[b-hebrew] Ecclesiastes 3:11

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Sat Nov 3 23:24:30 EDT 2007

Dear Martin and Karl,

I should have reference Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, page 483, Para. 152y, #2. It
states the following:

"2.    Two negatives in the same sentence do not neutralize each other (as in
'nonulli, non nemo'), but make the negation more emphatic (like 'OUK OUDEIS, OUK
OUDAMWS, 'NULLI-NON, NEMO NON'); E.G. zP 2:2 (if the text is correct) This
especially applies to the compounds formed by the union of )ayN, BeLI with MiN-,
without (para. 119y), e.g. Is 5:9; (6:11 ) (Jer. 2:15,) prop. without no
inhabitant, i.e. so that no inhabitant is left there. On the other hand, in Is
50:2 is causative; as also Ex 14:11; 2 K 1:2, 6, 16. In Ec 3:11 except that (yet
so that man cannot, &c.)."
I would also refer you to BAGD, 2nd Edition, pp. 576-577, which gives a good
description of the use of hOPWS MH in section 2 and 2a references
Blass-DeBrunner, paragraph 369 and Robertson, 985-87.
    "a. to indicate purpose (in order that, neg. hP. MH in order that...not"
(Bl-D, para. 369; Rob. 985-7).
Thus, the LXX reads, hOPWS MH EURNi... This appears to indicate that the
translator of Ecclesiastes 3:11 is giving the exact equivalent of the Hebrew.

Now, regarding )asher, see Gesenius, paragraph 138, The Relative Pronoun
especially sub-section "a."

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "K Randolph" <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, November 02, 2007 8:24 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Ecclesiastes 3:11

> Martin and Bryant:
> (LM does not have the waw included. While the waw was optional at that
> time for "unknown time (eternity)", the lack of it may or may not be
> significant. Context will give us clues.
> As for the MBLY )$R L) , that is not a standard double negative. My
> understanding of a double negative in Hebrew is similar to Greek,
> namely strengthening the negative. However, the )$R changes it to two
> different phrases so that it is not a clean double negative.
> Even as I write this, I am not really sure of what the verse says, and
> I may end up disavowing what I wrote earlier. First of all, we must
> take the context into account.
> Going back over the words that we are sure of, we get, "He made all
> beautiful in its time, even placed the ???1 in their hearts ???2 which
> man does not find the doings which God does from the beginning until
> the end."
> ???2 is MBLY in the context with )$R l) almost seems it is an enabler
> to know at least some of God's character. By adding the medial )$R,
> has it changed the meaning from a Greek style double negative, to a
> English style where it becomes a positive? Even as a negative, it
> seems to have more the idea of "without" than a straight negative such
> as L) or )L.
> And what does ???1 mean? It comes from the root with the concept of
> being unknown. In the form of (WLM with a waw it refers to an
> unspecified (unknown) length of time, which by extension often refers
> to eternity. Does it refer to time at all in this context, or merely
> that which is unknown or unknowable except that God put it in man's
> hearts?
>  It was only after thinking through this verse that I recognized a
> similarity between the conclusions I am coming to, and Paul's writings
> in Romans 1:19-20. Seeing as Paul was an educated Jew who got most of
> his ideas from Tanakh, could he have derived those verses from Kohelet
> 3:11?
> I don't have all the answers, in fact that's the reason I'm responding
> here, sort of a thinking out loud. The context indicates that the
> traditional understanding may have problems, but I'm working through
> the possible solutions.
> Karl W. Randolph.
> On 11/2/07, Martin Shields <enkidu at bigpond.net.au> wrote:
> > Bryant,
> >
> > Karl is reading the "double negative" in pretty much the same way as I
> > am, but translates העלם differently (yet still following a number
> > of others). I think there are good grounds for understanding העלם
> > as something like "eternity" since "from beginning to end" sounds a
> > lot like a temporal reference, and עלם is often temporal (in
> > whatever way "eternity" is temporal, we need to be careful not to read
> > modern notions of eternity into the text), and that עולם in 3:14
> > has the meaning "eternity."
> >
> > I'm not sure what Karl's "hidden things" are without which we cannot
> > find what God is doing from beginning to end. He may be able to
> > elucidate further.
> >
> > Further, double negatives are more complex in English than you
> > suggest. "No, that will never happen" is an example of an emphatic
> > double negative with negative meaning. I think there is a similar
> > range of possibilities in both Greek and BH.
> >
> > Martin Shields,
> > Sydney, Australia.
> >
> > On 03/11/2007, at 11:06 AM, Bryant J. Williams III wrote:
> >
> > > [Karl]
> > > "...He even placed the hidden things in their hearts, without which
> > > they would
> > > not know ..."
> > >
> > > [Bryant]
> > > Thank you, Karl. I will have to think your translation through a
> > > bit. It does
> > > give a different nuance to the negatives. I know that in English the
> > > double
> > > negative would turn a phrase into a positive, while Greek
> > > intensifies it or
> > > turns it to a positive (OU MH vs MH OU), but would Hebrew do the
> > > same as the
> > > English here is a good question.
> > >
> > > Martin, et al, what do you think?
> >
> >
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