[b-hebrew] Ecclesiastes 3:11

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Tue Nov 20 10:17:16 EST 2007

On Nov 19, 2007 12:45 PM, Martin Shields wrote:

> > Furthermore, while the reference to an antecedent can be omitted,
> > where is it omitted when it is the object of a preposition.
> Isa 47:12, for example, contains a preposition + relative with no
> resumptive pronoun and the antecedent to the relative is specified in
> the preceding clause.

I am snipping some of the rest of the message here.  I looked at this
example before I wrote what I wrote, and I did not find it an example
of an antecedent use in the preceding clause.  In fact, none of the
examples figured as such.  While I can understand why you might
read it as such, a different interpretation is possible and this is what
I was trying to get on in my previous message.  Perhaps it is best to
look at this example more closely:

(mdy n? bxbryk wbrb k$pyk b?$r yg(t mn(wryk
JPS: Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of
thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth

Well, JPS translates it as "wherein", which accords with your reading.
It seems the "wherein" applies to sorceries.  But this is in fact only a
secondary reading.  It is possible to read this verse differently:
Stand now in your enchantments,
 .. and in your sorceries,
 .. in that which you have labored from your youth

This interpretation still maintains the function of ?$r in introducing a
clause.  The object of "in" is not just ?$r but it is the entire clause.
This interpretation also does much better than the previous one
because it provides for a parallelism, keeping with the poetic
character of the text.  The previous reading destroys this poetic
character somewhat in that "wherein" gives an overly long
parallel, as if the prophecy diverges from its poetic form for a bit
to add a little prose.

In view of this example, then, let me restate what I said, which is based
more on my personal intuition based on the Biblical text, than on a
careful examination of each use of ?$r.  For such a careful examination,
you can look at Holmstedt's dissertation which I linked to earlier:

Specifically, see p. 96 n . 53 (107 in the pdf) which seems to
suggest just such a reading as I have explained above for Isa 47:12.

In any case, ?$r, as I see it, and especially in such situations,
always introduces a clause.  When the object of a preposition,
the entire clause is the object of the preposition and ?$r is to be
translated "that which is" or "that which".  This is not possible
with the way you want to read Qohelet 3:11 although it is probably
possible with all the examples you use for an "antecedent"
interpretation of ?$r.

Yitzhak Sapir

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