Monday, May 31, 2010

The peaceable kingdom (not)

A dog I know named Tuffy showed her stuff yesterday - to our horror. There was a noise behind me like the sound of a rushing wind. The quail was flying away from the dog - apparently on only one wing. She was feigning hurt so that the dog would chase her and be led away from her chicks and eggs. The owner was not happy with the dog but she was momentarily not under control.

Tuffy is a recovered dog from a reserve. She has had a tough life but has found a home. She is pleasant to be with but has a hidden hunting capability. The owner brought her back to the patio. We had not figured out that there was a nest near where we were sitting. This was not a random feint. A few moments later, mouth full of chicks, and broken eggs on the patio, the dog had done its damage.

The dog was removed from the scene. The owner buried the corpses. The mother quail (not an endangered species) was clucking mournfully in the background. The sensitive were in tears and those of us who are quick to see that we can do nothing were comforting them. A chick appeared at our feet stumbling back towards the nest. I took a piece of paper and moved it closer to the nest location - without touch. There was little language that could be shared. Consideration was given to whether the dog should live. (I did not think this was a 'sin unto death', a phrase my wife chuckled at later in the evening.)

לֹֽא־יָרֵעוּ וְלֹֽא־יַשְׁחִיתוּ בְּכָל־הַר קָדְשִׁי
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain - they will not do evil - they will not be bad - O how often the struggle with the bad dog - operating on survival - has occurred in conversation this last 24 hours. (Today though we got away for a great bike ride around Skaha Lake 25 km - and a few games of tennis before we got rained out.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Esther and Canon

I can see that Esther has not been a well-loved book. Many have asked within both the Christian and Jewish tradition - why is this book in the Canon? I can see too that the translation of such a work will not be a slam-dunk.  I will confine myself to the Hebrew 10 chapters. I got a few books from the library but first I must just read the text slowly and then consider what it does in me.

I will be away on holiday for a week. And I am planning some more holidays in the East of Canada and Europe - can anyone suggest some activities to keep me busy in England or the Continent or North Africa between Sept 27 and Oct 8? Maybe a trip to Tripoli and rediscover the travels of Simon of Cyrene? Or a retreat somewhere - or another conference following the Oxford conference on the Psalms. (Assuming I can secure a place.)  I already have tickets from Victoria to Tel Aviv and back for October - but... what can I arrange - they can be cancelled.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Just a thought

The word satisfaction is full of meaning for me. Besides T. S. Eliot's Journey of the Magi, there is the final word on Job (Job 42:17). And Job died old and sated of days. And someone asked recently - what is morality?  Here is a definition in a few words. A moral act is one where the actor does not take satisfaction at another's expense. This statement is the complement of one by Bishop Stephen Neill who remarked many years ago that love is the directed action of the will for the good of another.

But there is one who gave his life for the life of the world. He invites us to use his love for our satisfaction at his expense. This is a bit like having your cake and eating it too. (For holding things together that are mutually contradictory, see this most recent post by Nicholas Knisely, the Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix Arizona. I often share his posts.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

The fifth scroll

I have to come finally to the fifth scroll, Esther. I do not know yet where this will take me. My current writing has made me focus on theology as well as Hebrew translation. I find the way each book treats God has made me think about the personages in the text and their relationship as portrayed.

So Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz are very personal towards God, but the characters in Job are filled with near to far tension among the various names of God that they use. And Qohelet has its singular perspective. Lamentations is like the Psalms (as is the character of Job) in that the lament directly addresses God. This is not the case in either Ruth or Qohelet.

In Esther, a name meaning star but very similar to the Hebrew for hidden, no name of God appears at all. This is not even true of the Song where Yah appears briefly in chapter 8 and is hidden in the word play of the hosts of roe and the goodly hart. So how is God hidden in Esther - or should I even ask this question?

I have not read Esther for 33 years. I can date this because I was reading it to my children when we first came to Calgary (1977), and since we had no house, we were in a hotel and I was reading it to them at breakfast (I know, I know). A man at the next table was seriously affronted by my reading, though my voice was discreet (but I am a tenor), and he came up to me and said I should not be reading such a book to my children. So what will I learn from this book? I have been reluctant to start translating! 

Robert Alter gives it a mention in his 'Art of Biblical Narrative' and he calls this post-exilic story "a kind of fairytale - the lovely damsel, guided by a wise godfather, is made queen and saves her people - richly embellished with satiric invention; its comic art departs from historical verisimilitude in ways that pre-exilic Hebrew narrative seldom does,..." so in true literary critical form, I will be looking for these in the story -  they are not very hard to find in the first chapter.

But what is its serious underbelly?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The spring of the year

From Collages
Last night there was a beautiful light on the mountains. Early this morning, circa 6:30 AM my wife and I went for a walk on the beach.

God in Qohelet

In an earlier post on morality I note that Qohelet never uses any designation for God except Elohim and ha-Elohim - that is God with the definite article. "There is no Lord, no LORD, no El Shaddai, no El, in that book."  But what about Ecclesiastes 12:1 - remember your creator etc. Does this appearance of 'create' violate the designations of God in the text? It does seem to jump out somewhat.

Seow has much to say about whether creator is apt. The letters בּוֹרְאֶיךָ can of course spell 'your creator'. It appears to be a qal active participle with a plural ending as usual truncated when a singular second person direct object is appended. So the 'meaning' is 'the plural one creating thee.' The plural might be a plural of majesty but even though Elohim is naturally plural, it does take a singular verb form - so the phrase is rather odd.

There is another word with the same letters in BDB - p 135, meaning to be fat - or sound, healthy. And given the vav, perhaps 'well' as a symbol for wife, or 'cistern' or 'pit' for grave, as a recognition that you will die. Seow lists a number of suggested alternatives.

בּוֹר as wife seems unlikely. Qohelet seems to have no metaphor for wife in Eccl 9:9 where the author uses אִשָּׁה as expected. Cistern / pit seems even more unlikely though the word occurs in Eccl 12:6 and would perhaps provide a recurrence pattern in the poem. Both these choices are still encumbered with the plural singular conundrum.  So I stayed with 'creator' - just that one word - in tension with 'make / do' which is pervasive in Qohelet, might be enough to suggest the responsibility each of us has towards this mysterious plural One who loves us.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Psalms Diagrams refreshed

There have been a lot of improvements since I last published these diagrams. I am not changing them significantly at this time, but all the queries are now showing the Hebrew rather than the transliteration and the root algorithm is I think about 90-95% more accurate than it was. Also the identification of recurrence in the Psalms is more accurate and shows in verse order so they are easier to spot if you a colouring the text.

My first time through the psalms, I noted how often I was warned, rebuked, or corrected. This time I have occasionally glanced at the translation and jumping out at me are promises and consolation - Psalms are awesome. Read them. Here's Psalm 3 for example. Note how 'the many' continues the bruhaha of Psalm 2. [I missed the rise/arise double because of the mater.] Already in this personal individual psalm we have the anticipation of the transformation of the many through the means of the anointed king and we have the realization of security for the one in his faithfulness.

In these diagrams you will find my inimitable overdone colouring. The Hebrew is automatically coloured by transforming its gematria. The background colour of the diagram is the colour of the Psalm's gematria as a whole. The formula is  round(62.415238095*gematria(hebrew-text),0)*-1. I have no idea why it works. Mapping colour codes is very mysterious, but somehow this spreads the gematria over the 16 million range and does allows a distinction of hues in all three RGB components.

Notice the chiasm in verse 8

A Psalm of David, when he fled from the face of Absalom his son.

יְהוָה, how many my straits!
Many rising against me
Many saying of my life
'There is no victory for him in God'
Selah
But you, יְהוָה, a shield about me
my glory, and raising my head
My voice, to יְהוָה I call
and he answers me
from the hill of his holiness
Selah
I lie down, and I sleep
I awake, for יְהוָה sustains me
I am not afraid of the many many people
surrounding, set against me
Arise, יְהוָה
save me, my God
for you strike all my enemies on the cheek
teeth of the many wicked broken
To יְהוָה is victory
To your people your blessing
Selah

The question of morality

Everyday Thomist posed a question: What is morality? It is a common question and a difficult one. We so want to know what's good and what's not. After some preliminaries she writes: In response to the question “what does it mean to choose the good?” Aquinas asks “what do we even mean by goodness?”

She concludes with "Morality is simply what we do as human beings, trying to be good at what we are." I think I like this direction, but then in the comments, she notes that “In response to Job’s friends who claim that righteousness is rewarded with blessings in this life, Aquinas argues that righteousness is a spiritual good… ”

Spiritual as adjective? As if that explains anything. Spirit is more than a grammatical modifier. Spirit creates matter by its Word - so even Qohelet notes in chapter 11
As there is not for you the knowing of the way of the wind as bones in the belly of the full
so you do not know the work of this God that works all
Yes, this is my tiresome literal translation, but just look at it - the wind as bones! This phrase is in parallel with the work of this God. - that the work of God might be shown in material things.

So I responded to the comment with this:
Job does not argue this way or make a move to spiritual as adjective, nor does Yhwh, nor does Elihu, nor do I, and I am Christian – though the baggage in the label sometimes does not fit. I do not see any resolution of any part of this problem with an adjective ‘spiritual’. In this epic parable, Job is satiated with material good. He is commended for not making such a move. It is no different than Eliphaz’s opening gambit (where Eliphaz invokes the ghostly spirit in the night, Job 4:12 ff.)

It is not that I am against Spirit – quite the contrary. It is Spirit that deals with Behemoth and Leviathan including the theological evanescence of the abuse of its own name in a non-incarnational adjective. The wind blows where it wills and you see its effect in the real and sensible world of matter. One might even say that it is the Spirit that makes the world through, in, and with our decisions.
The point is simple: God is with us through the incarnation in Jesus and through the incarnation of the Spirit of the Anointed in each of us.

So what is the goodness that Aquinas asks about?

I began my teaching of Hebrew at Sunday School with the word כּי-טוב from Genesis 1 - And God saw the light, that it was good. This alone is a statement of faith. One only needs to look up 'good' in the Hebrew to know that we have both choice and invitation in that word. E.g. Psalm 34:8 (34:9 Hebrew) O taste and see that the LORD is good.

Or we could read Ecclesiastes and see that we should enjoy the good as a gift from God. Each of these is of faith. And this faith will find a full reward. It is not futile. When the faith is engaged with this God - and who can say how this happens - then the reward is good beyond measure. This is Job's reward - the presence of the LORD as the response to his parable.

The 'laws' of the Scripture are best thought of as teaching and promise rather than a moral code to be followed. The rebellious among us will question every rule. The questioning also is good. In this way the good stands against a regulation that has lost its spirit in the application. Laws thought of as teaching and promise presuppose a teacher and one who promises. This too is the goodness of faith.

Many Christians judge against the Torah thinking of it as legalism but they have their own demanding customs that are worse. There can be no legalism when the recipient of the teaching is engaged in faith with the Teacher. If there were no Teacher, then this good is simply social learning. The rebellious as they mature would gradually conform to the pressure and follow the spirit of the society. Is this good? It is easy to see how circular this is. I do not find any society which can fill this role and so create good.

I have come to the conclusion that good without God is impossible. And the goodness of God is known only by faith. Such goodness includes the confrontation with which God faces me on any decision I make that goes against what I have been taught by God assuming I have done any listening to the Other at any time. What possible freedom from this God is there when my freedom is caught in my relationship with this God?

Perhaps you notice that Qohelet never uses any name for God except Elohim and ha-Elohim  - that is God with the definite article. There is no Lord, no LORD, no El Shaddai, no El, in that book. What God will I chose for good? I know my answer - I chose the One that gives me words with which to describe how 'the God' works with me. That is my only basis for morality and my only basis for life.

But did I chose? Or was the 'election' out of my hands? And when I chose, does this God resolve for me the moral dilemmas that have no human solution? No - at least not as far as I can see. That is why I allow for abortion and for life choices other than those I have personally made even though others would say they appear to have been forbidden. I do not follow the appearance of forbidden things - there are no such things, "but not everything builds up".

I agree with the Apostle Paul that my good is only by faith. "Whatever is not of faith is sin." And that is not good. So I can "love God and do as I will" in faith. And I will to discover the good that comes only from God. All the words I have written about Jesus, the Spirit, the Anointing, Christ, God are predicated on this good - even if I still search for ways to speak these words creatively for others.

Morality is not then a 'what is' question - it reduces to a 'with whom am I engaged' question in relation to a Necessary Transcendence.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Essence of Christianity - Information

I recently wrote a comment that is like frozen concentrated orange juice - hard to read. So I am going to spin it out - thin it out - a bit - add 3 cans of water and apply heat by stirring with a holey metal spoon.

What is the essence of Christianity?

I am not fond of the word 'Christianity' - it speaks of a movement rather than its essence. I like the elaboration of the question that Margaret suggests in her answer "If we had to distill Christianity and the Bible down to its essential oil, what would the fragrance be?"  The vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Distilling the movement is a good idea. But the word 'Xianity' has "too many syllables".

Margaret suggests 'redemption'. My counter to this is that the Hebrew Canon is filled with redemption as an essence. Redemption does not uniquely summarize Christianity. It applies also to other faiths. To prove this I only need to point to one example that predates the Jesus Christ movement.

Redemption is the core of Ruth for example. For some within the Hebrew faith, the core might be conversion (as noted at that link) - but conversion misses the affront of the Moabite in Israel which makes illegal David's kingship (since he is within the limit of generations for the Moabite to be accepted in Israel). If I had to put the Psalms into one word, perhaps it would be 'the redeemed' if you will allow the definite article (I prefer 'the mercied' but English won't allow it without coinage - the word I am thinking of is in Psalm 149. It occurs 3 times - word 9, 32, and 62 of 64 words - so it provides the essential frame and  theme.) Here again this is redemption. It is the creation of a new multitudinous class of humans that have been shown the covenant mercy and are thus given power over the political turmoil to "bind their kings in chains".

I chose 'information' in answer to Margaret's original question a month ago. In this I was following the lead of The Journey of the Magi by T. S. Eliot and his line in that poem. "But there was no information".
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

What is new in Christ Jesus is that we who toil here (note the recurrence of the word 'toil' in Ecclesiastes) and cannot comprehend the work of God (Eccl 8:17, 11:5) are not without hope - as some might read Qohelet - (but there is hope there too, Eccl 5:19).

The Hebrew election (this is God's chosen people) informs the redemption that Christ Jesus accomplishes.  The toil/work axis of Qohelet is summarized by the work that Jesus came to do (see the theme of work in both creation and redemption in John's gospel). Besides linking TNK and NT in this way (as a silly aside - the Bible is TNKNT - a chiasm with the writings in the middle), information encompasses redemption - we are formed in our inner person through the Spirit. Such inner-formation is greatly to be desired. (This pun on in-formation should not be tossed out too quickly as a slight of rhetoric.)

That's why I like information over other one-word summaries. It is unique to the Anointing that is in Christ Jesus. Other 'religions' are not without redemption, or hope, or healing, or love, but they have an incomplete language with which we might be informed. It is in this sense that Jesus completes election. (Job's completeness anticipates this fullness and the satisfactory that was to come.)

What do you think - is my claim justifiable that other religions have not got the language to express the Anointing that is in Christ Jesus, i.e. to express the incarnation of the Spirit?  (I labour that Christ might be formed in you. Galatians 4:19)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Random graphs of structure

Believe it or not these graphs are made from the same data. The first definitely shows that Qohelet is the grinch (Eccl 7:3), the second that it is all about money (Eccl 10:19). Each of them is a graph of the words used in chapter 12 that are repeated in other chapters.

Ecclesiastes chapter 12 - many books and things

This entire post got wiped out by the blogger editor. It's a bug in the undo logic. The blogger editor has a number of bugs. Frequently it forgets where the cursor should be. There doesn't seem to be anyone to tell. And if there were, they might not have any control over it anyway. Most of the time, though, it gets the right to left and the left to right right! That's a lot more than I can say for Word.

Fortunately there was nothing lost but some doggerel that I now totally forget. It must have been a loser in the quantum field. (The rest of the post is in another tool that allows some diagramming and so on.)

Finally we are at chapter 12 and complete as far as a first pass at this very strange book. Dr Seuss wrote many books of course.  As many as Qohelet's proverbs.  But he was not wearied by them - at least it doesn't seem that way. He is as opposite to Qohelet as one can imagine - if one reads the Preacher piously. Qohelet is sure a curiosity. No priests, no church or assembly, except the one possible mention of a collective in this chapter - maybe this is a poke at the name Qohelet. He almost supports 'eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die' in contrast to the dour apostle Paul.  But you know what? Paul is not as bad as many believe. There is no distortion that his Lord cannot set to toil as produce in the garden - as it is written, the earth has brought forth its produce, let all the peoples praise him.

וּזְכֹר אֶת בּוֹרְאֶיךָ בִּימֵי בְּחוּרֹתֶיךָ
עַד אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָבֹאוּ יְמֵי הָרָעָה
וְהִגִּיעוּ שָׁנִים אֲשֶׁר תֹּאמַר
אֵין לִי בָהֶם חֵפֶץ
12.1 vuzkor )et bvor)eyka byméy bxvuroteyka
`àd )asher lo) yabo)vu yméy hara`ah
vhigy`vu shanym )asher to)màr
)éyn ly bahem xépec
Remember your creator in the days of your youth
before the arrival of the days of evil
and the impact of years in which you say
there is for me in them no pleasure
..
עַד אֲשֶׁר לֹא תֶחְשַׁךְ הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְהָאוֹר וְהַיָּרֵחַ וְהַכּוֹכָבִים
וְשָׁבוּ הֶעָבִים אַחַר הַגָּשֶׁם
12.2 `àd )asher lo) texshàk hàshemesh vha)vor vhàyaréàx vhàkvokabym vshabvu he`abym )àxàr hàgashembefore the darkening of the sun or the light or the moon or the stars
when the clouds return after the rain
I think returning clouds are like the light shining -
a positive perceived sign of continuing life as opposed to the darkening of perception
בַּיּוֹם שֶׁיָּזֻעוּ שֹׁמְרֵי הַבַּיִת
וְהִתְעַוְּתוּ אַנְשֵׁי הֶחָיִל
וּבָטְלוּ הַטֹּחֲנוֹת כִּי מִעֵטוּ
וְחָשְׁכוּ הָרֹאוֹת בָּאֲרֻבּוֹת
12.3 bàyvom sheyazu`vu shomréy hàbàyit
vhit`àvutvu )ànshéy hexayil
vuba+lvu hà+oxanvot ky mi`é+vu
vxashkvu haro)vot ba)arubvot
in the day that the keepers tremble in the house
when human strength is made crooked
and the grinders cease for they are few
and those who look in the windows are darkened
crooked closes a trio that acts as a frame for the work
similarly the three mentions of Qohelet - we will find more.
וְסֻגְּרוּ דְלָתַיִם בַּשּׁוּק
בִּשְׁפַל קוֹל הַטַּחֲנָה
וְיָקוּם לְקוֹל הַצִּפּוֹר
וְיִשַּׁחוּ כָּל בְּנוֹת הַשִּׁיר
12.4 vsugrvu dlatàyim bàshvuq
bishpàl qvol hà+àxanah
vyaqvum lqvol hàcipvor
vyishàxvu kal bnvot hàshyr
and the doors are shut in the street
and low is the voice of the grinder
and it rises at the voice of a bird
and subdued are the daughters of song
..
גַּם מִגָּבֹהַּ יִרָאוּ
וְחַתְחַתִּים בַּדֶּרֶךְ
וְיָנֵאץ הַשָּׁקֵד
וְיִסְתַּבֵּל הֶחָגָב
וְתָפֵר הָאֲבִיּוֹנָה
כִּי הֹלֵךְ הָאָדָם אֶל בֵּית
עוֹלָמוֹ
וְסָבְבוּ בַשּׁוּק הַסּוֹפְדִים
12.5 gàm migabohà yira)vu vxàtxàtym bàderek
vyané)c hàshaqéd
vyistàbél hexagab
vtapér ha)abyvonah
ky holék ha)adam )el béyt `volamvo
vsabbvu bàshvuq hàsvopdym
Even from pride they will fear
and terrors are in the way
and the almond will be a derision
and the grasshopper will drag itself along
and appetite will be frustrated
for the earthling goes to his eternal home
and those who wail circle in the street
wail - Eccl 3:4 same word
עַד אֲשֶׁר לֹא ירחק חֶבֶל הַכֶּסֶף
וְתָרוּץ גֻּלַּת הַזָּהָב
וְתִשָּׁבֶר כַּד עַל הַמַּבּוּעַ
וְנָרֹץ הַגַּלְגַּל אֶל הַבּוֹר
12.6 `àd )asher lo) yératéq xbel hàkeseph
vtarvuc gulàt hàzahab
vtishaber kàd `àl hàmàbvuà`
vnaroc hàgàlgàl )el hàbvor
while the silver cord is not distant
or crushed the golden bowl
or the pitcher broken at the fountain
or the wheel crushed at the well
distant - Eccl 3:5
וְיָשֹׁב הֶעָפָר עַל הָאָרֶץ כְּשֶׁהָיָה
וְהָרוּחַ תָּשׁוּב אֶל הָאֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר נְתָנָהּ
12.7 vyashob he`apar `àl ha)arec kshehayah vharvuàxtashvub )el ha)elohym )asher ntanahand the dust returns to the earth as it was
and the spirit returns to the God who gave it
all these phrases are governed by the negative in verse 1 - עַד אֲשֶׁר לֹא
הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים אָמַר הַקּוֹהֶלֶת הַכֹּל הָבֶל 12.8 habél habalym
)amàr hàqvohelet
hàkol habel
An utter futility,
touts the Qohelet,
total futility.
What's a qohelet? Surely we could find a picture.
וְיֹתֵר שֶׁהָיָה קֹהֶלֶת חָכָם
עוֹד לִמַּד דַּעַת אֶת הָעָם
וְאִזֵּן וְחִקֵּר תִּקֵּן מְשָׁלִים הַרְבֵּה
12.9 vyotér shehayah qohelet xakam
`vod limàd dà`àt )et ha`am
v)izén vxiqér tiqén mshalym hàrbéh
and it was left that Qohelet became shrewd
still he taught knowledge to the people
--- and he listened and he examined
straightening out many proverbs
note the closing of the trope of both crooked and the straight
בִּקֵּשׁ קֹהֶלֶת לִמְצֹא דִּבְרֵי חֵפֶץ
וְכָתוּב יֹשֶׁר דִּבְרֵי אֱמֶת
12.10 biqésh qohelet limco) dibréy xépec
vkatvub yosher dibréy )emet
Qohelet sought to find delightful things
and wrote upright things of truth
There are several closing brackets in this chapter - some sevenfold.
דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים כַּדָּרְבֹנוֹת
וּכְמַשְׂמְרוֹת נְטוּעִים בַּעֲלֵי אֲסֻפּוֹת
נִתְּנוּ מֵרֹעֶה אֶחָד
12.11 dibréy xakamym kàdarbonvot
vukmàsmrvot n+vu`ym bà`aléy )asupvot
nitnvu méro`h )exad
The things of the shrewd are as goads
and as nails fixed of the owners of gathered sayings
given by one shepherd
..
וְיֹתֵר מֵהֵמָּה בְּנִי הִזָּהֵר
עֲשׂוֹת סְפָרִים הַרְבֵּה אֵין קֵץ וְלַהַג הַרְבֵּה יְגִעַת בָּשָׂר
12.12 vyotér méhémah bny hizahér
`asvot sparym hàrbéh )éyn qéc vlàhàg hàrbéh ygi`àt basar
and what is left from these, my child, be warned:
of the making of many books - there is no end
and much study is a weariness of the flesh
warn Eccl 4:13
weary Eccl 10:15
סוֹף דָּבָר הַכֹּל נִשְׁמָע
אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים יְרָא וְאֶת מִצְו‍ֹתָיו שְׁמוֹר
כִּי זֶה כָּל הָאָדָם
12.13 svoph dabar hàkol nishma`
)et ha)elohym yra) v)et micvotayv shmvor
ky zeh kal ha)adam
the end of the thing - the whole - let us hear
Fear this God and keep his commandments
for this is the whole for the earthling
..
כִּי אֶת כָּל מַעֲשֶׂה הָאֱלֹהִים
יָבִא בְמִשְׁפָּט
עַל כָּל נֶעְלָם אִם טוֹב וְאִם רָע ש
12.14 ky )et kal mà`aseh ha)elohym
yabi) bmishpa+
`àl kal ne`lam )im +vob v)im ra`
for every deed this God will bring into judgment
on all that is hidden whether good or evil
cf Psalm 90:8

Possible frames with chapter 12

Chapter 12 closes the conversation in Qohelet.
  • There are several words used exactly twice in the whole book which have their second usage in chapter 12.
  • And there are several that are used 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, etc up to 90 times (asher) where the last time is in chapter 12. 
  • There are 33 of 187 words in chapter 12 that only appear once (using my counting scheme and algorithm which I have just 'improved' by looking for prefix before suffix in the simplest 4 letter case.) 
  • There appear to my new algorithm to be 101 distinct roots in chapter 12. 
  • And there are if I drew them 1,626 connections between chapter 12 words and the rest of the book.  I have 859 connections if I stop at havel - futility which is used 38 times.
So drawing them would require an automation which I don't quite have.  If I limit the list to distinct root and count, I will give you 101 words in 50 table records - almost workable.

The question is - is this deliberate or would it happen at this frequency in any coherent book in any language?

CountCalculated root of the 101 words used in chapter 12 and at least one other chapter
2אסף, גשׁם, זהב, ספד, בור, זהר, שׁוב, ישׁב, אנשׁ, צפר, חבל, שׁוק, ישׁר, שׁיר, תפר, אזן, טחן, גע
3יגע, סוף, קץ, תקן, אור, עפר, משׁל, שׁפל, עב
4נטע, דר, חור, רחק, ספר, דרך
5גבה, מעט, חל, המה, עד
6כסף, קול, שׁב, בקשׁ, סבב, עוד
7בעל, קהל, זכר, שׁפט, יום
8חפץ, ירא, שׁמע, בהם, עלם, חשׁך
9שׁה, שׂר, שׁמר
10בא, בית , קום
11לי
12אחר, הלך, עם
13ארץ, יתר
14שׁן, רעה
15בן
16נתן
17אחד, מצא
18אמר, הכל
19רבה, דע
20עשׂ, ים
23אם
24רוח
26וא
29רא
30רע
32דבר
35שׁמשׁ
37על, זה
38הבל, עשׂה
41אין
42אל
43אלה
49אדם
50חכם
51טוב
55גם
62לא
69את
70כל
87כי
90אשׁר

Ecclesiastes chapter 11 -

There are things that are good together
sweet in spite of their futility
given as gift by the one who selects
and chooses the beloved for love

In the midst of what it doesn't know
the earthling must learn to be
in the moment of its own choosing
one who takes pleasure in the gift of its life.


שַׁלַּח לַחְמְךָ עַל פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם
כִּי בְרֹב הַיָּמִים תִּמְצָאֶנּוּ
11.1 shàlàx làxmka `àl pnéy hàmayim
ky brob hàyamym timca)envu
Send out your bread on the face of the waters
and in many days you will find it
..
תֶּן חֵלֶק לְשִׁבְעָה וְגַם לִשְׁמוֹנָה
כִּי לֹא תֵדַע מַה יִּהְיֶה רָעָה עַל הָאָרֶץ
11.2 ten xéleq lshib`ah vgàm lishmvonah
ky lo) tédà` màh yihyeh ra`ah `àl ha)arec
Give a portion to seven and even to eight
for you do not know what evil will be on the earth
..
אִם יִמָּלְאוּ הֶעָבִים גֶּשֶׁם
עַל הָאָרֶץ יָרִיקוּ
וְאִם יִפּוֹל עֵץ בַּדָּרוֹם וְאִם בַּצָּפוֹן
מְקוֹם שֶׁיִּפּוֹל הָעֵץ שָׁם יְהוּא
11.3 )im yimal)vu he`abym geshem
`àl ha)arec yaryqvu
v)im yipvol `éc bàdarvom v)im bàcapvon
mqvom sheyipvol ha`éc sham yhvu)
If the clouds are full of rain
on the earth they empty themselves
and if a tree falls to the south or to the north
the place where the tree falls - there it is
There are a number of words here that pair off with words in earlier chapters and there are three new words that repeat only in later chapters.
שֹׁמֵר רוּחַ לֹא יִזְרָע
וְרֹאֶה בֶעָבִים לֹא יִקְצוֹר
11.4 shomér rvuàx lo) yizra`
vro)eh be`abym lo) yiqcvor
One who watches wind will not sow
and one who sees clouds will not reap
O the danger of the concordant gloss - so I ignore it this time
I'm sure we could translate as - 'one whose head is in the clouds'
כַּאֲשֶׁר אֵינְךָ יוֹדֵעַ מַה דֶּרֶךְ הָרוּחַ
כַּעֲצָמִים בְּבֶטֶן הַמְּלֵאָה
כָּכָה לֹא תֵדַע אֶת מַעֲשֵׂה הָאֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה אֶת הַכֹּל
11.5 kà)asher )éynka yvodéà`màh derek harvuàx kà`acamym bbe+en hàmlé)ah
kakah lo) tédà` )et mà`aséh ha)elohym )asher yà`aseh )et hàkol
As there is not for you the knowing of the way of the wind as bones in the belly of the full
so you do not know the work of this God that works all
spirit as bones - this is a cool image. Sure we can read it is 'how spirit comes into the bones of a child in the womb' but I wonder - spirit as bones, wind as material.
בַּבֹּקֶר זְרַע אֶת זַרְעֶךָ
וְלָעֶרֶב אַל תַּנַּח יָדֶךָ
כִּי אֵינְךָ יוֹדֵעַ
אֵי זֶה יִכְשָׁר הֲזֶה אוֹ זֶה
וְאִם שְׁנֵיהֶם כְּאֶחָד טוֹבִים
11.6 bàboqr zrà` )et zàr`ka
vla`reb )àl tànàx yadeka
ky )éynka yvodéà`
)éy zeh yikshar hazeh )vo zeh
v)im shnéyhem k)exad +vobym
In the morning sow your seed
and in the evening do not leave your hand inactive
for it is not for you the knowing whether this or that will succeed
of if the two together are good
..
וּמָתוֹק הָאוֹר
וְטוֹב לַעֵינַיִם לִרְאוֹת אֶת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
11.7 vumatvoq ha)vor
v+vob là`éynàyim lir)vot )et hàshamesh
Sweet is the light
and it is good for the eyes to see the sun
Qohelet is mellowing
Sweet also in Eccl 5:12 (5:11)
כִּי אִם שָׁנִים הַרְבֵּה יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם בְּכֻלָּם יִשְׂמָח
וְיִזְכֹּר אֶת יְמֵי הַחֹשֶׁךְ
כִּי הַרְבֵּה יִהְיוּ
כָּל שֶׁבָּא הָבֶל
11.8 ky )im shanym hàrbéh yixyeh ha)adam bkulam yismax
vyizkor )et yméy hàxoshek
ky hàrbéh yihyvu kal sheba) habel
for if the earthling lives many years and in them be happy
let it remember the days of darkness
for many they will be
all that comes is futility
whoops - Qohelet remembered to stay on message
שְׂמַח בָּחוּר בְּיַלְדוּתֶיךָ
וִיטִיבְךָ לִבְּךָ בִּימֵי בְחוּרוֹתֶיךָ
וְהַלֵּךְ בְּדַרְכֵי לִבְּךָ וּבְמַרְאֵי עֵינֶיךָ
וְדָע כִּי עַל כָּל אֵלֶּה יְבִיאֲךָ הָאֱלֹהִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּט
11.9 smàx baxvur byàldvuteyka vy+ybka libka byméy bxvurvoteyka vhàlék bdàrkéy libka vubmàr)éy `éyneyka vda` ky `àl kal )éleh yby)aka ha)elohym bàmishpa+Be happy, select one, in your youth
and let your heart make you feel good in the days of your selection
and walk in the ways of your heart and in the sight of your eyes
and know that for all these this God will bring you to judgment
..
וְהָסֵר כַּעַס מִלִּבֶּךָ
וְהַעֲבֵר רָעָה מִבְּשָׂרֶךָ
כִּי הַיַּלְדוּת וְהַשַּׁחֲרוּת הָבֶל
11.10 vhasér kà`às milibeka
vhà`abér ra`ah mibsareka
ky hàyàldvut vhàshàxarvut habel
so remove vexation from your heart
and put away evil from your flesh
for youth and the time of dawn are futility
perhaps thinking back to Qoh's futility of beginning and preference to ending over beginning...

The circle seen as a graph

I continue to play around with word recurrence to see just how 'subjective' it is. Perhaps I will publish more diagrams later. The graphs are pretty but they contain errors - false matches and missing points - since they are automated with a somewhat defective algorithm to derive a root from a lexical word, which I hope I will eventually publish as a web-service.  It is technical fun at least.

The graph on the right is the set of pairs of words (words that occur only twice in the book) where the second of the pair is in chapter 12. These sets are everywhere - and while thy may be 'significant' I am beginning to think that sometimes we 'overdo' structure.  Anyway, I am hoping over the next indeterminate period of time to develop an 'eyeball' for structure with various apertures: frequency, placement, etc. This will be a way of converting text into a map and allowing some forms of drill down.

On the left is an image of the circle we examined a few days ago. The three dimensional graph shows repeated words in order by verse.

Here is the text and there is a hand drawn diagram here.  All these ways of looking should show the same structural judgment.

הִנֵּה אֲשֶׁר רָאִיתִי אָנִי
טוֹב אֲשֶׁר יָפֶה
לֶאֱכוֹל וְלִשְׁתּוֹת
וְלִרְאוֹת טוֹבָה בְּכָל עֲמָלוֹ שֶׁיַּעֲמֹל
תַּחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ
מִסְפַּר יְמֵי חַיָּו
אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לוֹ הָאֱלֹהִים
כִּי הוּא חֶלְקוֹ
5.17Note I have seen, I have,
a good that is beautiful,
to eat and to drink
and to see good in all his toil that he toils
--- under the sun
in the tale of the days of his life
that this God gives him
for it is his portion
גַּם כָּל הָאָדָם
אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לוֹ הָאֱלֹהִים
עֹשֶׁר וּנְכָסִים
וְהִשְׁלִיטוֹ לֶאֱכֹל מִמֶּנּוּ
וְלָשֵׂאת אֶת חֶלְקוֹ
וְלִשְׂמֹחַ בַּעֲמָלוֹ
זֹה מַתַּת אֱלֹהִים הִיא
5.18Even every earthling
to whom this God gives
riches and wealth
and power to eat from them
and to lift up its portion
and to be happy in his toil
this is the giving of God here and now
כִּי לֹא הַרְבֵּה יִזְכֹּר אֶת יְמֵי חַיָּיו
כִּי הָאֱלֹהִים מַעֲנֶה בְּשִׂמְחַת לִבּוֹ
5.19For it will not much remember the days of its life
for this God answers in the happiness of its heart
יֵשׁ רָעָה אֲשֶׁר רָאִיתִי
תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
וְרַבָּה הִיא עַל הָאָדָם
6.1Here is an evil which I have seen
--- under the sun
and frequent it is with the earthling
אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִתֶּן לוֹ הָאֱלֹהִים
עֹשֶׁר וּנְכָסִים וְכָבוֹד
וְאֵינֶנּוּ חָסֵר לְנַפְשׁוֹ
מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר יִתְאַוֶּה
וְלֹא יַשְׁלִיטֶנּוּ הָאֱלֹהִים לֶאֱכֹל מִמֶּנּוּ
כִּי אִישׁ נָכְרִי יֹאכְלֶנּוּ
זֶה הֶבֶל וָחֳלִי רָע הוּא
6.2a human such that to him this God has given
riches and wealth and glory
so he has nothing lacking in his life
from all that he desires
and this God does not give him power to eat of them
for an alien human eats them
This is futility and it is an evil sickness

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
..

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ecclesiastes chapter 9 - and thanks for all the fish

Je suis fini, je suis, avec tous les poissions
et j'espère que tu les trouveras fun
que je te donne les chapitres, un par un
dans les jours suivants qui viennent 

Qohelet did after all search for delightful things
so why should we be miserable?

Cheer up, little fishes, this God is love
and though it's costly, it's real
worth seeking out even if we must
for some reason, seek it in fear

It is difficult though, isn't it to see one's own fear...

כִּי אֶת כָּל זֶה נָתַתִּי אֶל לִבִּי
וְלָבוּר אֶת כָּל זֶה
אֲשֶׁר הַצַּדִּיקִים וְהַחֲכָמִים וַעֲבָדֵיהֶם
בְּיַד הָאֱלֹהִים
גַּם אַהֲבָה גַם שִׂנְאָה אֵין יוֹדֵעַ הָאָדָם
הַכֹּל לִפְנֵיהֶם
9.1 ky )et kal zeh natàty )el liby
vlabvur )et kal zeh )asher hàcàdyqym
vhàxakamym và`abadéyhem
byàd ha)elohym
gàm )àhabah gàm sin)ah )éyn yvodéà`ha)adam hàkol lipnéyhem
because all this I gave to my heart
and to think that all this stuff,
the righteous and the shrewd and all their service,
is in the hand of this God
neither love nor hate does an earthling know of all of their presence
..
הַכֹּל כַּאֲשֶׁר לַכֹּל מִקְרֶה אֶחָד
לַצַּדִּיק וְלָרָשָׁע
לַטּוֹב וְלַטָּהוֹר וְלַטָּמֵא
וְלַזֹּבֵחַ וְלַאֲשֶׁר אֵינֶנּוּ זֹבֵחַ
כַּטּוֹב כַּחֹטֶא
הַנִּשְׁבָּע כַּאֲשֶׁר שְׁבוּעָה יָרֵא
9.2 hàkol kà)asher làkol miqreh )exad
làcàdyq vlarasha`
là+vob vlà+ahvor vlà+amé)
vlàzobéàx vlà)asher )éynenvu zobéàx
kà+vob kàxo+e)
hànishba` kà)asher shbvu`ah yaré)
As for all it is for all - one event -
to the righteous and to the wicked
to the good and to the clean and to the unclean
and to one that sacrifices and to one for whom there is no sacrifice
as good so sinner
the one who swears an oath
so the one that fears an oath
..
זֶה רָע בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה
תַּחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ
כִּי מִקְרֶה אֶחָד לַכֹּל
וְגַם לֵב בְּנֵי הָאָדָם מָלֵא רָע
וְהוֹלֵלוֹת בִּלְבָבָם בְּחַיֵּיהֶם

וְאַחֲרָיו אֶל הַמֵּתִים
9.3 zeh ra` bkol )asher nà`asah
tàxàt hàshemesh
ky miqreh )exad làkol vgàm léb bnéy ha)adam malé) ra` vhvolélvot bilbabam bxàyéyhem
v)àxarayv )el hàmétym
This is an evil in all that is done
--- under the sun
for one event is for all
and even the heart of the children of the earth is filled with evil
and madness is in their heart in their lives
and after it - to the dead
..
כִּי מִי אֲשֶׁר יְחֻבַּר אֶל כָּל הַחַיִּים יֵשׁ בִּטָּחוֹן
כִּי לְכֶלֶב חַי הוּא טוֹב מִן הָאַרְיֵה הַמֵּת
9.4 ky my )asher yxubàr )el kal hàxàyym yésh bi+axvon
ky lkeleb xày hvu) +vob min ha)àryéh hàmét
for who that is joined to all the living is there to trust?
for to a living dog there is good from the dead lion
Let's have puzzle rather than consistency - this Qohelet, though we love him, she is not tame.
כִּי הַחַיִּים יוֹדְעִים שֶׁיָּמֻתו
וְהַמֵּתִים אֵינָם יוֹדְעִים מְאוּמָה
וְאֵין עוֹד לָהֶם שָׂכָר
כִּי נִשְׁכַּח זִכְרָם
9.5 ky hàxàyym yvod`ym sheyamutvu
vhàmétym )éynam yvod`ym m)vumah
v)éyn `vod lahem sakar
ky nishkàx zikram
For the living know they will die
but of the dead there is not knowledge or anything
for there is no more wage for them
for forgotten is their memory
..
גַּם אַהֲבָתָם גַּם שִׂנְאָתָם
גַּם קִנְאָתָם כְּבָר אָבָדָה
וְחֵלֶק אֵין לָהֶם עוֹד לְעוֹלָם
בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה
תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
9.6 gàm )àhabatam gàm sin)atam
gàm qin)atam kbar )abadah
vxéleq )éyn lahem `vod l`volam
bkol )asher nà`asah
tàxàt hàshamesh
even their love, even their hatred,
even their envy is already destroyed
and there is no more a portion to them in the age,
in all that is done
--- under the sun
..
לֵךְ אֱכֹל בְּשִׂמְחָה לַחְמֶךָ
וּשְׁתֵה בְלֶב טוֹב יֵינֶךָ
כִּי כְבָר רָצָה הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת מַעֲשֶׂיךָ
9.7 lék )ekol bsimxah làxmeka
vushtéh bleb +vob yéyneka
ky kbar racah ha)elohym )et mà`aseyka
Go, eat your bread in happiness
and drink with a good heart your wine
for already God accepts your deeds
This is a sudden change of address - more and more I am associating the persona of Qohelet with the learning of an anointed king. Such could be any commoner in the phrase, "He has made us kings and priests to our God." (Rev 1:6 et al)
בְּכָל עֵת יִהְיוּ בְגָדֶיךָ לְבָנִים
וְשֶׁמֶן עַל רֹאשְׁךָ
אַל יֶחְסָר
9.8 bkal `ét yihyvu bgadeyka lbanym vshemen `àl ro)shka
)àl yexsar
In all time, let your garments be white
and oil on your head
let it not be lacking
..
רְאֵה חַיִּים עִם אִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר אָהַבְתָּ
כָּל יְמֵי חַיֵּי הֶבְלֶךָ
אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לְךָ
תַּחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ
כֹּל יְמֵי הֶבְלֶךָ
כִּי הוּא חֶלְקְךָ בַּחַיִּים
וּבַעֲמָלְךָ אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עָמֵל
תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
9.9 r)éh xàyym `im )ishah )asher )ahàbta
kal yméy xàyéy hebleka
)asher natàn lka
tàxàt hàshemesh
kol yméy hebleka
ky hvu) xlqka bàxàyym
vubà`amalka )asher )àtah `amél
tàxàt hàshamesh
See life with a wife that you love
all the days of the life of your futility
that he gives you
--- under the sun
all the days of your futility
for this is your portion of life
and in the toil that you yourself toil
--- under the sun
..
כֹּל אֲשֶׁר תִּמְצָא יָדְךָ לַעֲשׂוֹת
בְּכֹחֲךָ עֲשֵׂה
כִּי אֵין מַעֲשֶׂה וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן וְדַעַת וְחָכְמָה
בִּשְׁאוֹל אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה הֹלֵךְ שָׁמָּה ס
9.10 kol )asher timca) yadka là`asvot
bkoxaka `aséh
ky )éyn mà`aseh vxshbvon vdà`àt vxakmah bish)vol )asher )àtah holék shamah {s}
all that you find to your hand to do
in your strength do it
for there is no deed or reason or knowledge or shrewdness
in Sheol there where you yourself go
Pause for consideration
שַׁבְתִּי וְרָאֹה
תַחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ
כִּי לֹא לַקַּלִּים הַמֵּרוֹץ
וְלֹא לַגִּבּוֹרִים הַמִּלְחָמָה
וְגַם לֹא לַחֲכָמִים לֶחֶם
וְגַם לֹא לַנְּבֹנִים עֹשֶׁר
וְגַם לֹא לַיֹּדְעִים חֵן
כִּי עֵת וָפֶגַע יִקְרֶה אֶת כֻּלָּם
9.11 shàbty vra)oh
tàxàt hàshemesh
ky lo) làqàlym hàmérvoc
vlo) làgibvorym hàmilxamah
vgàm lo) làxakamym lexm
vgàm lo) lànbonym `osher
vgàm lo) làyod`ym xén
ky `ét vapegà` yiqreh )et kulam
I turned and saw
--- under the sun
and not to the swift is the race
and not to the warriors is the war
and even not to the wise is the bread
and even not to the understanding is wealth
and even not to the knowledgeable is grace
for time and change happen to them all
Note how this phrase is also used in Revelation
If you have come this far with me, the result - the time and chance - needs to be seized that even misery is not to be considered a theft by others, but the opportunity to find to hand an escape with all strength
כִּי גַּם לֹא יֵדַע הָאָדָם אֶת עִתּוֹ
כַּדָּגִים שֶׁנֶּאֱחָזִים בִּמְצוֹדָה רָעָה
וְכַצִּפֳּרִים הָאֲחֻזוֹת בַּפָּח
כָּהֵם יוּקָשִׁים בְּנֵי הָאָדָם לְעֵת רָעָה
כְּשֶׁתִּפּוֹל עֲלֵיהֶם פִּתְאֹם
9.12 ky gàm lo) yédà` ha)adam )et `itvo
kàdagym shene)exazym bimcvodah ra`ah
vkàciparym ha)axuzvot bàpax kahém yvuqashym bnéy ha)adam l`ét ra`ah
kshetipvol `aléyhem pit)om
for even the earthling does not know its time
as the fish that are seized in an evil net
and as the birds seized in the snare
as with them, enticed are the children of earth in an evil time
as it falls on them in an instant
..
גַּם זֹה רָאִיתִי חָכְמָה
תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ
וּגְדוֹלָה הִיא אֵלָי
9.13 gàm zoh ra)yty xakmah
tàxàt hàshamesh
vugdvolah hy) )élay
Even this I saw - shrewdness
--- under the sun
and she was magnified for me
there is a male and female difference here - to be considered
עִיר קְטַנָּה וַאֲנָשִׁים בָּהּ מְעָט
וּבָא אֵלֶיהָ מֶלֶךְ גָּדוֹל
וְסָבַב אֹתָהּ וּבָנָה עָלֶיהָ
מְצוֹדִים גְּדֹלִים
9.14 `yr q+ànah và)anashym bah m`a+
vuba) )éleyah melek gadvol
vsabàb )otah vubanah `aleyah
mcvodym gdolym
a small city and a few humans in it
and there came a great king
and he circled her and built against her
great siege-works
A parable
וּמָצָא בָהּ אִישׁ מִסְכֵּן חָכָם
וּמִלַּט הוּא אֶת הָעִיר בְּחָכְמָתוֹ
וְאָדָם לֹא זָכַר אֶת הָאִישׁ הַמִּסְכֵּן הַהוּא
9.15 vumaca) bah )ysh miskén xakam
vumilà+ hvu) )et ha`yr bxakmatvo
v)adam lo) zakàr )et ha)ysh hàmiskén hàhvu)
and in her there was a human poor and shrewd
and he devised an escape for the city in his shrewdness
and no earthling remembered this poor human
..
וְאָמַרְתִּי אָנִי טוֹבָה חָכְמָה מִגְּבוּרָה
וְחָכְמַת הַמִּסְכֵּן בְּזוּיָה וּדְבָרָיו אֵינָם נִשְׁמָעִים
9.16 v)amàrty )any +vobah xakmah migbvurah
vxakmàt hàmiskén bzvuyah vudbarayv )éynam nishma`ym
and I said, I did, good is wisdom over might
yet the wisdom of the poor is despised
and his things - there is no hearing for them
..
דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים בְּנַחַת נִשְׁמָעִים
מִזַּעֲקַת מוֹשֵׁל בַּכְּסִילִים
9.17 dibréy xakamym bnàxàt nishma`ym
mizà`aqàt mvoshél bàksylym
The things of the shrewd are in quiet heard
over the cry of the ruler among the foolish
..
טוֹבָה חָכְמָה מִכְּלֵי קְרָב
וְחוֹטֶא אֶחָד יְאַבֵּד טוֹבָה הַרְבֵּה
9.18 +vobah xakmah mikléy qrab
vxvo+e) )exad y)àbéd +vobah hàrbéh
good is shrewdness over instruments of war
and one sinner destroys good in plenty
..

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Notes made while visiting other blogs

Well, beloved, what have I learned this month? Sometimes the best things come in very small packages - like this one at the Velveteen Rabbi.

Besides learning from Qohelet - and who knows yet where this leads, I have been daring to comment on theological issues. One day I will read some more theological principles. But I am not actually much interested in theology per se - I am more interested in the implied questions - who do they say that I am? and who do you say that I am? (That I is not me)

I note the following conversations because it is sometimes difficult for me to figure out how to get email or reader followup. When I note them here, I can go back to them more easily to see if there are any more comments.
  • Tim for instance has a question on cold-blooded. How to get the death of the firstborn into 5 minutes. Can you help him? 
  • Peter B meditates on good and evil as a matter of taste.  
  • Peter L considers blessing and cursing. 
  • The ever disciplined Richard Beck tells how George MacDonald affected him. 
  • The Everyday Thomist Mrs. Haile has a post on the god of metphysics.

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.