Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Some Commentaries on psalm 68

I looked at a dozen books referring to psalm 68 last night. Unfortunately Fokkelman does not treat this psalm. From him I would expect a serious structural argument and lots of counting. I brought home Weiser (1962), Dahood (1968), and Robert Davidson (1998). We know that Dahood will give us some alternatives to think about. For instance, with respect to two of the occurrences of Elohim, he suggests that the lamedh of verse 5 is a vocative lamedh - and to be fair, he justifies it with an appeal to the parallel in verse 33 (suggesting things with structure is at least a visible reason).

The transcriptions are copied per his text - so no practice working back to the Hebrew letters - maybe John can help here.

So verse 5 becomes:
Sing, O gods, chant, O his heavens,
[shemo becomes shamaw - defective spelling]
pave the highway for the Rider of the Clouds [cf Isaiah 40:3]
Delight in Yahweh and exult before him
[beyah shemo makes no sense according to Dahood - so it becomes beyah semu, qal masculine plural of *ysm - my old Jerusalem Bible has the same 'correction'.]

and verse 33
O kings of the earth, sing,
O gods, sing praises to the Lord
Behold the Rider of his heavens,
the primeval heavens

Weiser is more traditional. All three have the rider upon the clouds - not the desert.

Much to learn here - pondering ...

(At least I didn't bring home the Commentary on the Psalms from primitive and mediaeval writers : and from the various office-books and hymns of the Roman, Mozarabic, Ambrosian, Gallican, Greek, Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac rites / by J.M. Neale and R.F. Littledale. The imaging of Christ in the psalter knows no bounds in the heights of Christendom.)

2 comments:

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Fascinating, Bob. Thanks for all the background on reading the text differently.

John said...

I think you will want to purchase a copy of Terrien (2003) at some point. He is a soul-mate of yours; strong eye for structure, and a pursuit of theological and literary insight.

Actually, Fokkelman does have an essay on this psalm (see my ancient Hebrew poetry studies bibliography). So does Auffret, who is interested in structure and word-play. Literature on the psalms is an ocean, but it is derivative.

It is important to swim in it, but not as important as knowing the Psalms themselves very well.