Completely off-topic in Ecclesiastes

So my question this week became, what do you do if you have a completely different interpretation of something than *anything* else I can find (and believe me, I’ve looked)?  I’ve sent a note to a rabbi who won’t think I’m completely insane, even while he may tell me that I’m completely wrong.  Ecclesiastes 1:2 is driving me crazy.

Hevel is translated as “vanity” or “mere breath.”  Now, the root word is different from when God breathed life into dust to make man (correct gender used here <grin>).  But, the root word is also different from the concept of “energy”.  However, looking at it from a purely physical (as in physics) perspective, if you translate “vanity” as “energy” instead, it still makes sense.  Everything that exists on earth is a form of energy – the rate of vibration merely indicating the form that it takes (not just solid, liquid and gas, but specific chemicals, compounds and substances – quantum physics, if you will, giving everything in existence its own unique vibrational signature).  If Koheleth figured that out, given that he was “wise” by gift of God, then he could have understood that absolutely nothing that was “created” by man was anything more than a rearrangement of the energy God provided.  And we can rearrange the energy all we want, but the only thing that actually remains or *exists* is what *God* created.

We have a law that energy cannot be created or destroyed.  Well, I have rule that you can’t put God and “cannot” into the same sentence (despite the instant evidence to the contrary).  Providing limits to God is rather the height of hubris, and I’m not willing to go there.  But I would be willing to think that God provided us with all the energy that we need to accomplish everything that humankind is going to accomplish while on earth.

I guess part of what has always interested me is that all of science is contained within the Bible – scientists are just a little slow to discover it, as we gain knowledge, wisdom and understanding.  But there are things that either:

1)        Humans didn’t understand at that point in time (i.e., the law in Deuteronomy 25:11 where if a woman interfered to support her husband in a fight with another man and squeezed his genitals, she would have her hand cut off.  The severity of the punishment only makes sense if you understand that the testes are part of the reproductive cycle – something they had no clue about at that point in time); or

2)        They didn’t have the language (i.e., DNA, which is described in Psalm 139); or

3)        Humans are inspired by what is written in the Bible to understand how things work (i.e., Matthew Fontaine Maury, a sea captain who discerned there are what we call today jet streams in the air and in the oceans. He read Ecc 1:6 and Ps 77:19 and God open his eyes to broader scientific reasoning. That ship captain is now considered the father of meteorology and oceanography!).

So if you read Ecclesiastes, substituting “energy” (as defined by quantum physics) for “vanity” – does it make sense to anyone else?

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One thought on “Completely off-topic in Ecclesiastes

  1. Okay, so my Rabbi friend indicated that while I was correct that there was a more complex meaning to the word “hevel”, he sees it more having to do with fractal geometry, rather than quantum physics, and referenced the breath which not only gave life to dust, but the seven types of kisses described in Song of Songs. So much to learn, so little time right now! This one will have to go on my – things to be researched later page. 🙂

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