Symbol and Rhetoric in Ecclesiastes

The Place of Hebel in Qohelet’s Work


Douglas B. Miller

Interpreters of Ecclesiastes have struggled with the word hebel (traditionally "vanity" but literally "vapor"). The positions they have adopted regarding the term have influenced their interpretation of the book as a whole. This work defends a new thesis for hebel. It presents a methodology for metaphor and symbol, then demonstrates how Qohelet employs hebel in the book with referents related to "insubstantiality," "transience," and "foulness." These referents are incorporated into a single, multivalent vapor-symbol by which Qohelet represents human experience. The study provides significant substantiation for the "realist" position on Ecclesiastes: Qohelet does not declare life to be entirely meaningless or absurd, but rather says that life is filled with limitations and complications and counsels his readers how to make the most of that life. The study concludes with a proposal for the rhetoric of Ecclesiastes in light of the symbol thesis.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (

Asceticism, Eschatology, Opposition to Philosophy

The Arabic Translation and Commentary of Salmon ben Yeroham on Qohelet (Ecclesiastes). Karaite Texts and Studies Volume 5


James T. Robinson

Salmon b. Yeroham (fl. 930-960) – foundational figure in the Jerusalem school of Karaite exegesis – produced a substantial and influential corpus of polemical writing and biblical interpretation, including commentaries on Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Qohelet, Esther, Ruth, and Daniel. Asceticism, Eschatology, Opposition to Philosophy: The Arabic Translation and Commentary of Salmon ben Yeroham on Qohelet (Ecclesiastes) presents a first critical edition of the Judaeo-Arabic Qohelet commentary together with an annotated English translation. The introduction situates Salmon’s work in the history of Jewish Qohelet exegesis, explains Salmon’s method of translating Qohelet into Arabic, identifies his sources and discusses his method of interpretation. The main themes Salmon finds in “Solomon’s” book of wisdom – central themes in the early Karaite movement in general – will be explored at length, especially asceticism, eschatology, and an uncompromising opposition to reading “foreign books.”

"Robinson’s edition is exemplary...This volume is an important addition to any collection of Karaitica, medieval Jewish biblical exegesis and Judeo-Arabic studies."
Pinchas Roth, Tikvah Scholar at the NYU Tikvah Center

Qohelet 2,12b


Aron Pinker

Aron Pinker


Qohelet’s time are inviolable (a require- ment few would be happy to assent to). Reading the Ž rst clause as a simple connective resolves this di Ý culty. The witness of early interpreters and versions testiŽ es both to their lack of consensus regarding the correct reading of the text and the viability of

Michael Carasik

beyond it!” 1 There has been a consensus among biblical scholars that the epilogue of Ecclesiastes (Eccl 12:9-14) was written by an editor—the same one who supplied the title of the book, “The words of Qo- helet, son of David, king in Jerusalem” (1:1)—in order to frame “the words of Qohelet” in a

Johan Yeong Sik Pahk

A SYNTACTICAL AND CONTEXTUAL CONSIDERATION OF "Ó H IN QOH. IX 9 by JOHAN YEONG SIK PAHK Puchon City, South Korea It is well known how di Y cult it is to tell from Qoh. ix 9 “whether Qohelet advocates a strong, vibrant marital relationship or promiscu- ity. The point at issue is the referent of