CHAPTER 2: The Dilemma of lbh and the Quest for !wrty in the Book of Qohelet 29
CHAPTER 2 The Dilemma of lbh and the Quest for !wrty in the Book of Qohelet In beginning our treatment of the prominent motifs within the book of Qohelet, it is fitting that we start with an exploration into the state of being described by Qohelet through the use of the key word lbh.1 Thus we approach our discussion of lbh from the perspective that it exists not only as a (or the) key word in the text, but also from the perspective that lbh is more than simply a descriptive term, but it is a situation, or state of being, that takes on the significance of being a key motif in Qohelet’s thought.2 So far as the prominence of the term is concerned, there is no doubt that the term plays a major role developing the mood, if not the message, of the book. Nevertheless, for such a significant and prominent term, there is a general lack of consensus among scholars regarding the meaning of the term as used in Qohelet. Therefore, any exploration into the role of lbh as a motif must include a survey of common approaches taken by scholars in seeking to define the term as well as a lexical treatment of lbh itself. lbh is used 38 times throughout the book, with the superlative form of the word framing the book through “inclusio” at the beginning and the end of the literary quest (1:2; 12:8). Between the superlative phrases marking the “bookends” to...
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