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Ecclesiastes 10:8-9

Context
Wisdom is Needed to Avert Dangers in Everyday Life

10:8 One who digs a pit may 1  fall into it,

and one who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. 2 

10:9 One who quarries stones may be injured by them;

one who splits logs may be endangered by them.

1 tn The four imperfect verbs in vv. 8-9 may be nuanced as indicatives (“will…”) or in a modal sense denoting possibility (“may…”). The LXX rendered them with indicatives, as do many English translations (KJV, RSV, NRSV, ASV, MLB, YLT, NJPS). However, it is better to take them in a modal sense (NEB, NAB, NASB, NIV, NCV, CEV, NLT). One who digs a pit does not necessarily fall into it, but he may under the right conditions.

2 tn Heb “a serpent will bite him.” The clause “he who breaks through a wall” (וּפֹרֵץ גָּדֵר, uforets gader) is a nominative absolute – the casus pendens is picked up by the resumptive pronoun in the following clause “a serpent will bite him” (יִשְּׁכֶנּוּ נָחָשׁ, yishÿkhennu nakhash). This construction is used for rhetorical emphasis (see IBHS 76-77 §4.7c).



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