[b-hebrew] Ecclesiastes 3:11

Martin Shields enkidu at bigpond.net.au
Sun Nov 4 07:52:41 EST 2007


Thanks for the references to Gesenius.

> "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  
> 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.)."

What Gesenius means by "sentence" is not clear, but "clause" would  
seem a more logical unit to deal with here, and since Qoh 3:11 has the  
two negatives in different clauses (one being subordinate to the  
other, at least the way I read it), then even if the basic assertion  
above is true it doesn't automatically apply to Qoh 3:11.

Indeed, I don't think their examples present any close parallels to  
Qoh 3:11 which I think is formally closer to something like 1Kings  
8:46 (כי אין אדם אשר לא יחטא) which means "for there  
is no person who does not sin" not "for there is certainly no person  
who sins"! The negative in the subordinate clause does not merely  
reinforce the first negative, rather it retains its own negativity.

> 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.

οπως μη in the LXX renders various forms in Hebrew, including  
‏בל ,לבלתי, and other simple negatives (in my brief check I  
saw no examples of double negatives rendered by this aside from Qoh  
3:11), indicating that the double negative of Qoh 3:11 is not  
explicitly represented in the Greek. Obviously the LXX reflects the  
understanding (or best guess!) of its translators, but I'm not sure we  
have any good reason to believe they had any particular insight into  
the meaning of this expression and they may have, as many do today,  
sought to make the best sense of the words in context based on similar  
constructions elsewhere!

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

I'm afraid I don't have ready access to Gesenius and the online  
version I can access does not seem to have the same information as the  
version you're referring to, so I'm not sure what your point is here.


Martin Shields,
Sydney, Australia.

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