Ecclesiastes 6:12New English Translation (NET Bible)
12 For no one knows what is best for a person during his life[a]— during the few days of his fleeting life— for[b] they pass away[c] like a shadow. Nor can anyone tell him what the future will hold for him on earth.[d]
Ecclesiastes 6:12tnHeb “For who knows what is good for a man in life?” The rhetorical question (“For who knows…?”) is a negative affirmation, expecting a negative answer: “For no one knows…!” (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 949-51). The translation renders this rhetorical device as a positive affirmation.
Ecclesiastes 6:12tn The vav prefixed to וְיַעֲשֵׂם (veyaʿasem, conjunction plus Qal imperfect third person masculine singular from עָשַׂה, ʿasah, “to do” plus third person masculine plural suffix) functions in an explanatory or epexegetical sense (“For…”).
Ecclesiastes 6:12tn The third person masculine plural suffix on the verb וְיַעֲשֵׂם (veyaʿasem, conjunction plus Qal imperfect third person masculine singular from עָשָׂה, ʿasah, “to do” plus third person masculine plural suffix) refers to מִסְפַּר יְמֵי־חַיֵּי הֶבְלוֹ (mispar yeme khayye hevlo, “the few days of his fleeting life”). The suffix may be taken as an objective genitive: “he spends them [i.e., the days of his life] like a shadow” (HALOT 891 s.v. I עָשָׂה) or as a subjective genitive: “they [i.e., the days of his life] pass like a shadow” (BDB 795 s.v. עָשָׂה II.11).
Ecclesiastes 6:12tnHeb “Who can tell the man what shall be after him under the sun?” The rhetorical question (“For who can tell him…?”) is a negative affirmation, expecting a negative answer: “For no one can tell him…!” (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 949-51). The translation renders this rhetorical device as a positive affirmation.
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