NETBible KJV GRK-HEB XRef Arts Hymns
  Discovery Box

Ecclesiastes 8:10-17

Context
Contradictions to the Law of Retribution

8:10 Not only that, 1  but I have seen the wicked approaching 2  and entering the temple, 3 

and as they left the holy temple, 4  they

boasted 5  in the city that they had done so.

This also is an enigma. 6 

8:11 When 7  a sentence 8  is not executed 9  at once against a crime, 10 

the human heart 11  is encouraged to do evil. 12 

8:12 Even though a sinner might commit a hundred crimes 13  and still live a long time, 14 

yet I know that it will go well with God-fearing people 15  – for they stand in fear 16  before him.

8:13 But it will not go well with the wicked,

nor will they 17  prolong their 18  days like a shadow, 19 

because they 20  do not stand in fear 21  before God.

8:14 Here is 22  another 23  enigma 24  that occurs on earth:

Sometimes there are righteous people who get what the wicked deserve, 25 

and sometimes there are wicked people who get what the righteous deserve. 26 

I said, “This also is an enigma.”

Enjoy Life In Spite of Its Injustices

8:15 So I recommend the enjoyment of life, 27 

for there is nothing better on earth 28  for a person to do 29  except 30  to eat, drink, and enjoy 31  life. 32 

So 33  joy 34  will accompany him in his toil

during the days of his life which God gives him on earth. 35 

Limitations of Human Wisdom

8:16 When I tried 36  to gain 37  wisdom

and to observe the activity 38  on earth –

even though it prevents anyone from sleeping day or night 39 

8:17 then I discerned all that God has done: 40 

No one really comprehends what happens 41  on earth. 42 

Despite all human 43  efforts to discover it, no one can ever grasp 44  it. 45 

Even if 46  a wise person claimed 47  that he understood,

he would not really comprehend 48  it. 49 

1 tn Heb “Then…” The construction בְכֵן (vÿkhen) means “then; thereupon; on this condition” (cf. Eccl 8:10; Esth 4:16; Sir 13:7; see GKC 384 §119.ii; BDB 486 s.v. כֵּן 3.b; HALOT 483 s.v. כֵּן 8.c). The line could be rendered, “It is was then that I saw.”

2 tc There are three textual options: (1) The MT reads קְבֻרִים וָבָאוּ וּמִמְּקוֹם (qÿvurim vavau umimmÿqom, “they were buried, and they came, and from the place”). קְבֻרִים is a Qal passive participle mpl from קָבַר, qavar, “to bury.” The MT reading is retained by most translations: “[And so I saw the wicked] buried, who had come and gone from the place [of the holy]” (KJV); “[Then I saw the wicked] buried; they used to go in and out of the [holy] place” (RSV, NRSV); “[I saw how the wicked] were buried, who had gone in and out from the [holy] place” (MLB); “[I have seen the wicked] buried, those who used to go in and out from the [holy] place” (NASB); “[Then too, I saw the wicked] buried – those who used to come and go from the [holy] place” (NIV); and “[And then I saw] scoundrels coming from the [Holy] Site and being brought to burial” (NJPS). (2) The LXX reflects the reading קְבָרִים מוּבָאִים וּמִמְּקוֹם (qÿvarim muvaim umimmÿqom, “to the tombs they are brought, and from the place”). The LXX reflects the consonantal text of קברים but τάφους (tafous, “tombs”) reflects a vocalization tradition of קְבָרִים (“tombs”). (3) Several scholars suggest emending the text to קרבים ובאים וממקום (“approaching and coming to the place”). The emendation involves קרבִים (Qal active participle mpl from קרב “to approach; to draw near”). The emendation is adopted by several English versions: “I saw wicked men approach and enter…the sacred place” (NAB); “I saw wicked men approaching and even entering the holy place” (NEB). The emendation makes good sense because קָרַב (qarav, “to approach; to draw near”) is a synonym to בּוֹא (bo’, “to enter”), and is often used in reference to a person approaching the Lord at the tabernacle or temple. The textual corruption would be due to transposition of ב (bet) and ר (resh) in קָרַב (qarav, “to approach”) and קָבַר (qavar, “to bury”). See D. Barthélemy, Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 3:584.

3 tn The phrase “the temple” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness. Note the reference to the sanctuary in the next line.

4 tn Heb “the holy place.”

5 tc The MT reads וְיִשְׁתַּכְּחוּ (vÿyishtakkÿkhu, “and they were forgotten”; Hitpael imperfect 3rd person masculine plural from שָׁכַח, shakhakh, “to forget”). Apart from the MT reading here, the verb שָׁכַח “to forget” never occurs elsewhere in the Hitpael (HALOT 1490 s.v. I שׁכח; BDB 1013 s.v. שָׁכַח). Many medieval Hebrew mss read וישׁתבּחו “and they boasted” (Hitpael imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from שָׁבַח, shavakh, “praise, boast”). This alternate textual tradition is reflected in the Greek versions, e.g., Old Greek: και ἐπῃνέθησαν (kai ephneqhsan, “and they were praised”), Aquila and Theodotion: και ἐκαυχήσαντο (kai ekauchsanto, “and they boasted”), and Symmachus: και ἐπαινούμενοι (kai epainoumenoi, “and they were praised”). This is also reflected in the Vulgate. The English versions are divided; several follow the MT and translate “they were forgotten” (KJV, ASV, NASB, MLB, NJPS), but a good number adopt the alternate textual tradition and translate either “they were praised” or “they boasted” (NEB, RSV, NAB, NIV, NRSV). The context of 8:10-17, which focuses on the enigmatic contradictions in divine retribution (sometimes the wicked are not punished), favors the alternate tradition. The wicked boast that they can come and go as they please in the temple, flaunting their irreligion without fearing divine retribution (8:10). This thought is continued in v. 11: failure to execute a sentence against a criminal emboldens the wicked to commit more crimes, confident they will not suffer retribution. It is likely that the original reading of וישׁתבחו was confused for וישׁתכחו because the root שָׁבַח (“to praise; to boast”) is much rarer than the common root שָׁכַח (“to forget”). The phrase is best rendered “they boasted” (NEB: “priding themselves”) rather than “they were praised” (NAB, RSV, NRSV, NIV) – the verb שָׁבַח means “to praise” in Piel, but “to boast” in Hitpael (Ps 106:47; 1 Chr 16:35; HALOT 1387 s.v. I שׁבח; BDB 986 s.v. שָׁבַח). This approach is adopted by the committee for the Jerusalem Hebrew Bible Project: see D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 3:584–85.

6 tn The term הֶבֶל (hevel) here means “enigmatic,” that is, difficult to grasp mentally. This sense is derived from the literal concept of breath, vapor or wind that cannot be seen; thus, the idea of “obscure, dark, difficult to understand, enigmatic” (HALOT 236–37 s.v. I הֶבֶל; BDB 210–11 s.v. I הֶבֶל). It is used in this sense in reference to enigmas in life (6:2; 8:10, 14) and the future which is obscure (11:8, 10).

7 tn The particle אֲשֶׁר (’asher) is used as a conjunction in a conditional/temporal clause to introduce the protasis (“when” or “if”), and עַל־כֵּן (’al-ken) introduces the apodosis (“then”); cf. BDB 83 s.v. אֲשֶׁר 8.d.

8 tn The noun פִתְגָם (fitgam, “decision; announcement; edict; decree”) is a loanword from Persian patigama (HALOT 984 s.v. פִּתְגָם; BDB 834 s.v. פִּתְגָם). The Hebrew noun occurs twice in the OT (Eccl 8:11; Esth 1:20), twice in the Apocrypha (Sir 5:11; 8:9), and five times in Qumran (11QtgJob 9:2; 29:4; 30:1; 34:3; 1QapGen 22:27). The English versions consistently nuance this as a judicial sentence against a crime: “sentence” (KJV, NEB, NAB, ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, MLB, YLT), “sentence for a crime” (NIV), “sentence imposed” (NJPS), “sentence on a crime” (Moffatt).

9 tn Heb “is not done.” The verb עָשַׂה (’asah, “to do”) refers to a judicial sentence being carried out (HALOT 892 s.v. 2). The Niphal can denote “be executed; be carried out” of a sentence (Eccl 8:11) or royal decree (Esth 9:1; BDB 795 s.v. 1.a). Similarly, the Qal can denote “to execute” vengeance (Judg 11:36) or judgment (1 Sam 28:18; Isa 48:14; Ezek 25:11; 28:26; Ps 149:7, 9; BDB 794 s.v.).

10 tn Heb “the evil.”

11 tn Heb “the heart of the sons of man.” The singular noun לֵב (lev, “heart”) is used collectively. The term לֵב is often used figuratively (metonymy) in reference to inclinations and determinations of the will (BDB 525 s.v. 4), moral character (BDB 525 s.v. 6), and as a synecdoche for the man himself (BDB 525 s.v. 7).

12 tn Heb “is full to do evil.” The verb מָלֵא (male’, “to fill”) is used figuratively (metonymy): the lack of swift judicial punishment only emboldens the wicked to commit more crimes without fear of retribution. Most English versions translate the term literally: “are filled” (NIV, MLB, YLT), “is fully set” (KJV, ASV, RSV, NRSV). However, several versions nuance it figuratively: “emboldened” (ASV, NJPS) and “boldly” (NEB). Moffatt renders the line, “Because sentence on a crime is not executed at once, the mind of man is prone to evil practices.”

13 tn Heb “does evil one hundred [times].”

14 tn Heb “and prolongs his [life].”

15 tn Heb “those who fear God.”

16 tn Heb “they fear.”

17 tn Heb “he.”

18 tn The word “their” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for smoothness.

19 tn The phrase “like a shadow” (כַּצֵּל, katsel) modifies the verb (“prolong”) rather than the noun (“days”). Several English versions misconstrue the line: “he will not prolong his days, [which are] like a shadow” (KJV, ASV); “the man who does not fear God is like a shadow” (NEB); and “he will not prolong his shadowy days” (NAB). It should be rendered “he will not prolong his days like a shadow” (RSV, NRSV, NASB, MLB, NIV). Unlike a shadow that lengthens at sunset, the wicked do not normally live long.

20 tn Heb “he.”

21 tn Heb “they do not fear.”

22 tn Heb “there is.” The term יֶשׁ (yesh, “there is”) is often used in aphorisms to assert the existence of a particular situation that occurs sometimes. It may indicate that the situation is not the rule but that it does occur on occasion, and may be nuanced “sometimes” (Prov 11:24; 13:7, 23; 14:12; 16:25; 18:24; 20:15; Eccl 2:21; 4:8; 5:12; 6:1; 7:15 [2x]; 8:14 [3x]).

23 tn The word “another” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.

24 tn Or “vanity” (again at the end of this verse). The Hebrew term הֶבֶל (hevel) here denotes “enigma,” that is, something that is difficult to understand. This sense is derived from the literal referent of breath, vapor or wind that cannot be seen; thus, “obscure; dark; difficult to understand; enigmatic” (see HALOT 236–37 s.v. I הֶבֶל; BDB 210–11 s.v. I הֶבֶל). It is used in this sense in reference to enigmas in life (6:2; 8:10, 14) and the future which is obscure (11:8, 10).

25 tn Heb “to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked”; or “who are punished for the deeds of the wicked.”

26 tn Heb “to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous”; or “who are rewarded for the deeds of the righteous.”

27 tn Heb “the enjoyment.” The phrase “of life” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

28 tn Heb “under the sun.”

29 tn The phrase “to do” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for smoothness.

30 tn The construction אִםכִּי (ki…’im) is used as a particle of exception to limit the preceding clause (“except; nothing but”). See, e.g., Gen 28:17; 39:9; Lev 21:2; Num 14:30; Deut 10:12; 1 Sam 30:22; 2 Kgs 4:2; 5:15; 2 Chr 21:17; Esth 2:15; 5:12; Eccl 3:12; Isa 42:19; Dan 10:21; Mic 6:8 (cf. HALOT 471 s.v. אִם כִּי B.2; BDB 474 s.v. אִם כִּי 2.a).

31 sn Except to eat, drink, and enjoy life. Qoheleth is not commending a self-indulgent lifestyle of Epicurean hedonism. Nor is he lamenting the absolute futility of life and the lack of eternal retribution. He is submitting to the reality that in a sin-cursed world there is much of human existence marked by relative futility. Since the righteous man cannot assume that he will automatically experience temporal prosperity and blessings on this earth, he should – at the very least – enjoy each day to its fullest as a gift from God. D. R. Glenn (“Ecclesiastes,” BKCOT, 997) notes, “Each day’s joys should be received as gifts from God’s hands and be savored as God permits (3:13; 5:19).”

32 tn The term “life” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.

33 tn The vav introduces a logical conclusion.

34 tn Heb “it”; the referent (enjoyment of life) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

35 tn Heb “under the sun.”

36 tn Heb “I applied my heart.”

37 tn Heb “to know.”

38 tn Heb “and to see the business which is done.”

39 tn Heb “for no one sees sleep with their eyes either day or night.” The construction גַםכִּי (kigam) expresses a concessive sense: “even though” (e.g., Ps 23:4; Prov 22:6; Eccl 4:14; Isa 1:15; Lam 3:8; Hos 8:10; 9:16); cf. HALOT 196 s.v. גַּם 9; BDB 169 s.v. גַּם 6; 473 s.v. כִּי 2.c.

40 tn Heb “all the work of God.”

41 tn Heb “the work that is done.”

42 tn Heb “under the sun.”

43 tn Heb “his”; the referent (man, in a generic sense) has been specified in the translation as the adjective “human” for clarity.

44 tn Heb “find.”

45 tn The term “it” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for smoothness.

46 tn The particle אִם (’im, “even if”) introduces the protasis in a real conditional clause (“If a wise man …”); see IBHS 636-37 §38.2d; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 74, §453.

47 tn The imperfect tense verb יֹאמַר (yomar, “to say”) functions in a modal sense, denoting possibility (see IBHS 508 §31.4e; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 31, §169).

48 tn Heb “he cannot find”; or “he does not find.”

49 tn The term “it” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is an implied direct object and has been supplied in the translation for smoothness and stylistic reasons.



TIP #01: Welcome to the NEXT Bible Web Interface and Study System!! [ALL]
created in 0.04 seconds
powered by bible.org