A new post under the sun

Last week’s reading of Ecclesiastes (קהלת) reminded me of something that happened in Nepal so I thought it would be OK to share:

Israelis take their competition seriously. So when the folks over at Mahadev Besi held a Biblical Quiz (חידון תנך) on the occasion of – if I recall correctly* – Israeli Independence Day (יום העצמאות), I got to hear all about it on the way to Bandipur.

One of those who had helped put the quiz together was very proud of a question that asked participants to list instances in which the Bible mentions water. I immediately cast one out there I didn’t think anyone else had named:

שלח לחמך על-פני המים, כי ברב הימים תמצאנו

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. (Ecclesiastes, 11:1)

When she confirmed that my entry had, indeed, not surfaced, I returned to my familiar watering hole:

כל הנחלים הולכים אל הים והים איננו מלא

All the rivers go to the sea; yet the sea is not full (Ecclesiastes, 1:7)

This entry was controversial. Not because I was wrong – no one else had cited this verse – or even because it does not directly include the word ‘water’ – but because of my word choice. Or, to be more accurate, Kohelet’s.

מים לא הולכים, Water doesn’t ‘go’,” she protested. “מים זורמים, Water ‘flows‘.”

She’s right, of course, in Modern Hebrew. She is also wrong. I tried explaining this to her, but it was like we were speaking two different languages.

My favorite part about this post is that when I used Google.com to google the exact translation… well, take a look for yourself:**

*Disclaimer: this all happened in mid-May, so I may accidentally fudge some of the minor details. Apologies ahead of time or behind of time, depending on when you got to this footnote

**By way of explanation, this seems to be the title of an Israeli song, so either the artist made the same mistake as my friend or he was really worried about God filing a copyright claim


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