[b-hebrew] Ecclesiastes 3:11

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Thu Nov 1 23:49:39 EDT 2007

Dear Martin,

I am using the full text you sent to Brian.

First, thank you for your response.

Second, regarding the double negative with asher. It seems to me that what may
be happening is the same use as the OU MH in Greek. It is intensifying the
negative to the point of saying, "no way able" or "never able to."

Third, since I am taking the double negative in such an intensive meaning, then
the OLAM would be equivalent to "infinite." This sense, although "eternity"
would be the same, would allow for the idea that man will never be able to grasp
the totality of "eternity" or "creation" from its beginning to its end. There is
a lot that man will learn or may know, but man will never find the beginning or
reach the ending of who, what, etc., of God. David, as the "Sweet Psalmist of
Israel" (forgot who originated the phrase), had it right when he said, "The
heavens declare the glory of God; and firmament sheweth his handiwork....The
earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell
therein....or the Psalm 139:1-18.

Thank you,

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "B. M. Rocine" <brocine at twcny.rr.com>
To: "b-hebrew Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2007 5:56 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Ecclesiastes 3:11

> Hi Martin,
> I like your analysis.
> As you noted a key word is, mib.:liy.
> It's an idiom that I think the BDB does better defining than the HALOT.
> See BDB p. 115, highly edited here:
> "2. adv. of negation ...With preps. c. MI (a) from want of; for lack of;
> on account of there being no..."
> Ironically, the BDB does not list Ecc 3:11 under sense 2c(a), but under
> 2c(b) with pleonatic lo', as you have mentioned.  In this latter
> interpretation mibliy means "so that no...", also, as you have mentioned.
> Like you, I think the mibliy belongs in section 2c(a) rather than 2c(b),
> and may be thought to mean "because without..." as it often does.  See
> Isa 5:13 mibliy da`at "because [they are] without knowledge."
> We may say the notion or deep structure of Ecc 3:11 is mibliy tet
> 'elohiym ha`olam bilbam, where tet... surfaces as 'a$er.
> Thank you for sharing your analysis.
> Shalom,
> Bryan
> Martin Shields wrote:
> > Hello Bryant,
> >
> >
> >> My question is, "What is your take on the phrase in the second half
> >> of the
> >> verse, "et-olam natan bilbam milbam asher lo-yimtza hadom et-hammaaseh
> >> asher-asah...?
> >>
> >
> > There are a couple of issues in this verse (aren't there always), the
> > meaning of ‏העלם and the meaning of ‏מבלי אשר לא.
> > Taking the second first, we have a double negative which is
> > universally understood as either indicating a negative purpose ("so
> > that not") or else a simple negative ("yet [he] cannot"). The problem
> > is that the parallels frequently cited to justify these translations
> > do not include אשר between the negatives so that the second negative
> > is effectively in a separate clause. If you look for examples where
> > this does happen, the double negatives in those instances never lose
> > their individual negativity (if you follow my meaning).
> >
> > Hence I render the expression "without which [he] cannot find..." I'll
> > admit that I'm on my own here, but I think that it both makes sense in
> > context (see below) and also makes sense of the Hebrew.
> >
> > As a result of the usual understanding of this clause, some propose
> > reading העלם as "darkness" so that the "darkness" God has placed in
> > our hearts functions to inhibit any ability to find our what God has
> > done from the beginning to the end. With my reading I think taking
> > העלם as a temporal term (so "eternity" in most translations) makes
> > sense: God has placed "eternity" (some sort of awareness which extends
> > beyond the present moment) in our "hearts" without which we could not
> > find what God has done from start to finish.
> >
> > How does this make sense in context? The fact that Qohelet proceeds to
> > make assertions about what God has done and will do (cf. especially
> > Qoh 3:14-15) immediately demonstrates that Qohelet has some awareness
> > of what God has done and will do (at least he thinks he does!). It is
> > obvious that Qohelet isn't claiming omniscience nor comprehensive
> > knowledge of what God has and will do, but he has some awareness and
> > that seems to be sufficient to justify his observation.
> >
> > I hope that helps!
> >
> > Regards,
> >
> > Martin Shields,
> > Sydney, Australia.
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > b-hebrew mailing list
> > b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
> >
> -- 
> B.M. Rocine
> Living Word Church
> 6101 Court St. Rd.
> Syracuse, NY 13206
> W:  (315) 437-6744
> _______________________________________________
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew


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