Monday, June 20, 2022

The [Un]wisdom Book of Wisdom, Koheleth, or Ecclesiastes


As a follow up to my discussion on Proverbs, Mishle, i digress to the counterpoint work, Koheleth, Ecclestiastes. which seems to set out to undo all of the claims of the wisdom of Wisdom, and, ineffect, challenge the Bible itself. How one earth could our sages have included it in our scriptures and why did the Christians decide to go along with this?

Follow this link for my discussion.

First, an aside, at the other works of scepticism, such as this text

From Dialogue on Pessimism- Akkadian text- Babylonia c 1000 bce-

Between master and slave-the slave is the inciting knave in this tale

 DRIVE TO PALACE  - [Slave, listen to me!]    - Here I am, master, here I am! –

 [Quickly! Fetch me the chariot and hitch it up. I want to drive to the palace.   

 Drive, master, drive! It will be to your advantage. When he will see you, the king will give you honors. –

[O well, slave] I will not drive to the palace!  

 - Do not drive, master, do not drive! When he will see you, the king may send you God knows where, He may make you take a route that you do not know, He will make you suffer agony day and night.  

II – BANQUET  Quickly! Fetch me water for my hands, I want to dine!

 - Dine, master, dine! A good meal relaxes the mind! [ ] the meal of his god. To wash one´s hand passes the time!

- O well, slave, I will not dine!

- Do not dine, master, do not dine! To eat only when one is hungry, to drink only when one is thirsty is best for man!


This debate all ends with the master deciding that suicide is the only route--and 


- Slave, listen to me!

 - Here I am, master, here I am! - What then is good? To have my neck and yours broken, Or to be thrown into the river, is that good? - Who is so tall as to ascend to heaven? Who is so broad as to encompass the entire world? - O well, slave, I will kill you and send you first! -

To which, the slave replies, cleverly--

- Yes, but my master would certainly not survive me for three days!...

Here is a text of Koheleth, with Hebrew and English translation, which you can use to follow along. The text I used in the presentation was the New American Standard Version; Sefaria uses the 1985 JPS version. For those who can follow, the Hebrew is always the best first choice!

From the Opening

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”. . .

דִּבְרֵי קֹהֶלֶת בֶּן־דָּוִד מֶלֶךְ בִּירוּשָׁלִָם׃

הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים אָמַר קֹהֶלֶת הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים הַכֹּל הָבֶל׃

מַה־יִּתְרוֹן לָאָדָם בְּכָל־עֲמָלוֹ שֶׁיַּעֲמֹל תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ׃

דּוֹר הֹלֵךְ וְדוֹר בָּא וְהָאָרֶץ לְעוֹלָם עֹמָדֶת׃

What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?
A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the earth remains forever.

All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing.
That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.10 Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new”? Already it has existed for ages Which were before us.
11 There is no remembrance of earlier things; And also of the later things which will occur, There will be for them no remembrance Among those who will come later still.

כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים יְגֵעִים לֹא־יוּכַל אִישׁ לְדַבֵּר לֹא־תִשְׂבַּע עַיִן לִרְאוֹת וְלֹא־תִמָּלֵא אֹזֶן מִשְּׁמֹעַ׃

מַה־שֶּׁהָיָה הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה וּמַה־שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה הוּא שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה וְאֵין כָּל־חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ׃

יֵשׁ דָּבָר שֶׁיֹּאמַר רְאֵה־זֶה חָדָשׁ הוּא כְּבָר הָיָה לְעֹלָמִים אֲשֶׁר הָיָה מִלְּפָנֵנוּ׃

אֵין זִכְרוֹן לָרִאשֹׁנִים וְגַם לָאַחֲרֹנִים שֶׁיִּהְיוּ לֹא־יִהְיֶה לָהֶם זִכָּרוֹן עִם שֶׁיִּהְיוּ לָאַחֲרֹנָה׃

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