One of the ways rabbis and secular scholars acquire a deeper understanding of the Bible is by comparing the events in the story with events in other biblical tales. They also compare two Bible sections that use the same word. David Curwin does both in his engaging, eye-opening 2023 book “Kohelet: A Map to Eden.”
Curwin examines the many thematic and literary parallels between the story of King Solomon that he sees in Kohelet, Ecclesiastes in English, the first human Adam in Genesis, and the events of the spies in Numbers. “By comparing all three stories, a picture will begin to emerge of what led to the downfalls and subsequent rebellions described in each episode, and how they can be avoided in the future. The answers can be found in the laws of the Torah, which was given to help put us on the correct path.”
He gives us his understanding of the biography of King Solomon, his good and bad traits, and his relationship with God. He shows how the book Kohelet alludes to Adam. Adam and Solomon started out with enormous potential and a unique relationship with God. Both desired knowledge, had wives that led them astray (although the ultimate responsibility for their failings was their own), and experienced exile from God’s special place.
Adam complains about the woman in Genesis 3:12 and Solomon in Kohelet 7:26. Adam realizes that gathering knowledge causes pain in Genesis 3:17, and Solomon does so in Kohelet 1:18. Both talk about death in Genesis 2:17 and Kohelet 3:19. The two mention humans returning to dust in Genesis 3:19 and Kohelet 3:20 and 12:7.
Also, Adam had a son Hevel, and Solomon uses the word in Kohelet; the Hebrew root bara appears in Genesis 1:27 and Kohelet 12:1, and trees are mentioned in Genesis 1:11-12 and Kohelet 2:5.
There are connections between Adam’s story and the tale of the spies in Numbers 13. Both, like Solomon, quest for knowledge of good and bad, acquire fruit, ignore God’s plan, are punished by death, the deaths are delayed, are not allowed in God’s land, and the sword prevents entry to land. The three narratives are immediately followed by stories of rebellion and disputes over how to sacrifice to God.