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10 The Teacher sought to find delightful[a] words,
and to write[b] accurately truthful sayings.[c]

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  1. Ecclesiastes 12:10 tn In the construct phrase דִּבְרֵי־חֵפֶץ (divre khefets, “words of delight”) the noun חֵפֶץ (“delight”) functions as an attributive genitive (“delightful words”) or a genitive of estimation or worth (“words viewed as delightful by Qoheleth” or “words that he took delight in”). For another example of a genitive of estimation of worth, see זִבְחֵי אֱלֹהִים (zivkhe ʾelohim) “sacrifices of God” = “sacrifices viewed as acceptable to God” (Ps 51:19). In other words, Qoheleth wrote his proverbs so effectively that he was able to take moral and aesthetic delight in his words.
  2. Ecclesiastes 12:10 tc The consonantal form וכתוב has been revocalized in three ways: (1) The Masoretes read וְכָתוּב (vekhatuv, conjunction plus Qal passive participle masculine singular from כָּתַב, katav, “to write”): “Qoheleth sought to find pleasant words, what was written uprightly, namely, words of truth.” This is supported by the LXX’s καὶ γεγραμμένον (kai gegrammenon, conjunction plus masculine accusative singular perfect passive participle from γράφω, graphō, “to write). (2) The BHS editors suggest the vocalization וְכָתוֹב (vekhatov, conjunction plus Qal infinitive absolute). The infinitive וְכָתוֹב (“and to write”) in the B-line would parallel the infinitive of purpose לִמְצֹא (limtsoʾ, “to find”) in the A-line: “Qoheleth sought to find pleasant words, and to write accurately words of truth.” (3) Several medieval Hebrew mss preserve an alternate textual tradition of וְכָתַב (vekhatav, conjunction plus Qal perfect third person masculine singular). This is reflected in the Greek versions (Aquila and Symmachus), Syriac Peshitta and Vulgate. The major English versions are divided among these three textual options: (1) וְכָתוּב (Qal passive participle): “and that which was written was upright, even words of truth” (KJV); “and that which was written uprightly, even words of truth” (ASV); “and, written by the upright, words of truth” (YLT); “but what he wrote was the honest truth” (NEB); “and what he wrote was upright and true” (NIV). (2) וְכָתוֹב (Qal infinitive absolute): “and to write words of truth correctly” (NASB); “and to write correctly the reliable words of truth” (MLB); “and to write down true sayings with precision” (NAB). (3) וְכָתַב (Qal perfect third person masculine singular): “and uprightly he wrote words of truth” (RSV); “and he wrote words of truth plainly” (NRSV); “even as he put down plainly what was true” (Moffatt); “and he wrote words most right, and full of truth” (Douay); and “and he recorded genuinely truthful sayings” (NJPS). The editors of the Jerusalem Hebrew Bible project favor וְכָתוֹב “and to write” (option 2): see D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 3:596-97.
  3. Ecclesiastes 12:10 tn The construct phrase דִּבְרֵי אֱמֶת (divre ʾemet, “words of truth”) is a genitive of content (“words containing truth”) or an attributive genitive (“truthful words”). Depending upon the vocalization of וכתוב, the phrase functions in one of two ways: (1) as direct object of וְכָתוֹב יֹשֶׁר (vekhatov yosher) “and he accurately wrote truthful words”; or (2) in apposition to וְכָתוּב יֹשֶׁר (vekhatuv yosher) “and what is written uprightly, namely, truthful words.”