[b-hebrew] Ecclesiastes 3:11

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Thu Nov 1 23:46:04 EDT 2007


Here is a slight variation.

ET HAKOL (ASAH YAPEH B-(ITO, "he did all [including man] perfectly".  
GAM, "moreover". ET HA-(OLAM NATAN B-LIBAM, "He put in their hearts  
the power to know the world" [In other words, he gave them the gift  
of science]. Yet limited so that man will never be able to understand  
[uncover] God's deeds in their entirety.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Nov 1, 2007, at 11:49 PM, Bryant J. Williams III wrote:

> 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  
>> 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
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>> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
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