Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Translation practice: Ecclesiastes and St. Jerome

The Book of Qohelet, 5:9-6:8

    The greedy man will not be filled with money, and who loves riches will not take fruit from them; therefore this is vanity. Where many are the resources, many also are those who eat them. And what does this profit the possessor, except that he sees riches with his eyes? Sleep is sweet to the worker, whether he sleeps a little or a lot; however abundance of riches does allow him to sleep.
    There is another base sickness which I have seen under the sun: riches wickedly kept by there owner. For they perish in the worst affliction: he begot a son who will be in the greatest poverty. Just as he came out naked from his mother's womb, so he will return, and he will take nothing with him from his labor. Utterly miserable is his sickness. How came he to return so? Therefore what profits it him to labor at the wind? He eats in darkness all the days of his life, both with many cares and with trouble and sorrow.
    And so this seemed good to me: that he eat whatever and drink, and enjoy delight from his labor which he labored under the sun, for the number of the days of his life which God has given him. And this is his part. And every man to whom God gave riches and substance, he has also granted power, that he may eat of them and enjoy his part and be gladdened out of his labor. This is a gift of God. For he will not remember the days of his life, by which God would take his heart by delights.
    There is another evil which I have seen under the sun, and the same happens often to men: A man to which God has given riches and substance and honor, and nothing is lacking to his life from those which he desires; yet God has not granted that he may eat from it, but a foreign man will devout it. This is vanity and a great misery.
    If he begot a hundred something children and lived many years and had many days of life, and his soul did not use the goods of his substance and lacked a funeral: about this I I pronounce that it would be better if he had been prematurely born. For he comes to nothing and proceeds to darkness and his name will be destroyed in oblivion. He does not see the sun and does not know the difference between good and evil. Even if he lived two thousand years but did not come to enjoy his goods, do not all hurry on to one place?
    All the labor of man is in his mouth, but his soul is not filled. Who has greater wisdom than a fool? And who is poor except he who heads to that place?

From the Commentary of St. Jerome the Priest on Ecclesiastes

    "Every man to which God has given riches and substance, he also conceded to him that he may eat from them and take is part and enjoy of his labor. This is a gift of God. For he will not remember the days of his life, for God occupies his heart in joy." For his comparison, who eats his resources in the darkness of cares and carries along his life's weariness to die, he says it is better to be him who enjoys present things. For in that there is actually a little delight in enjoying; but in the other there is only great anxiety. And he returns to causes, by which he is able to enjoy the gift of God in riches.  For "he will not remember the days of his life."
    God calls him in the joy of his heart: he will not be in sorrow, will not be vexed by knowledge, and he is charmed by joy and pleasure for the present. But better (as the Apostle says) is the spiritual food and spiritual drink given by the Lord in order to understand and see goodness in his every work, because we are able to contemplate good things by enormous labor and true study. And this is our part, that we rejoice in our study and labor. Which, although it is good, yet "until Christ manifests our life," it is not yet completely good.
    "Every labor of man is in his mouth, and his soul will not even be filled. For what is greater for a wise man than for a fool? What is for a poor man except to know that he goes against life?" Every thing which man works on in this world is consumed by the mouth, rubbed away by teeth and is given to be scattered by the wind. And when he is delighted a little in the throat, as long as he seems to be bestowed pleasure, so long is he contained in the throat.
    And after all this, his soul is not fill up with eating. Either he desires, that he may eat, that both the wise and poor man be unable to eat without food, he seeks nothing else except that he may be able to sustain the organ pipe of his little body and not perish by starvation; or that the soul take no usefulness from the refreshment of his body, and food for both the wise man and the fool is common and the poor man goes to that place where he examines his resources.
    However this is better to understand about the Ecclesiastic Man, who is learned in heavenly writings, that he has every labor "in his and mouth and his soul will not be filled," as long as desires to learn always. And in this he has more wisdom than the fool; because when he thinks himself to be a poor man (the poor man called "blessed" in the Gospel) he speeds on to comprehend those which are of life, and walkes about the strict and narrow way which leads to life, and is poor from evil works, and knows where to find Christ, who is life, and there remains.

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