[b-hebrew] Ecclesiastes 3:11

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Nov 16 07:17:19 EST 2007


On 11/15/07, Martin Shields <enkidu at bigpond.net.au> wrote:
> Bryant,
> ..... IIRC most commentators either take העלם to be the
> antecedent referent of אשר (as I do), or else treat ‏מבלי
> אשר לא as an expression somewhat akin to מבלי אין.
Martin, I'd refer you back to what you wrote in Nov. 4:

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 think that the object marker on המעשה also counts against Weeks'
> reading, because he seems to be taking המעשה אשר השלהים
> as part of a prepositional phrase rather than the object of the verb
> ימצא.
> Finally, although 8:17 sounds similar, I think it is saying something
> slightly different. Aside from this, Qohelet does have a propensity to
> contradict himself!
> Regards,
> Martin Shields,
> Sydney, Australia.

You are assuming that (LM עלם = "eternity" but it lacks the waw of
(WLM עולם. With the root meaning of being unknown, this noun could
just as well mean "unknown thing" or "unknown knowledge".

But more importantly, is there a single instance where there is a
double negative where the negatives are separated by a )$R אשר? If
not, does it not make better sense to read it like the example that
you found from Solomon's speech in 1 Kings 8:46 where we find
[negative] )$R [negative] = [positive]?

Karl W. Randolph.

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