Posted by Woodchuck on August 28, 2002
In Reply to: Origin of Ecclesiastes 11:1 posted by ESC on August 28, 2002
: : : What is the origin of the phrase, "cast your bread/food upon the waters" as found in Ecclesiastes 11:1?
: : Your question was so daunting it made me choke on my Diet Pepsi. I've provided a link to the origins of Ecclesiastes as researched by Cecil Adams' Straight Dope staff, but I think you will find that if Ecclesiastes was not the first usage any pre-biblical source of the phrase has likely been lost to time.
: It seems to me we addressed the meaning of the phrase here recently. But I couldn't find it.
From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable:
"Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days (Eccles. xi. 1). When the Nile overflows its banks the weeds perish and the soil is disintegrated. The rice-seed being cast into the water takes root, and is found in due time growing in healthful vigour. "
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon is addressing the preachers. "The running waters are the people running towards death." His intended harvest is in the afterlife.