Ecclesiastes 3:19-21: A View of the Souls and Spirits of Humans and Animals
By Frank L. Hoffman
I was asked the following question by a visitor to our web site in reference to my book All Creatures Here Below.
"I would like to know your thoughts on Ecclesiastes 3:21 and your understanding of how it fits in with your studies."
I responded as follows:
I believe that in order to properly interpret Ecclesiastes 3:21, we have to look at it in context with verses 19 and 20. These three verses are what we might call judgment verses, for they speak of our physical and spiritual "fate". They are also very expressive concerning the similarity of the physical death and spiritual fate of humans and non-humans.
In particular to verse 21, the "fate" of both is the same. The writer, Solomon, seems to be countering a belief that many people have even to this very day, that humans go to heaven and non-humans descend elsewhere. He is acknowledging that both humans and non-humans have spirits (Hebrew roo-akh), which in some translations is referred to, I believe incorrectly, as "breath".
To me this is further Biblical proof that animals do have spirits just as we do, and as such go to heaven or elsewhere, as the case may be, for we all have the same fate (verses 19-21). We all rest in the hands of God.