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Vain

The concrete aspect of this is expressed in the idea of “breath” or “wind.” In Job 15:2; 16:3 the “vain” of KJV is rendered “windy” by RSV. The practical aspect, however, is expressed much more frequently as that which is “useless,” “a failure,” or “to no avail.” The phrase “in vain” usually has this force (Job 9:29; Prov 1:17; Ezek 6:10; Rom 13:4; Gal 3:4; James 4:5; et al.). (See also Judith 6:9; Ecclus 23:11.) The moral aspect begins with the idea of “being without value” (Judg 9:4; 11:3; 2 Chron 13:7; Prov 12:11); or “without reason” (Col 2:18; Wisd Sol 13:1). The ancient mind seems to have reacted strongly to this. The “vain thing” was that which seemed to promise something and failed to fulfill the promise. There was, therefore, the element of “deception,” “falsehood,” and even “wickedness” in this emptiness and failure. The “vain thoughts” of KJV (Jer 4:14) become “evil thoughts” in RSV. The RSV trs. the same Heb. word “in vain” (Exod 20:7), “worthless” (Job 11:11), “fals