Generalization: Hebrews added little to knowledge, but much to wisdom. Wisdom: knowing how to apply knowledge, wisdom involves knowing right from wrong--should be applicable at many different times. Certainly great amount of wisdom in prophets. People don't change much, circumstances they address much like our own. Prophets wisdom consists of understanding nature of societal problem, pointing to results of those problems, and suggesting ways of change.
Amos: concern with injustice/exploitation of poor by rich, saw that these things would lead to end of Israel. Amos also wise in way he addressed problem: indirectly at first, then toward Israel.
Amos and prophets sort of cheating. If their claims are to be believed, their words not own insights, but word of God. Simply saying what God tells them makes them look wise. (When I was first teaching Sunday school--no more than saying what a passage says--a great teacher!!! Never more aware of importance of divine insight than when preparing to teach prophets to you--can't make it come alive in same way as when I am preaching!)
Another class of teachers in Israel whose wisdom was more properly their own. Three classes of teachers in Israel: Priests, Prophets, Wise (Zakan). Loosely associated with three divisions of Hebrew Bible.
Today, begin look at these Zakinim with book of Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes favorite book of many people. Particulary a book for those of us growing up in 60's, "baby boomers." A peculiar generation--the most privileged that has ever lived in the best society that has ever been on the face of the earth. The freest society. The wealthiest society. The most creative and exciting society. The best educated generation of all time. And with all this, we smashed it. Threw it away. All the things preceeding generations had worked for. Why???? Materialism not enough. Wealth not enough. Democracy not enough. Freedom not enough--if you don't know what to do with your freedom. "You can do anything you want, be anything you want." But what do you want to be? That's why Ecclesiastes the Bible book of this generation--expresses frustration of those who have it all and find it is not enough.
Wisdom of this book--analyzes clearly basic problem, points to results of problem, and suggests a solution.
Opening words: (Rd. 1:1). *Who is this preacher? Solomon? Why not? (cf. Akhenaton or Ptah Hotep or Hammurabi).
Basic theme expressed in 1:1-11. Vanity of vanities--all is vanity. Nothing is to any purpose. *What in particular the problem here? (nothing new: bored; nothing man does that endures--so what's the use? Nothing satisfies. Life is a lot of effort and work--for nothing!
Amplified in remaining verses (rd. 1:12-18). Man's task is futile, he can't really accomplish anything. One gets wisdom, but in wisdom is grief and knowledge sorrow. *Is this true?
So--an alternative. Don't work and think. Enjoy yourself. And the result? (Rd. 2:1-3). This is so 60's--good kid becomes party animal. Not satisfactory.
Next? Time to be a Yuppie. (Rd. 2:4-10). And the result of this? 2:11.
2:12-13 Beginning of an answer. Wisdom good, but not enough 14-26. Note irony of vs. 26.
Better answer in ch. 3:1-8. To everything a time and purpose--taoist/stoical or Buddhist answer. Again, irony of vs. 17. What actually happens (or apparently) is vs 19-21.
Perhaps not quite ironic--back and forth between hope and despair. This certainly ture in 4--injustice/but then the hope of companionship.
Then, as book moves along, more hopeful, not ever forgetting vanity of worldly hopes. Constant reminders--yet in view of vanity of human desires, solid instruction on how we ought to behave.
Chapter 5--instruction on how to behave.
Chapter 6--prosperous but with wicked soul no good.
Chapter 7--11--more advice on living
Finally, chapter 12--chapter that brings whole thing to satisfactory conclusion..
Fear God, keep his commandments for this is the whole of man.