Introduction A pertinent issue area for this paper is to examine the ramifications of the interpretation of the termhebelwithin the purview of the book of Ecclesiastes and how the interpretation of this term impacts the understanding of this biblical book. There exist competing hypotheses which intend to elucidate an understanding of the termhebelwith their underlying arguments demonstrating that the term is a highly contested one. For instance, there are arguments positing that the term means 'futile' while other hypothetical frameworks underscore that it means worthlessness. All the more, there are those arguing that the termhebelmeans absurd. This paper is a painstaking assessment of the varied interpretations of the term hebel. Moreover, it is a concerted effort to find out which among the various hypothetical interpretive lenses fits the most appropriate description of the term. In this light, the paper delves into a meticulous examination of six divergent hypothetical frameworks all of which attempt to evaluate the meaning of hebel and the concurrent implications of such an interpretation on the understanding of the message in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. It is worth noting that these varied schools of thought contesting the meaning of thehebelparlance are external to the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. Important considerations revolving around this assessment take off with an examination of the criterion of the term's usage howbeit outside the purview of the book of Ecclesiastes, the contextual fit of this term, authorial cues revolving around the reader and extensions emanating from meanings attached to the term. These considerations notwithstanding, the researcher avers that the terminology, hebel, should be construed to imply 'futile but not worthless as it has been argued from some hypothetical vantage points. It follows that from the six competing hypotheses regarding the term hebel, the standout of all interpretations is that which places relatively great preponderance on interpreting the term to mean 'futile.'
Approach #1 The first approach to the interpretation of the term hebel as used within the parlance of the book of Ecclesiastes is christened the 'enigmatic approach.' The approach's leading proponents include but are not limited to Bartholomew in a text produced in 2009, Ogden in his 1987 work and Zogbo and Ogden in their 1997 joint work on the subject. However, among the leading lights professing belief in this enigmatic view of the termhebel, a 1943 work by one Staples is arguably a pioneering work that curved a niche for this thinking which later scholars progressively embraced with a view to underscore it as a distinct way of thought. For the scholars who profess belief in the enigmatic approach to understandinghebelin the book of Ecclesiastes, it is widely believed that the term hebel as applied within the Ecclesiastes' purview implies 'enigmatic'. Layered within the strata surrounding this thinking is a relatively weak vantage point by Staples that the original meaning ofhebelimplied 'cult mystery'. From this term and attendant meaning, Staples avers thathebelimplies such meanings as unknowable, or that which is concealed from man or unknown to them. It has the implication of making the term be understood to mean something that cannot be fathomed by the human folk. According to the interpretation ofQoheletby scholars such as Zogbo and Ogden, it is puzzling that YHWH does not orient things as they ought to be. These scholar's vantage point postulates that YHWH's use of the termhebelwithin the book of Ecclesiastes is a manifestation of his frustration at issues that are arguably getting beyond his control. These scholars' view of the term's usage in Ecclesiastes makes them become perplexed at YHWH's acknowledgement at facing questions that are increasingly hard for him to contend with. Such is the essence of the parlance used in naming this hypothetical framework using the term 'enigma' implying a puzzling question. For Ogden, the Scripture in Ecclesiastes 3:17-18 is a manifest example ofhebelsince this Scripture