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ON SOME VERSES OF ECCLESIASTES.
In the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, there are two verses, viz. the eleventh and the eighteenth, which have given rise to much discussion : these verses I proceed to consider, first of all transcribing nearly without variation from the Authorized Version the whole passage in which they stand, since the argument will depend in great measure upon the context. iii. 1. To everything there is a season, and a time to every 2 purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; 9 &c. What advancement hath he that worketh in that? he
laboureth? 10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the 11 sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made everything
beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their
heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh 12 from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good
for them”, but to rejoice and to make merry in one's life. 13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and see en14 joyment in all his labour, it is the gift of God. I know that,
whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be
put to it, nor anything taken from it: and God doeth it, 15 that men should fear before him. That which hath been is
now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God
requireth that which is past. 16 And moreover I saw under the sun, that in the place of judgement there was wickedness; and in the place of right17 eousness there was iniquity. I said in mine heart, God
מה יתרון לו שיעמל
1 «What good i.e. is there in labouring, seeing that every thing has its fixed time?' Here wx is taken as an inseparable compound. Cp. ii. 16
(9262); vii. 2; viii. 4; and see v. 15,
. 2 Lit. in them. Cp. Dix) 310 '* (ii. 24).
shall judge the righteous and the wicked : for there is a 18 time there for every purpose and for every work'. I said
in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that
God might manifest them, and that they might see that they 19 themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of
men befalleth beasts : even one thing befalleth them : as the one dieth, so dieth the other; and they have all one spirit ;
so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast: for all 20 is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and 21 all turn to dust again. Who knoweth that?, The spirit
of man, that is it which goeth upward; and the spirit of the
beast, that is it which goeth downward to the earth? 22 Wherefore I perceived that there is nothing better, than
that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion : for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him ?
I. Eccl. iii. 11 runs thus in the Hebrew :
את הכל עשה יפה בְעַתּוֹ גַּם אֶת־הָעֹלָם נָתַן בְּלִבָּם מבלי אשר לא ימצא האדם את המעשה אשר עשה האלהים מראש ועד סוף :
! Several points in this verse call for special notice :
7] It is very generally taken for granted that this word means comely or good, both in the passage before us, and also in another much disputed verse, viz. Eccl. v. 17. Elsewhere how
1 The latter part of this verse is very obscure. I retain the Authorized Version, not knowing what is the true rendering. 3 Most commentators make the i7
(, , altering the points] obliquely interrogative. A minority take it as the article, the pointing being suitable; and this gives perhaps the more appro
,some , as Ewald] הַיָּרֶדֶת and הָעלֶה of
priate meaning, thus :—'It may be said that the spirit of man goes upward and that of the beast downward ; but who knoweth, who can be sure of this?' The rendering, 'who knoweth whether &c, reads rather like an objection to ver. 20. The rendering of the text (=no one knows that there is any difference) leads more naturally to the conclusion in ver. 22.
might נעים where however-הנך יפה דודי אף נעים ,able
הוצק חן is followed by יפיפית וג' 3
ever the relative or subjective meaning of attractiveness seems appropriate. The word is most frequently descriptive of personal beauty: sometimes it stands alone, and even in such cases may be taken to mean 'fair,' sc. to look upon: in other cases a subjectivity of application seems to be directly implied, as in 17872 ha', fair of aspect (Gen. xii. 11). In Cant. i. 16 n occurs in close connexion with b'ys, pleasant or agree
, , be taken as introducing an entirely new element into the
. 3 7-INDW3-cp. the expression to find favour,' which' imports the giving of satisfaction: in Ps. xlviii. 3 the hill of Zion is described as 913 75', and, in immediate sequence, as WUD YOX7 , 'the joy of the whole earth :' in Jer. iv. 30 the hithpael 'binn is used of a woman striving to make herself attractive-In vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee :' in Ezek. xxxiii. 32 7° is used of sound, • And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice.'
Now is it necessary to give 75' an unprecedented meaning in the book of Ecclesiastes ? It is indeed commonly done, thus Gesenius, 8. v. 2) bonus, præstans, kalós (Eccl. iii. 11): Deus fecit omnia 13', kals, v. 17'—but is the meaning, pleasant, attractive, agreeable, so clearly unsuited to these contexts? The former passage is one of the most controverted in the whole book, and there is a conspicuous absence of agreement about the construction of that portion of the latter in which
הנה אשר ראיתי אני טוב אשר יפה לאכול ולשתות
Here (1) the accentuation requires that we should pause on IX and take the following word as beginning the statement of that which the writer had seen'- Behold that which I have seen, viz. 20—the same form of expression (sc. with a pause on '38) occurs in ii. 13, 24. Cp. ' NOX9 (ix. 16). And (2) 08 319 must mean, “It is good that,' if it is to be rendered analogously to the same formula in ver. 4 and in vii. 18. Cp. ii. 3, 24 ; iii. 22. (3) If now 17 be taken with what seems to be a not unusual meaning, viz. attractive or pleasant, the verse in question may be rendered :
1 But for more on see P. S.
Behold what I have seen :
It is a good thing that it is pleasant to eat and drink, &c.— since a man cannot rise out of the common concerns of life it is well that he can take pleasure in them : moreover (ver. 18) it is by the gift of God that any man is enabled to find satisfaction therein. [See iii. 12, 13.) Whether this rendering be satisfactory or not, it certainly is not proved that 75' ought to be rendered 'comely, good, excellent, in Eccl. v. 17; neither can it be granted as a thing obvious that any such meaning is required in iii. 11. I shall therefore render the first clause of that verse as follows:
He hath made it all pleasant in its season.
] , a word which in the later Hebrew is used in the sense mundus, but in Biblical Hebrew-if the passage in question be excepted -is used only in the sense eternity (lit. the hidden or sealed past or future). But the a priori objection to the sense mundus in this passage is nevertheless a slight one, for (1) the LXX. render it by alôva in the required sense, and (2) the style of Ecclesiastes has very strongly marked peculiarities, and the book contains expressions which are not found elsewhere in the Bible. “Long ago Luther remarked that this book has singularem quandam phrasin que a communis linguæe usu sæpe recedit et a nostra consuetudine valde aliena est. This (writes Professor Moses Stuart) is entirely correct and true as to diction and peculiarity of phraseology”—an admission which is valuable as proceeding from one who, in contending for the antiquity of the book, labours to reduce its modernisms to a minimum. “The general result (he adds) is that the book, for so short a one, partakes after all somewhat largely of the two
,עלם The great controversy is about the meaning of [העלם
1 Viz..the travail, &c.' (ver. 10).
elements of later Hebrew and Chaldee, at least of what we are forced to regard as such. That its coloring throughout resembles most of all the later books, viz. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Daniel, every reader familiar with these books must feel. That he is moving in an element greatly diverse from that of the earlier books, becomes a matter of immediate consciousness when one reads Coheleth." This consideration makes it a priori not very improbable that Sy should stand for mundus in Eccl. iii. 11, while the authority of LXX, which gives that meaning, is assuredly not to be despised in such a matter.
Da] Also, moreover, even, yea. The word introduces something additional, but to render it by yea involves no departure from its primitive meaning, for the thing additional may be a confirmation or explanation of what precedes, and not entirely distinct from and unconnected therewith. In this verse I shall use the word yea as its equivalent; but the question at issue is, To what does Da apply and what does it emphasize ? It is taken for granted on all sides that its whole stress is on the words which immediately follow, thus,
Also the world hath he put into their hearts. But it is by no means necessary to make this assumption; indeed the accentuation points to a directly opposite conclusion'.
. . , , XNDA, the emphasis of Dj is restricted to the word next following': but in iii. 11 the ba has 727), and then follow
, , . occurs two verses later" (iii. 13), and there the emphasis of Da is not on the clause which contains it but on the concluding
. It had been concluded in ver. 12 that man must fall back upon the present and find his satisfac
. iv . 14 ) , where the accents are) גַּם בְּמַלְכוּתוֹ In
The very saine sequence of accents זקף קטון ,מונח ,פשטא
.מתת אלהים היא words
1 Some persons may be inclined to reject a priori any argument which thus depends upon the accents. But it may be remarked (1) that—accents apart—there is nothing to prevent us from entertaining the view given in
the text; and (2) that the accents have in fact here suggested a construction which even on other grounds alone seems specially appropriate.
2 See also x. 20.