Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chapter 1 it is of Ecclesiates, also known as Qohelet

I repeat this chapter including the lilt
of an automated transliteration.
) is a glottal and ` is a grunt
but the accents can just be ignored

Sometimes in that text a shape doesn't sound,
especially v might be skipped.
So v-u is just u and v-o is just o
And the same might apply to v-i

It's true too to say that a b might be v
But not at the start of a word
So check your rhythm and read with care
look left to the shapes that are square

דִּבְרֵי קֹהֶלֶת
בֶּן דָּוִד
מֶלֶךְ בִּירוּשָׁלָם
1.01 dibréy qohelet
ben david
melek byrvushalam
Things declaimed
by David's child
king in Jerusalem

Or: The words or things of Qohelet.
Things (words, matters, issues, etc) is a repeating word in this book which I have almost always rendered as 'thing' after the style I have chosen. No one knows what קֹהֶלֶת means so here only (1 of 7) I have rendered it as declaimed. (Perhaps related to QHL = assembly).
הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים
אָמַר קֹהֶלֶת
הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים
הַכֹּל הָבֶל
1.02 habél habalym
)amàr qohelet
habél habalym
hàkol habel
An utter futility,
touts Qohelet,
an utter futility,
total futility.
Some say 'crock' but lets see where this goes. Vain is what I used in Job but Vanity might mean a bathroom cabinet. On completion I think that futility works well. It seems to me that this book flirts with nihilism (compare Psalms 14, 53 where the fool say that God is of no account).
מַה יִּתְרוֹן לָאָדָם
בְּכָל עֲמָלוֹ שֶׁיַּעֲמֹל
תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶש
1.03 màh yitrvon la)adam
bkal `amalvo sheyà`amol
tàxàt hàshamesh
What is left to an earthling
in all its toil that it toils
--- under the sun?
under the sun is hot - and an oft repeated phrase in this book. The place is Jerusalem, in Solomon's time, likely a place where hard work under the sun was encouraged for all his building programs.
דּוֹר הֹלֵךְ וְדוֹר בָּא
וְהָאָרֶץ לְעוֹלָם עֹמָדֶת
1.04 dvor holék vdvor ba)
vha)arec l`volam `omadet
An era arrives and an era departs
and the earth in all of them stands
Qohelet has a perspective on time and science. In all of them: lit. to an age or forever.
וְזָרַח הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וּבָא הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
וְאֶל מְקוֹמוֹ שׁוֹאֵף
זוֹרֵחַ הוּא שָׁם
1.05 vzaràx hàshemesh vuba) hàshamesh
v)el mqvomvo shvo)éph
zvoréàxhvu) sham

And the sun rises and the sun departs
and to its place it strives where it rose.
Keeping the Hebrew word order avoids stressing the verbs and emphasizes instead the direction as in the following verse
הוֹלֵךְ אֶל דָּרוֹם וְסוֹבֵב אֶל צָפוֹן
סוֹבֵב סֹבֵב הוֹלֵךְ הָרוּחַ
וְעַל סְבִיבֹתָיו שָׁב הָרוּחַ
1.06 hvolék )el darvom vsvobéb )el capvon
svobéb sobéb hvolék harvuàx
v`àl sbybotayv shab harvuàx

Arriving from the north,
and circling to the south
circling a circuit - arrives the wind
and to its circuits the wind returns.
Again the Hebrew word order is full of anticipation - who arrives? who circles? The wind of course.
כָּל הַנְּחָלִים הֹלְכִים אֶל הַיָּם
וְהַיָּם אֵינֶנּוּ מָלֵא
אֶל מְקוֹם שֶׁהַנְּחָלִים הֹלְכִים
שָׁם הֵם שָׁבִים לָלָכֶת
1.07 kal hànxalym holkym )el hàyam
vhàyam )éynenvu malé)
)el mqvom shehànxalym holkym
sham hém shabym lalaket
All the torrents come to the sea
and the sea is not full
to the place that the torrents come
there they turn to go.
..
כָּל הַדְּבָרִים יְגֵעִים
לֹא יוּכַל אִישׁ לְדַבֵּר
לֹא תִשְׂבַּע עַיִן לִרְאוֹת
וְלֹא תִמָּלֵא אֹזֶן מִשְּׁמֹעַ
1.08 kal hàdbarym ygé`ym
lo) yvukàl )ysh ldàbér
lo) tisbà` `àyin lir)vot
vlo) timalé) )ozen mishmoà`

All these things keep on working.
A human cannot create them.
Eye is not satisfied seeing
and unfilled is ear hearing.

What is the force of לְדַבֵּר? It is as if the human by his word could by a word make these things do their thing. The multiple possible meanings of this simple common 'word' דברִ make this compact sentence hard to spin out.
Why is it followed by the negative of sense? (Compare sun-see, water-hear - note lack of comparison with wind=spirit - the pointer to the real word of power.)
מַה שֶּׁהָיָה הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה
וּמַה שֶּׁנַּעֲשָׂה הוּא שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה
וְאֵין כָּל חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
1.09 màh shehayah hvu) sheyihyeh
vumàh shenà`asah hvu) sheyé`aseh
v)éyn kal xadash
tàxàt hàshamesh
What is that is? it's that that is
and what is that's done? it's that that's done
and all-new there is not
--- under the sun
traditionally not translated as a question - but works - hayah - a la Miss Piggy is pervasive in this declamation
יֵשׁ דָּבָר שֶׁיֹּאמַר
רְאֵה זֶה חָדָשׁ
הוּא כְּבָר הָיָה לְעֹלָמִים
אֲשֶׁר הָיָה מִלְּפָנֵנוּ
1.10 yésh dabar sheyo)màr
r)éh zeh xadash
hvu) kbar hayah l`olamym
)asher hayah milpanénvu
There is a thing of which it is said
see - this is new
it already is in an era of eras
that is from before us.
Reading 'forward' one could see this as denying the possibility of a new heaven and a new earth.
אֵין זִכְרוֹן לָרִאשֹׁנִים
וְגַם לָאַחֲרֹנִים שֶׁיִּהְיוּ
לֹא יִהְיֶה לָהֶם זִכָּרוֹן
עִם שֶׁיִּהְיוּ לָאַחֲרֹנָה פ
1.11 )éyn zikrvon lari)shonym
vgàm la)àxaronym sheyihyvu
lo) yihyeh lahem zikarvon
`im sheyihyvu la)àxaronah p
There is no remembrance of those heady things
and even of subsequent that will be
there will not be for them remembrance
with those to whom the subsequent be
P

Remember - this needs an essay. Will we remember Jerusalem? Will we remember the crucifixion?

פ = [read slowly - no enjambment]
אֲנִי קֹהֶלֶת
הָיִיתִי מֶלֶךְ עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל
בִּירוּשָׁלִָם
1.12 )any qohelet hayyty
melek `àl yisra)él
byrvushalaim
I, Qohelet,
I have become
king over Israel
in Jerusalem
..
וְנָתַתִּי אֶת לִבִּי לִדְרוֹשׁ וְלָתוּר בַּחָכְמָה
עַל כָּל אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה תַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם
הוּא עִנְיַן רָע נָתַן אֱלֹהִים
לִבְנֵי הָאָדָם לַעֲנוֹת בּוֹ
1.13 vnatàty )et liby lidrvosh vlatvur
bàxakmah `àl kal )asher nà`asah
tàxàt hàshamayim
hvu) `inyàn ra` natàn )elohym
libnéy ha)adam là`anvot bvo
And I gave my heart to seek and explore
in shrewdness about all that is done
under the heavens.
This is an evil business God has given
to the children of earth to be busy with.
This word עִנְיַן - business or task - occurs 11 times in Ecclesiastes (2x in this verse). It should be obvious that Qohelet should be heard with an ear tuned to irony. This is Solomon in a figure - he is not a good example.
This is wisdom literature - but I am tempted to go with shrewdness for חָכְמָה rather than wisdom.
רָאִיתִי אֶת כָּל הַמַּעֲשִׂים שֶׁנַּעֲשׂוּ
תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
וְהִנֵּה
הַכֹּל הֶבֶל וּרְעוּת רוּחַ
1.14 ra)yty )et kal hàmà`asym shenà`asvu
tàxàt hàshamesh
vhinéh
hàkol hebel vur`vut rvuàx
I have seen all the deeds that are done
under the heavens
and note this well
It is total futility and a tending of wind.
וּרְעוּת רוּחַ u-ra-ut ru-ah - needs ambiguity - how does one tend wind? Could be nurture the spirit! (I have used wind throughout so read figuratively).
מְעֻוָּת לֹא יוּכַל לִתְקֹן
וְחֶסְרוֹן לֹא יוּכַל לְהִמָּנוֹת
1.15 m`uvuat lo) yvukàl litqon
vxsrvon lo) yvukàl lhimanvot
The perverse cannot be straightened
and the defective cannot be fathomed.
This verse should not be taken as truth in isolation
but it could be an anointed lament
דִּבַּרְתִּי אֲנִי עִם לִבִּי לֵאמֹר
אֲנִי הִנֵּה הִגְדַּלְתִּי
וְהוֹסַפְתִּי חָכְמָה
עַל כָּל אֲשֶׁר הָיָה לְפָנַי
עַל יְרוּשָׁלִָם
וְלִבִּי רָאָה הַרְבֵּה חָכְמָה וָדָעַת
1.16 dibàrty )any `im liby lé)mor
)any hinéh higdàlty
vhvosàpty xakmah
`àl kal )asher hayah lpanày
`àl yrvushalaim
vliby ra)ah hàrbéh xakmah vada`àt
I arranged - I did - with my heart saying
'Note - I have made myself great
and increased in shrewdness
concerning all that were before me
concerning Jerusalem'
and my heart saw great shrewdness and knowledge.
..
וָאֶתְּנָה לִבִּי לָדַעַת חָכְמָה
וְדַעַת הוֹלֵלֹת וְשִׂכְלוּת
יָדַעְתִּי שֶׁגַּם זֶה
הוּא רַעְיוֹן רוּחַ
1.17 va)etnah liby ladà`àt xakmah
vdà`àt hvolélot vsiklvut
yadà`ty shegàm zeh hvu)
rà`yvon rvuàx
And I gave my heart to know shrewdness
and to know madness and foolishness too
I know that even this
- this is a tending of wind.
..
כִּי בְּרֹב חָכְמָה רָב כָּעַס
וְיוֹסִיף דַּעַת
יוֹסִיף מַכְאוֹב
1.18 ky brob xakmah rab ka`às
vyvosyph dà`àt
yvosyph màk)vob
For in much shrewdness there is much vexation
and the one who increases knowledge
--- increases pain
vexation has the right tone for its later uses


6 comments:

  1. Things is a repeating word

    Divrei can also mean "words."

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  2. Yes Rachel, I agree - how I wish I were a real poet! Ruach is similarly difficult in capturing the sound between spirit and wind. I am bearing with this self-imposed limit in a few cases like this for this book. I think it will hold. In one case I rendered dbr as 'think' to hold the sound of thinking about things.

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  3. I see in the comment I might have said words is a repeating thing too! Holding to my concordant approach may introduce some addition humour.

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  4. In chapters 8, 9, 10, and 12 there are significant thought clusters bound up in this word/thing. 'Word' would have the advantage that it is both common noun and verb where 'thing' isn't. I may regret this choice! Or have to repent of it. (A relatively common occurrence).

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  5. I love this post! :-)

    Am I developing a Bob-addiction? I may have to treat myself! ;)

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  6. Ha-ha - I am glad you enjoy this. I had almost as much fun researching Dr. Seuss as translating Qohelet!

    ReplyDelete