This Too Shall Pass

Re the current situation of COVID-19, THERE IS GOOD NEWS !! Be encouraged. Many who have tested positive to COVID-19 have only had mild symptoms. These are self-isolating with treatment at home and often recovering spontaneously without hospitalisation! Of those who have needed hospital admission, many have recovered and been discharged, freeing up beds for those who need them. There is much to be grateful for. As traumatic and devastating as this virus is, we should remember that "This too shall pass!"

For many years I have worn a ring inscribed in Hebrew, "THIS TOO SHALL PASS". It serves as a daily reminder of the value and importance of appreciating the "now life", and generates motivation that only hope in a future of “completeness” can give.

On every continent, much inspiration and comfort is found in the collection of ancient writings referred to as The Bible which remains the best selling book of all time. It is here that the principle of "this too shall pass" is found. In these pages we are reminded of the dark of night being dispelled by the rising sun in a “this too shall pass” perpetual cycle1. We read of the devastation of an innocent and righteous man, who knowing in his spirit that "this too shall pass",2 regained the loss he endured3. We learn to rejoice in the joys of youth4 knowing “this too shall pass” and discover that nothing lasts forever in our “this too shall pass” world.5

A casual glance at history soon confirms that there is nothing as permanent as change, adding force to the obvious that in any situation one should be mindful that what is, must pass! Empires come and go. Currencies come and go. Ideas come and go… and we come and go.

Hebrew Folklore attributes the adage “this too shall pass” to Shlomo (Solomon), the king who ruled the united kingdom of Israel circa 837 - 797BCE. Although this exact phrase is not found in what writings we currently have of Shlomo, we should remember that he spoke 3,000 proverbs and his song tally was 1,0056 yet only 1,000 of his proverbs7 are collated in the canon of scripture we have today. With so many of his authored works unaccounted for,8 it is not unreasonable to expect the very statement “this too shall pass’ (Gam zeh ya’avor) to exist in his other writings.9 The Israel Folklore Archive at the University of Haifa records versions of the role Shlomo played in the founding of this now-famous phrase.

In his Tanakh writings, particularly in Kohelet, (Ecclesiastes), Shlomo authenticates the integrity of this adage.
“One generation passes away [but, this too shall pass]
… and another generation comes” [but, this too shall pass]
The sun rises…” [but, this too shall pass]
“... the sun goes down” [but, this too shall pass]
“… and it hastens to where it arises again.” [but, this too shall pass] 10

Shlomo further explains; ”For every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”
There is a time to weep…” [but, this too shall pass]
“… and a time to laugh…” [but, this too shall pass]
“… a time to mourn…” [but, this too shall pass]
“… and a time to dance…” [but, this too shall pass]
“… a time for war…” [but, this too shall pass]
“… and a time for peace.” [but, this too shall pass]11

For centuries inscriptions, jewelry, songs, poetry, tattoos and literature have echoed the sobriety of this adage. In Hebrew, the phrase reads "Gam zeh ya’avor”12 which is often simplified even further, appearing as only the Hebrew letters gimel, zayin, and yodh, (which begin the words "Gam zeh ya’avor")13 as a "note to self" in acronym form that "this too shall pass.”

These words have become a foundation of both hope in times of despair, and a stimulus to make the most of “the now” in good times. When confronted with the negativities of life remember…wars end, depressed economies rise again, and sickness gives way to healing because… "this too shall pass". But of equal importance, when experiencing good times, remember "this too shall pass". Children grow up, youth gives way to age and sunshine can turn to clouds, so make the most of “the now” knowing “this too shall pass” and avoid the pain of regret.

Graham Daniels

April 2020
Inspired by my good friend Anil

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:5
  2. Job 23:10
  3. Job 42:12
  4. Proverbs 5:18
  5. Revelation 21:1 and Isaiah 5
  6. 1 Kings 5:12 in the Tanakh - 1Kings 4:32 in the Christian Bible
  7. The book of Mishlei (Proverbs)
  8. Acts of Shlomo written in the Words of Natan the prophet, and in the Prophesy of Achiyah the Shilonite and in the visions of Yedo the seer. - 2 Chronicles 9:29
    The book of the acts of Shlomo - 1 Kings 11:41
  9. There are many references in the Bible to books, events and writings not found in the Tanakh (Old Testament) or in the Messianic writings (New Testament) such as:
    The Book of Jasher - Joshua 10:13, 2Samuel 1:18
    The Book of the Wars - Numbers 21:14
    The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Yisra’el - 1 Kings 14:19, 1 Kings 16:20
    The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Y’hudah - 1 Kings 14:29
    The Histories of Shemaiah the Prophet and Iddo the Seer - 2 Chronicles 12:15
    Midrash of Iddo the Prophet - 2 Chronicles 13:22
    An unidentified book - 1 Samuel 10:25
    Chronicles of King David - 1 Chronicles 27:24
    Words of Gad the Seer - 1 Chronicles 29:29
    Words of Natan the Prophet - 1 Chronicles 29:29
    History of the seers - 2 Chronicles 33:19
    The Chronicles of King Ahasuerus - Esther 2:23, Esther 6:1
    Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Paras - Esther 10:2
    Book of Enoch - Jude 1:14-15
    Sefer Ha Yashar - 2 Samuel 1:18, Joshua 10:13
    Laodicean Letters - Colossians 4:16
    Paul’s “previous “ letter - 1 Corinthians 1:9
    Names of 2 magicians at time of Moses not found in Torah - 2 Timothy 3:8
    Prophet Isaiah sawn in two not recorded in Tanakh (Old Testament) - Hebrews 11:37
  10. Kohelet 1
  11. Kohelet 3
  12. Sometimes expressed ze yaavor ve gam ze ya'avor - “This will pass and this too shall pass”
  13. Hebrew: גם זה יעבור‎, gam zeh ya’avor