146:4); otherwise, Genesis 3:19 (cf. Job 34:15), "to dust shalt thou return," shalt become dust again. From dust to dust (Sir. 40:11; 41:10) is true of every living corporeal thing. It is true there exists the possibility that with the spirit of the dying man it may be different from what it is with the spirit of the dying beast, but yet that is open to question.
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