[b-hebrew] Ecclesiastes 3:11

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Nov 2 15:34:27 EDT 2007


Thanks for a very interesting question. I didn't respond right away
because I wanted to think about it for a while.

Every commentary I read on this indicates that this was written by
Solomon late in life after he realized the futility of his life apart
from God (no I have not read any commentaries based on higher critical
religion). While it has a more informal style than most of the rest of
Tanakh, it has stylistic markers I've learned to associate with
pre-Exile writing.

Concerning this verse:

Does (LM refer to eternity (plenty of good reasons to question that),
or could it possibly refer to unknown things that God put in men's
hearts so that they know things instinctively? The lack of the waw
opens the possibility that it does not refer to a span of time of
indeterminate length (e.g. eternity).

MBLY, or more accurately BLY with a prefixed M-, how does the M-
change the meaning so that it is not a simple negation?

)$R really throws a monkey wrench in the works, I'll come back to it.

L) is this a double negative, emphasizing the negative?

The rest of the verse is pretty straightforward.

After analyzing this verse a bit, I am leaning towards translating it
as "...He even placed the hidden things in their hearts, without which
they would not know ..."

The )$R looks like it splits the negative apart, so that it is no
longer a double negative.

Karl W. Randolph.

On 11/1/07, Bryant J. Williams III <bjwvmw at com-pair.net> wrote:
> Dear Martin,
> I read that you had a book published on Ecclesiastes, _The End of Wisdom. A
> Reappraisal of the Historical
> and Canonical Function of Ecclesiastes_.
> Ecclesiastes 3:11
> NIV - "He had made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in
> the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to
> end."
> 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...?
> Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

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