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Fri Jun 4 12:07:27 MDT 2010

(Jastrow's tr.)

This has major resonances with Laozi (various chapters) and Zhuangzi ch. 17.

Koheleth, as Jastrow comments, uses the phrase "under the sun" many times, 
and sometimes "under heaven" to mean "on this earth, in this world". The 
common classical Chinese expression for "in this world" is "Under Heaven" 
(tianxia 天下). Jastow speculates (p. 202, n.3, 203 n.10a) that the Hebrew 
"Under Heaven" [תַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם tachat ha-shamayim] may be typo for 
"under the sun" [תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ tachat ha-shemesh] (mistaking shamyim 
שָּׁמָיִם for shemesh שָּׁמֶשׁ -- i.e., mistaking the last letter shin שׁ 
for the last two letters of shamyim, yod+final-mem יִם -- I imagine in some 
ancient scripts there may have been a similarity between שׁ and יִם , but I 
don't agree in this case with Jastrow that "Under Heaven" should be taken 
here as a typo. The affinity with the Chinese expression alone gives it some 
credence as a plausible expression.

Jastrow was a great scholar -- for more on "sun/shemesh" confusion pointed 
out by Jastrow, this time by the Babylonians, see

Note also on p. 203, n.9, he comments: "The Hebrew word is 'heart,' but the 
heart was supposed by the Hebrews (and other peoples of antiquity) to be the 
seat of the 'intellect.' Hence, wherever the word 'heart'
occurs in the O.T., the mind is meant." One of those "other peoples of 
antiquity" were the Chinese who used the word xin 心 [lit. a picture of a 
heart with the arteries protruding from the top] -- one can quickly gauge 
the orientation of a translator by whether s/he uses "heart" or "mind" to 
translate xin. Since the Chinese used xin for citta, in Buddhist contexts it 
usually gets translated mind.

These are just the first few lines.

Shapiro's "loose" translation also has a very Daoist flavor:

>    Emptiness! Emptiness upon emptiness!
>    The world is fleeting of form,
>    empty of permanence,
>    void of surety,
>    without certainty.
>    Like a breath breathed once and gone,
>    all things rise and fall.
>    Understand emptiness, and tranquility replaces anxiety.
>    Understand emptiness, and compassion replaces jealousy.
>    Understand emptiness, and you will cease to excuse
>       suffering and begin to alleviate it.

Laozi ch. 16, with supplements from chs. 14, 19, 21, 23, etc.

Throughout, Koheleth's sense of cycles, pendulum shifts, etc. -- very 


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