Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Qohelet 8 - justifying the king??

Following the clear bias of the preacher's attitude concerning women at the end of chapter 7, there is in the beginning of this chapter some political advice concerning the king and his relationship to the oath of God. Which is the antecedent of the pronouns in verse 3, God or the king?
Do not be brash when walking from his presence nor let yourself stand in an evil matter,
for all that he delights in he does.
I read the following verses as tempering the knowledge of the human king, so I would apply the above to exiting from the presence of God. And who would be brash in the face of the Unknown? Or even the Known Unknown? Who indeed would want to leave when the presence is known? Except Gerontius.

And if the king does all that he delights in - it had better be to the benefit of his subjects. Of most kings in history, we cannot say this but for an accidental moment. The king is in fact more constrained than such policy might infer, but the human monarch's delight is scarcely to be identified with the good of the people.

-- off with his head! (That's intended for me if I had lived in the 16th century.)
Qohelet 8 Fn Min Max Syll
מִ֚י כְּהֶ֣חָכָ֔ם וּמִ֥י יוֹדֵ֖עַ פֵּ֣שֶׁר דָּבָ֑ר
חָכְמַ֤ת אָדָם֙ תָּאִ֣יר פָּנָ֔יו וְעֹ֥ז פָּנָ֖יו יְשֻׁנֶּֽא
1 C Who is as the shrewd and who knows the key to a word?
An earthling's shrewdness enlightens its face and the strength of its face is transformed.
3e 4C 14
אֲנִי֙ פִּי־מֶ֣לֶךְ שְׁמ֔וֹר וְעַ֕ל דִּבְרַ֖ת שְׁבוּעַ֥ת אֱלֹהִֽים 2 I, 'read the lips' of the king,
and it is about the words of the oath of God.
3e 4B 16
אַל־תִּבָּהֵ֤ל מִפָּנָיו֙ תֵּלֵ֔ךְ אַֽל־תַּעֲמֹ֖ד בְּדָבָ֣ר רָ֑ע
כִּ֛י כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר יַחְפֹּ֖ץ יַעֲשֶֽׂה
3 Do not be brash when walking from his presence nor let yourself stand in an evil matter,
for all that he delights in he does.
3d 4C 17
בַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר דְּבַר־מֶ֖לֶךְ שִׁלְט֑וֹן
וּמִ֥י יֹֽאמַר־ל֖וֹ מַֽה־תַּעֲשֶֽׂה
4 In that the word of a king has authority,
so who says to him, what are you doing?
3e 4A 9
שׁוֹמֵ֣ר מִצְוָ֔ה לֹ֥א יֵדַ֖ע דָּבָ֣ר רָ֑ע
וְעֵ֣ת וּמִשְׁפָּ֔ט יֵדַ֖ע לֵ֥ב חָכָֽם
5 The one who keeps a command will not know an evil matter.
Both time and judgment the heart of the shrewd will know.
3e 4B 10
כִּ֣י לְכָל־חֵ֔פֶץ יֵ֖שׁ עֵ֣ת וּמִשְׁפָּ֑ט
כִּֽי־רָעַ֥ת הָאָדָ֖ם רַבָּ֥ה עָלָֽיו
6 B For in every delight there is time and judgment,
for the evil of the earthling has much to it.
3e 4B 10
כִּֽי־אֵינֶ֥נּוּ יֹדֵ֖עַ מַה־שֶּׁיִּֽהְיֶ֑ה
כִּ֚י כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר יִֽהְיֶ֔ה מִ֖י יַגִּ֥יד לֽוֹ
7 For it has no knowledge of what is that is.
As for what is to be, who will announce it?
3e 4C 10
אֵ֣ין אָדָ֞ם שַׁלִּ֤יט בָּר֙וּחַ֙ לִכְל֣וֹא אֶת־הָר֔וּחַ וְאֵ֤ין שִׁלְטוֹן֙ בְּי֣וֹם הַמָּ֔וֶת וְאֵ֥ין מִשְׁלַ֖חַת בַּמִּלְחָמָ֑ה
וְלֹֽא־יְמַלֵּ֥ט רֶ֖שַׁע אֶת־בְּעָלָֽיו
8 B There is no earthling with authority over the wind that it might restrain the wind, for there is no authority in the day of death, and there is no handing over in the battle,
and wickedness will not let escape those who are so owned.
3e 4C 32
אֶת־כָּל־זֶ֤ה רָאִ֙יתִי֙ וְנָת֣וֹן אֶת־לִבִּ֔י לְכָֽל־מַעֲשֶׂ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נַעֲשָׂ֖ה תַּ֣חַת הַשָּׁ֑מֶשׁ
עֵ֗ת אֲשֶׁ֨ר שָׁלַ֧ט הָאָדָ֛ם בְּאָדָ֖ם לְרַ֥ע לֽוֹ
9 All this I have seen and I gave my heart to every deed that is done, under the sun,
of the time that the earthling takes authority over an earthling for its own evil.
3c 4C 27
וּבְכֵ֡ן רָאִיתִי֩ רְשָׁעִ֨ים קְבֻרִ֜ים וָבָ֗אוּ וּמִמְּק֤וֹם קָדוֹשׁ֙ יְהַלֵּ֔כוּ וְיִֽשְׁתַּכְּח֥וּ בָעִ֖יר אֲשֶׁ֣ר כֵּן־עָשׂ֑וּ
גַּם־זֶ֖ה הָֽבֶל
10 And in such as I have seen, the wicked are entombed, and they came and from the place of holiness they went, and they are forgotten in the city where they did so.
Even this is futility.
3e 4C 34
אֲשֶׁר֙ אֵין־נַעֲשָׂ֣ה פִתְגָ֔ם מַעֲשֵׂ֥ה הָרָעָ֖ה מְהֵרָ֑ה
עַל־כֵּ֡ן מָלֵ֞א לֵ֧ב בְּֽנֵי־הָאָדָ֛ם בָּהֶ֖ם לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת רָֽע
11 That there is no swift edict done for an evil deed,
therefore the heart of the children of the earthling is filled in them to do evil.
3c 4B 17
אֲשֶׁ֣ר חֹטֶ֗א עֹשֶׂ֥ה רָ֛ע מְאַ֖ת וּמַאֲרִ֣יךְ ל֑וֹ
כִּ֚י גַּם־יוֹדֵ֣עַ אָ֔נִי אֲשֶׁ֤ר יִהְיֶה־טּוֹב֙ לְיִרְאֵ֣י הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִֽירְא֖וּ מִלְּפָנָֽיו
12 That a sinner do evil a hundredfold and it be prolonged for him ...
for even I, I know, that it will be good for those that fear this God, that fear from within his presence.
3d 4C 14
וְטוֹב֙ לֹֽא־יִהְיֶ֣ה לָֽרָשָׁ֔ע וְלֹֽא־יַאֲרִ֥יךְ יָמִ֖ים כַּצֵּ֑ל
אֲשֶׁ֛ר אֵינֶ֥נּוּ יָרֵ֖א מִלִּפְנֵ֥י אֱלֹהִֽים
13 But what is good is not to be for the wicked one, and he will not prolong days as a shadow,
in that it has no fear from within the presence of God.
3d 4B 16
יֶשׁ־הֶבֶל֮ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נַעֲשָׂ֣ה עַל־הָאָרֶץ֒ אֲשֶׁ֣ר ׀ יֵ֣שׁ צַדִּיקִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֨ר מַגִּ֤יעַ אֲלֵהֶם֙ כְּמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה הָרְשָׁעִ֔ים וְיֵ֣שׁ רְשָׁעִ֔ים שֶׁמַּגִּ֥יעַ אֲלֵהֶ֖ם כְּמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה הַצַּדִּיקִ֑ים
אָמַ֕רְתִּי שֶׁגַּם־זֶ֖ה הָֽבֶל
14 Here is futility that is done on the earth: that there are those righteous that are touched for what the wicked have done and there are those wicked that are touched for what the righteous have done.
I said that even this is futility.
3e 4C 53
וְשִׁבַּ֤חְתִּֽי אֲנִי֙ אֶת־הַשִּׂמְחָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר אֵֽין־ט֤וֹב לָֽאָדָם֙ תַּ֣חַת הַשֶּׁ֔מֶשׁ כִּ֛י אִם־לֶאֱכ֥וֹל וְלִשְׁתּ֖וֹת וְלִשְׂמ֑וֹחַ
וְה֞וּא יִלְוֶ֣נּוּ בַעֲמָל֗וֹ יְמֵ֥י חַיָּ֛יו אֲשֶׁר־נָֽתַן־ל֥וֹ הָאֱלֹהִ֖ים תַּ֥חַת הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ
15 And I myself commended happiness, that there is no good for the earthling, under the sun, except to eat, and to imbibe, and to be glad,
for it will have staying power in its toil the days of its life that this God has given it, under the sun.
3d 4C 34
כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר נָתַ֤תִּי אֶת־לִבִּי֙ לָדַ֣עַת חָכְמָ֔ה וְלִרְאוֹת֙ אֶת־הָ֣עִנְיָ֔ן אֲשֶׁ֥ר נַעֲשָׂ֖ה עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ
כִּ֣י גַ֤ם בַּיּוֹם֙ וּבַלַּ֔יְלָה שֵׁנָ֕ה בְּעֵינָ֖יו אֵינֶ֥נּוּ רֹאֶֽה
16 For that, I gave my heart to know shrewdness and to show the business that is done on the earth,
for even by day and by night sleep in its eyes, it is without seeing.
3e 4C 30
וְרָאִיתִי֮ אֶת־כָּל־מַעֲשֵׂ֣ה הָאֱלֹהִים֒ כִּי֩ לֹ֨א יוּכַ֜ל הָאָדָ֗ם לִמְצוֹא֙ אֶת־הַֽמַּעֲשֶׂה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נַעֲשָׂ֣ה תַֽחַת־הַשֶּׁ֔מֶשׁ בְּ֠שֶׁל אֲשֶׁ֨ר יַעֲמֹ֧ל הָאָדָ֛ם לְבַקֵּ֖שׁ וְלֹ֣א יִמְצָ֑א
וְגַ֨ם אִם־יֹאמַ֤ר הֶֽחָכָם֙ לָדַ֔עַת לֹ֥א יוּכַ֖ל לִמְצֹֽא
17 And I saw all the doing of this God, for the earthling is not able to 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.
3c 4C 54

Sun obscured by smoke from forest fires
(from Mt Tolmie in Victoria BC 2015-07-06)
Verses 4 and 5 might be read to support the king, but his humanness is put in its place by verses 6 to 11. And then the presence of God is contrasted with the presence of the earthling king. How long indeed does it take to recover from monarchy? 1000 generations?

In verse 15 the refrain under the sun recurs. It occurs in every chapter except 7, 11 and 12. This phrase occurs 34 times in these rather short 12 chapters. It is a characteristic phrase for the author of this treatise along with his favorite word, futility.

Do you feel futile? Is there any hope, under the sun? Who knows the interpretation of the hot and fiery world that is upon us in the North West of North America these days? Not as bad as Australia's summers, I think.

Can recurring words give hope? Prose chapters like this tend towards a large number of them, 15 occurring twice only (excluding a few common roots: על,יהוה,אלוה,כּי,אל,אתּ), ten exactly 3 times and another 22 more: אדּםּ, דּבּר, חכּםּ, ידּע, מּי, פּנּה, אשׁר, כּל, עשׂה, רע, שׁלט, לא, לבּ, ישׁ, איןּ, היה, יוםּ, רשׁע, ראה, שׁמּשׁ, תּחתּ, גּםּ.

Here are words that occur exactly twice in this chapter
מּלךּ the king
שׁמּר --
תּלךּ when walking
יחפּץ he delights in
מּלךּ a king
מּה what
שׁומּר the one who keeps
ומּשׁפּט and judgment
חפּץ delight
ומּשׁפּט and judgment
מּה what is
בּרוח the wind
הרוח the wind
יהלכּו they went
ומּאריךּ and it be prolonged
יאריךּ he will prolong
הארץ the earth
צדּיקיםּ righteous
מּגּיע are touched
שׁמּגּיע that are touched
הצדּיקיםּ the righteous
השׂמּחה gladness
אםּ except
ולשׂמּוח and to be glad
בּעמּלו in its toil
הארץ the earth
יוכּל is able
יעמּל toils
אםּ if
יוכּל is is able

And these exactly 3 times
אנּי I
יאמּר says
ועתּ both time
עתּ time
זה this
ונּתּוןּ and I gave
עתּ of the time
ובּכּןּ and in such as
כּןּ so
זה this is
הבּל futility
כּןּ therefore
אנּי I
טובּ good
ליראי for those that fear
ייראו that fear
וטובּ but what is good
ירא fear
הבּל futility
אמּרתּי I said
זה this is
הבּל futility
אנּי myself
טובּ good
נּתּןּ has given
נּתּתּי I gave
למּצוא to find out
ימּצא it will find out
יאמּר says
למּצא to find out

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