THE CAUSE OF UNHAPPINESS IN QOHELET 3:11

Aron Pinker

Abstract


The difficult Qoh 3:11 is emended to read אֶת־הַכֹּל עָשָֹה יָפֶה בְעִתּוֹ גַּם אֶת־הָעֶלֶם נָתַן בְּלִבָּם בַּל יְאֻשָּר
לֹא־יִמְצָא הָאָדָם אֶת־הַמַּעֲשֶֹה אֲשֶר־עָשָֹה הָאֱלֹהִים מֵרֹאש וְעַד־סוֹף (“all he made well in its time, yet
he placed the unknowable in their heart, not to make him happy, man cannot find out the
work which God made from beginning to end”). It is argued that 3:11a is better understood
as referring to the creation of the world, rather than to the catalogue of times in 3:2-8, and
new biblical and post biblical support is provided for the reading הָעֶלֶם (or הָעָלֻם ). The minor
emendation of the MT, בַּל יְאֻשָּר instead of מִבְּלִי אֲשֶר , provides a good unforced sense, which
is in line with ancient wisdom thinking.

Keywords


Qohelet; Happiness; Biblical Scholarship; Wisdom Literature

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/107-0-137

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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