Friday, May 14, 2010

Ecclesiastes chapter 7, a grinch in heaven?

Heavens! A grinch - really? In the Bible?

Who says "good is vexation over laughter
for in a facial grimace the heart is pleased"!

and is not laughing himself in the heaven of heavens?

There are many one liners in this chapter - it bears a read.

The end of the chapter is a curious revelation and a curious twist. I have not fathomed it (ha ha).

טוֹב שֵׁם מִשֶּׁמֶן טוֹב
וְיוֹם הַמָּוֶת מִיּוֹם הִוָּלְדוֹ
7.1 +vob shém mishemen
+vob
vyvom hàmavet myvom hivualdvo
a good name may be compared with good oil
and the day of death with the day of its birth
Compare Song 1:3
Note what is almost a palindrome in the Hebrew
The pronoun is there in the text - Does 'it' refer to the birth of the name?
טוֹב לָלֶכֶת אֶל בֵּית אֵבֶל
מִלֶּכֶת אֶל בֵּית מִשְׁתֶּה
בַּאֲשֶׁר הוּא סוֹף כָּל הָאָדָם
וְהַחַי יִתֵּן אֶל לִבּוֹ
7.2 +vob laleket )el béyt )ébel
mileket )el béyt mishteh
bà)asher hvu) svoph kal ha)adam
vhàxày yitén )el libvo
it is good to go to a house of lament
(over going to a house of feasting)
for this is the end of every earthling
and one who lives will take it to heart
..
טוֹב כַּעַס מִשְּׂחוֹק
כִּי בְרֹעַ פָּנִים יִיטַב לֵב
7.3 +vob kà`às misxvoq
ky broà`panym yy+àb léb
good is vexation over laughter
for in a facial grimace the heart is pleased
Qohelet is the grinch
לֵב חֲכָמִים בְּבֵית אֵבֶל
וְלֵב כְּסִילִים בְּבֵית שִׂמְחָה
7.4 léb xakamym bbéyt )ébel
vléb ksylym bbéyt simxah
the heart of the shrewd is in the house of lament
and the heart of the foolish is in the house of happiness
..
טוֹב לִשְׁמֹעַ גַּעֲרַת חָכָם
מֵאִישׁ שֹׁמֵעַ שִׁיר כְּסִילִים
7.5 +vob lishmoà`gà`aràt xakam
mé)ysh shoméà`shyr ksylym
It is good to hear the rebuke of the shrewd
over one's hearing of the song of fools
..
כִּי כְקוֹל הַסִּירִים תַּחַת הַסִּיר
כֵּן שְׂחֹק הַכְּסִיל
וְגַם זֶה הָבֶל
7.6 ky kqvol hàsyrym tàxàt hàsyr
kén sxoq hàksyl
vgàm zeh habel
for as the voice of the fat in the fire
or the sizzle of the frying pan
so is the laughter of the fool
and even this is futility
I have doubled the words to get at the crackling of the thorns that is evident in the sound of the Hebrew
כִּי הָעֹשֶׁק יְהוֹלֵל חָכָם
וִיאַבֵּד אֶת לֵב מַתָּנָה
7.7 ky ha`osheq yhvolél xakam
vy)àbéd )et léb màtanah
for the exploitation maddens the shrewd
and a gift destroys a heart
..
טוֹב אַחֲרִית דָּבָר מֵרֵאשִׁיתוֹ
טוֹב אֶרֶךְ רוּחַ מִגְּבַהּ רוּחַ
7.8 +vob )àxaryt dabar méré)shytvo
+vob )erek rvuàxmigbàh rvuàx
Good is a thing's end over its beginning
good is the patient wind over the proud wind
my favorite 'thing' a.k.a word
But word is a round vowel and thing a narrow one
a heavy sound over a light one
אַל תְּבַהֵל בְּרוּחֲךָ לִכְעוֹס
כִּי כַעַס בְּחֵיק כְּסִילִים יָנוּחַ
7.9 )àl tbàhél brvuxaka lik`vos
ky kà`às bxéyq ksylym yanvuàx
Do not be rash to be vexed in your wind
for vexation reposes in the bosom of fools
wind/spirit (ruax) as elsewhere
אַל תֹּאמַר מֶה הָיָה שֶׁהַיָּמִים הָרִאשֹׁנִים הָיוּ טוֹבִים מֵאֵלֶּה
כִּי לֹא מֵחָכְמָה שָׁאַלְתָּ עַל זֶה
7.10 )àl to)màr meh hayah
shehàyamym hari)shonym hayvu +vobym mé)éleh
ky lo) méxakmah sha)àlta `àl zeh
Do not say - how is it that the days of the beginning were good over these?
for it is not from shrewdness that you pine for them
..
טוֹבָה חָכְמָה עִם נַחֲלָה
וְיֹתֵר לְרֹאֵי הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
7.11 +vobah xakmah `im nàxalah
vyotér lro)éy hàshamesh
shrewdness is good with inheritance
and is left to those that see the sun
..
כִּי בְּצֵל הַחָכְמָה
בְּצֵל הַכָּסֶף
וְיִתְרוֹן דַּעַת הַחָכְמָה
תְּחַיֶּה בְעָלֶיהָ
7.12 ky bcél hàxakmah
bcél hàkaseph
vyitrvon dà`àt hàxakmah
txàyeh b`aleyah
For in the shadow of shrewdness,
is in the shadow of silver
and what is left of knowledge is shrewdness
she keeps her husband alive
..
רְאֵה אֶת מַעֲשֵׂה הָאֱלֹהִים
כִּי מִי יוּכַל לְתַקֵּן אֵת אֲשֶׁר עִוְּתוֹ
7.13 r)éh )et mà`aséh ha)elohym
ky my yvukàl ltàqén )ét )asher `ivutvo
Look at the work of God
for who can straighten what was perverse?
cf Eccl 1:15
בְּיוֹם טוֹבָה הֱיֵה בְטוֹב
וּבְיוֹם רָעָה רְאֵה
גַּם אֶת זֶה לְעֻמַּת זֶה עָשָׂה הָאֱלֹהִים
עַל דִּבְרַת שֶׁלֹּא יִמְצָא הָאָדָם
אַחֲרָיו מְאוּמָה
7.14 byvom +vobah heyéh b+vob
vubyvom ra`ah r)éh
gàm )et zeh l`umàt zeh `asah ha)elohym
`àl dibràt shelo) yimca) ha)adam
)àxarayv m)vumah
in a day of good, be in the good
and in a day of evil - look out:
even this against that, this God has made
about things that the earthling will not find
--- after him nothing!
cf Eccl 7:18 bazeh ... mizeh
אֶת הַכֹּל רָאִיתִי בִּימֵי הֶבְלִי
יֵשׁ צַדִּיק אֹבֵד בְּצִדְקוֹ
וְיֵשׁ רָשָׁע מַאֲרִיךְ בְּרָעָתוֹ
7.15 )et hàkol ra)yty byméy hebly
yésh càdyq )obéd bcidqvo
vyésh rasha` mà)aryk bra`atvo
All these I have seen in the days of my futility
here is a righteous one destroyed in his righteousness
and here is a wicked one prolonged in his evil
..
אַל תְּהִי צַדִּיק הַרְבֵּה
וְאַל תִּתְחַכַּם יוֹתֵר
לָמָּה תִּשּׁוֹמֵם
7.16 )àl thy càdyq hàrbéh
v)àl titxàkàm yvotér lamah tishvomém
Do not be too much righteous
and do not leave yourself with to much shrewdness
why give yourself difficulty?
..
אַל תִּרְשַׁע הַרְבֵּה
וְאַל תְּהִי סָכָל
לָמָּה תָמוּת בְּלֹא עִתֶּךָ
7.17 )àl tirshà` hàrbéh
v)àl thy sakal lamah tamvut blo) `iteka
Do not be too much evil
and don't be foolish
why die when it's not your time?
..
טוֹב אֲשֶׁר תֶּאֱחֹז בָּזֶה
וְגַם מִזֶּה אַל תַּנַּח אֶת יָדֶךָ
כִּי יְרֵא אֱלֹהִים יֵצֵא אֶת כֻּלָּם
7.18 +vob )asher te)exoz bazeh
vgàm mizeh )àl tànàx )et yadeka
ky yré) )elohym yécé) )et kulam
It is good that you should seize into this
and even from that not leave your hand
for the one fearing God emerges from them all
..
הַחָכְמָה תָּעֹז לֶחָכָם
מֵעֲשָׂרָה שַׁלִּיטִים אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ בָּעִיר
7.19 hàxakmah ta`oz lexakam
mé`asarah shàly+ym )asher hayvu ba`yr
Shrewdness strengthens the shrewd
over ten masters that are in the city.
..
כִּי אָדָם אֵין צַדִּיק בָּאָרֶץ
אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה טּוֹב וְלֹא יֶחֱטָא
7.20 ky )adam )éyn càdyq ba)arec
)asher yà`aseh +vob vlo) yex+a)
For there is no righteous earthling in the earth
that does good and does not sin
..
גַּם לְכָל הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּרוּ
אַל תִּתֵּן לִבֶּךָ
אֲשֶׁר לֹא תִשְׁמַע אֶת עַבְדְּךָ מְקַלְלֶךָ
7.21 gàm lkal hàdbarym )asher ydàbérvu
)àl titén libeka
)asher lo) tishmà` )et `àbdka mqàlleka
And of all the things that are thought
don't take them to your heart
that you not hear your servant slight you
..
כִּי גַּם פְּעָמִים רַבּוֹת יָדַע לִבֶּךָ
אֲשֶׁר גַּם אַתָּה קִלַּלְתָּ אֲחֵרִים
7.22 ky gàm p`amym ràbvot yadà` libeka
)asher gàm )t )àtah qilàlta )axérym
for even your many pulsed heart knows
that even you have slighted others
..
כָּל זֹה נִסִּיתִי בַחָכְמָה
אָמַרְתִּי אֶחְכָּמָה וְהִיא רְחוֹקָה מִמֶּנִּי
7.23 kal zoh nisyty bàxakmah
)amàrty )exkamah
vhy) rxvoqah mimeny
All this I have proved with shrewdness
I said 'I will be shrewd'
but it was far from me
..
רָחוֹק מַה שֶּׁהָיָה
וְעָמֹק עָמֹק מִי יִמְצָאֶנּוּ
7.24 raxvoq màh shehayah
v`amoq `amoq my yimca)envu
What is it that is so far?
and deep unsearchable - who will find it?
..
סַבּוֹתִי אֲנִי וְלִבִּי לָדַעַת
וְלָתוּר וּבַקֵּשׁ חָכְמָה וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן
וְלָדַעַת רֶשַׁע כֶּסֶל וְהַסִּכְלוּת הוֹלֵלוֹת
7.25 sàbvoty )any vliby ladà`àt
vlatvur vubàqésh xakmah vxshbvon
vladà`àt reshà` kesel vhàsiklvut hvolélvot
I circled, I did, and my heart, to know
and to explore and desire shrewdness and reason
and to know wickedness, folly and foolishness and madness
cf Eccl 1:17 - we are in the second half of the book
(though I did not see an exact centre in the 222 verses
(c 6:10, 11) -
and we see a number of reminders of the first chapter
as if Qohelet is starting or about to start a new section
וּמוֹצֶא אֲנִי מַר מִמָּוֶת
אֶת הָאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר הִיא מְצוֹדִים
וַחֲרָמִים לִבָּהּ אֲסוּרִים יָדֶיהָ
טוֹב לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים יִמָּלֵט מִמֶּנָּה
וְחוֹטֵא יִלָּכֶד בָּהּ
7.26 vumvoce) )any màr mimavet
)et ha)ishah )asher hy) mcvodym
vàxaramym libah )asvurym yadeyah
+vob lipnéy ha)elohym yimalé+ mimenah
vxvo+é) yilaked bah
and I found, I did, more bitter than death
the woman,
that she of nets
and destructions her heart,
bonds her hands
good in the presence of God is escape from her
but the sinner is captured by her
The only way for me to identify
with this cultural imposition
is to see the 'obvious' as in Job 31:
if my heart is enticed by a woman
and at the opening of my friend I take advantage
let my wife grind for another
and over her let others bow
רְאֵה זֶה מָצָאתִי אָמְרָה קֹהֶלֶת
אַחַת לְאַחַת לִמְצֹא חֶשְׁבּוֹן
7.27 r)éh zeh maca)ty )amrah
qohelet
)àxàt l)àxàt limco) xshbvon
You see this I have found, she said,
Qohelet (that is)
one by one to find out reason
Aha - Qohelet herself has found this, one by one.
Perhaps shrewdness is not so far
that she must climb up to heaven to bring it down.
אֲשֶׁר עוֹד בִּקְשָׁה נַפְשִׁי וְלֹא מָצָאתִי
אָדָם אֶחָד מֵאֶלֶף מָצָאתִי
וְאִשָּׁה בְכָל אֵלֶּה לֹא מָצָאתִי
7.28 )asher `vod biqshah nàpshy vlo) maca)ty
)adam )exad mé)eleph maca)ty
v)ishah bkal )éleh lo) maca)ty
that yet my being desires and I have not found
an earthling one of a thousand I have found
and a woman among all these I have not found
Seow considers the last line a scribal 'enhancement'.
Pity. If this be projection, it is not missing today either.
It is not above a man to blame the woman for his own weakness.
But shrewdness should let a man discover
his own heart and not impute the cause to another.
לְבַד רְאֵה זֶה מָצָאתִי
אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת הָאָדָם יָשָׁר
וְהֵמָּה בִקְשׁוּ חִשְּׁבֹנוֹת רַבִּים
7.29 lbàd r)éh zeh maca)ty
)asher `asah ha)elohym )et ha)adam yashar
vhémah biqshvu xishbonvot ràbym
alone, see, this I have found
that this God has made the earthling upright
but they have desired many devices
work vs make? עָשָׂה Make, work, do etc is frequent in Eccl ( c 60 times this sound will occur). It is also used in English as a sound in the causative. There is both sonority missing and in the passive nature of 'make' also some possible lost effect as to the cost of making, doing or working.


No comments:

Post a Comment