THE CAUSE OF UNHAPPINESS IN QOHELET 3:11
AbstractThe 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.
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