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(0.09) (Jer 48:34)

tn The meaning of this verse is very uncertain. The ambiguity of the syntax and the apparent elliptical nature of this text make the meaning of this verse uncertain. The Hebrew text reads, “From the cry of Heshbon unto Elealeh unto Jahaz they utter their voice, from Zoar unto Horonaim, Eglath Shelishiyah.” The translation and interpretation here are based on interpreting the elliptical syntax here by the parallel passage in Isaiah 15:4-6, where cries of anguish rise from Heshbon and Elealeh that are heard all the way to Jahaz. The people flee southward, arriving at Zoar and Eglath Shelishiyah, where they voice the news of the destruction in the north. Hence, the present translation interprets the phrase “from the cry of Heshbon unto Elealeh” to be parallel to “Heshbon and Elealeh cry out” and take the preposition “from” with the verb “they utter their voice,” i.e., with the cry of Heshbon and Elealeh. The impersonal “they raise their voice” is then treated as a passive and made the subject of the whole verse. There is some debate about the identification of the waters of Nimrim. They may refer to the waters of the Wadi Nimrim, which enters the Jordan about eight miles north of the Dead Sea, or to those of the Wadi en-Numeirah, which flows into the southern tip of the Dead Sea from about ten miles south. Most commentators prefer the latter option because of association with Zoar. However, if the passage is talking about the destruction in the north that is reported in the south by the fleeing refugees, the reference is probably to the Wadi Nimrim in the north.

(0.09) (Jer 46:16)

tc The words “in their hurry to flee” are not in the text but appear to be necessary to clarify that the stumbling and falling here are not the same as in vv. 6, 12, where they occur in the context of defeat and destruction. The referent here appears to be the mercenary soldiers who, in their hurried flight to escape, stumble over one another and fall. This is fairly clear from the literal translation: “he multiplies the stumbling one. Also [= and] a man falls against a man, and they say [probably = saying; an epexegetical use of the vav (ו) consecutive (IBHS 551 §33.2.2a, and see Exod 2:10 as a parallel)] ‘Get up! Let’s go…’” A reference to the flight of the mercenaries is also seen in v. 21. Many of the modern commentaries and a few of the modern English versions follow the Greek text and take vv. 15a-16 very differently. The Greek reads, “Why has Apis fled from you? Your choice calf [i.e., Apis] has not remained. For the Lord has paralyzed him. And your multitudes have fainted and fallen; and each one said to his neighbor…” (reading רֻבְּךָ כָּשַׁל גַּם־נָפַל וַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ instead of כּוֹשֵׁל הִרְבָּה גַּם־נָפַל אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ). One would expect אִישׁ אֶל רֵעֵהוּ (ʾish ʾel reʿehu) to go with וַיֹּאמְרוּ (vayyoʾmeru) because it is idiomatic in this expression (cf., e.g., Gen 11:3; Judg 6:29). However, אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ (ʾish ʾel-reʿehu) is also found with singular verbs as here in Exod 22:9; 33:11; 1 Sam 10:11. There is no doubt that the Hebrew text is the more difficult and thus probably original. The reading of the Greek version is not supported by any other text or version and looks like an attempt to smooth out a somewhat awkward Hebrew original.

(0.09) (Jer 44:25)

tn Or “You and your wives.” The text and referent here are uncertain because of the confusing picture that the alternation of pronouns presents in this verse. Three of the main verbs are second person feminine plurals, and one of them is second person masculine plural. All the pronominal suffixes on the nouns are second person masculine plurals. The Hebrew text reads, “You [masc. pl.] and your [masc. pl.] wives have spoken [second fem. pl.; תְּדַבֵּרְנָה, tedabbernah] with your [masc. pl.] mouth, and you have fulfilled [masc. pl.; מִלֵּאתֶם, milleʾtem] with your [masc. pl.] hands, saying, ‘We [common gender] will certainly carry out….’ Indeed, fulfill [second fem. pl.; תָּקִימְנָה, taqimnah] your [masc. pl.] vows and, indeed, carry out [second fem. pl.; תַעֲשֶׂינָה, taʿasenah] your [masc. pl.] vows.” Older commentaries, such as K&D 22:165, explain the feminine verbs as a matter of the women being the principle subject. Most all modern commentaries (e.g., J. A. Thompson, J. Bright, W. L. Holladay, and G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers) follow the reading of the Greek version, which reads “you women” (= אַתֵּנָה הַנָּשִּׁים, [ʾattenah hannashim]) in place of “you and your wives” (אַתֶּם וּנְשֵׁיכֶם, ʾattem uneshekhem) in the Hebrew. None of them, however, explain the use of the second masc. plurals here. This is possibly a case where the masculine forms are used in the place of the feminine due to Hebrew's dislike of using the feminine plural forms (cf. GKC 459 §144.a and 466 §145.t). This seems all the more probable when second fem. pl. verbs are qualified by nouns with second masc. pl. suffixes. The translation here follows this interpretation of the masc. pl. forms, reads “you women” with the Greek version in place of “you and your wives,” and sees the referents throughout as the women.

(0.09) (Jer 42:21)

tn Heb “But you have not hearkened to the voice of [idiomatic for “obeyed”; see BDB 1034 s.v. שָׁמַע Qal.1.m] the Lord your God, namely [cf. BDB 252 s.v. וְ 1.b] in regard to [cf. BDB 514 s.v. לְ 5.f(c)] all about which he has sent me to you.” Because they have not yet expressed their refusal or their actual disobedience, several commentaries, sensing this apparent discrepancy, suggest that 42:19-22 are to be transposed after 43:1-3 (see, e.g., BHS note 18a; W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:275; J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 252, 256, 258). However, there is no textual evidence for the transposition and little reason to suspect an early scribal error (in spite of Holladay’s suggestion). It is possible that Jeremiah here anticipates this answer in 43:1-3 through the response on their faces (so Bright, 256; F. B. Huey, Jeremiah, Lamentations [NAC], 361). G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, and T. G. Smothers (Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 249) also call attention to the stated intention in 41:17 and the fact that the strong warning in 42:15-17 seems to imply that a negative response is expected). The use of the perfect here is perhaps to be related to the perfect expressing resolve or determination (see IBHS 489 §30.5.1d). It seems conceivable that these two verses are part of a conditional sentence that has no formal introduction, i.e., “And if you will not obey…then you should know for certain that…” For examples of this kind of conditional statement with two clauses introduced by vav (ו), see Joüon 2:628-29 §167.b, and compare Jer 18:4 and Judg 6:13.

(0.09) (Jer 31:32)

sn This refers to the Mosaic covenant, which the nation entered into with God at Sinai and renewed on the plains of Moab. The primary biblical passages explicating this covenant are Exod 19-24 and the book of Deuteronomy; see as well the study note on Jer 11:2 for the form this covenant took and its relation to the warnings of the prophets. The renewed document of Deuteronomy was written down, and provisions were made for periodic public reading and renewal of commitment to it (Deut 31:9-13). Josiah had done this after the discovery of the book of the law (which was either Deuteronomy or a synopsis of it) early in the ministry of Jeremiah (2 Kgs 23:1-4; the date would be near 622 b.c., shortly after Jeremiah began prophesying in 627 [see the note on Jer 1:2]). But it is apparent from Jeremiah’s confrontation with Judah after that time that the commitment of the people was only superficial (cf. Jer 3:10). The prior history of the nations of Israel and Judah and Judah’s current practice involved persistent violation of this covenant despite repeated prophetic warnings that God would punish them for it (see especially Jer 7, 11). Because of that, Israel had been exiled (cf., e.g., Jer 3:8), and now Judah was threatened with the same (cf., e.g., Jer 7:15). Jer 30-31 look forward to a time when both Israel and Judah will be regathered, reunited, and under a new covenant that includes the same stipulations but with a different relationship (v. 32).

(0.09) (Jer 14:18)

tn The meaning of these last two lines is somewhat uncertain. The keys are the two verbs סָחַר (sakhar) and יָדַע (yadaʿ). סָחַר (sakhar) most commonly occurs as a participle meaning “trader” or “merchant.” As a finite verb (only elsewhere in Gen 34:10, 21; 42:34) it seems to refer to “trading; doing business,” though DCH understands it only as “traveling around” and proposes “wander” in this verse. The common verb יָדַע (yadaʿ) means “to know.” Among homophonous roots DCH includes יָדַע II (yadaʿ) meaning “be quiet, at rest; be submissive” (cf. Job 21:19; Prov 5:6; Hos 9:7; Isa 45:4). The primary options in the first portion are that they “wander about” or “trade” “throughout the land.” In the second portion they “do not rest,” “are not humbled,” “are not submissive (to the Lord),” or “are ignorant.” Whether they wander without rest, have turned tradesmen without submitting to the Lord, or treat their religious duties as items for trade while ignorant of what God really says, the point is that they are absent from their proper duties of teaching the people to know God. The current translation sees the priests and prophets as disadvantaged, forced into peddling, yet still not humbled so as to return to God. The text has been interpreted to mean that priest and prophet have gone into exile, “journeying into” (cf., e.g., BDB 695 s.v. סָחַר Qal.1). This seems unlikely since it would suppose that the people are in hardship because of a punishment that has happened to their religious leaders, rather than for the failure of their leaders. (On the failure of the prophets and priests see 2:8; 5:13; 6:13; 8:10.) See also W. McKane, Jeremiah (ICC), 1:330-31 for a more thorough discussion of the issues.

(0.09) (Jer 13:20)

tn The word “Jerusalem” is not in the Hebrew text. It is added in the Greek text and is generally considered to be the object of address because of the second feminine singular verbs here and throughout the following verses. The translation follows the consonantal text (Kethib) and the Greek text in reading the second feminine singular here. The verbs and pronouns in vv. 20-22 are all second feminine singular with the exception of the suffix on the word “eyes,” which is not reflected in the translation here (“Look up” = “Lift up your eyes”) and the verb and pronoun in v. 23. The text may reflect the same kind of alternation between singular and plural that takes place in Isa 7, where the pronouns refer to Ahaz as an individual and to his entourage, the contemporary ruling class (cf., e.g., Isa 7:4-5 [singular], 9 [plural], 11 [singular], 13-14 [plural]). Here the connection with the preceding may suggest that it is initially the ruling house (the king and the queen mother), then Jerusalem personified as a woman in her role as a shepherdess (i.e., leader). However, elsewhere in the book the leadership has included the kings, the priests, the prophets, and the citizens as well (cf., e.g., 13:13). In v. 27 Jerusalem is explicitly addressed. It may be asking too much of some readers, who are not familiar with biblical metaphors, to understand an extended metaphor like this. If it is helpful to them, they may substitute plural referents for “I” and “me.”

(0.09) (Jer 13:4)

tn There has been a great deal of debate about whether the place referred to here is a place (Parah [= Perath] mentioned in Josh 18:23, modern Khirbet Farah, near a spring ʿain Farah) about three-and-a-half miles from Anathoth, which was Jeremiah’s home town, or the Euphrates River. Elsewhere the word “Perath” always refers to the Euphrates, but it is either preceded by the word “river of” or there is contextual indication of reference to the Euphrates. Because a journey to the Euphrates and back would involve a journey of more than 700 miles (1,100 km) and take some months, scholars both ancient and modern have questioned whether “Perath” refers to the Euphrates here and, if it does, whether a real journey was involved. Most of the attempts to identify the place with the Euphrates involve misguided assumptions that this action was a symbolic message to Israel about exile or the corrupting influence of Assyria and Babylon. However, unlike the other symbolic acts in Jeremiah (and in Isaiah and Ezekiel), the symbolism is not part of a message to the people but to Jeremiah; the message is explained to him (vv. 9-11), not the people. In keeping with some of the wordplays that are somewhat common in Jeremiah, it is likely that the reference here is to a place, Parah, which was near Jeremiah’s hometown but whose name would naturally suggest to Jeremiah, later in the Lord’s explanation in vv. 9-11, Assyria-Babylon as a place connected with Judah’s corruption (see the notes on vv. 9-10). For further discussion the reader should consult the commentaries, especially W. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:396, and W. McKane, Jeremiah (ICC), 1:285-92, who take opposite positions on this issue.

(0.09) (Jer 1:15)

tn Or “They will come and set up their thrones in the entrances of the gates of Jerusalem. They will destroy all the walls surrounding it and also destroy all the towns in Judah.” The text of v. 15b reads in Hebrew, “they will each set up his throne [near? in?] the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem and against all its walls…and against all the towns….” Commentators are divided over whether the passage refers to the kings setting up their thrones after victory in preparation for passing judgment on their defeated enemies in the city or whether it refers to setting up siege against it. There is no Hebrew preposition before the word for “the entrance” so that it could be “in” (which would imply victory) or “at/near” (which would imply siege), and the same verb + object (i.e., “they will set up their thrones”) governs all the locative statements. It is most often taken to refer to the aftermath of victory because of the supposed parallel in Jer 43:8-13 and the supposed fulfillment in Jer 39:3. Though this may fit well with the first part of the compound expression, it does not fit well with the latter part, which is most naturally taken to refer to hostile attacks against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah. The translation given in the text is intended to reflect the idea of an army setting up for siege. The alternate translation is intended to reflect the other view.

(0.09) (Isa 9:6)

tn Or “Extraordinary Strategist,” “a wonder of a counselor,” or “one who plans a miraculous thing” (HALOT 928 s.v. פֶּלֶא). Some have seen two titles here (“Wonderful” and “Counselor,” cf. KJV, ASV). However, the pattern of the following three titles (each contains two elements) and the use of the roots פָּלַא (palaʾ) and יָעַץ (yaʿats) together in Isa 25:1 (cf. כִּי עָשִׂיתָ פֶּלֶא עֵצוֹת מֵרָחוֹק אֱמוּנָה אֹמֶן) and 28:29 (cf. הִפְלִיא עֵצָה) suggest otherwise. The term יוֹעֵץ (yoʿets) could be taken as appositional (genitive or otherwise) of species (“a wonder, i.e., a wonder as a counselor,” cf. NAB “Wonder-Counselor”) or as a substantival participle for which פָּלַא provides the direct object (“one who counsels wonders”). יוֹעֵץ is used as a royal title elsewhere (cf. Mic 4:9). Here it probably refers to the king’s ability to devise military strategy, as suggested by the context (cf. vv. 3-4 and the following title אֵל גִּבּוֹר, ʾel gibbor). In Isa 11:2 (also a description of this king) עֵצָה (ʿetsah) is linked with גְּבוּרָה (gevurah, the latter being typically used of military might, cf. BDB 150 s.v.). Note also עֵצָה וּגְבוּרָה לַמִּלְחָמָה in Isa 36:5. פֶּלֶא (peleʾ) is typically used of God (cf. however Lam 1:9). Does this suggest the deity of the messianic ruler? The NT certainly teaches he is God, but did Isaiah necessarily have this in mind over 700 years before his birth? Since Isa 11:2 points out that this king will receive the spirit of the Lord, which will enable him to counsel, it is possible to argue that the king’s counsel is “extraordinary” because it finds its source in the divine spirit.

(0.09) (Sos 7:5)

tn Alternately, “captivated.” The verb אָסַר (ʾasar, “to bind, capture, hold captive, put in prison”) is commonly used of binding a prisoner with cords and fetters (Gen 42:34; Judg 15:10-13; 16:5-12; 2 Kgs 17:4; 23:33; 25:7; 2 Chr 33:11) (HALOT 75 s.v. אסר). It is frequently used as a figure to depict absolute authority over a person (Ps 105:22). The passive participle סוּר means “to be bound, held captive, imprisoned” (2 Sam 3:34; Jer 40:1; Job 36:8). Like a prisoner bound in cords and fetters and held under the complete control and authority of his captor, Solomon was captivated by the spellbinding power of her hair. In a word, he was the prisoner of love and she was his captor. Similar imagery appears in an ancient Egyptian love song: “With her hair she throws lassoes at me, with her eyes she catches me, with her necklace she entangles me, and with her seal ring she brands me” (Song 43 in the Chester Beatty Cycle, translated by W. K. Simpson, ed., The Literature of Ancient Egypt, 324). J. S. Deere suggests, “The concluding part of the metaphor, ‘The king is held captive by your tresses,’ is a beautiful expression of the powerful effect of love. A strong monarch was held prisoner by the beauty of his Beloved” (“Song of Solomon,” BKCOT, 206-207). This is a startling statement because Solomon emphasizes that the one who was being held captive like a prisoner in bonds was the “king”! At this point in world history, Solomon was the ruler of the most powerful and wealthy nation in the world (1 Kgs 3:13; 10:23-29). And yet he was held totally captive and subject to the beauty of this country maiden!

(0.09) (Sos 7:2)

tn Alternately, “your waist.” The term בִּטְנֵךְ (bitnekh) probably refers to the woman’s “belly” rather than “waist.” It is associated with a woman’s abdominal/stomach region rather than her hips (Prov 13:25; 18:20; Ezek 3:3). The comparison of her belly to a heap of wheat is visually appropriate because of the similarity of their symmetrical shape and tannish color. The primary point of comparison, however, is based upon the commonplace association of wheat in Israel, namely, wheat was the main staple of the typical Israelite meal (Deut 32:14; 2 Sam 4:6; 17:28; 1 Kgs 5:11; Pss 81:14; 147:14). Just as wheat satisfied an Israelite’s physical hunger, she satisfied his sexual hunger. J. S. Deere makes this point in the following manner: “The most obvious commonplace of wheat was its function, that is, it served as one of the main food sources in ancient Palestine. The Beloved was both the ‘food’ (wheat) and ‘drink’ (wine) of the Lover. Her physical expression of love nourished and satisfied him. His satisfaction was great for the ‘mixed wine’ is intoxicating and the ‘heap of wheat’ was capable of feeding many. The ‘heap of wheat’ also suggests the harvest, an association which contributes to the emotional quality of the metaphor. The harvest was accompanied with a joyous celebration over the bounty yielded up by the land. So also, the Beloved is bountiful and submissive in giving of herself, and the source of great joy” (“Song of Solomon,” BKCOT, 203-204).

(0.09) (Sos 5:13)

tn Alternately, “towers of perfume.” The MT reads מִגְדְּלוֹת (migdelot) which yields the awkward “towers of perfume.” The term מִגְדָּל (migdal, “tower”) is normally used in reference to (1) watch-towers, defended towers along the city wall, and individual towers in the countryside to protect the borders, (2) storehouses, and (3) a tower in a vineyard (HALOT 543-44 s.v. I מִגְדָּל). It is never used in OT in association with a flower garden. On the other hand, LXX reads φυουσαι (phuousai, “yielding”) which reflects an alternate vocalization tradition of מְגַדְּלוֹת (megaddelot; Piel participle feminine plural from גָּדַל, gadal, “to increase, produce”). This makes good sense contextually because the Piel stem of גָּדַל means “to grow” plants and trees (Isa 44:14; Ezek 31:4; Jonah 4:10) (HALOT 179 s.v. I גדל 2). This revocalization is suggested by BHS editors, as well as the Hebrew lexicographers (HALOT 544 s.v. 2; 179 s.v. I 2; BDB 152 s.v. גָּדַל 1). Several translations follow LXX and revocalize the text (RSV, NIV, NJPS margin): “His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume” (NIV) and “His cheeks are like beds of spice producing perfume” (NJPS margin). The other translations struggle to make sense of the MT, but are forced to abandon a literal rendering of מִגְדְּלוֹת (“towers”): “banks sweet herbs” (ASV), “banks sweetly scented” (JB), “treasure-chambers full of perfume” (NEB), “banks of sweet scented herbs” (NASB), and “banks of perfume” (JPS, NJPS).

(0.09) (Sos 5:6)

tn Alternately, “spoke.” Traditionally, the term בְדַבְּרוֹ (vedabbero) has been related to the common root דָּבַר (davar, “to speak”) which occurs nearly 1150 times in verbal forms and nearly 1500 times as a noun. This approach is seen as early as the LXX (although the LXX treated דָּבָר as a noun rather than an infinitive construct because it was working with an unpointed text): ἐν λογῷ αὐτοῦ (en logō autou, “in his word”). Although they differ on whether the preposition ב (bet) is temporal (“when”) or respect (“at”), many translations adopt the same basic approach as the LXX: “when he spake” (KJV), “as he spoke” (NASB), “when he spoke” (NIV margin), “at what he said” (JPS, NJPS). However, many recent scholars relate בְדַבְּרוֹ to the homonymic root דָּבַר (“to turn away, depart”) which is related to Akkadian dabaru D “to go away,” Dt “to drive away, push back” (CAD 3:186ff), and Arabic dabara “to turn one’s back, be behind, depart, retreat” (HALOT 209 s.v. II דבר). Several examples of this root have been found (Pss 18:48; 47:4; 56:6; 75:6; 116:10; 127:5; 2 Chr 22:10; Job 19:18; Song 5:6; Isa 32:7) (HALOT 209-10 s.v. I). Several recent translations take this approach: “when he turned his back” (NEB), “at his flight” (JB), and “at his departure” (NIV). This makes better sense contextually (Solomon did not say anything after 5:2a), and it provides a tighter parallelism with the preceding line that also describes his departure: “My beloved had turned away (חָמַק, khamaq); he was gone (עָבַר, ʿavar)” (NIV).

(0.09) (Sos 4:9)

sn It is clear from Song 8:1 that the young man and his bride were not physical brother and sister, yet he addresses his bride as אֲחֹתִי (ʾakhoti, “my sister”) several times (4:9, 10, 12; 5:1). This probably reflects any one of several ancient Near Eastern customs: (1) The appellatives “my sister” and “my brother” were both commonly used in ancient Near Eastern love literature as figurative descriptions of two lovers. For instance, in a Ugaritic poem when Anat tried to seduce Aqhat, she says, “Hear, O hero Aqhat, you are my brother and I your sister” (Aqhat 18 i. 24). In the OT Apocrypha husband and wife are referred to several times as “brother” and “sister” (Add Esth 15:9; Tob 5:20; 7:16). This “sister-wife” motif might be behind Paul’s perplexing statement about a “sister-wife” (1 Cor 9:5). (2) In several Mesopotamian societies husbands actually could legally adopt their wives for a variety of reasons. For instance, in Hurrian society husbands in the upper classes sometimes adopted their wives as “sisters” in order to form the strongest of all possible marriage bonds; a man could divorce his wife but he could not divorce his “sister” because she was “family.” At Nuzi a husband could adopt his wife to give her a higher status in society. See M. Held, “A Faithful Lover in Old Babylonian Dialogue,” JCS 15 (1961): 1-26 and S. N. Kramer, The Sacred Marriage Rite, 103-5; T. Jacobsen, “The Sister’s Message,” JANESCU 5 (1973): 199-212; E. A. Speiser, “The Wife-Sister Motif in the Patriarchal Narratives,” Oriental and Biblical Studies, 15-28; G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 111.

(0.09) (Sos 3:10)

tn The accusative noun אַהֲבָה (ʾahavah, “love” or “leather”) functions either as an accusative of material out of which the interior was made (“inlaid with leather”) or an accusative of manner describing how the interior was made (“inlaid lovingly,” that is, “inlaid with love”). The term אַהֲבָה is a homonymic noun therefore, there is an interesting little debate whether אַהֲבָה in 3:10 is from the root אַהֲבָה “love” (BDB 13 s.v. אָהֵב; DCH 1:141 s.v. אַהֲבָה) or אהבה “leather” (HALOT 18 s.v. II אַהֲבָה). The homonymic root אַהֲבָה “leather” is related to Arabic ʾihab “leather” or “untanned skin.” It probably occurs in Hos 11:4 and may also appear in Song 3:10 (HALOT 18 s.v. II). Traditionally, scholars and translations have rendered this term as “love” or “lovingly.” The reference to the “daughters of Jerusalem” suggests “love” because they had “loved” Solomon (1:4). However, the context describes the materials out of which the palanquin was made (3:9-10) thus, an interior made out of leather would certainly make sense. Perhaps the best solution is to see this as an example of intentional ambiguity in a homonymic wordplay: “Its interior was inlaid with leather // love by the maidens of Jerusalem.” See G. R. Driver, “Supposed Arabisms in the Old Testament,” JBL 55 (1936): 111; S. E. Loewenstamm, Thesaurus of the Language of the Bible, 1:39; D. Grossberg, “Canticles 3:10 in the Light of a Homeric Analogue and Biblical Poetics,” BTB 11 (1981): 75-76.

(0.09) (Sos 2:4)

tc The MT vocalizes consonantal הביאני as הֱבִיאַנִי (heviʾani, Hiphil perfect third person masculine singular with first person common singular suffix, “He has brought me”). However, several medieval Hebrew mss vocalize the form as הֲבִיאֻנִי (haviʾuni, Hiphil imperative second person masculine singular with first person common singular suffix, “Bring me!”). This is also reflected in LXX (εἰσαγαγετε με, eisagagete me, “Bring me!”) and Syriac. This alternate vocalization tradition has several factors that make it a viable option: (1) It respects the consonantal text; (2) It is supported by the LXX and Syriac; (3) It provides a tighter parallelism with the two identical imperatival forms in 2:5a (both second person masculine plural imperatives with first person common singular suffixes); (4) It provides thematic unity to the entire poetic unit of 2:4-5; and (5) It helps make better sense of an enigmatic unit. This approach is strengthened if the MT reading וְדִגְלוֹ (vediglo, “and his banner”) is revocalized to the imperative וְדִגְלוּ (vediglu, “and feed [me]”) (see translator’s note below). In this case, the parallelism throughout 2:4-5 would be very tight. It would feature four parallel imperatives of request, all revolving around the theme of love-sickness: “Bring me into the banquet hall, feed me with love; sustain me with raisin cakes, refresh me with apples, because I am faint with love.” The weakness with the revocalization to הֲבִיאֻנִי (“Bring me!”) is that it demands, due to the dictates of synonymous parallelism, the questionable revocalization of the MT’s וְדִגְלוֹ (“and his banner”) to the imperative וְדִגְלוּ (“and feed [me]”).

(0.09) (Sos 1:4)

tn A shift occurs in 1:4 from first person common singular forms to first person common plural forms: “Draw me (מָשְׁכֵנִי, mashekeni)…Let us run (נּרוּצָה, narutsah)…Bring me (הֱבִיאַנִי, heviʾani)…We will be glad (נָגִילָה, nagilah)…We will rejoice in you (וְנִשְׁמְחָה, venishmekhah)…We will remember (נַזְכִּירָה, nazkirah)…They love you (אֲהֵבוּךָ, ʾahevukha)….” Several translations and many commentators end the words of the Beloved at 1:4a and begin the words of the Friends in 1:4b and revert back to the words of the Beloved in 1:4c. The subject of the first person common plural forms may be the “young women” (עֲלָמוֹת) previously mentioned in 1:3. This is supported by the fact that in 1:3 the Beloved says, “The young women love you” (עֲלָמוֹת אֲהֵבוּךָ, ʿalamot ʾahevukha) and in 1:4c she again says, “Rightly do they [the young women] love you” (מֵישָׁרִים אֲהֵבוּךָ, mesharim ʾahevukha). On the other hand, in ANE love literature the bride often uses plural pronouns to refer to herself (S. N. Kramer, The Sacred Marriage Rite, 92, 99). Some commentators suggest that the young man is addressing his beloved because בָּךְ (bakh) appears to have a second person feminine singular suffix. However, the suffix on בָּךְ is in pause (after the accent) therefore, the normal second person masculine singular suffix בָּךָ has reduced to shewa. The parallelism with the second person masculine singular suffix on דֹדֶיךָ (dodekha, “your love”) supports the second person masculine singular classification.

(0.09) (Ecc 7:16)

tn Or “Why should you ruin yourself?”; or “Why should you destroy yourself?” The verb שָׁמֵם (shamem) is traditionally taken as “to destroy; to ruin oneself.” For its use here HALOT 1566 s.v. שׁמם 2 has “to cause oneself ruin”; BDB 1031 s.v. שָׁמֵם 2 has “cause oneself desolation, ruin.” Most English versions take a similar approach: “Why destroy yourself?” (KJV, ASV, NEB, NRSV, MLB, NIV); “Why ruin yourself?” (NAB, NASB). However, in the Hitpolel stem the root שׁמם never means this elsewhere, but is always nuanced elsewhere as “to be appalled; to be astonished; to be dumbfounded; to be confounded; to be horrified” (e.g., Ps 143:4; Isa 59:16; 63:5; Dan 8:27); cf. BDB 1031 s.v. שָׁמֵם 1; HALOT 1566 s.v. שׁמם 1. It is taken this way in the English version of the Tanakh: “or you may be dumbfounded” (NJPS). Likewise, Cohen renders, “Why should you be overcome with amazement?” (A. Cohen, The Five Megilloth [SoBB], 154). If a person was trusting in his own righteousness or wisdom to guarantee prosperity, he might be scandalized by the exceptions to the doctrine of retribution that Qoheleth had observed in 7:15. D. R. Glenn (“Ecclesiastes,” BKCOT, 994) notes: “This fits in nicely with Solomon’s argument here. He urged his readers not to be over-righteous or over-wise ‘lest they be confounded or astonished.’ He meant that they should not depend on their righteousness or wisdom to guarantee God’s blessing because they might be confounded, dismayed, or disappointed like the righteous people whom Solomon had seen perishing in spite of their righteousness [in 7:15].” See GKC 149 §54.c.

(0.09) (Ecc 7:18)

tn Or “will escape both”; or “will go forth in both.” The Hebrew phrase יֵצֵא אֶת־כֻּלָּם (yetseʾ ʾet kullam, “he will follow both of them”) has been interpreted in several ways: (1) To adopt a balanced lifestyle that is moderately righteous while allowing for self-indulgence in moderate wickedness (“to follow both of them,” that is, to follow both righteousness and wickedness). However, this seems to unnecessarily encourage an antinomian rationalization of sin and moral compromise. (2) To avoid the two extremes of being over-righteous and over-wicked. This takes יֵצֵא in the sense of “to escape,” e.g., Gen 39:12, 15; 1 Sam 14:14; Jer 11:11; 48:9; cf. HALOT 426 s.v. יצא 6.c; BDB 423 s.v. יָצָא 1.d. (3) To follow both of the warnings given in 7:16-17. This approach finds parallels in postbiblical rabbinic literature denoting the action of discharging one’s duty of obedience and complying with instruction. In postbiblical rabbinic literature the phrase יְדֵי יֵצֵא (yetseʾ yede, “to go out of the hands of”) is an idiom meaning “to comply with the requirements of the law” (Jastrow 587 s.v. יָצָא Hif.5.a). This fits nicely with the context of 7:16-17 in which Qoheleth issued two warnings. In 7:18a Qoheleth exhorted his readers to follow both of his warnings: “It is best to grasp the first warning without letting go of the second warning.” The person who fears God will heed both warnings. He will not depend upon his own righteousness and wisdom, but upon God’s sovereign bestowal of blessings. Likewise, he will not exploit the exceptions to the doctrine of retribution to indulge in sin, rationalizing sin away just because the wicked sometimes do not get what they deserve.

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