The meaning of Assemblies, Masters Of in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
a-sem'-bliz, (ba'ale 'acuppoth, Ecclesiastes 12:11): the American Revised Version, margin "collectors of sentences," thus Qimchi, Grotius and others. This has been variously interpreted. Tyler translates "editors of collections." Klienert renders "protectors of the treasure-chambers," 'acuppoth being considered equivalent to the 'acuppim of I Chronicles 26:15, I Chronicles 26:17; Nehemiah 12:25 (see ASUPPIM). The proverbs are like nails guarding the sacred storehouse, the book closing with this warning against touching the collection (compare Revelation 22:18-19). Delitzsch translates "like fastened nails which are put together in collections." "As ba'ale berith (Genesis 14:13) signifies 'the confederates,' ba'ale shebhu'ah (Nehemiah 6:18) 'the sworn,' and the frequently occurring ba'ale ha-'ir 'the citizens': so ba'ale 'acuppoth means, the possessors of assemblies and of the assembled themselves, or the possessors of collections and of things collected. Thus ba'ale 'acuppoth will be a designation of the 'words of the wise' (as in shalishim, "choice men" = choice proverbs, Proverbs 22:20, in a certain measure personified), as of those which form or constitute collections and which stand together in order and rank" ("Eccl," English translation, 434).
The Jerusalem Talmud takes 'acuppoth as the Sanhedrin. On the whole it is better to interpret the phrase "persons skilled in collections" of wise sayings, grouped in a compact whole (compare Wright, Eccl, 102).
S. F. Hunter
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