Ecclesiastes 3:7
Verse 7. - A time to rend, and a time to sew (καιρὸς τοῦ ῤῆξαι καὶ καιρὸς τοῦ ῤάψαι). This is usually understood of the rending of garments in token of grief (Genesis 37:29, 34, etc.), and the repairing of the rent then made when the season of mourning was ended. The Talmudists laid down careful rules concerning the extent of the ritual tear, and how long it was to remain unmended, both being regulated by the nearness of the relationship of the deceased person. In this interpretation there are these two difficulties: first, it makes the clause a virtual repetition of ver. 4; and secondly, it is not known for certain that the closing of the rent was a ceremonial custom in the times of Koheleth. Hence Plumptre inclines to take the expression metaphorically of the division of a kingdom by schism, and the restoration of unity, comparing the Prophet Ahijah's communication to Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:30, 31). But surely this would be a most unlikely allusion to put into Solomon's mouth; nor can we properly look for such a symbolical representation amid the other realistic examples given in the series. What Koheleth says is this - There are times when it is natural to tear clothes to pieces, whether from grief, or anger, or any other cause, e.g., as being old and worthless, or infected; and there are times when it is equally natural to mend them, and to make them serviceable by timely repairs. Connected with the notion of mourning contributed by this clause, though by no means confined to that notion, it is added, A time to keep silence, and a time to speak. The silence of deep sorrow may be intimated, as when Job's friends sat by him in sympathizing silence (Job 2:13), and the psalmist cried, "I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred" (Psalm 39:2); and Elisha could not bear to hear his master's departure mentioned (2 Kings 2:3, 5). There are also occasions when the sorrow of the heart should find utterance, as in David's lament over Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:17, etc.) and over Abner (2 Samuel 3:33, etc.). But the gnome is of more general application. The young should hold their peace in the presence of their elders (Job 32:4, etc.); silence is often golden: "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: when he shutteth his lips, he is esteemed as prudent" (Proverbs 17:28). On the other hand, wise counsel is of infinite value, and must not be withheld at the right moment, and "a word in due season, how good is it!" (Proverbs 15:23; Proverbs 25:11). "If thou hast understanding, answer thy neighbor; if not, lay thy hand upon thy mouth" (Ecclus. 5:12; see more, Ecclus. 20:5, etc.).

3:1-10 To expect unchanging happiness in a changing world, must end in disappointment. To bring ourselves to our state in life, is our duty and wisdom in this world. God's whole plan for the government of the world will be found altogether wise, just, and good. Then let us seize the favourable opportunity for every good purpose and work. The time to die is fast approaching. Thus labour and sorrow fill the world. This is given us, that we may always have something to do; none were sent into the world to be idle.A time to rend, and a time to sew,.... To rend garments, in case of blasphemy, and in times of mourning and fasting, and then to sew them up when they are over; see Isaiah 37:1; This the Jews apply to the rending of the ten tribes from Rehoboam, signified by the rending of Jeroboam's garment, 1 Kings 11:30; the sewing up or uniting of which is foretold, Ezekiel 37:22. Some interpret it of the rending of the Jewish church state, signified by the rending of the vail, at the death of Christ; and of the constituting the Gospel church state among the Gentiles;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (k); when it is an evil time, a time of calamity in a nation, it is not a time to be loquacious and talkative, especially in a vain and ludicrous way, Amos 5:13; or when a particular friend or relation is in distress, as in the case of Job and his friends, Job 2:13; or when in the presence of wicked men, who make a jest of everything serious and religious, Psalm 39:1; and so when under afflictive dispensations of Providence, it is a time to be still and dumb, and not open the mouth in a murmuring and complaining way, Leviticus 10:3. And, on the other hand, there is a time to speak, either publicly, of the truths of the Gospel, in the ministry of it, and in vindication of them; or privately, of Christian experience: there is a time when an open profession should be made of Christ, his word and ordinances, and when believers should speak to God in prayer and praise; which, should they not, the stones in the wall would cry out.

(k) , , Homer. Odyss. 11. v. 378.

Ecclesiastes 3:6
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