Internet Verse Search Commentaries Word Analysis ITL - draft

Ecclesiastes 7:7


Surely oppression 1  can turn a wise person into a fool; 2  likewise, 3  a bribe corrupts 4  the heart. 5 


Ex 23:8; De 16:19; De 28:33,34,65; 1Sa 8:3; 1Sa 12:3; Pr 17:23; Isa 1:23; Isa 33:15

NET © Notes

tn Or “extortion.” Scholars debate whether the noun עֹשֶׁק (’osheq, “oppression; extortion”) in this context denotes “oppression” (HALOT 897 s.v. עֹשֶׁק 1) or “gain of extortion” (BDB 799 s.v. עֹשֶׁק 3). The parallelism between עֹשֶׁק and מַתָּנָה (mattanah, “bribe”) seems to suggest the latter; but the prominence of the theme of oppression in 7:8-10 argues for the former. Elsewhere in Ecclesiastes, the noun עֹשֶׁק denotes “oppression” (Eccl 4:1) and “extortion” (Eccl 5:8 [Heb 5:7]). The LXX rendered it as συκοφαντία (sukofantia, “oppression”). English translations are split between these two options: “extortion” (ASV, MLB, NIV), “oppression” (KJV, NAB, NASB, RSV, NRSV, YLT, Douay, Moffatt), as well as “cheating” (NJPS) and “slander” (NEB).

tn Or “Oppression drives a wise person crazy”; or “Extortion drives a wise person crazy.” The verb III הלל (“to be foolish”) denotes “to make foolish; to make a fool out of someone; to make into a madman” (Job 12:17; Isa 44:25); cf. HALOT 249 s.v. III הלל; BDB 239 s.v. II הלל. It has been handled variously: “makes a wise man mad” (KJV, NASB); “drives a wise man crazy” (NEB); “can make a fool of a wise man” (NAB); “makes the wise man foolish” (RSV, NRSV); and “turns a wise man into a fool” (NIV).

tn The vav prefixed to וִיאַבֵּד (viabbed, “corrupts”) may function in a comparative sense, e.g., Job 5:7; 12:11; 16:21; Prov 25:25 (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 71, §437).

tc The text has וִיאַבֵּד (viabbed, conjunction + Piel imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from אָבַד, ’avad, “to destroy”), but the Dead Sea Scrolls text 4Q109 (Qoha), which reads ,ויעוה assumes ויעוה “twists” or “perverts” (conjunction + Piel imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from עָוָה I, ’avah, “to bend; to twist.” See J. Muilenburg, “A Qoheleth Scroll from Qumran,” BASOR 135 [1954]: 27). The verb I עָוָה (“to bend; to twist”) is used in reference to moral perversion (e.g., 2 Sam 7:14; 19:20; 24:17; 1 Kgs 8:47; Job 33:27; Prov 12:8; Jer 9:4); cf. HALOT 796–97 s.v. עוה; BDB 730 s.v. I עָוָה. The verb ויאבד is used similarly in reference to moral corruption, e.g., Eccl 3:6; 9:18; Jer 23:1 (HALOT 3 s.v. I אבד; BDB 2 s.v. אָבַד 2).

tn Or “and a bribe drives a person mad.” The noun לֵב (lev, “heart”) may be taken as a synecdoche of part (i.e., heart) for the whole (i.e., a person). HALOT 3 s.v. I אבד suggests that וִיאַבֵּד לֵב (viabbed lev, “destroys the heart”) is an idiom meaning, “drives a person mad.” The B-line is taken as a comparison with the preceding A-line. On the other hand, the A-line and B-line might be in synonymous parallelism in which case the two lines could be rendered: “Surely [the gain of] extortion turns a wise man into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart.” On the other hand, the lines could be rendered, “Surely oppression drives a wise man crazy, and a bribe drives a person mad.”

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