Is it 'Business' or 'Busyness'?

This morning the sermon at International Unichurch, the passage preached was Ecclesiastes 4-6. Simon and Jieni were the Bible readers for that passage, and they encountered an interesting differences between ESV "versions". Here is an extract of Ecclesiastes 5:3 from the English Standard Version bible.

For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words.

Well, that quote comes straight from Good News Publishers' website via cut and paste. However, it reads a bit differently on my Collins' ESV bible! Instead of having "business" there in verse 3, it reads "busyness". Apparently all HarperCollins' ESV have "busyness" there, including the cross reference ESV that Vivian has, but all the Crossway ESV bibles have "business". At the end of day, we opted for "busyness" for Simon to read out on that verse, but I wonder how whether we have picked the right one.

So I went on for a little search...

First of all, the Revised Standard Version, which ESV is heavily based on, uses "business" in 5:3. However, from the context it seems that it is talking about the 'busy-ness' state of dreams, which then links to the many confusing, unprofitable and useless words of fools.

I then turn to my trusty Hebrews. Well, not that I can recognise any of these curly characters, but with help of interlinear Bible and Strong numbers, it gave me more clues. The word used here is:

ענין (in-yawn')
that is, (generally) employment or (specifically) an affair: - business, travail.

Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries 1890

Well. That certainly sounds like "business" as it is about an affair. I am confused. Now, maybe "busyness" and "business" are actually the same word. From Dictionary.com, it has this meaning for "business":

11. Obsolete. The condition of being busy.

Okay. Now, here are some conclusions:

  • The original means "business", and HarperCollins, not being the official publisher of ESV, messed it up and printed "busyness" on all their ESV bibles. But how does a dream comes with much business? I wonder what kind of "business" the Preacher was engaged in.
  • It should be "busyness", talking about the chaotic and confusing state of life that bears much day dreams (and nightmares). ESV simply uses an 'obsolete' version of the same word, but Collins has expressed it in a more modern English.
  • Some dynamic translations put it as "worries" or "cares" - too much of those give you bad dreams. That makes sense, but then I am reading someone else's interpretation on the whole paragraph.

Maybe there is no conclusion. Maybe it is just like what the Preacher has said. Discussing whether it is 'i' or 'y' is all vanity. Even more meaningless than chasing after the wind...