[b-hebrew] Ecclesiastes 3:11

Martin Shields enkidu at bigpond.net.au
Fri Nov 2 08:16:22 EDT 2007


Bryant,

I'm not sure why you don't receive emails directly from me, perhaps  
you ISP is blocking mine!

> 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."

There are examples of double negatives in BH which do appear to  
function intensively, but none elsewhere that I'm aware of which  
includes a relative between the negatives. Nor is the Greek parallel a  
precise parallel, because ου μη is common and unambiguous. Were you  
to read negative + relative + negative in Greek then I would think  
that would serve as a more accurate example.

Still, I'm quite aware that many commentators on Qohelet agree with  
you (as do the versions, the LXX renders it as a negative purpose:  
οπως μη), while none agree with me. So if truth is determined  
democratically I'm not the favourite!

> 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.

OK, now I'm getting a little lost. Qoh 3:11 says that God put העלם  
in people's "heart" (לב so perhaps just as precisely rendered "mind"  
as "heart"), so if I understand you correctly you're saying that God  
put the infinite in our minds. Are you saying that God has made us  
aware of the infinite and that results in an awareness of just how  
limited our knowledge is?

Again, there are many commentators who support this position, so  
you're in good company.

Regards,

Martin Shields,
Sydney, Australia.


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