Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ecclesiastes chapter 8 - the thing's the thing we'll contemplate

I really didn't expect to find
thing 1 and thing 2, a perfect pair,
to be the representative mind
of the earthlings - and they have blue hair!

Now chapters 8, 9, and 10 are less and less coherent and more and more like a collection of things which may or may not be related - but are juxtaposed - which is of course a relationship.

As per usual I have given a literal reading with some care and perplexity.

מִי כְּהֶחָכָם
וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ פֵּשֶׁר דָּבָר
חָכְמַת אָדָם תָּאִיר פָּנָיו
וְעֹז פָּנָיו יְשֻׁנֶּא
8.1 my khexakam
vumy yvodéà` pésher dabar
xakmàt )adam ta)yr panayv
v`oz panayv yshune)
Who is as the shrewd
and who knows the interpretation of a thing
An earthling's shrewdness makes its face shine
and the strength of its face is changed
Seow has who is so shrewd - splitting the word. Also 'impudent face' - a nice gloss but I wonder how might shrewdness lead into such a change? His gloss implies the movement from negative judgment to positive. I think it over-translates and resolves multiple readings into one only.
אֲנִי פִּי מֶלֶךְ שְׁמֹר
וְעַל דִּבְרַת שְׁבוּעַת אֱלֹהִים
8.2 )any py melek shmor
v`àl dibràt shbvu`àt )elohym
I, --- 'read the lips' of the king.
and concerning the thing of the oath of God
Read the lips - lit. keep the mouth.
Here we have another 'thing' section with a proleptic ellipsis - O Dr Seuss, here you are in story land with an opening mystery.
אַל תִּבָּהֵל מִפָּנָיו תֵּלֵךְ
אַל תַּעֲמֹד בְּדָבָר רָע
כִּי כָּל אֲשֶׁר יַחְפֹּץ יַעֲשֶׂה
8.3 )àl tibahél mipanayv télék
)àl tà`amod bdabar ra`
ky kal )asher yàxpoc yà`aseh
Do not be rash to go from his presence
nor let yourself stand in a wicked thing
for all that pleases him he does
..
בַּאֲשֶׁר דְּבַר מֶלֶךְ שִׁלְטוֹן
וּמִי יֹאמַר לוֹ מַה תַּעֲשֶׂה
8.4 bà)asher dbàr melek shil+von
vumy yo)màr lvo màh tà`aseh
in whatever thing the king has mastery
and who says to him, what are you doing?
..
שׁוֹמֵר מִצְוָה לֹא יֵדַע דָּבָר רָע
וְעֵת וּמִשְׁפָּט
יֵדַע לֵב חָכָם
8.5 shvomér micvah lo) yédà` dabar ra`
v`ét vumishpa+
yédà` léb xakam
who keeps his command will not know an evil thing
both time and judgment
the heart of the shrewd will know
..
כִּי לְכָל חֵפֶץ יֵשׁ עֵת וּמִשְׁפָּט
כִּי רָעַת הָאָדָם רַבָּה עָלָיו
8.6 ky lkal xépec yésh `ét vumishpa+
ky ra`àt ha)adam ràbah `alayv
for in all delight there is time and judgment
for the evil of the earthling is great upon it
..
כִּי אֵינֶנּוּ יֹדֵעַ מַה שֶּׁיִּהְיֶה
כִּי כַּאֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה מִי יַגִּיד לוֹ
8.7 ky )éynenvu yodéà`màh sheyihyeh
ky kà)asher yihyeh my yàgyd lvo
For it has no knowledge of what is to be
As for what is to be - who will tell it?
..
אֵין אָדָם שַׁלִּיט בָּרוּחַ
לִכְלוֹא אֶת הָרוּחַ
וְאֵין שִׁלְטוֹן בְּיוֹם הַמָּוֶת
וְאֵין מִשְׁלַחַת בַּמִּלְחָמָה
וְלֹא יְמַלֵּט רֶשַׁע אֶת בְּעָלָיו
8.8 )éyn )adam shàly+ barvuàx
liklvo) )et harvuàx
v)éyn shil+von byvom hàmavet
v)éyn mishlàxàt bàmilxamah
vlo) ymàlé+ reshà` )et b`alayv
it is not for an earthling to be master in the wind
that it might hold back the wind
for there is no mastery in the day of death
and there is no handing over in war
and wickedness will not let escape any that belong to it
but cf the giving of the spirit in John and Acts- and he handed over his spirit - to whom? And he breathed on them? And they were filled...
The battle is definitely to be engaged to receive such
אֶת כָּל זֶה רָאִיתִי וְנָתוֹן אֶת לִבִּי
לְכָל מַעֲשֶׂה אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה
תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
עֵת אֲשֶׁר שָׁלַט הָאָדָם
בְּאָדָם לְרַע לוֹ
8.9 )et kal zeh ra)yty vnatvon )et liby
lkal mà`aseh )asher nà`asah
tàxàt hàshamesh
`ét )asher shalà+ ha)adam
b)adam lrà` lvo
all this I saw and gave to my heart
of every deed that is done
--- under the sun
of the time that the earthling takes power
over an earthling to its own evil
..
וּבְכֵן רָאִיתִי רְשָׁעִים קְבֻרִים
וָבָאוּ וּמִמְּקוֹם קָדוֹשׁ
יְהַלֵּכוּ וְיִשְׁתַּכְּחוּ בָעִיר
אֲשֶׁר כֵּן עָשׂוּ
גַּם זֶה הָבֶל
8.10 vubkén ra)yty rsha`ym qburym
vaba)vu vumimqvom qadvosh yhàlékvu vyishtàkxvu ba`yr )asher kén `asvu
gàm zeh habel
and in this I saw the wicked buried
and they come to the place of holiness
and they go and are forgotten in the city
where they did such
even this is futility
..
אֲשֶׁר אֵין נַעֲשָׂה פִתְגָם מַעֲשֵׂה הָרָעָה מְהֵרָה
עַל כֵּן מָלֵא לֵב בְּנֵי הָאָדָם
בָּהֶם לַעֲשׂוֹת רָע
8.11 )asher )éyn nà`asah pitgam à`aséh hara`ah mhérah
`àl kén malé) léb bnéy ha)adam bahem là`asvot ra`
that there is no edict done for an evil deed - quickly
therefore the heart of the children of earth is filled
in them to do evil
pitgam - only here and in Esther
Who says justice was ever speedy!
אֲשֶׁר חֹטֶא עֹשֶׂה רָע מְאַת וּמַאֲרִיךְ לוֹ
כִּי גַּם יוֹדֵעַ אָנִי אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה טּוֹב לְיִרְאֵי הָאֱלֹהִים
אֲשֶׁר יִירְאוּ מִלְּפָנָיו
8.12 )asher xo+e) `oseh ra` m)àt vumà)aryk lvo
ky gàm yvodéà`)any )asher yihyeh +vob lyir)éy ha)elohym
)asher yyr)vu milpanayv
that a sinner do evil a hundredfold and it be prolonged
yet even I know, I do, that it will be good to those that fear God
that fear him in his presence
..
וְטוֹב לֹא יִהְיֶה לָרָשָׁע
וְלֹא יַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים כַּצֵּל
אֲשֶׁר אֵינֶנּוּ יָרֵא מִלִּפְנֵי אֱלֹהִים
8.13 v+vob lo) yihyeh larasha`
vlo) yà)aryk yamym kàcél
)asher )éynenvu yaré) milipnéy )elohym
but good will not be to the wicked
and he will not prolong days as a shadow
that they have no fear in the presence of God
..
יֶשׁ הֶבֶל אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה עַל הָאָרֶץ
אֲשֶׁר יֵשׁ צַדִּיקִים
אֲשֶׁר מַגִּיעַ אֲלֵהֶ
כְּמַעֲשֵׂה הָרְשָׁעִים
וְיֵשׁ רְשָׁעִים
שֶׁמַּגִּיעַ אֲלֵהֶם
כְּמַעֲשֵׂה הַצַּדִּיקִים
אָמַרְתִּי שֶׁגַּם זֶה הָבֶל
8.14 yesh hebel )asher nà`asah `àl ha)arec
)asher yésh càdyqym
)asher àgyà`)aléhem
kmà`aséh harsha`ym
vyésh rsha`ym
shemàgyà`)aléhem
kmà`aséh hàcàdyqym
)amàrty shegàm zeh habel
Here is futility that is done on the earth
that there are the righteous
such that they are touched
as those who do wickedness
and there are the wicked
such that they are touched
as those who do righteousness
I say that this too is futility
Seow has it that there are righteous who are treated as wicked and vice versa. He cites these idioms from post-Biblical Hebrew and they do sound convincing. The verb is also used in Eccl 12:1. and Genesis 3:3 - neither will you touch it.
וְשִׁבַּחְתִּי אֲנִי אֶת הַשִּׂמְחָה
אֲשֶׁר אֵין טוֹב לָאָדָם
תַּחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ
כִּי אִם לֶאֱכֹל וְלִשְׁתּוֹת וְלִשְׂמוֹחַ
וְהוּא יִלְוֶנּוּ בַעֲמָלוֹ יְמֵי חַיָּיו
אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לוֹ הָאֱלֹהִים
תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
8.15 vshibàxty )any )et hàsimxah )asher )éyn +vob la)adam
tàxàt hàshemesh
ky )im le)ekol vlishtvot vlismvoàx
vhvu) yilvenvu bà`amalvo yméy xàyayv
)asher natàn lvo ha)elohym
tàxàt hàshamesh
And I commended, I did, happiness
that there is no good for the earthling
--- under the sun
in this case to eat, to drink, and be happy
for this will join to its toil all the days of its life
that this God gives it
--- under the sun
..
כַּאֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי אֶת לִבִּי לָדַעַת חָכְמָה
וְלִרְאוֹת אֶת הָעִנְיָן אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה עַל הָאָרֶץ
כִּי גַם בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה
שֵׁנָה בְּעֵינָיו אֵינֶנּוּ רֹאֶה
8.16 kà)asher natàty )et liby ladà`àt xakmah
vlir)vot )et ha`inyan )asher nà`asah `àl ha)arec
ky gàm bàyvom vubàlàylah
shénah b`éynayv )éynenvu ro)eh
for that I gave my heart to know shrewdness
and to see the business that is done on the earth
for even by day and by night
sleep is in its eyes and it is without sight
..
וְרָאִיתִי אֶת כָּל מַעֲשֵׂה הָאֱלֹהִים
כִּי לֹא יוּכַל הָאָדָם לִמְצוֹא אֶת הַמַּעֲשֶׂה אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה
תַחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ
בְּשֶׁל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲמֹל הָאָדָם לְבַקֵּשׁ
וְלֹא יִמְצָא
וְגַם אִם יֹאמַר הֶחָכָם לָדַעַת
לֹא יוּכַל לִמְצֹא
8.17 vra)yty )et kal mà`aséh ha)elohym
ky lo) yvukàl ha)adam limcvo)
)et hàmà`aseh )asher nà`asah
--- tàxàt hàshemesh
bshel )asher yà`amol ha)adam lbàqésh
vlo) yimca)
vgàm )im yo)màr hexakam ladà`àt
lo) yvukàl limco)
And I saw all the work of this God
for the earthling cannot find out the deed that is done
--- under the sun
in that which the earthling toils to seek,
but it will not find out
and even if the shrewd one says it knows,
it will not be able to find out
the preacher sees but there is no seeing to the earthling
I see that I have confined 'work' to God and deed to the earthling for the most part... It wasn't quite deliberate.


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