Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And what about sitting?

Sit is the third verb in the psalms (skipping לוץ the scornful participle which occurs only twice in the psalter, Psalm 1:1, and Psalm 119:51). Again, this third verb is negatively phrased לֹא יָשָֽׁב and Qal perfect. My query returns 51 of 58 occurrences. I won't bore you with the details but will just fix the rows by hand. I have to add the conjugation column anyway.

The vav-conversive does not apply in my opinion to Psalm 1 but it does in Psalm 23:6. I phoned my Hebrew coach in Ottawa and he checked the Esperanto translation. Psalm 23:6 in Esperanto uses the future. His mother tongue is modern Hebrew but he confirmed this archaic usage of vav to reverse the aspect of a verb, though he indicated the vav should be attached to the verb (as in Psalm 23). But Psalm 29 violates this rule too with a preceding vav yet no reversal of aspect. And Psalm 47 has no preceding vav yet the common translation has its aspect reversed. (Go figure - as I said, do what you want with the aspect / tense of the verbs!)

Psalm 1:1 ישׁב has not sat לֹא יָשָׁב Qal, perfect
Psalm 2:4 ישׁב He sits יוֹשֵׁב Qal, active participle
Psalm 4:8
make me live
תֹּושִׁיבֵֽנִיHiphil, imperfect
Psalm 9:4ישׁבremainsיֵשֵׁבQal, imperfect
Psalm 9:7

you have remained
יָשַׁבְתָּQal, perfect
Psalm 9:11 ישׁב dwelling יֹשֵׁב Qal, active participle
Psalm 10:8 ישׁב He sits יֵשֵׁב Qal, imperfect
Psalm 17:12 ישׁב sitting יֹשֵׁב Qal, active participle
Psalm 22:3 ישׁב seated on יוֹשֵׁב Qal, active participle
Psalm 23:6 ישׁב and I will live
וְשַׁבְתִּי Qal, perfect
Psalm 24:1 ישׁב and those living in וְיֹשְׁבֵי Qal, active participle
Psalm 26:4

have not sat
לֹא־יָשַׁבְתִּיQal, perfect
Psalm 26:5

will not sit
אֵשֵֽׁבQal, imperfect
Psalm 27:4

to dwell
שִׁבְתִּיQal, infinitive
Psalm 29:10 ישׁב sat יָשָׁב Qal, perfect
Psalm 33:8 ישׁב all those sitting of / i.e. living
כָּל יֹשְׁבֵי Qal, active participle
Psalm 33:14

where he lives
מְּכֹון־שִׁבְתֹּוQal, infinitive
Psalm 33:14 ישׁב to all those sitting אֶל כָּל יֹשְׁבֵי Qal, active participle
Psalm 47:8 ישׁב sat on a throne of יָשַׁב עַל כִּסֵּא Qal, perfect
Psalm 49:1 ישׁב all you living of כָּל יֹשְׁבֵי Qal, active participle
Psalm 50:20

you sit
תֵּשֵׁבQal, imperfect
Psalm 55:19

the one sitting
וְיֹשֵׁבQal, active participle
Psalm 61:7 ישׁב he will dwell יֵשֵׁב Qal, imperfect
Psalm 65:8 ישׁב those living of the extremes יֹשְׁבֵי קְצָו‍ֹת Qal, active participle
Psalm 68:6
מֹושִׁיבHiphil, participle
Psalm 68:10 ישׁב dwell there יָשְׁבוּ בָהּ Qal, perfect
Psalm 68:16
for his dwelling
לְשִׁבְתֹּוQal, infinitive
Psalm 69:12 ישׁב those sitting יֹשְׁבֵי Qal, active participle
Psalm 69:25 ישׁב be living יֹשֵׁב Qal, active participle
Psalm 69:35 ישׁב and they will live there וְיָשְׁבוּ Qal, perfect
Psalm 75:3
all her inhabitants
וְכָל־יֹשְׁבֶיהָQal, active participle
Psalm 80:1 ישׁב you sitting on יֹשֵׁב Qal, active participle
Psalm 83:7 ישׁב and those living in עִם יֹשְׁבֵי Qal, active participle
Psalm 84:4 ישׁב those sitting יוֹשְׁבֵי Qal, active participle
Psalm 91:1 ישׁב One dwelling יֹשֵׁב Qal, active participle
Psalm 98:7 ישׁב and those living וְיֹשְׁבֵי Qal, active participle
Psalm 99:1 ישׁב he sits on יֹשֵׁב Qal, active participle
Psalm 101:7 ישׁב he will not live לֹא יֵשֵׁב Qal, infinitive
Psalm 102:12
will remain
תֵּשֵׁבQal, imperfect
Psalm 107:10 ישׁב Sitting in יֹשְׁבֵי Qal, active participle
Psalm 107:34 ישׁב and he will cause to live וַיּוֹשֶׁב Qal, active participle
Psalm 107:36 ישׁב of those dwelling יוֹשְׁבֵי Hiphil, imperfect
Psalm 110:1
שֵׁבQal, imperative
Psalm 113:5

לָשָֽׁבֶתQal, infinitive
Psalm 113:8

לְהֹושִׁיבִיHiphil, infinitive
Psalm 113:9

מֹֽושִׁיבִיHiphil, participle
Psalm 119:23ישׁבsat
יָשְׁבוּ Qal, perfect
Psalm 122:5 ישׁב they sit יָשְׁבוּ Qal, perfect
Psalm 123:1 ישׁב the one sitting הַיֹּשְׁבִי Qal, active participle
Psalm 125:1 ישׁב it will stay יֵשֵׁב Qal, imperfect
Psalm 127:2

sit late
מְאַֽחֲרֵי־שֶׁבֶת Qal, infinitive
Psalm 132:12 ישׁב they will sit יֵשְׁבוּ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 132:14

here will I stay
פֹּֽה־אֵשֵׁבQal, imperfect
Psalm 133:1

שֶׁבֶתQal, infinitive
Psalm 137:1 ישׁב we sat יָשַׁבְנוּ Qal, perfect
Psalm 139:2

my sitting
שִׁבְתִּיQal, infinitive
Psalm 140:13 ישׁב will dwell יֵשְׁבוּ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 143:3
he consigns me
הֹושִׁיבַנִיHiphil, perfect

Now for standing

Stand is the second verb in the psalms. Again, a negative - לֹא עָמָד has not stood, a qal perfect. Here beginneth the argument about vavs or waws if you prefer. Does the sequence of connected phrases change the aspect of this verb from completed (perfect) to ongoing (imperfect)? If it does then the vav allows you to connect these phrases in a narrative and reverse the aspect of the verbs.

I do not buy it at this stage of my learning at least not here in this psalm. Mostly I do not have enough information about the language to judge the fullness of thought behind the verb forms. The last instance in psalm 148 is a better argument for a vav-conversive since it occurs with the verb and not just as part of the phrase. But whether one translates psalm 148 as established or will establish now and forever, it seems to make little difference to the 'meaning'.

Warning, in my first raw translations - such as appear below from the database, I have often used 'past' tense to remind me that this verb was perfect and 'future' tense to remind me it was imperfect - but I have not bothered to be consistent either in the database - developed by hand over 18 months or in the second draft translations over the last year. What the verb does will be determined by the translation of the poetry. Continuous present is my favorite since it can almost be applied to everything!

I have no translation philosophy of literal (though I am mostly literal with respect to thought sequence) or dynamic equivalence or formal equivalence. I can barely pronounce these last two. My philosophy is - can I make sense of the writer's experience - psychological, verbal, and physical to the extent that the words can illustrate the historical or cultic situation of the writer and have some relationship to our own covenant dialogue? I will translate to that question - and I will keep on asking it. I cannot believe I should lock in my answer - whether for cultic power, religious power, social control, or fear of loss. There is no fear in love. There is no human power base for the covenant. I have had to use words. Only by words can I reach out and touch in this medium. The anointing is more than words.

There are some curious false positives from my root algorithm - so I have left them showing. I missed three (at least according to this list), always the Hiphil since it adds a yod and the computer cannot create data or match from nothing (yet - i.e. until I figure out the condition when a rule should test for hiphil).

Psalm Root English HebrewConjugation
Psalm 1:1 עמד has not stood לֹא עָמָד Qal, perfect
Psalm 10:1 עמד will you stand תַּעֲמֹד Qal, imperfect
Psalm 18:33
he stands me
יַעֲמִידֵֽנִיHiphil, imperfect
Psalm 19:9 עמד is clean standing טְהוֹרָה עוֹמֶדֶת Qal, active participle
Psalm 23 עמד for you are with me כִּי-אַתָּה עִמָּדִי This is a curious accident - a false positive? or a verb?
Psalm 26:12 עמד stands עָמְדָה Qal, perfect
Psalm 30:7 עמד you made to stand הֶעֱמַדְתָּה Hiphil, perfect
Psalm 31:8 עמד but have set הֶעֱמַדְתָּ Hiphil, perfect
Psalm 33:9 עמד and it stands וַיַּעֲמֹד Qal, imperfect
Psalm 33:11 עמד will stand תַּעֲמֹד Qal, imperfect
Psalm 38:11 עמד they stand יַעֲמֹדוּ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 38:11 עמד they stand עָמָדוּ Qal, perfect
Psalm 50 עמד are mine עִמָּדִי More false positives
Psalm 55 עמד with me עִמָּדִי
Psalm 69 עמד foothold מָעֳמָד
Psalm 75 עמד its pillars עַמּוּדֶיהָ different false positives
Psalm 76:7 עמד and who can stand וּמִי יַעֲמֹד Qal, imperfect
Psalm 99 עמד in the pillar of בְּעַמּוּד
Psalm 101 עמד with me עִמָּדִי
Psalm 102:26 עמד you will stand תַעֲמֹד Qal, imperfect
Psalm 104:6 עמד they stood יַעַמְדוּ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 105:10
and stood by it
וַיַּֽעֲמִידֶהָHiphil, imperfect
Psalm 106:23 עמד stood עָמַד Qal, perfect
Psalm 106:30 עמד and stood up וַיַּעֲמֹד Qal, imperfect
Psalm 107:25 עמד and will raise up וַיַּעֲמֵד Hiphil, imperfect
Psalm 109:6 עמד let stand at his right hand יַעֲמֹד עַל יְמִינוֹ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 109:31 עמד for he will stand כִּי יַעֲמֹד Qal, imperfect
Psalm 111:3 עמד stands עֹמֶדֶת Qal, active participle
Psalm 111:10 עמד stands עֹמֶדֶת Qal, active participle inclusio
Psalm 112:3 עמד standing עֹמֶדֶת Qal, active participle
Psalm 112:9 עמד standing עֹמֶדֶת Qal, active participle inclusio
Psalm 119:90 עמד and she stands וַתַּעֲמֹד Qal, imperfect
Psalm 119:91 עמד lo they stand עָמְדוּ Qal, perfect - adjacent to each other
Psalm 122:2 עמד standing עֹמְדוֹת Qal, active participle
Psalm 130:3 עמד who will stand מִי יַעֲמֹד Qal, imperfect
Psalm 134:1 עמד those standing הָעֹמְדִים Qal, active participle
Psalm 135:2 עמד who are standing שֶׁעֹמְדִים Qal, active participle
Psalm 147:17 עמד will stand יַעֲמֹד Qal, imperfect
Psalm 148:6
וַיַּעֲמִידֵםHiphil, imperfect

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Getting the walk right

To begin my investigation of verbs in Hebrew I started with the first verb in the Psalms - walk. The first verb is in a negative expression -
Happy is the one who has not walked לֹא הָלַךְ
in the advice of the wicked

Has not walked is my rendering of the qal perfect 3rd person singular of HLK - with the negative particle. How should the tense / mood / aspect of this verb be expressed? Is has not walked better than did not walk? Or should it be is not walking or does not walk? These questions catch the problem of the verb related to its time - past, present, or future, and its ongoing or complete nature. To be blunt, after two years of messing about with Hebrew, it seems to me that one can do almost anything with a verb. To see if this is true, or not, I will painstakingly list all occurrences of HLK in the psalms and see if I can decipher a pattern of usage.

To make things more interesting, this first verb is very similar to another verb YLK which is also sometimes translated 'walk' - so here is my first cut at all the instances of these two roots (HLK first then YLK) in the psalms (missing a few rows and columns which I will have to add by hand and containing a few rows I will have to delete since my root algorithm needs so many exceptions - O brute force!).

Walk is frequently used in Hithpael, that rare conjugation - right away an interesting statistic. Also one can see that the KJV translates the perfect as 'walketh' in psalm 1 and the imperfect as 'walketh' in psalm 91. There is no 1 to 1 mapping of English to Hebrew tenses / moods / aspect / conjugation.

This is impossible to read. But constructing it was a good first exercise in verbs. I think I maintain my first impression - you can almost do what you want in English whatever the form of the verb is in Hebrew. Occasionally, as the YLK example shows, come, lead, and walk are dependent on the binyan in Hebrew - lead is a kind of causative walk and come a commanding walk.

Psalm Root English HebrewConjugation
Psalm 1:1 הלך has not walked לֹא הָלַךְ Qal, perfect
Psalm 12:8 הלך are walking יִתְהַלָּכוּן Hithpael, imperfect
Psalm 15:2 הלך Walking הוֹלֵךְ Qal, active participle
Psalm 26:1 הלך I have walked הָלַכְתִּי Qal, perfect
Psalm 26:3 הלך and I have walked myself וְהִתְהַלַּכְתִּי Hithpael, perfect
Psalm 35:14 הלך I walked הִתְהַלָּכְתִּי Hithpael, perfect
Psalm 38:6 הלך I walk הִלָּכְתִּי Qal, perfect
Psalm 39:6 הלך so walks a man יִתְהַלֶּךְ אִישׁ Hithpael, imperfect
Psalm 43:2 הלך will I walk אֶתְהַלֵּךְ Hithpael, imperfect
Psalm 55:14missedwe walkedנְהַלֵּךְPiel, imperfect
Psalm 56:13missedso I will walkלְהִֽתְהַלֵּךְHithpael, infinitive
Psalm 58:7 הלך wandering about them יִתְהַלְּכוּ לָמוֹ Hithpael, imperfect
Psalm 58:8 הלך he will go away יַהֲלֹךְ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 68:21 הלך hair of one walking שֵׂעָר מִתְהַלֵּךְ Hithpael, participle
Psalm 73:9 הלך will strut תִּהֲלַךְ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 77:17 הלך also walked about יִתְהַלָּכוּ Hithpael, imperfect
Psalm 78:39 הלך walking הוֹלֵךְ Qal, active participle
Psalm 81:13 הלך would walk יְהַלֵּכוּ Piel, imperfect
Psalm 82:5 הלך they are walking יִתְהַלָּכוּ Hithpael, imperfect
Psalm 84:11 הלך from those walking לַהֹלְכִים Qal, active participle
Psalm 85:13 הלך will go יְהַלֵּךְ Piel, imperfect
Psalm 86:11 הלך I will walk אֲהַלֵּךְ Piel, imperfect
Psalm 89:15
they will walk
יְהַלֵּכֽוּןPiel, imperfect
Psalm 91:6 הלך he walks יַהֲלֹךְ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 101:2 הלך I will walk continually אֶתְהַלֵּךְ Hithpael, imperfect
Psalm 101:6 הלך walking הֹלֵךְ Qal, active participle
Psalm 104:3
walking on the wings of the wind
הַֽמְהַלֵּךְPiel, participle
Psalm 104:10missedthey run
יְהַלֵּכֽוּןPiel, imperfect
Psalm 104:26missedthere go
יְהַלֵּכוּןPiel, imperfect
Psalm 105:13 הלך and they were going וַיִּתְהַלְּכוּ Hithpael, imperfect
Psalm 105:41 הלך they ran הָלְכוּ Qal, perfect
Psalm 115:7 הלך will they walk יְהַלֵּכוּ Piel, imperfect
Psalm 116:9 הלך I will walk אֶתְהַלֵּךְ Hithpael, imperfect
Psalm 119:1 הלך those walking הַהֹלְכִים Qal, active participle
Psalm 119:3 הלך they walk הָלָכוּ Qal, perfect
Psalm 119:45 הלך walk I will וְאֶתְהַלְּכָה Hithpael, imperfect
Psalm 126:6
going he will go out
הָלֹוךְ יֵלֵךְ Qal, infinitive see also below
Psalm 128:1 הלך those walking הַהֹלֵךְ Qal, active participle
Psalm 131:1 הלך nor do I walk וְלֹא הִלַּכְתִּי Piel, perfect
Psalm 142:3 הלך I walk אֲהַלֵּךְ Piel, imperfect

Psalm 23:4 ילך even if I walk in the valley כִּי-אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא Qal, imperfect
Psalm 26:11 ילך I will walk אֵלֵךְ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 32:8 ילך you will go תֵלֵךְ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 34:1 ילך and he went וַיֵּלַךְ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 34:11 ילך come children לְכוּ בָנִים Qal, imperative
Psalm 39:13 ילך I go אֵלֵךְ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 42:9 ילך do I walk אֵלֵךְ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 46:8 ילך Come see לְכוּ-חֲזוּ Qal, imperative
Psalm 66:5 ילך Come לְכוּ Qal, imperative
Psalm 66:16 ילך come and hear לְכוּ שִׁמְעוּ Qal, imperative
Psalm 78:10
to walk
לָלֶֽכֶתQal, infinitive
Psalm 80:2
וּלְכָהQal, imperative
Psalm 81:12 ילך and they walk יֵלְכוּ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 83:4 ילך they have said come אָמְרוּ לְכוּ Qal, imperative
Psalm 84:7 ילך They will go יֵלְכוּ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 89:30 ילך remain יֵלֵכוּן Qal, imperfect
Psalm 95:1 ילך Walk לְכוּ Qal, imperative
Psalm 97:3 ילך goes תֵּלֵךְ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 106:9
he led them
וַיֹּולִיכֵםHiphil, imperfect
Psalm 107:7
to walk
לָלֶכֶתQal, infinitive
Psalm 122:1 ילך we will go
נֵלֵֽךְQal, imperfect
Psalm 125:5
he will lead them
יֹולִיכֵםHiphil, imperfect
Psalm 126:6 ילך he will go out יֵלֵךְ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 136:16
for leading
לְמֹולִיךְHiphil, participle
Psalm 138:7 ילך Though I walk אִם-אֵלֵךְ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 139:7 ילך will I go אֵלֵךְ Qal, imperfect
Psalm 143:8 ילך I should walk אֵלֵךְ Qal, imperfect

Monday, December 29, 2008

A severed translation

Once a translation is out of the database, it is gone from you, and you no longer have control over it. If you want to know what word you used here or there, you have to go and read it. You can no longer look it up and see it in relationship to all the other uses of that word. The decision has been made. The task is over. The database in its working form does not even contain the same words that you just let go into the ether. They are in html and their raw forms are somewhere else. And ancient souls did it all without technology!

What was I doing here? How short and how specialized a book I chose - but a representative subset of an enormous tradition. How impossible - every minute decision, whether brilliant or ignorant, is now released. Without the Hebrew beside it, the English moves into its own place, whether deserving or not. What did I think I was trying to do - besides learn a little Hebrew, and reach back into the mind of ancient writer and ancient readers - and at least bump up against the decisions made for me by other translators?

I know what I was thinking - is it possible that one might, by mimicking the shape of another's words, find words to enable the gift today? Perhaps.

I continue to look for ways to enter these words yet more deeply. Richard suggests doing the Anglican cycle. I see the online cycle misses no psalm except on 28 day months. I am still looking for the chain of themes - too complex to image at the moment - and I don't expect to find them (if they exist) in the traditional translations - because I don't think the translators were looking for them in the way I have been looking.

I made a brief list of the problems and decisions I encountered while learning this field of translation: the text, the pronouns, prepositions, verbs - tense, mood, aspect; untranslatable terms, covenant terms, imagery, idiom, literature, belief systems. Apart from words - did I catch the dialogue, the relationship, the physical experience of the psalmist? Just a few problems.

If you read and are shocked by my words - say so in a comment. Maybe I can justify the decision - maybe not. But above all - read and enjoy the greater gift than ever I could give. The completion that is possible is not my doing.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Psalm 131

In June I started the second pass at translation and looking for macro structures (see this map). These past two months, I have redrafted 90 psalms. Still I cannot put them all in my head at once for processing their structure. I will continue kneading.

A song of the steps
Of David
יְהוָה my heart is not high
nor are my eyes exalted
nor do I walk in great things
or in wonders beyond me

If I had not stilled and quieted
my life
as one weaned
from its mother
as one weaned
my life

Wait Israel in יְהוָה now and forever

Note: The 'if not' construction seems awkward and incomplete. The Greek makes a different sense of it than traditional translations of the Hebrew. I have not followed the sense or the extra words of the Greek - but it depends on whether you think a weaned child is always well behaved towards its mother or not. The Hebrew is a fragment so I have left it as a half sentence with unstated conclusion. Sometimes I have rendered that verb as matured rather than weaned.

This being the last psalm in my second pass, it is appropriate that I leave it inconclusive, for there is at yet no conclusive summary from me that I can draw from these pages. You will find links to every psalm in the right hand panel.

This month I have also restarted some work on the New Testament and I am republishing a colorful study done 6 years ago on Romans.

Psalm 130

A song of the steps
From the depths I cry to you יְהוָה
Lord hear my voice
let your ears attend
to the voice of my supplication

when you note iniquities יְהוָה
Lord who will stand
for with you there is forgiveness
so that you will be feared

I wait for יְהוָה
my life waits
and in his word I hope
my life for יְהוָה
more than those watching for the morning
- those watching for the morning

let Israel hope in יְהוָה
for with יְהוָה there is loving kindness
and with him abundant ransoms
and he will ransom Israel from all his iniquities

Psalm 129

The last three lines must reflect an insincere greeting. These songs of the steps are a mixture of negatives and positives.

A song of the steps
Exceedingly they afflicted me from my youth
so let it be said Israel
exceedingly they afflicted me from my youth
but they have not prevailed over me

On my back the ploughers ploughed
prolonging their furrows
righteous יְהוָה has cut in two the cords of the wicked

let all those hating Zion be ashamed and be turned back
let them become as housetop grass
which withers before it is matured
with which the reaper does not fill his palm
or his breast the binder

and those going by will not say
the blessing of יְהוָה on you
we bless you in the name of יְהוָה

Psalm 128

A song of the steps
Happy all fearing יְהוָה
those walking in his ways
you will eat the produce of your hands
your pleasure and your good
your wife as a vine bearing fruit by the sides of your house
your children like slips of olive trees surrounding your table

Indeed for such a warrior fearing יְהוָה will be blessed
יְהוָה will bless you from Zion
and you will see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life
you will see your children's children
peace to Israel

Psalm 127

A song of the steps
of Solomon
If יְהוָה does not build a house they toil in vain who build it
if יְהוָה does not keep a city they watch in vain who keep it
In vain you rise early and sit late
to eat the bread of hardship
for he gives his beloved sleep

Hey! children are an inheritance of יְהוָה
the fruit of the womb a reward
as arrows in a warrior's hand so are children of the youthful
happy is the strong one who filled his quiver with them
he will not be ashamed when he speaks with enemies at the gate

Psalm 126

A song of the steps
When יְהוָה turned the captivity of Zion
we became like dreamers
then our mouth filled with laughter
and our lips a cry of joy

then they said among the nations
יְהוָה acted greatly among them
greatly יְהוָה acted among us
we become those who rejoice

Turn יְהוָה our captivity
as the river channels in the Negev
those sowing in tears
in joy they will harvest

going he will go out and weeping
bearing the trail of seed
coming he will come with joy
bearing his sheaves

Psalm 125

A song of the steps
Those trusting in יְהוָה are like mount Zion
it will not removed
forever it will stay

As the mountains surround Jerusalem
so יְהוָה surrounds his people from now and forever
for the sceptre of the wicked will not rest on the portion of the righteous
so that the righteous will not stretch their hand to evil

Do good יְהוָה to the good and to the upright in their hearts
and those turning aside to their tortuous ways
יְהוָה will lead them with the workers of the iniquity
peace to Israel

Psalm 124

A song of the steps
of David
Unless יְהוָה had been for us
let it be said Israel
Unless יְהוָה had been for us
when humanity rose against us
then they had swallowed us alive

when their their anger kindled against us
then the waters had overflowed us
a torrent passed over our life
then the proud waters passed over our life

Blessed is יְהוָה who has not given us as prey to their teeth
our life as a bird escaped from snare of trappers
the snare is broken and we have escaped
our help is in the name of יְהוָה who makes heaven and earth

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Psalm 123

A song of the steps
To you
the one sitting in the heavens
I lift up my eyes

look now
as the eyes of servants to the hand of masters
as the eyes of a maid to the hand of a mistress
so our eyes to יְהוָה our God
until he will have mercy on us

have mercy on us יְהוָה
have mercy on us
for greatly are we filled with contempt
exceeding filled
our very life the scorn of those at ease
the contempt of the proud

Psalm 122

A song of the steps
Of David
I rejoiced when they said to me
to the house of יְהוָה we will go
our feet will be standing in your gates Jerusalem
Jerusalem is that one
built as a city
to be coupled together as one

there the tribes ascend
the tribes of יְהוָה a testimony to Israel
to give thanks to the name of יְהוָה
for there sit the thrones for judgment
the thrones of the house of David

ask peace for Jerusalem
those loving you will prosper
let peace be in your walls
prosperity in your citadels

for companions and friends
I will say let peace be in you
for the house of יְהוָה our God
I will seek your good

Psalm 121

A song of the steps
I will lift up my eyes to the hills from where comes my help
my help is from יְהוָה who makes heaven and earth
he will not let your foot be moved
he who keeps you will not snooze
Behold he who keeps Israel will not snooze or sleep

יְהוָה keeps you
יְהוָה your shade at hand on your right
by day the sun will not smite you
nor the moon in the night
יְהוָה will keep you from all evil
he will keep your very life
יְהוָה will keep your going and your coming
from now and forever

Psalm 120

Imagine that the poet's own tongue and lips are the ones for war

A song of the steps
To יְהוָה in my trouble I called and he answered me
יְהוָה snatch my being from lying lips from a deceitful tongue
what gives with you or what will do for you
deceitful tongue?
arrows of the mighty sharpened with coals of broom

woe to me for I live a charade
I tent in the tents of darkness
this my being has long put up with one hating peace
I speak for peace
they for the battle

Psalm 117

Praise יְהוָה all nations
be free in him all the peoples
for great towards us is his loving kindness
and the faithfulness of יְהוָה is forever
Hallelu Yah

Psalm 116

We love because he first loved us - I know you are not used to reading this psalm this way - but why not? Notice of course the ellipsis in the second line.

I love
for יְהוָה heard my voice
my supplication
for he inclined his ear to me
and in my days I will call

the cords of death surrounded me
and pains of Sheol found me
trouble and sorrow I find
so I call to the name of יְהוָה
I beseech you יְהוָה deliver my life

Gracious is יְהוָה and righteous
and our God is merciful
יְהוָה keeps the simple
I was brought low and he saves me

Return my being to your rest
for יְהוָה has matured you
for he delivered my life from death
my eyes from tears
my foot from expulsion
I will walk in the presence of יְהוָה
in the lands of the living

I believed so I spoke
I myself was greatly afflicted
I myself said in my fear
every human deceives

what will I return to יְהוָה for all his benefits to me?
the vessel of salvation I will bear
and on the name of יְהוָה I will call
my vows to יְהוָה I will complete
let it be before all his people

Precious in the eyes of יְהוָה is the death of those under his protection
I pray יְהוָה for I myself am your servant
I myself your servant and child of your faithfulness
you have loosed my bonds

to you I will offer the offering of thanksgiving
and on the name of יְהוָה I will call
my vows to יְהוָה I will complete
let it be before all his people
in the courts of the house of יְהוָה
in the centre of Jerusalem
Hallelu Yah

Psalm 114

This psalm has neither heading nor sound of praise. I have several piles of psalms without particular structural significance - still hidden in the chart. How does Psalm 107 get to 110? Why are there hallels in various spots in this book? I am thinking that a study of verb usage might yield some fruit - I hope to pursue it in the new year as part of a third pass that may reveal some more 'logic' in the editing of the psalter.

When Israel came out from Egypt
the house of Jacob from strange speakers
Judah became his sanctuary
Israel his parables

the sea saw and fled
the Jordan was driven back
the hills skipped like rams
the little hills like lambkin

what is it to you sea that you fled
Jordan that you were driven back
hills that you skipped like rams
little hills like lambkin?

from the presence of the Lord tremble O earth
from the presence of the God of Jacob
who turns the rock into troubled waters
the flint into a fountain of waters

Psalm 115

God's pleasure in creation and the subject of idols is echoed in psalm 135. Palestrina and Kenneth Branagh's Henry V make Non nobis famous.

Not to us יְהוָה not to us
but to your name be glory
for your loving-kindness and your faithfulness

why will the nations say
where pray tell is their God?
but our God is in the heavens
all that he delighted in he did

their idols are silver and gold
work of the hands of a human
mouth they have and speak not
eyes they have and see not
ears they have and hear not
nose they have and smell not
their hands and they feel not
their feet and they walk not
nor do they mutter with their neck
like them their makers will become
not to mention all that are trusting in them

Israel trust in יְהוָה
their help and their shield is he
House of Aaron trust in יְהוָה
their help and their shield is he
you who fear יְהוָה trust in יְהוָה
their help and their shield is he

יְהוָה remembers us and will bless
he will bless the house of Israel
he will bless the house of Aaron
he will bless those fearing יְהוָה
the small with the great

יְהוָה will increase you
you and your children
you are the blessed of יְהוָה who made heaven and earth
the heavens of heavens belongs to יְהוָה
but the earth he has given to the children of dust

the dead will not praise Yah
nor all descending to silence
but we will bless Yah
from now and for ever to the age
Hallelu Yah

Psalm 113

Hallelu Yah
Praise him servants of יְהוָה
Praise the name of יְהוָה
Blessed be the name of יְהוָה
from now and forever
from the rising of the sun to his going out
the name of יְהוָה is to be praised

high above all nations יְהוָה
over the heavens his glory
who is like יְהוָה our God dwelling on high
humbling himself to see in the heavens and on the earth?

raising from the dust the languid
from the dump lifting the poor
to make him dwell with princes
with the princes of his people
who makes the barren to dwell in a house
a joyful mother of children
Hallelu Yah

Psalm 138

of David
I will give you thanks with all my heart
before gods I will sing your praise
I will bow down to your holy temple and praise your name
for your loving-kindness and for your faithfulness
for you magnify your word by your full name

In the day I called
when you answered me
you encouraged me with strength in my life
יְהוָה all kings of earth will give you thanks
for they have heard the words of your mouth
and they shall sing of the ways of יְהוָה
for great is the glory of יְהוָה

For high is יְהוָה yet he meets the lowly
and the haughty he knows from afar
though I walk in midst of trouble you quicken me
against the wrath of my enemies you spread your hand
and you save me by your right hand

יְהוָה will complete his work for my sake
יְהוָה your mercy is forever
do not forsake the work of your hands

Psalm 137

By the torrents of Babel - there we sat
yea we wept in remembering Zion
on willows in the midst of her we hung our strings
for there our captors asked us the words of a song
and our tormentors mirth
Sing to us a song of Zion
how will we sing such a song of יְהוָה on strange ground?

If I forget you Jerusalem
let my right hand forget
let my tongue cleave to my palate
if I do not remember you
if I do not take you Jerusalem as my chief mirth

Remember יְהוָה of the children of Edom
in the day of Jerusalem
those saying
expose her to the foundations

Devastating daughter of Babel
happy the one who makes peace with you
even weans you as you weaned us
happy the one who takes and dashes
your unweaned against the rock

Friday, December 26, 2008

Psalm 135

Hallelu Yah
Praise the name of יְהוָה
Praise him servants of יְהוָה
who stand in the house of יְהוָה
in the courts of the house of our God
Hallelu Yah
for יְהוָה is good
make music to his name for beauty
for Yah has chosen Jacob for himself
Israel for his own treasure

for I myself know יְהוָה is great
and our Lord than all the gods
all that pleased יְהוָה he did
in the heavens and in the earth
in the seas and all deeps

bringing the mist from the ends of the earth
lightnings for the rain he made
delivering the wind out of his treasury

who struck the firstborn of Egypt both human and animal
He set miracles and wonders to your belly O Egypt
to Pharaoh and to all his servants
who chastised great nations and destroyed countless kings

so Sihon king of the Amorites
and so Og king of fruitful Bashan
and so all the kings of lowland Caanan
and gave their lands as inheritance
an inheritance to Israel his people

יְהוָה your name is for ever
יְהוָה your memory from age to age
for יְהוָה will govern his people
and all his servants he will console

The pained fetishes of the nations are silver and gold
the works of the hands of earthlings
a mouth they have but they don't speak
eyes they have but they don't see
ears they have but they don't listen

ha! no spirit being there in their mouths
those who make them become like them
and all who trust in them

House of Israel bless יְהוָה
House of Aaron bless יְהוָה
House of Levi bless יְהוָה
Those fearing יְהוָה bless יְהוָה
Blessed be יְהוָה from Zion dwelling in Jerusalem
Hallelu Yah

Psalm 134

I confess for the moment I do not know what to do with the solo קֹדֶשׁ

This will be a stimulus for some more detailed word and grammatical studies.

Another question - given the distance of the relative clause 'making heaven and earth' from the usual target for its modification (the Lord), does this poem imply that when God blesses, he makes heaven and earth at that moment.

Update: I note that the Septuagint has an extra line [below] - maybe copied from the next psalm. So I added the necessary preposition as the Greek has it.

A song of the steps
Behold bless יְהוָה all servants of יְהוָה
those standing in the house of יְהוָה
[in the courts of the house of our God]
in the nights
lift up your hands
[in the] sanctuary
and bless יְהוָה
יְהוָה will bless you from Zion
making heaven and earth

Psalm 109

Last year I did some detailed work on the structure of this psalm. I wonder how such can be revealed in sequential text only.

For the leader
of David
A Psalm
God of my prayer do not be silent
for the mouth of a criminal and the mouth of deceit are open against me
they speak to me with a false tongue
with hate-speech they surround me
and they battle me without cause

for my love they are my accusers but I, I am a prayer
and they return to me evil for good
hatred for my love
set over him a criminal
and let the accuser stand at his right hand

in his judgment let him come out a criminal
and his prayer let it become the sin
let his days be short and let another take his office
let his children be orphans and his wife a widow

and wandering let his children wander and let them beg
let them seek from their wastelands
let the creditor catch all that is his
and let the strangers spoil his work

let there be to him no dragging out of mercy
and let there be no grace to his orphans
let his followers be cut off in the generation to come
let their name be blotted out

let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with יְהוָה
and the sin of his mother let it not be blotted out
let them be before יְהוָה continually
that he may cut off their memory from the earth

because he did not remember to do mercy
but he persecuted the poor and needy one
to kill the one with a broken heart

as he loved cursing so let it come to him
as he did not delight in blessing so let it be distant from him
as he put on cursing like clothing
so it will come like water in his midst and like oil into his bones
let it be to him as a garment wrapping him
and a binding continually holding him

These are the wages of my accusers from יְהוָה
and of those speaking evil of my life
but you יְהוָה my Lord do to me on account of your name
for your mercy is good

deliver me for I am poor and needy
and my heart is pierced in my midst
as a declining shadow I fade away
I am tossed around like a locust
my knees are weak from fasting
and my flesh is lean of fatness
and I, I have become a reproach to them

they stare at me
they shake their heads
Help me יְהוָה my God
Save me for your mercy
and they will know that it is your hand
this you יְהוָה have done

Let them curse but you will bless
they will rise
let them be ashamed
but let your servant rejoice
let my accusers put on confusion
let them wrap themselves as a mantle with their shame

I will praise יְהוָה greatly with my mouth and among many
I will praise him for he will stand at the right hand of the poor
to save him from those judging his life