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Ecclesiastes 9:1-2

Context
Everyone Will Die

9:1 So I reflected on all this, 1  attempting to clear 2  it all up.

I concluded that 3  the righteous and the wise, as well as their works, are in the hand of God;

whether a person will be loved or hated 4 

no one knows what lies ahead. 5 

9:2 Everyone shares the same fate 6 

the righteous and the wicked,

the good and the bad, 7 

the ceremonially clean and unclean,

those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.

What happens to the good person, also happens to the sinner; 8 

what happens to those who make vows, also happens to those who are afraid to make vows.

1 tn Heb “I laid all this to my heart.”

2 tn The term וְלָבוּר (velavur, conjunction + Qal infinitive construct from בּוּר, bur, “to make clear”) denotes “to examine; to make clear; to clear up; to explain” (HALOT 116 s.v. בור; BDB 101 s.v. בּוּר). The term is related to Arabic baraw “to examine” (G. R. Driver, “Supposed Arabisms in the Old Testament,” JBL 55 [1936]: 108). This verb is related to the Hebrew noun בֹּר (bor, “cleanness”) and adjective בַּר (bar, “clean”). The term is used in the OT only in Ecclesiastes (1:13; 2:3; 7:25; 9:1). This use of the infinitive has a connotative sense (“attempting to”), and functions in a complementary sense, relative to the main verb.

3 tn The words “I concluded that” do not appear in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity.

4 tn Heb “whether love or hatred.”

5 tn Heb “man does not know anything before them.”

6 tn Heb “all things just as to everyone, one fate.”

7 tc The MT reads simply “the good,” but the Greek versions read “the good and the bad.” In contrast to the other four pairs in v. 2 (“the righteous and the wicked,” “those who sacrifice, and those who do not sacrifice,” “the good man…the sinner,” and “those who make vows…those who are afraid to make vows”), the MT has a triad in the second line: לַטּוֹב וְלַטָּהוֹר וְלַטָּמֵא (lattov vÿlattahor vÿlattame’, “the good, and the clean, and the unclean”). This reading in the Leningrad Codex (ca. a.d. 1008) – the basis of the BHS and BHK publications of the MT – is also supported by the Ben Asher text of the First Rabbinic Bible (“the Soncino Bible”) published in a.d. 1488-94. On the other hand, the Greek version in B (Aquila) has two pairs: τῷ ἀγαθῷ καὶ τῷ κακῷ, καὶ τῷ καθαρῷ καὶ τῷ ἀκαθάρτῳ (“the good and the bad, and the clean and the unclean”). Either Aquila inserted καὶ τῷ κακῷ (kai tw kakw, “and the bad”) to fill out a pair and to create six parallel pairs in v. 2, or Aquila reflects an early Hebrew textual tradition tradition of לַטּוֹב וְלַרָע (lattov vÿlara’, “the good and the bad”). Since Aquila is well known for his commitment to a literal – at times even a mechanically wooden – translation of the Hebrew, with no room for improvisation, it is more than likely that Aquila is reflecting an authentic Hebrew textual tradition. Aquila dates to a.d. 130, while the Leningrad Codex dates to a.d. 1008; therefore, the Vorlage of Aquila might have been the original Hebrew textual tradition, being much earlier than the MT of the Leningrad Codex. The alternate textual tradition of Aquila is also seen in the Syriac and Latin versions (but these are dependent upon the Greek = Aquila). On the other hand, the editors of BHK and BHS suggest that the presence of the anomalous לַטּוֹב was an addition to the Hebrew text, and should be deleted. They also suggest that the Greek pair τῷ ἀγαθῷ καὶ τῷ κακῷ (tw agaqw kai tw kakw, “the good and the bad”) does not reflect an alternate textual tradition, but that their Vorlage contained only לַטּוֹב: the Greek version intentionally added καὶ τῷ κακῷ (kai tw kakw, “and the bad”) to create a pair. The English versions are divided. Several follow the Greek: “the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean” (NEB, NAB, RSV, NRSV, NIV, Moffatt, NLT). Others follow the Hebrew: “the good and the clean and the unclean” (KJV, ASV, MLB, NJPS). None, however, delete “the good” (לַטּוֹב) as suggested by the BHK and BHS editors. If the shorter text were original, the addition of καὶ τῷ κακῷ would be intentional. If the longer text were original, the omission of וְלַרָע (“and the bad”) could have caused by unintentional homoioarcton (“similar beginning”) in the three-fold repetition of לט in וְלַרָע וְלַטָּהוֹר וְלַטָּמֵא לַטּוֹב (lattov vÿlaravÿlattahor vÿlattame’, “the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean”). The term וְלַרָע (“and the bad”) was accidentally omitted when a scribe skipped from the first occurrence of לט in לַטּוֹב to its second occurrence in the word וְלַטָּהוֹר (“the clean”).

8 tn Heb “As is the good (man), so is the sinner.”



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