vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Fri Jun 11 04:17:01 MDT 2010
Subject: [Buddha-l] Koheleth
> You warm the cockles of my heart, Franz, by your reference
> I've been reading this book in Hebrew for a decade now
> & am amazed it even "made the cut" for inclusion ...
> [you might have fun considering the word translated as vanity
> really means more like a vapor (no thing) ... ]
Zalman Schachter calls Koheleth the "Daoist" book of the Bible. The "Vanity"
translation is a legacy from the King James version, when apparently English
speakers thought of the word "vanity" in the light of its root -- "to be in
vain" -- rather than the narcissistic self-love that the word has acquired.
The Hebrew, HeVeL, can mean steam, and can apply to speech in the sense that
we would say "hot air".
Koheleth (Ecclesiastes) 1:2 reads:
הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים אָמַר קֹהֶלֶת, הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים הַכֹּל הָבֶל
ECCLESIASTES 1:2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities;
all [is] vanity.
The key word, hevel, is defined thus in one of the better Hebrew-English
הבל (literary) steam, vapor ; breath ; (flowery) speech, utterance (esp.
related to Torah, learned)
foolishness, nonsense, absurdity ; (flowery) for nothing, uselessly (as
Alternatively, Google dictionary:
The Alcalay Dictionary offers similar definitions but stresses "in vain" in
various forms and idioms, e.g. hevlei ha-olam hazeh = "the vain pleaures of
As Shakespeare has Macbeth say: Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more; it's
a tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
More information about the buddha-l