On The Meaning Of מושל זעקת In Qohelet 9:17b -- By: Aron Pinker
BBR 22:4 (2012) p. 493
On The Meaning Of מושל זעקת In Qohelet 9:17b
Silver Spring, Maryland
In this article, I suggest that מוֹשֵל זַעֲקַת is a metaphoric idiom derived from the loud shouts requesting a supplicant’s recognition in a ruler’s public appearance. Consequently, מוֹשֵל זַעֲקַת indicates a particular kind of a “loud voice.” This meaning establishes a clear and apt contrast between נַחַת דִּבְרֵי and מוֹשֵל זַעֲקַת, and between חֲכָמִים and כְּסִילִים in the two cola of Qoh 9:17.
Key Words: Qohelet 9:17b, communication with royals, audience
Qohelet 9:17, which reads
בַּכְּסִילִים׃ מוֹשֵׁל מִזַעֲקַת נִשְׁמָעִים בְּנַחַת חֲכָמִים דִּבְרֵי
has been considered by many commentators to be a typical saying of the wisdom tradition (Siegfried, Haupt, McNeile, Barton, Gordis, Crenshaw, Whybray, Murphy, Lohfink, et al.). It seems to be speaking favorably of wisdom and has been considered connected to v. 16 by theme and the shared word נשמעים. This connection is, however, problematic. Krüger notes that
The statements in vv. 16bβ–17 seem at first to contradict both what precedes and one another. In opposition to v. 16bβ, were not the words of the poor man heard nevertheless (at least by the king)? And if, as v. 16bβ asserts, they were not heard, is not the assertion of v. 17a—that words of the wise are heard—untenable in this kind of generality, since the poor man was also a wise man (v. 15a)?1
Much exegetical effort was devoted to understanding the phrase בְּנַחַת נִשְׁמָעִים in 9:17a. The hemistich is ambiguous about whether the words of the wise are spoken calmly or are heard calmly. Murphy felt that it is more likely the former.2 Whybray observ...
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