Ecclesiastes 12:8New English Translation (NET Bible)
Concluding Refrain: The Teacher Restates His Thesis
8 “Absolutely futile!”[a] laments the Teacher,[b] “All these things[c] are futile!”[d]
Ecclesiastes 12:8tnHeb “futility of futilities.” The phrase “absolutely futile” (הֲבֶל הֲבָלִים, havel havalim) is a superlative genitive construction (GKC 431 §133.i). See note on “futile” at 1:2.
Ecclesiastes 12:8tn Elsewhere in the book, the author is identified with the anarthrous term קֹהֶלֶת (qohelet, Eccl 1:1, 2, 12; 7:27; 12:9, 10); however, in 12:8 it is used with the article, indicating that it is a professional title rather than a personal surname: הַקּוֹהֶלֶת (haqqohelet, “the Teacher”). Numerous English translations render קֹהֶלֶת as a professional title: “the Speaker” (NEB, Moffatt); “the Preacher” (KJV, RSV, YLT, MLB, ASV, NASB); “the Teacher” (NIV, NRSV); “the Leader of the Assembly” (NIV margin); “the Assembler” (NJPS margin). Others render it as a personal surname: “Koheleth” (JPS, NJPS) and “Qoheleth” (NAB, NRSV margin).
Ecclesiastes 12:8tn The term הֶבֶל (hevel, “futile”) is repeated three times within the six words of this verse for emphasis. See footnote on “futile” at 1:2.snAbsolutely futile!…All of these things are futile! This motto is the theme of the book. It occurs at the beginning (1:2) and end of the book (12:8), forming an envelope structure (inclusio). Everything described in 1:2—12:8 is the supporting proof of the thesis of 1:2. With few exceptions (e.g., 2:24-26; 3:14-15; 11:9-12:1, 9), everything described in 1:2—12:8 is characterized as “futile” (הֶבֶל, hevel).
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