Do Job 1:21 and Ecc. 5:15 teach reincarnation?

Job 1:21 and Ecc. 5:15

  1. (Job. 1:21) - "And he said, 'Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord,'" (NASB)

  2. (Eccl. 5:15) - "As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came.  He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand."

Does Job. 1:21 teach reincarnation?  No, it does not.  Job says that when he died he would return to his mother's womb, but this cannot be reincarnation for two reasons.  First of all, the Bible teaches us that "it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment," (Heb. 9:27).  This soundly refutes reincarnation.  Therefore, Job. 1:21 cannot be referring to reincarnation.  Second, if we take Job. 1:21 literally, then does it mean that Job will be reincarnated into his own mother's womb?  If so, we have a problem.  Since Job was old enough to have seven sons and three daughters (Job 1:2) it is probable that he was advanced in years, and his mother, if she were still alive, would be well passed childbearing years.

Likewise with Ecclesiastes 5:15.  The context is dealing with evil under the sun and not having a way to support children due to bad investments.  This is when the writer says, "As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came.  He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand."  The writer is not speaking about reincarnation, but about coming into the world with nothing and returning to the earth with nothing.

If we begin with Adam, we see that he was literally taken from the earth.  God said to Adam after Adam's fall, "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return," (Gen. 3:19).  From the very beginning of creation, by the words of God Himself, the idea that the earth is the place where Adam came from is taught.  This could naturally be considered a type of womb.  It follows then, that when we look at Job, we can see that the "mother's womb" that is spoken of is in reference to the earth.

This idea is found elsewhere in scripture.  Consider Psalm 139:15 which says, "My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth."  Clearly, the earth is seen in this Psalm as a type of womb.

We can see that there are other verses that speak of returning to the earth naked:

  • Psalm 49:17, "For when he dies he will carry nothing away; His glory will not descend after him."
  • 1 Tim. 6:7, "For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either."

Therefore, thematically Job. 1:21 and Eccl. 5:15 are speaking of returning to the earth, which is poetically called the "the universal mother." (Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, A.R.; and Brown, David, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1998.



About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.