The Book of Ecclesiastes translated by m. G. Easton introduction



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Ecc. 12:14.

As we render zeh kol-haadam as expressive of the same obligation lying on all men without exception, this verse appropriately follows: “For God shall bring every work into the judgment upon all that is concealed, whether it be good or bad.” To bring into judgment is, as at 11:9 = to bring to an account. There the punctuation isבַּמִּשְׁי , hereבִּמֹשׁי , as, according to rule, the art. is omitted where the idea is determined by a relative clause or an added description; for bemishpat ‘al kol-ne’llam are taken together: in the judgment upon all that is concealed (cf. Rom. 2:16; 1Co. 4:5, τα κρυπτα). Hitzig, however, punctuates hereבַּמֹשׁי , and explains על as of the same meaning as the distributiveל , e.g., Gen. 9:5, 10; but in this sense על never interchanges with ל . And wherefore this subtlety? The judgment upon all that is concealed is a judgment from the cognition of which nothing, not even the most secret, can escape; and that משׁפט על is not a Germanism, is shown from 11:9; to execute judgment on (Germ. an) any one is expressed byב , Psa. 119:84, Wisd. 6:6; judgment upon (über) any one may be expressed by the genit. of him whom it concerns, Jer. 51:9; but judgment upon anything (Symm. περι παντὸς παροραθέντος) cannot otherwise be expressed than byעל . Rather על may be rendered as a connecting particle: “together with all that is concealed” (Vaih., Hahn); but כל־מעשׂה certainly comprehends all, and with כל־נעלם this comprehensive idea is only deepened. The accent dividing the verse stands rightly underנעְלּם ;170 for sive bonum sive malum (as at 5:11) is not related to ne’llam as disjoining, but to kol-ma’aseh.


This certainty of a final judgment of personal character is the Ariadne-thread by which Koheleth at last brings himself safely out of the labyrinth of his scepticism. The prospect of a general judgment upon the nations prevailing in the O.T., cannot sufficiently set at rest the faith (vid., e.g., Psa. 73, Jer. 12:1-3) which is tried by the unequal distributions of present destiny. Certainly the natural, and particularly the national connection in which men stand to one another, is not without an influence on their moral condition; but this influence does not remove accountability, — the individuum is at the same time a person; the object of the final judgment will not be societies as such, but only persons, although not without regard to their circle of life. This personal view of the final judgment does not yet in the O.T. receive a preponderance over the national view; such figures of an universal and individualizing personal judgment as Mat. 7:21-23, Rev. 20:12, are nowhere found in it; the object of the final judgment are nations, kingdoms, cities, and conditions of men. But here, with Koheleth, a beginning is made in the direction of regarding the final judgment as the final judgment of men, and as lying in the future, beyond the present time. What Job. 19:25-27 postulates in the absence of a present judgment of his cause, and the Apocalyptic Dan. 12:2 saw as a dualistic issue of the history of his people, comes out here for the first time in the form of doctrine into that universally-human expression which is continued in the announcements of Jesus and the apostles. Kleinert sees here the morning-dawn of a new revelation breaking forth; and Himpel says, in view of this conclusion, that Koheleth is a precious link in the chain of the preparation for the gospel; and rightly. In the Book of Koheleth the O.T. religion sings its funeral song, but not without finally breaking the ban of nationality and of bondage to this present life, which made it unable to solve the mysteries of life, and thus not without prophesying its resurrection in an expanded glorified form as the religion of humanity. The synagogal lesson repeats the 13th verse after the 14th, to gain thereby a conclusion of a pleasing sound. The Masoretic Siman (vox memorialis) of those four books, in which, after the last verse, on account of its severe contents, the verse going before is repeated in reading, isית״קק . The י refers to ישׁעיה (Isaiah), ת to תריסר (the Book of the Twelve Prophets), the first ק toקהלת , the second ק to קינות (Lamentations). The Lamentations and Koheleth always stand together. But there are two different arrangements of the five Megilloth, viz., that of the calendar of festivals which has passed into our printed editions: the Song, Ruth, Lamentations, Koheleth, and Esther (vid., above, p. 498); and the Masoretic arrangement, according to the history of their origin: Ruth, the Song, Koheleth, Lamentations, and Esther.

1 הָאֱלֹהִים , 2:24, 26; 3:11, 14 (twice), 15, 17, 18; 4:17; 5:1, 5, 6, 17, 18a, 19; 6:2 (twice); 7:13, 14, 26, 29; 8:15, 17; 9:1, 7; 11:5, 9; 12:7, 13, 14.אֱלֹהִים , 3:10, 13; 5:3, 18b ; 7:18; 8:2, 13.

2 Hartmann’s Das Lied vom Ewigen, St. Galle 1859, p. 12.

3 “Ajunt Hebraei, quum inter cetera scripta Salomonis, quae antiquata sunt nec in memoria duraverunt, et hic liber obliterandus videretur, et quod vanas assereret Dei creaturas et totum putaret esse pro nihilo, et potum et cibum et delicias transeuntes praeferret omnibus, ex hoc uno capitulo (Ecc. 12:13) meruisse auctoritatem, ut in divinorum voluminum numero poneretur.” — Jerome.

4 Tischreden, ed. Förstemann-Bindseil, p. 400f. The expression here almost appears as if Luther had confounded Ecclesiastes (Koheleth) with Ecclesiasticus (Sirach). At a later period he maintained that the book contained a collection of Solomonic sayings, not executed, however, by Solomon himself.

5 Vid., my Geschichte der jüd. Poesie, p. 187f.

6 Vid., Eli Smith in my Jud.-Arab. Poesien aus vormuh. Zeit. (1874), p. 40.

7 Vid., my Heb. Römerbrief, p. 79. Cf. Stein’s Talm. Termin. (1869), under כָּשׁר andהֶכְשׁר .

8 Vid., my “Discussion der Amtsfrage in Mishna u. Gemara,” Luth. Zeitsch. (1854), pp. 446-449.

9 Vid., Heb. Römerbrief, pp. 81, 84.

10 Vid., the collection of the Heb. fragments of the Book of Ben-Sira in my Gesch. der jüd. Poesie, p. 204f.

11 Vid., Geiger’s Lehrbuch der Mishna-Sprache, p. 46.

12 Given and translated in Wissenschaft, Kunst, Judenthum (1838), p. 231f.

13 Renan, in his Histoire des Langues Sémitiques, supposes that a work of so bold a scepticism as Ecclesiastes could not have originated in the post-exilian period of the severely legal rabbinical Judaism; it may be an old Solomonic work, but as it now lies before us, revised by a more recent hand, — an untenable expedient for establishing an arbitrary supposition.

14 Vid., Kerem chemed v. 89, and his More necobhe ha- seman (Director errnatium nostrae aetatis), edited by Zunz, 1851, 4.

15 Vid., Friedr. Delitzsch’s Indogermanisch-Semitische Studien, p. 90.

16 Vid., Geiger, Lehrbuch, § xvi. 6, and cf. Weiss’ Studien, p. 90, who arbitrarily explains away this linguistic usage. Duke, in his Sprache der Mishna, p. 75, avoids the difficulty by the supposition of inadmissible ellipses.

17 Jer. Sanhedrin ii. 6 goes further into the story; b. Gittin 68b, where the angel is designated by the Persian name Ashmodee, cf. Jellinek’s Sammlung kleiner Midrashim 2. xxvi.

18 If ואֶתן followed, then הייתי (as Reusch and Hengstenberg interpret) might be a circumstantial perfect; vid., under Gen. 1:2.

19 Vid., my dissertation: Die Discussion der Amtsfrage im Mishna u. Gemara, in the Luth. Zeitschrift 1854, pp. 446-449.

20 Vid., Oehler’s Theol. des A.T., II, p. 324.

21 Cf. 2:12a with Isa. 3:10, LXX, and 15:10a with Isa. 44:20, LXX.

22 Vid., Herod. iv. 84, vii. 38f.] the prudence required by the organized system of espionage

23 Vid., Duncker’s Gesch. des Alterthums, Bd. 2 (1867), p. 894.

24 According to Nicolaus of Damascus (Müller’s Fragm. hist. Graec. III 398), Cyrus was the child of poor parents; by “prison- house” (Ecc. 4:14), reference is made to his confinement in Persia, where access to him was prevented by guards (Herod. i. 123). Justin, i. 5: “A letter could not be openly brought to him, since the guards appointed by the king kept possession of all approaches to him.”

25 Vid., Spiegel’s EraÑnische Alterthumskunde, II pp. 409, 413. Bernstein suggests the deliverance of Potidea (Herod. viii. 128) or Tripolis (Diodor. xvi. 41); but neither of these cities owed its deliverance to the counsel of a wise man. Burger (Comm. in Ecclesiasten, 1864) thinks, with greater probability, of Themistocles, who was celebrated among the Persians (Thucyd. i. 138), which Ewald also finds most suitable, provided the author had a definite fact before his eye.

26 Vid., Bernstein’s Quaestiones Kohelethanae, p. 66.

27 Vid., Duncker’s Gesch. des Alterthums, II p. 910.

28 Vid., the investigation of these roots (Assyr. ut•Ñr, he brought back) in Ethé’s Schlafgemach der Phantasie, pp. 86-89.

29 In F. the following note is added: “Several Codd. have, erroneously, birushalam instead of al-jerushalam.” Kennicott counts about 60 such Codd. It stands thus also in J; and at first it thus stood in H, but was afterwards corrected to al-yerushalam. Cf. Elias Levita’s Masoreth hamasoreth, II 8, at the end.

30 Regarding the formהרבֶה , which occurs once (Jer. 42:2), vid., Ew. § 240c .

31 Vid., Th. M. Redslob’s Die Arab. Wörter, u.s.w. (1873).

32 Vid., Crossen’s Nachtr. zur lat. Formenlehre, pp. 107- 109.

33 Grätz translates: to embrocate my body with wine, and remarks that in this lies a raffinement. But why does he not rather say, “to bathe in wine”? If משׁח can mean “to embrocate,” it may also mean “to bathe,” and for ביין may be readביוני : in Grecian, i.e., Falernian, Chian, wine.

34 Thus, according to Vallarsi, a Cod. Vat. and Cod. Palat. of the first hand.

35 A demon, and generally a superhuman being, is called, as in Heb.שׁד , so in the Babyl.-Assyr. s•Ñdu, vid., Norris’ Assyrian Dictionary, II p. 668; cf. Schrader, in the Jena. Lit. Zeit. 1874, p. 218f., according to which s•Ñdu, with alap, is the usual name of Adar formed like an ox.

36 Vid., Friedrich Delitzsch’s Assyr. Theirnamen, p. 37.

37 The LXX and Symm. by hammeÔleÑk think of melak, counsel, βουλη, instead of meÔleÔk, king; and as Jerome, so also Bardach understands by the king the rex factor, i.e., God the Creator.

38 Thus written, according to J and other authorities.

39 Thus Ven. 1515, 1521; vid., Comm. under Gen. 27:28, 29; Psa. 45:10.

40 With Pathach under the yod in the text in Biblia Rabb. and the note ל Thus also in the ms. Parva Masora, and e.g., Cod. P.

41 Thus according to tradition, in H, J, P, vid., Michlol 47b, 215b, 216a; vid., also Norzi.

42 But cf. also ולא with Zakeph Katan, 2Ki. 5:17; וארי וגוי with Tiphcha, Isa. 26:19; and ורִיב under Psa. 45:10.

43 Vid., regarding his noteworthy Comm. on Koheleth, my Jesurun, pp. 183 and 195. The author bears the name among Christians of Professor Levisohn.

44 Written with segol under ט in P, Biblia Rabb. , and elsewhere. Thus correctly after the Masora, according to which this form of the word has throughout the book segol underט , with the single exception of 7:26. Cf. Michol 124b, 140b .

45 Vid., Orelli’s work on the Heb. Synon. der Zeit u. Ewigkeit, 1871. He decides for the derivation fromועד ; Fleischer (Levy’s Chald. W.B. II. 572) for the derivation fromענה , the higher power ofאָנָה , whence (Arab.) inan, right time. We have, under Job. 24:1, maintained the former derivation.

46 These seven verses, 2-8, are in Codd and Edd., like Jos. 12:9ff., and Est. 9:7ff., arranged in the form of a song, so that one עֵת (time) always stands under another, after the scheme described in Megilla 16b, Massecheth Sofrim xiii. 3, but without any express reference to this passage in Koheleth. J has a different manner of arranging the words, the first four lines of which we here adduce [read from right to left]: —

ÿeÝth laÝmoth veeth laleÔdeÔth ÿeÝth

ÿeÝth nathuÿaÔ laÔÿaÔqor vêeth lathaÔÿaÔth

ÿeÝth lirpoÝ vêeth laÔhaÔrog

ÿeÝth livnoth ve eth liphrots

47 This Abulwalid found in a correct Damascus ms., Michlol 81b .

48 Vid., Fried. Delitzsch’s Assyr. Stud. (1874), p. 39. Otherwise Fleischer, who connects ‘alima, “to know,” with ‘alam, “to conceal,” so that to know = to be concealed, sunk deep, initiated in something (with ba of the obj., as sh’ar, whence shaÑÿir, the poet as “one who marks”).

49 Grätz translates eth-ha’olam by “ignorance” (vid., Orelli, p. 83). R. Achwa in the Midrash has added here the scriptio defectiva with the remark,שהועלם וגוי , “for the mysterious name of God is concealed from them.”

50 In the Phoen. also, ‘olam, down to a late period, denotes not the world, but eternity: melek ‘olam, βασιλεὺς αἰῶνος (αἰώνιος), seculo frugifero on a coin = the fruit-bringing ‘olam (Αἰών).

51 The LXX (in Aquila’s manner): σὺν τὸν δίκαιον και σὺν τὸν ἀσεβη — according to the Talm. hermeneut. rule, that where the obj. is designated byאת , with that which is expressly named, something else is associated, and is to be thought of along with it.

52 Vid., Schrader’s Keilsch. u. A. T. p. 105, simtu ubilsu, i.e., fate snatched him away (Heb. simah hovilathhu), cf. Fried. Delitzsch’s Assyr. Stud. p. 66f.

53 Not “to sift,” for not בָּרַר butרקּד , means “to sift” (properly, “to make to keep up,” “to agitate”); cf. Sheb•Ñith v. 9.

54 שׁהם בִּהמָה המָּהthus accented rightly in F. Cf. Michlol 216a .

55 For ה is to be read with a Pattach in Jud. 6:31; 12:5; Neh. 6:11; cf. under Gen. 19:9; 27:21. In Num. 16:22 the ה of האישׁ is the art., the question is not formally designated. Cf. also הַאַי with ה interrog., Jer. 12:9; and הָאַי with ה as the art., Gen. 15:11.

56 Also 1Ch. 5:20, the subject remains virtually the same: et ita quidem ut exaudirentur.

57 Thus punctuated with Segol under Daleth, andנ , raphatum, in F. H. J. P. Thus also Kimchi in W.B. underעד .

58 Vid., Heidenheim, Meor Enajim, under Deut. 17:7.

59 With Munach and Rebia in one word, which, according to the masora, occurs in only four other places. Vid., Mas. magna under this passage, and Mishpete hateamin 26a .

60 That the accentuation separates the two words כי גם־ is to be judged from this, that it almost everywhere prefers כי־אם (vid., under Comm. to Psa. 1:2).

61 = נולד רשcannot mean “to become poor.” Grätz appeals to the Mishnic language; but no intelligent linguist will use נולד רשׁ of a man in any other sense than that he is originally poor.

62 That is surprising, since the Talm. interpretation, Menachoth 110a, even brings it about that לבי , 5:10, is to be understood of God.

63 = חלק גבוהis also a common Rabbin. name for the tithes and offerings (cf. e.g., Nachmani under Gen. 14:20). Along withחלק הגבוה , the sacrifices are also called (in Hurwitz’ work on the Heb. rites, known by the abbreviated titleשיילה )המורם לגבוה ; vid., 85b of the ed. 1764, and 23b of the Amsterdam ed. 1707 of the abridgment.

64 Thus pointed rightly in J., with Sheva quiesc. and Dagesh in Beth; vid., Kimchi in Michlol 63a, and underעבד .

65 That כלה בְ may mean “to be ready with anything,” Keil erroneously points to Gen. 44:12; and Philippi, St. Const. p. 49, thinks that vaÔkol aÔnaÝshim can be taken together in the sense of vakol haanashim

66 A Jewish fancy supposes that כסף is chosen because it consists of letters rising in value (20, 60, 80); while, on the contrary, זהב consists of letters decreasing in value (7, 5, 2).

67 In Maccoth 10a, לו is read three times in succession; the Midrash Wajikra, c. 22, readsלא , and thus it is always found without Ker•Ñ and without variation.

68 I n H. written as one word:כַּלְעֻמַת . Parchon (Lex. underעמת ) had this form before him. In his Lex. Kimchi bears evidence in favour of the correct writing as two words.

69 Thus in correct texts, in H. with the note:בי מלרע , viz., here and at Psa. 112:10, only thereע has, according to tradition, the Kametz. Cf. Mas. fin. 52b, and Baer’s Ed. of Psalter, under Psa. 112:10.

70 Rashi regards וחליו as a form likeחַיְתוֹ . This o everywhere appears only in a gen. connection.

71 With He unpointed, because it is omitted in the Keri, as in like manner inכְּשֶׁה , 10:3,שׁה , Lam. 5:18. In the bibl. Rabb., the ה is noted as superfluous.

72 Of three books the Masora gives only the number of verses: Ruth, 85 verses; Shir (the Song), 117 verses; and Kinoth (Lamentations), 154; but no sections (Sedarim).

73 “The reflections of the Preacher,” says Hitzig (Süd. deut. ev. protest. Woch. Blatt, 1864, No. 2), “present the picture of a time in which men, participating in the recollection of a mighty religious past, and become sceptical by reason of the sadness of the present time, grasping here and there in uncertainty, were in danger of abandoning that stedfastness of faith which was the first mark of the religion of the prophets.”

74 Cf. Hamb. Real Encyc. für Bibel u. Talmud (1870), article “Trauer.”

75 Maimuni’s Hilchoth Ebel , iv. 7, xiii. 8.

76 Ibid. xiii. 2.

77 Vid., the English translation by Lindo (London 1842), vol. ii. pp. 306-309.

78 Similarly also Sohar (Par.מצורע ):הוי וגוי , i.e., cave et circumspice, viz., that thou mayest not incur the judgment which is pronounced.

79 Cf. Luthardt’s Lectures on the Moral Truths of Christianity, 2nd ed. Edin., T. and T. Clark.

80 An old proverb, Sota 3a, says: “A man commits no transgression unless there rules in him previously the spirit of folly.”

81 גּם־אַתֳ , on account of the half pause, accented on the penult. according to the Masora.

82 With reference to this passage and Pro. 18:22, it was common in Palestine when one was married to ask מצא או מוצא = happy or unhappy? Jebamoth 63b.

83 Vid., Fried. Delitzsch’s Assyr. Stud. (1874), p. 132.

84 Cf. Aboth iv. 29,ליתן וגוי , “to give account;”חכל וגוי , “all according to the result.”

85 As generally the Piel forms of the rootבקשׁ , Masor. all have Raphe on theק , except the imper.בַּקְּשׁוּ ; vid., Luzzatto’s Gramm. § 417.

86 If we derive this word from hheÔshbon, the Dagesh in the שׁ is the so-called Dag. dirimens.

87 Cf. Tendlau’s Sprichw. (1860), No. 733.

88 Duke’s Rabb. Blumenl. (1844), No. 32.

89 Ibid. No. 118.

90 Vid., Fried. Delitzsch’s Assyr. Stud. p. 129f.


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