Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ecclesiastes chapter 10

Left foot right foot - left hand right hand. What's left of the left over the right? A dear and capable person had her left hand maimed by her own father only because she was left-handed. Now tell me - is that acceptable on the grounds of cultural sensitivity?

At this point I might well have some disagreement with Qohelet for some of its proverbs are to be questioned. E.g. Eccl 10:2.
A shrewd heart is on the right hand
and the foolish heart on the left
I'll give Sportin' Life's opinion
De t'ings dat yo li'ble
To read in de Bible -
It ain't necessarily so.
Well I remember in my youth being disturbed by such a thought. What! That I might not be able to say for certain what the Bible means! Yep. (And you don't even need to agree with it.)

But how can I be sure - well let's wait till the end
זְבוּבֵי מָוֶת יַבְאִישׁ יַבִּיעַ שֶׁמֶן רוֹקֵחַ
יָקָר מֵחָכְמָה מִכָּבוֹד סִכְלוּת מְעָט
10.1 zbvubéy mavet yàb)ysh yàbyà`shemen rvoqéàx
yaqar méxakmah mikabvod siklvut m`a+
A dead fly makes a stink in a bowl of perfumer's oil
from shrewdness, from glory - a little foolishness
stumped on this proverb in the MT- plural subject and singular verb, Seow suggests the missing bowl. The second half is reversed order with a very complex ellipsis. The surrounding proverbs help a bit - but did the writer not want to admit the trouble with folly - Qohelet sought it out after all.
לֵב חָכָם לִימִינוֹ
וְלֵב כְּסִיל לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ
10.2 léb xakam lymynvo
vléb ksyl lismo)lvo
A shrewd heart is on the right hand
and a foolish heart on the left
It may be a happy accident that there is nothing left in the comparison of right over left.
וְגַם בַּדֶּרֶךְ כְּשֶׁסָּכָל הֹלֵךְ
לִבּוֹ חָסֵר
וְאָמַר לַכֹּל סָכָל הוּא
10.3 vgàm bàderek kshesakal holék libvo xasér
v)amàr làkol sakal hvu)
and even in the way as the foolish walks
its heart is lacking
and it says to all - here is a fool
..
אִם רוּחַ הַמּוֹשֵׁל תַּעֲלֶה עָלֶיךָ מְקוֹמְךָ אַל תַּנַּח
כִּי מַרְפֵּא יַנִּיחַ חֲטָאִים גְּדוֹלִים
10.4 )im rvuàx hàmvoshél tà`aleh `aleyka
mqvomka )àl tànàx
ky màrpé) yànyàx xa+a)ym gdvolym
If the wind of the ruler rise against you
do not leave your place
for healing relieves great sins
I picked relieve for the second gloss to sound like the 'leave' I have chosen in all other instances
יֵשׁ רָעָה רָאִיתִי תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
כִּשְׁגָגָה שֶׁיֹּצָא מִלִּפְנֵי הַשַּׁלִּיט
10.5 yésh ra`ah ra)yty tàxàt hàshamesh
kishgagah sheyoca) milipnéy hàshàly+
Here is an evil I have seen
--- under the sun
as an error that emerges from the presence of one who has mastery
The situation here sounds good in contrast to what a king might consider good. Where is the tongue and where the cheek!
נִתַּן הַסֶּכֶל בַּמְּרוֹמִים רַבִּים
וַעֲשִׁירִים בַּשֵּׁפֶל יֵשֵׁבוּ
10.6 nitàn hàsekel bàmrvomym ràbym
và`ashyrym bàshépel yéshébvu
Foolishness is given great dignity
and the wealthy in lowliness sit
..
רָאִיתִי עֲבָדִים עַל סוּסִים
וְשָׂרִים הֹלְכִים כַּעֲבָדִים עַל הָאָרֶץ
10.7 ra)yty `abadym `àl svusym
vsarym holkym kà`abadym `àl ha)arec
I have seen servants on horses
and princes walking as servants on the earth
..
חֹפֵר גּוּמָּץ בּוֹ יִפּוֹל
וּפֹרֵץ גָּדֵר
יִשְּׁכֶנּוּ נָחָשׁ
10.8 xopér gvumac bvo yipvol
vuporéc gadér
yishkenvu naxash
one who digs a pit into it will fall
and one who breaks a wall
a snake will bite him
Consider psalm 80:12 - who suffers when the hedges of the vineyard are broken down?
מַסִּיעַ אֲבָנִים יֵעָצֵב בָּהֶם
בּוֹקֵעַ עֵצִים יִסָּכֶן בָּם
10.9 màsyà`)abanym yé`acéb bahem
bvoqéà``écym yisaken bam
one who removes stones will be hurt by them
one who splits trees is endangered in them
these two verses are between the snake bites - why? Slow down.
אִם קֵהָה הַבַּרְזֶל וְהוּא לֹא פָנִים קִלְקַל
וַחֲיָלִים יְגַבֵּר
וְיִתְרוֹן הַכְשֵׁיר חָכְמָה
10.10 )im qéhah hàbàrzel vhvu) lo) panym qilqàl
vàxayalym ygàbér
vyitrvon hàkshéyr xakmah
if a blade is dull and one does not sharpen its edges
one must use great strength
and what is left of shrewdness to prosper
concord irrelevant - sharpen edges rather than lighten faces is obviously what is intended - the word occurs as 'slight' three other times. And face is not a sound in this book - that word is usually 'before' or 'presence'.
אִם יִשֹּׁךְ הַנָּחָשׁ בְּלוֹא לָחַשׁ
וְאֵין יִתְרוֹן לְבַעַל הַלָּשׁוֹן
10.11 )im yishok hànaxash blvo) laxàsh
v)éyn yitrvon lbà`àl hàlashvon
if the snake bites without a charm
there is nothing left to the owner of the tongue
nothing left - no advantage. I stubbornly stay with 'left' as my gloss for יִתְרוֹן which is an important sound in the book as a whole. Other glosses like advantage or profit could be easier to handle.
דִּבְרֵי פִי חָכָם חֵן
וְשִׂפְתוֹת כְּסִיל תְּבַלְּעֶנּוּ
10.12 dibréy py xakam xén
vsiptvot ksyl tbàl`nvu
the things of the mouth of the shrewd are grace
but the lips of the foolish swallow him
..
תְּחִלַּת דִּבְרֵי פִיהוּ סִכְלוּת
וְאַחֲרִית פִּיהוּ הוֹלֵלוּת רָעָה
10.13 txilàt dibréy pyhvu siklvut
v)àxaryt pyhvu hvolélvut ra`ah
the beginning of the things of his mouth is foolishness
and the end of his mouth is evil boasting
the things of chapter 10 and chapter 8 enclose chapter 9 - maybe this requires another diagram
וְהַסָּכָל יַרְבֶּה דְבָרִים
לֹא יֵדַע הָאָדָם
מַה שֶּׁיִּהְיֶה וַאֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה מֵאַחֲרָיו
מִי יַגִּיד לוֹ
10.14 vhàsakal yàrbeh dbarym
lo) yédà` ha)adam
màh sheyihyeh và)asher yihyeh mé)àxarayv
my yàgyd lvo
and the foolish is full of things
the earthling does not know what it is that will be and what will be after it
who can tell it?
..
עֲמַל הַכְּסִילִים תְּיַגְּעֶנּוּ
אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָדַע לָלֶכֶת אֶל עִיר
10.15 `amàl hàksylym tyàg`nvu
)asher lo) yadà` laleket )el `yr
The toil of the foolish wearies them
that none know how to go to a city
plural - then singular
indeterminate city
read into it what you like - I will not translate it as if it 'made sense'
I like Seow's reading - 'they do not know the way to town'
אִי לָךְ אֶרֶץ שֶׁמַּלְכֵּךְ נָעַר
וְשָׂרַיִךְ בַּבֹּקֶר יֹאכֵלוּ
10.16 )y lak )erec shemàlkék na`àr
vsaràyik bàboqr yo)kélvu
Alas for you, earth, that your king is a child
and your princes eat in the morning
..
אַשְׁרֵיךְ אֶרֶץ שֶׁמַּלְכֵּךְ בֶּן חוֹרִים
וְשָׂרַיִךְ בָּעֵת יֹאכֵלוּ בִּגְבוּרָה וְלֹא בַשְּׁתִי
10.17 )àshréyk )erec shemàlkék ben xvorym
vsaràyik ba`ét yo)kélvu bigbvurah vlo) bàshty
happy are you, earth, that your king is the son of the freeborn
and your princes in time eat for strength and not in drinking
..
בַּעֲצַלְתַּיִם יִמַּךְ הַמְּקָרֶה
וּבְשִׁפְלוּת יָדַיִם יִדְלֹף הַבָּיִת
10.18 bà`acàltàyim yimàk hàmqareh
vubshiplvut yadàyim yidloph hàbayit
in sloth what happens decays
and in the letting down of hands
the house leaks
..
לִשְׂחוֹק עֹשִׂים לֶחֶם וְיַיִן יְשַׂמַּח חַיִּים
וְהַכֶּסֶף יַעֲנֶה אֶת הַכֹּל
10.19 lisxvoq `osym lexm vyàyin ysàmàx xàyym
vhàkeseph yà`aneh )et hàkol
in laughter is the making of bread
and wine makes life happy
but silver is the whole answer
..
גַּם בְּמַדָּעֲךָ מֶלֶךְ אַל תְּקַלֵּל וּבְחַדְרֵי מִשְׁכָּבְךָ
אַל תְּקַלֵּל עָשִׁיר
כִּי עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם יוֹלִיךְ אֶת הַקּוֹל
וּבַעַל כְּנָפַיִם יַגֵּיד דָּבָר
10.20 gàm bmàda`aka melek )àl tqàlél
vubxàdréy mishkabka )àl tqàlél `ashyr
ky `voph hàshamàyim yvolyk )et hàqvol vubà`àl hknpym knapàyim yàgéyd dabar
even in your knowledge do not slight the king
and in your inner chamber lying down
do not slight the wealthy
for the bird of heaven will go with the voice
and an owner of wings will declare the thing
..


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