Internet Verse Search Commentaries Word Analysis ITL - draft

Ecclesiastes 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 


2Ki 9:34,35; Job 21:18,32,33; Ps 31:12; Ps 122:1-5; Pr 10:7; Ec 2:16; Ec 9:5; Jer 17:13; Lu 16:22; Ac 6:13; Heb 10:38

NET © Notes

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.”

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.

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.

tn Heb “the holy place.”

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.

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).

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