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As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. Ecclesiastes 11:5 (ESV)

This quote states clearly that the "spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child". This spirit, in my understanding, is the child's human spirit, as opposed to the Spirit of God that comes to a person to do the work of regeneration and the many blessings that flow out of that work.

The spirit "comes to the bones", which implies that it does not come until bones are formed, beginning at around 9 weeks.

Can this scripture be used to determine the beginning of a human life? Also, what do various denominations teach about the beginning of a human life in relation to this verse?

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closed as off-topic by David Stratton, Peter Turner, Affable Geek, Narnian, wax eagle Jul 16 '13 at 15:12

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "General philosophical or sociological questions are off-topic unless clearly asking for a doctrinal answer. See: On-topic and constructive examples." – David Stratton, Peter Turner, Affable Geek, Narnian, wax eagle
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
This question is primarily opinion-based. We might ask "According to Whom". It might be valid to ask "What do groups teach about this", but you've got a link to a doctrine, so you're clearly asking whether the doctrinal statement is True. That type of question is strictly off-topic here. –  David Stratton Jul 16 '13 at 4:17
    
you could also ask about the translation shedding light on your interpretation on [hermenuetics.se] –  Peter Turner Jul 16 '13 at 10:59
    
but first you have to find out how to spell that word XD –  Peter Turner Jul 16 '13 at 11:00
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Most importantly, Ecclesiaistes is a very human book. The point being made is not in the analagouge (you don't know where a baby comes from) but rather in the main - you don't know how God works. –  Affable Geek Jul 16 '13 at 11:10
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FWIW, There is a textual note in the ESV. Some Hebrew manuscripts and the Targum have "As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child," but most Hebrew manuscripts read, "As you do not know the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb." –  metal Jul 16 '13 at 12:23

2 Answers 2

There can be no definitive answer on this. The easiest way is to compare all the different translations and make your own conclusion, for yourself and not for others.

Examples: Ecclesiastes 11:5

NIV - As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

KJV - As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

GW - Just as you don't know how the breath of life enters the limbs of a child within its mother's womb, you also don't understand how God, who made everything, works.

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See my comment on the OP above about the textual variant in this verse. That accounts for the difference between translations, as some translators choose one manuscript tradition and others choose to follow the other. –  metal Jul 16 '13 at 12:25

The idea that the bones must exist before the Spirit comes to them is invalidated by John 1:1 and John 1:14. Jesus' eternal and preexistent Spirit predates his bones by a lot more than a few weeks!

In that instance, I would be hard pressed to find a Christian who believes in the deity of Jesus to say he wasn't alive prior to his conception and incarnation. Indeed, as he said to the Pharisees, "Before Abraham was, I am." If Jesus was alive prior to his bones, then it seems to imply the Spirit is the necessary, if not necessary and sufficient condition for life.

The Ecclesiastes text merely speaks of a Spirit joining with the bones- as such there is no information to state which came first, and which defines "life," although the fact that the Valley of Dry Bones vision (Ez. 37) which has bones that have no life, would tend to point to bones being insufficient for life on their own.

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