* An attempt will be made to clarify Qoheleth's thinking by examining five major convictions: (1) death cancels everything; (2) wisdom cannot achieve its goal; (3) God is unknowable; (4) the world is crooked; and (5) pleasure commends itself. All five of these theses flow from a loss of trust in the goodness of God, a presupposition of earlier wisdom....Qoheleth thus struck at the heart of the tradition in which he had been nurtured. Between him and old wisdom stretched a great abyss which was too deep for either to cross. (p. 117-8)
==Death Cancels Everything==
* The chasm separating Qoheleth from his predecessors could hardly be wider than in 2:17 ("Then I hated life, for the work that was done under the sun was grievous to me because everything was futile and shepherding wind")... After a lifetime of toil, no profit remains...humans merely participated in a futile exercise that characterized the universe as well...It follows that Qoheleth preferred the day of death to the moment of birth.
* In one sense death commended itself to one and all: it brought rest from all labor. The image of death as rest functions powerfully in Qoheleth’s thought. Consideration of the sorry lot experienced by those who lacked power to fend for themselves among corrupt companions moved him to startling observations: the dead were more fortunate than the living, and better than both were those who had not been born. In this context the twofold reference to an absence of comforters (4:1–3; 6:1–6) indicates how close Qoheleth came to throwing off his disinterested cloak...Both 4:1–3; 6:1–6 look upon death as entirely welcome under certain circumstances.
* Even when Qoheleth seems to endorse life as intrinsically better then death, he may speak ironically...certain verses does seem to declare that the living have hope (9:4-6)...yet instead of giving hope to the living, such insight furnishes a stark reminder that all achievement is futile...Both people and beasts share the same fate—they return to dust...In his view the final word is death's chilling summons.
* The natural conclusion to the twin concepts that death offers rest for the weary and that the living have no real advantage over the dead must surely be an enthusiastic endorsement of suicide. The puzzling inconsequence of Qoheleth’s thought concerns the lack of any positive attitude toward speedy termination of life.