Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Last Acrostic - Zonked by Psalm 145

A praise of David

I will lift you up my God the king
I will bless your name always and ever
Bless you I will in every day
and I will praise your name always and ever

Great is יְהוָה and much to be praised
and his greatness is beyond searching
Down through the ages the praise of your works
and your might will be conspicuous
Honor, glory, and of your strength I speak
your wonders I voice

Vocal they will be of ferocity and your fearfulness
I will recount your greatness
Zonked in the presence of your abundance they shall pour out their speech
and they will sing of your righteousness

Compassionate and merciful is יְהוָה
patient of face and of great kindness
To all יְהוָה is good
and his compassion is over all his works

יְהוָה all your works will praise you
and your saints will bless you
Kingdom glory will be their talk
and they will speak of your power

Lo, revealing to the children of dust
the might and glory, the honor of his reign
Making your reign a reign for all times
and your rule for every age to every age

Sustains יְהוָה all the fallen
and he raises up all the distressed
Eyes all hope to you
and you give them their food in its season
Perfect, you open your hand
satisfying the delight of all that is

So righteous is יְהוָה in all his ways
and kind in all his works
Quick is יְהוָה to all calling him
to all who call him in truth

Rejoicing he will bring delight to those fearing him
and he will hear their cry and will save them
Showing protection יְהוָה to one and all loving him
and annihilating all the wicked

To the praise of יְהוָה my mouth will speak
and let all-flesh bless his holy name always and ever

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Acrostics (119)

Psalm 119 is the most tightly woven micro recurrence structure in the whole Bible. A year ago July I first finished my draft of this psalm. [A year later, I am working though it again letter by letter - see the sidebar - these are, with the letters in Ruth, a study of grammar.] Other posts illustrating my early analysis are here, here, here, here, here, and here. This image illustrates all the recurring words in gory color.

I am translating Torah as teaching rather than law. Law is misleading to the postmodern. Teaching is not impersonal but engaging and is never independent of the teacher. They shall all be taught by God. And I am distinguishing word DBR from word IMRH since the Psalmist clearly distinguishes these two. IMRH I have translated as promise.

My initial letters are arbitrary. I didn't have the advantage of vav - the Hebrew letter that made one set of 8 verses very easy. There is no word in Hebrew that begins with vav, but it can be the first letter of any word! I used the Latin W for V.

I have largely followed the alef-bet, but I refused zayin and doubled the use of yod - in this creative patch, I thought a double yod would have symbolic value. (More likely, it just happened.) I also have used C for Chet, F for kaf, and S three times for samech, tsade, and shin/sin. For the glottal stops, Aleph is A and Ayin is I. And of course I typed T twice too.

Psalm 119
All joy for those who are the complete of the way
who walk in the teaching of יְהוָה
All joy for those observing his testimonies
they seek him with their whole heart
Also they do no injustice
they walk in his ways
And you commanded your precepts
to keep in full
Ah that my ways were directed
to keep your statutes
And then I would not be ashamed
to gaze on all your commandments
And I will praise you with an upright heart
when I learn the judgments of your righteousness
And I will keep your statutes
you will not forsake me in full perpetuity
But how will a youth cleanse his path
to keep it for your word?
By all my heart I have sought you
do not let me stray from your commandments
By my heart I have hid your promise
in order that I will not sin against you
Blessed are you יְהוָה
teach me your statutes
By my lips I have declared
all the judgments of your mouth
By the way of your testimonies
I have rejoiced more than all sufficiency
By your precepts I will muse
and I will look to your paths
By your statutes I will delight
nor will I forget your word
Grow your servant
and I will live and keep your word
Give sight to my eyes
I will see wonders in your teaching
Guest I am on the earth
do not hide from me your commandments
Ground down is my being
for longing at all times for your judgments
Giving rebuke, you have cursed the presumptuous
erring from your commandments
Get from me ignominy and contempt
for I have observed your testimonies
Great princes sat and spoke against me
your servant will meditate on your statutes
Grand are your testimonies and my delight
they are my human counsels
Dust-cleaved is my being
give me life by your word
Declared have I my ways and you heard me
teach me your statutes
Direct my discernment in the way of your precepts
and I will meditate on your wonderful works
Drips my being with grief
strengthen me according to your word
Deceitful way remove from me
and grace me with your teaching
Deliberated have I a way of faith
I have agreed with your judgments
Determined I cleave to your testimonies
יְהוָה do not put me to shame
Direct by your commandments I will run
for you enlarge my heart
Help me learn יְהוָה the way of your statutes
and I will observe with consequence
Have me understand and I will observe your teaching
and I will keep it with a whole heart
Have me go in the pathway of your commandments
for I have delighted in them
Hearten me to your testimonies
and not to unjust profit
Hide my eyes from gazing on emptiness
give me life in your way
Hold to your servant your promise
which is to your fear
Hide my reproach that I have feared
for your judgments are good
Here I have longed for your precepts
in your righteousness give me life
Well come to me is your steadfast love יְהוָה
your salvation because of your promise
Wherewith I will answer a word to one reproaching me
for I trust in your word
Word of truth do not remove from my mouth utterly
for I have hoped in your judgments
Watch over your teaching I will
continually to the age and for ever
Walk in maturity I will
for I have sought your precepts
Words of your testimonies before kings I will have
and I will not be ashamed
Wherefore my delight will be in your commandments
which I have loved
Wave my hands I will to your commandments which I have loved
and I will meditate on your statutes
You remember a word to your servant
by which you give me hope
Yes - this word is my comfort in my trouble
for your promise gives me life
Yet the presumptuous hold me in great derision
I have not fallen away from your teaching
Your judgments I bring to presence from of old יְהוָה
and I comfort myself
Yang of fire grasps me
from the wicked forsaking your teaching
Yin of songs your statutes have become to me
in the house of my lifetime
Your name I have remembered in the night יְהוָה
I have kept your teaching
You are mine
for I have observed your precepts
Chosen portion, mine you are יְהוָה
I have vowed to keep your word
Craved have I your presence with all my heart
have mercy on me remembering your promise
Considered have I my ways
and turned my feet to your testimonies
Came quickly I did
and I would not delay to keep your commandments
Companies of the wicked robbed me
I have not ignored your teaching
Come midnight I arise to give thanks to you
for the judgments of your righteousness
Companion am I to all who fear you
and are keepers of your precepts
Covenant mercy yours, יְהוָה, has filled the earth
you will teach me your statutes
Too well you have dealt with your servant
יְהוָה through your word
Teach me good taste and discernment
for I have believed in your commandments
Time it was I was afflicted going astray
but you have guarded me in your promise
Too good are you and doing good
teach me your statutes
Those proud ones smear a lie against me
with a whole heart I will observe your precepts
Their heart is gross as fat
I will delight in your teaching
`Tis good for me that I was afflicted
so I will learn your statutes
The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver
Your hands have made me and established me
give me understanding and I will teach your commandments
Yes - those fearing you when they see me will be glad
for I have hoped for in your word
Yet I know יְהוָה that your judgments are righteous
and in faithfulness you afflicted me
You will let, I pray, your steadfast mercy strengthen me
by your promise to your servant
You will come to me in your tender love and I will live
for your teaching is my delight
Yon proud will be shamed for the deceit they dealt me
for myself, I will meditate on your precepts
You will let those who fear you turn to me
 and those knowing your testimonies
Yea, let my heart be complete in your statutes
so I will not be ashamed
Faints my being for your salvation
I have hoped in your word
Faint my eyes for your promise
saying continually when will you comfort me
For I have become like a bottle holding vapor
I have not forgotten your statutes
For how are the days of your servant
when will you do judgment against my persecutors
For me those proud ones dig pits
not of your teaching
Faithful are all your commandments
in falsehood they persecute me - help me
For scarcely they consume me in the earth
but I do not leave your precepts
For your loving kindness let me live
and I will keep the testimony of your mouth for ever
יְהוָה (LORD) for ever your word
is set in heaven
Living from generation to generation is your faithfulness
you established earth and she stands by your judgments
Lo they stand this day
for they all are your servants
Love, unless your teaching is my delight
then I have perished in my trouble
Let me never forget your precepts
for in them you have made me live
Love, to you I belong, save me
for I have sought your precepts
Lying in wait for me to destroy me are the wicked
I will be attentive to your testimonies
Lo, I saw an end to all perfection
your commandments are wide and great
My - how I love your teaching
it is my meditation every day
Me you make wiser than my enemies by your commandments
for they are mine in all time
Midst all my teachers I have insight
for your testimonies are my meditation
More than the aged I have diligence
for I have observed your precepts
Missing every path of evil I have restrained my feet
so that I will keep your word
Mid your judgments I have not turned aside
for you have taught me
More than sweet to my palate
your promise as honey to my mouth
Minding your precepts I have diligence
therefore I have hated every path of a lie
Nigh a lamp to my feet is your word
as light to my path
Now I have sworn and I will do it
to guard the judgments of your righteousness
Near to much trouble am I יְהוָה
give me life by your word
Now please accept יְהוָה the gifts of my mouth
and teach me your judgments
Now my being is in my hand continually
and I have not forgotten your teaching
Netted the wicked a snare for me
but I did not depart from your precepts
Near are your testimonies, my inheritance for ever
for they are the rejoicing of my heart
Nuanced have I my heart in doing your statutes
for ever to their purpose
Schismatics I hate
and I have loved your teaching
Secret mine and my shield are you
I have hoped in your word
Separate from me, you evildoers
for I will observe the commandments of my God
Support me for your promise so I will live
let me not be ashamed of my hope
Sustain me and I will be saved
and I will look to your statutes continually
Suspended have you all who stray from your statutes
for falsehood is their deceit
Swill you eradicated all the wicked of the earth
therefore I have loved your testimonies
Shivers from your dread my flesh
and I fear your judgments
I have dealt judgment and righteousness
do not leave me to those oppressing me
Insure your servant for good
the proud will not oppress me
I - I - my eyes - faint for your salvation
and for the promise of your righteousness
I ask you to deal with your servant according to your mercy
and teach me your statutes
I am your servant, let me understand
that I may know your testimonies
It is time to work for you יְהוָה
they have frustrated your teaching
I have loved your commandments therefore
above gold and fine gold
Indeed all your precepts I find agreeable
I hate every path of deceit
Plenty of wonders are your testimonies
therefore my being will observe them
Penetration of your words gives light
making wise the simple
Part I my mouth and sigh heavily
for my desire is in your commandments
Put your face to me and have mercy on me
for judgment to those loving your name
Place my steps in your promise
and do not let any iniquity have grasp over me
Preserve me from the oppression of a human
and I will keep your precepts
Pyre your face on your servant
and teach me Oh! your statutes
Pouring streams descend from my eyes
that they do not keep your teaching
So just you are יְהוָה
and your judgments are straightforward
Set you have the righteousness of your testimonies
and great faithfulness
Struck me out did my zeal
for my troublers forgot your words
Smeltered greatly is your promise
and your servant loves it
Small am I and of no account
I have not forgotten your precepts
Saving righteousness - yours - is righteousness for ever
and your teaching is truth
Strain and struggle stress me
your commandments are my delight
Such righteousness of your testimonies is everlasting
let me understand and I will live
Queried I with a whole heart, hear me יְהוָה
I will observe your statutes
Queried I you, save me
and I will keep your testimonies
Quested I in a twilight hour and I cried out
I wait on your word
Quested my eyes in the night watches
to meditate on your promise
Quest of mine, hear for your loving kindness יְהוָה
give me life by your judgments
Quite near are those following mischief
they are far from your teaching
Quite near are you יְהוָה
and all your commandments are truth
Quite from of old I knew about your testimonies
for you established them from everlasting
Regard my affliction and deliver me
for I do not forget your teaching
Reason my reason and redeem me
give me life in your promise
Remote is salvation from the wicked
for they do not seek your statutes
Right and great are your mercies יְהוָה
for your judgments give me life
Running after me are my many troublers
I do not waver from your testimonies
Regarded I transgressors and I was distressed
that they disregard your promise
Regard for your precepts I love יְהוָה
give me life in your loving kindness
Right away your word is truth
and every judgment of your righteousness is for ever
Sultans persecute me for nothing
but my heart stands in awe from your word
Singing I sing for your promise
as finding great booty
Scandal I hate and abhor
I love your teaching
Seven times a day do I praise you
for the judgments of your righteousness
Such great peace to those loving your teaching
and there is no stumbling for them
Steadfast is my hope in your salvation יְהוָה
and I have done your commandments
Savors my being your testimonies
and I love them greatly
So I keep your precepts and your testimonies
for all my ways are before you
To your presence let my cry come near יְהוָה
in your word give me understanding
To your presence let my supplication come
deliver me in your promise
Tumble will my lips with praise
for you have taught me your statutes
Testify will my tongue of your promise
for all your commandments are righteous
There your hand will be to help me
for I have chosen your precepts
To your salvation I have longed to come יְהוָה
and your teaching is my delight
To live let my being and it will praise you
and you will help me from your judgments
Time and again I am straying like a sheep that has perished
seek your servant for I do not forget your commandments

The Acrostics (112)

For 111 see the earlier version - where I have let the Countess have the acrostic in English letter order. Note that the paired acrostics, 111 and 112, share an active qal participle and for ever - standing in perpetuity - as inclusio. Clearly they were composed 'together'.

I continue my foolishness in Hebrew letter order, taking liberties with glottal stops and impossible letters like tsade.

Psalm 112
Hallelu Yah

A happy person fears יְהוָה
By his commandments he has much delight
Great in the earth will be his seed
Days of the upright will be blessed
High value and riches are in his house
Verily his righteousness stands in perpetuity
Zenith-bearing, light to the upright shines in darkness
He is gracious and compassionate and righteous
This is a good person, gracious and lending
Yea, he will measure his affairs with judgment
Cause he will not be moved ever
Living in the presence of the eternal, he becomes righteous
Messages of evil he does not fear
Now his heart is ready, trusting in יְהוָה
Supported is his heart, he does not fear
Even when it is that he sees his troubles
Prodigal of love, he gives to the poor
Standing in perpetuity is his righteousness
Quite full his horn, lifted up in glory
Rebel will see and be indignant
So shall his teeth gnash and waste away
The desire of the rebels will perish

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Structure - again

It seems to me that there are, besides the organization into books and the doxologies, two other supportable structural aspects to the Psalter:
  1. that the Psalms from 42 to 86 inclusive use Elohim more than YHWH and
  2. that Psalms 1-2 and 149 provide an opening and closing bracket to the whole Psalter.
The other relationships are more likely thematic than structural - at least that is what it looks like to my fuzzy vision at the moment. Yes there are a cluster of Davidic personal psalms at the beginning and at the end, and there are strategically placed themes like the human in creation, the royal psalms and the wisdom psalms, but it is too early for me to say if these groups are more than thematic in their positioning. And if these were real structural markers, I would expect more confirming clues.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The next steps in the structural analysis of the psalter

From a couple of posts ago, there was a quote from Wilson that seems too good to leave alone. After completing the acrostics (112, 119, 145 still to go), I will move to his royal and wisdom frames:
Wilson speaks in a more recent essay of a "Royal Covenantal Frame" to the Psalter, consisting of the royal Psalms 2, 72, 89, and 144, and a "Final Wisdom Frame," consisting of Psalms 1, 73, 90, 107, and 145 (the first psalms of Books I, III, IV, and V, along with the final psalm of Book V proper).
Some of these (in black) overlap with my first impressions of structure - more to discover...

Hmm - already discovering - how does any royal frame omit psalm 110? or 45? I bet there are some wisdom issues too that are shortchanged in such a short list...

Stay tuned - and please do give me some critical feedback on the posts linked on the right.

Psalm 37 - the middle

Ronald Benun in his detailed article on the Acrostics in Book 1 demonstrates with word counts the central component of Psalm 37. I did not see his result in detail before the same words jumped out at me. In my translation they are:

cause the wicked will perish and the enemies of יְהוָה
as the prized fat of lambs they will find their end
in smoke they will find their end

What does this mean? It means that the sacrifice has a meaning for the psalmist. It symbolizes the end of the wicked. What perfect lamb do you know that brings to an end wickedness in you?

I am not a detail student of the cult - but don't you think this is a somewhat unexpected meaning? We read of sin offerings, guilt offerings, scapegoats, the unblemished lamb as substitute and so on - but did we ever see a holocaust and marvel at the end of the prized fat and think - that's where the wicked, the enemies of my Lord end?

Don't forget Pogo - we have met the enemy and it is us. But equally, don't lose the message of the cult and its implications for the offering of the NT. Maybe they recognized the truth of Pogo in their reasoning about sacrifice and we, privileged in our ignorance, cannot imagine they were so sophisticated.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Psalm 22

Here is the ultimate positive and negative in one song to the hart of the dawn. Psalm 22 presents a different challenge from the acrostics. The traditional is so familiar one can scarcely avoid it. So I looked at the Greek - it is right away so different!
My God, my God, attend me; why did you forsake me?
The words of my trespasses keep me far from my salvation(!)
And in verse 30, the Greek is again very different.
καὶ ἡ ψυχή μου αὐτῷ ζῇ - and my soul lives for him (NETS).
וְנַפְשׁוֹ לֹא חִיָּה - even he that cannot keep his soul alive (JPS 1917).
I offer a different translation below based on identifying the 'his' with the 'my' of verse 1. What do you think?

Also to note verse 17 (a crux - I have followed John Hobbins note - see here) and 30 (see this text critical note again from JH here). This verse is equivalent but odd in both Greek and Hebrew:
All the fat ones of the earth will eat and worship (JPS)
To him shall all the proud of the earth bow down (RSV)
(Masoretic )אָכְלוּ וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ כָּל-דִּשְׁנֵי-אֶרֶץ
(Amended )אַך לוֹ יִשְׁתַּחֲוּוּ כָּל-יְשֵׁנֵי-אֶרֶץ
All who sleep in the earth will worship in his presence
For the leader to the hart of the dawn, A Psalm of David
My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?
so distant from my salvation are the words of my groaning
My God, I call by day and you do not answer
and by night and there is no rest for me

But you are holy
seated on the praises of Israel
In you our fathers trusted
They trusted and you delivered them
To you they cried and you rescued them
In you they trusted and were not ashamed

But I am a worm and no man
a reproach of humanity and despised of the people
All who look will deride me
They purse their lips
They toss their head
Roll with  יְהוָה
He will deliver him
Let him snatch him away
for he delights in him

For you took me from a belly
giving me trust on the breasts of my mother
On you I was cast from a womb
From my mother's belly you are my God
Do not be distant from me for trouble is near
for there is no help

Many bulls circled me
The valiant of Bashan surrounded me
They gape at me
their mouths a lion tearing and roaring
Like water I am poured out
and all my bones are separated
My heart is like wax melted in the midst of my loins
My strength is dried up like a potsherd
and my tongue cleaves to my jaws
and you will bring me into the dust of death

For dogs circled me
An assembly of evildoers enclosed me
They gouge my hands and my feet
I will tell all my bones
They gape and stare at me
They part my clothing among them
and for my garment they cast lots

But you, יְהוָה, be not distant
Hurry, my hart, to my help
Snatch my being away from the sword
my uniqueness away from the dog's power
Save me from the lion's mouth

from the horns of wild bulls you have answered me
I will declare your name to my kin
In the midst of the congregation I will praise you
You who fear יְהוָה praise him
All the seed of Jacob glorify him
and stand in awe of him all the seed of Israel
For he has not despised nor detested the affliction of the afflicted
and he has not concealed his presence from him
but when he cried for help to him he heard him

From you is my praise in the great congregation
My vows I will pay before those who fear him
The poor will eat and be satisfied
Those who seek יְהוָה will praise him
May your heart live for ever

All the ends of the earth will remember and will turn to יְהוָה
All the tribes of the nations will worship in your presence
for to יְהוָה is the kingdom and he governs in the nations
All who sleep in the earth will worship in his presence
All who go down to the dust will bow
for his being he could not keep alive

A seed will serve him
It will be recounted of the Lord for a generation
They will come and will tell his righteousness to a people to be born
for he has done it

(Note v30 for his being he could not keep alive - i.e. no one else but God could have restored his life. The antecedent of his is the singular man of verse 1.)

Rearranged links

The other day I mistakenly printed a blog entry and got 16 pages of scrap. So I have turfed the snippet from the blog list - TMI as they say.

I have added links to my own smoothed second draft translations. In all cases these are largely English only and text only in contrast to my first draft which was done with a diagramming tool and is slavishly literal as to word order in order to hear and see micro structures.

I have added a link to a review of books on the Psalms from 1985-1999 (courtesy of John Hobbins whose site has innumerable useful links). It is curious to me that I have glanced at and even studied a few of the books listed. Here's a snippet:
Each of the five "books" within the Psalter is concluded by a psalm ending with a short doxology (Psalms 41, 72, 89, 106, 145). An important indicator not only of the Psalter's structure but also of one of its themes is the occurrence of royal psalms at significant junctures (Psalms 2, 72, 89), a point noted already by Claus Westermann and Brevard Childs. For Wilson, the fact that these psalms occur early in the Psalter, in Books I-III, whereas after this, the focus is on psalms of Yahweh's kingship (Psalms 93-99, 145), is significant. He sees in Psalm 89 signs that the Davidic monarchy has "failed" and therefore, in Books IV-V, royal psalms are deemphasized and Yahweh's kingship hailed (especially in Psalms 93-99), as the Psalter proclaims Yahweh's kingship above all else.

Wilson speaks in a more recent essay of a "Royal Covenantal Frame" to the Psalter, consisting of the royal Psalms 2, 72, 89, and 144, and a "Final Wisdom Frame," consisting of Psalms 1, 73, 90, 107, and 145 (the first psalms of Books I, III, IV, and V, along with the final psalm of Book V proper).
It seems that structural and holistic approaches to the Psalter are 'in the air' and I have picked up the disease, dis ease that is with too great an emphasis on archeological approaches to communication with the ancient authors.

In truth, I do not yet know what I will discover - even after 2 years of close study in this bootstrap learning that I am doing. All helps are welcome from people and books, online and offline, subliminal and opportunistic - but I must continue to do the homework myself. And I think I am getting some help - with Thanks to All and Sundry.

I can report that after two years, I can almost dream the alef-bet in sequence. Also, even with a few weeks off, the Hebrew reading is a little easier today than it was three months ago. I maintain my learn-it-like-a-child attitude. Children do not memorize grammar and they use words but do not memorize them. Slow it is, but the brain still works. I tell you this also - that teaching is the best learning process. I am hearing Mendelssohn's great setting of Psalm 55 in my head: הַאֲזִינָה אֱלֹהִים תְּפִלָּתִי Hear my prayer, O God.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Acrostics (4)

Psalm -37. I offer this smoothed out version without color coding. Are there circles of thought here? Is there something surrounded by them? On the surface, the psalm seems like good moral instruction. But what is primary is the engagement with the one who bears the Holy Name: trust, alignment, endurance, stillness, expectation, completeness, and steadfastness. These are the instructions for the human side of the engagement. On the divine side are a host of promises and results. Do we have here a clear intimation of the fruits of the Spirit?

Of David
about evildoers do not fuss yourself
do not be jealous over workers of injustice
for like grass they will quickly wither
and like green foliage they will languish

be trusting in יְהוָה and do good
you will live in the land and pasture in faith
gently delight exquisitely in יְהוָה and he will give you the desires of your heart

get your way with יְהוָה and trust in him and he will make things happen
and he will bring your righteousness as light and your judgment as the midday

dumb - mute - be still in יְהוָה
endure your birth in him
do not fuss over one who prospers in his way
of someone working schemes

have done with anger and give up wrath
do not fuss in any way to do evil for evildoers will be cut off
but those waiting for יְהוָה will inherit the land

verily yet a little and there is no wicked
and you will consider carefully concerning his place and that he is not
and the poor will inherit the land and will delight exquisitely in great peace

zoning in are the wicked against the righteous and they gnash against him with their teeth
my Lord laughs at them for he sees that their day is coming

ha! the wicked have drawn a sword and bent their bow to make poor and needy fall
to slay those whose way is upright
their sword will enter their own heart and their bows will be broken

the little good of the righteous one is better than the tumult of the many wicked
for the arms of the wicked will be broken but יְהוָה supports the righteous

יְהוָה intimates the days of the complete and their inheritance will be for ever
they will not be ashamed in a time of evil and in days of famine they will be satisfied

cause the wicked will perish and the enemies of יְהוָה
as the prized fat of lambs they will find their end
in smoke they will find their end

loaned to is the wicked one and he will not repay but the righteous is merciful and giving
for from his blessing they inherit land
in his denial they are cut off

made from יְהוָה are the steps of a warrior and he will take pleasure in his way
for he will not fall thrown down for יְהוָה supports with his hand

now old I have been young but I have not seen the righteous forsaken
and his seed seeking bread
all the day he is merciful and lending and his seed blessed

stay from evil and do good and live for ever
for יְהוָה loves judgment and does not forsake those of his mercy
for ever they are kept but the seed of the wicked will be cut off

those righteous ones will inherit land and live endlessly
there the mouth of the righteous will meditate wisdom and his tongue will speak judgment
the teaching of his God in his heart
his goings are not unstable

the wicked spies on the righteous and seeks to put him to death
יְהוָה will not abandon the one in his hand and will not condemn him when he is judged

quietly wait on יְהוָה and keep his way and he will lift you up to inherit the land
and you will see the wicked are cut off

ruthless I have seen the wicked and spreading like a luxuriant bay tree
yet he will pass on and then he is not
and I looked for him and he could not be found

shelter the complete and note the upright for the end of this one is peace
for transgressors will be destroyed together
the end of the wicked will be cut off

the salvation of the righteous is from יְהוָה
from their strength in a time of trouble
and יְהוָה will help them and will deliver them
he will deliver them from the wicked and save them for they take refuge in him

Notes: land (or earth) is never with the definite article but requires it in English. I.e., this psalm does not imply 'the' land.

The Acrostics (3)

Psalm 34

What will I say of יְהוָה? What right have I to say anything? What you to listen? Can you hear or are you deaf?

A friend said to me - I have read the Greek - I have read Barth on Romans - and Paul has no reason to celebrate his statement about God shutting us up into disobedience and then having mercy. It is like a boy who catches a fly and tears off its wings and then says "Fly". It's the same Greek as the modern tongue - go stand in the corner. God creates stubbornness and then Paul celebrates mercy?

I am silenced. The letter with perhaps the greatest impact on the Western psyche put down by un nouveau Job.

No one has a chance here. Find your pleasure where you may, for you are a fly on a sweet sweaty soiled place - should be just about right for you. Forget Genesis 1. Creation is not good. You are the plaything of the Gods whether they 'are' or not. You are a speck on an ocean of randomness. Offal for awful. Buzz off before I remove your wings.

And as for the NT, why pay attention to any story of a disembodied Hellenist myth or a bitterly disappointed Semitic tradition? Bite the extreme - you are subject to war, dearth, age, ague, tyrannies, despair, law, chance and death - there are no imagined four corners for the angels' trumpets. There is no place for you to know the meat of God in the flesh - apart from your own fantasy.

So why did Job finally give in? And why did Paul believe his own rhetoric? Who would dare invite to taste and see that יְהוָה is good? Where is the substance of the name that we say we have trusted in?

Of David when he feigned madness in the face of Abimelek and he drove him away and he went
Alef. Any old glottal stop will do to begin.
I will bless יְהוָה at all times
continually his praise will be in my mouth
breath - my breath will glory in יְהוָה
the humble will hear and be glad
greatly magnify יְהוָה with me
and let us exalt his name together
What's this magnification? Who wants to be 'umble?
Would you be satisfied with being glad when your wings are dismembered?

determined I sought יְהוָה and he heard me
and from all my fears he delivered me
him they paid attention to and were radiant
and their faces were not embarrassed
How does he know about someone else's radiance?
Am I embarrassed or just honest? I am not heard.
I am not delivered. I am not radiant.
What moonshine are you on about?
zis poor one calls and יְהוָה hears
Don't use baby talk with me
and from all his distress he saves him
I tell you, I am beyond salvageable - where is the peace I know I want?
hovering, the angel of יְהוָה surrounds those who fear him and rescues them
Is it rescue I want? You do calm me a little - no risk - no life...
taste and see for יְהוָה is good
happy the mighty that will trust in him
Taste - the Eucharist in the Psalms - how did you do it?
ye his holy ones, fear יְהוָה for there is no lack to those fearing him
cubs - young lions want and are voracious but those seeking יְהוָה will not lack any good
Listen to me, children, come and I will teach you the fear of יְהוָה

Man - who is it desiring life, loving days, to see good
nip your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit
stay from evil and do good, seek peace and hunt for it

eyes, those of יְהוָה are on the righteous and his ears are on their cry for help
face, that of יְהוָה is against those doing evil to cut off their remembrance from the earth

tza! they cry out and יְהוָה hears and he rescues them from all their distress
quite near is יְהוָה to those broken of heart and he saves many a crushed spirit

righteous ones know many evils and from all of them יְהוָה will deliver him
sheltering all his bones so that not one of them will be broken
the wicked will be slain by their own evil and those hating the righteous will bear their guilt
יְהוָה redeems the life of his servants and all taking refuge in him will not bear their guilt

You don't really need a word from me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Acrostics (2)

Psalm 25 is the next acrostic. By my observation, it is missing bet, vav and qof. Perhaps the second word בְּךָ בָטַחְתִּי of the second verse is the bet word.

Apart from the alef-bet nature of this psalm, there are 5 recurring words shared by the first three verses and the last five [my life, shame, lifting up, enemy, and waiting]. The verbal relations are color-coded in the English below and visible through color and connectors in the first draft in the diagram. This is one of the psalms analyzed in A Rabbi Reads the Psalms, by Jonathan Magonet, a very fine piece of work to help us read these prayers. The center of the work, verses 4-17, is also filled with recurring words.

One has to ask - what is the essence surrounded by the opening and closing structural elements? I think on reading, even with the oddball word choices, you will see that the direction is a good covenant, a knowledge of grace - that salvation is God's initiative, justification - that our dependence for what is right is on God's goodness, the fruits of the Spirit - that the sinner and the poor are given personal direction, and love - that we wait for his loving kindness and redemption from all troubles. Here as in many psalms, the individual gives voice to the knowledge of God with him and therefore God with Israel and therefore ultimately, God with us. (As usual, there is the odd word added in English to form the acrostic.)

Of David
I will lift up my life to you יְהוָה my God
because in you I have trusted
I will not be ashamed
My enemies will not rejoice against me

God, moreover, all who wait on you will not be ashamed
they will be ashamed who act treacherously for nothing

Directions from you יְהוָה let me know
Teach me your paths

Head me in your truth and teach me
for you are my God, my salvation
on you I wait every day

Zero in with your mercies יְהוָה and your loving-kindness
for they are from everlasting

Heavy sins of my youth and my transgressions do not remember
in your loving-kindness remember you are with me
for your goodness יְהוָה

Top notch and upright is יְהוָה
so he will set sinners direction

Yes he will direct the poor with judgment
and will teach the poor his direction

Known paths of יְהוָה
loving-kindness and truth
to those keeping his covenant and his testimonies

Let it be for your name יְהוָה
to pardon my guilt for it is great

My, what's this? that for anyone fearing יְהוָה
he will set him with direction that he will choose?

Now his life he will live in good
and his seed will inherit land?

Special intimacy of יְהוָה with those fearing him
and his covenant to know them

Eyes, my eyes are continually to יְהוָה
for he will deliver my feet from any net

Phase in to me and have mercy for I am solitary and afflicted
the troubles of my heart are enlarged
bring me out of my distress

Regard my afflictions and my pain and lift up all my sins
Regard my enemies for they multiply and they hate
with violence they have hated me

Shelter my life and deliver me
let me not be ashamed for I have sheltered in you

Translate me complete and upright for I have waited for you
Redeem O God all Israel from all their troubles

Notes - Direction, head, direct are the same root DRK.
I am sure you could all improve on some of my crazy word choices.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Acrostics (1)

Before I can continue my structural analysis, I must have my rough translations smoothed [ - and corrected - Psalms 9 and 10 are really raw and rough and wrong in the images]. The exercise here moves from learning one word or phrase at a time to holding the Hebrew in one part of the mind while trying to make sense of it in one's native tongue. Obvious, I guess - but many clues are there, though not easily in my sight. So these smoothed translations are but a second draft. The act of translation is continuous dialogue.

The next set of psalms in the structure levels drafted here are the acrostics - so here goes. I am no Mary Herbert! But I will attempt to conform to the acrostic one way or another. As explained here by Ronald Benun, this acrostic has several missing letters: ד, מ, נ, ס, ע, פ, צ. The disorderly part of Psalm 10 has much in common with Psalm 7. Where do we see Christ here?

Psalm 9 and 10

For the leader
To death
of the son
A Psalm of David
א Ah, I will praise יְהוָה with all my heart
I will declare all your wonders
I will take pleasure and I will exult in you
I will make music to your name Most High

ב By turning my enemy back
let them stumble and perish from your presence
For you have made my judgment and my case
You have remained enthroned judging right

ג God, you rebuked the nations
You made violence perish
You have erased their name forever and ever
ה Here the enemy is completed
ruins enduring and cities you have destroyed
Perished is their memory of them

ו Verily, יְהוָה for ever remains
He has put right his throne for justice
And he will govern the world in righteousness
He will make the case for the peoples with equity
and יְהוָה will be secure refuge for the crushed
secure refuge in times in trouble
and they will trust in you knowing your name
for you יְהוָה do not leave those seeking you

ז Zion in Zion where יְהוָה dwells
Let all make music
Make known among the peoples his prodigality
for seeking the lives of those he remembers
He does not forget the cry of the afflicted

ח Have mercy on me יְהוָה, consider my affliction, those despising me
Lift me up from the gates of death
so that I will declare all your songs of praise
in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I will rejoice in your salvation

ט The nations are sunk into the depth they made
in this net they hid their foot is seized
יְהוָה is known
Judgment he makes
In the work of his hands he struck the wicked
Music Selah
י Into their place of the dead the wicked will turn
all nations that forget God
כ Causes of the needy will not always be forgotten
Hope of the poor will not perish for ever

Arise יְהוָה, humanity is not strong
Let the nations be judged in your presence
Put יְהוָה reverence in them
Let the nations know their humanity
יְהוָה ל LORD why do you stand in the distance
concealing yourself at times of distress?
מ, נ, ס, ע, פ, צ
In pride criminal burns poor
Let them be caught in the purposes that they have valued
For criminal boasted in the desire of his being
and blessed gain by violence that יְהוָה spurns
Criminal looks down his unseeking nose
There is no God in all his purposes
His ways are twisted in all times
High is your judgment, out of his sight
All his foes, he snorts at them
He said in his heart I will not be moved
I am not in trouble from generation to generation
He swears
his mouth full of treachery and oppression
under his tongue mischief and emptiness
He sits lying in wait in the villages hiding places
He kills the innocent
his eyes taking in the hapless secretly
He lies in wait in his covering
like a lion in its lair
He lies in wait to seize the poor
He seizes the poor
He draws him into his net
He crushes
He is collapsed
and he falls pierced by his mighty ones
He said in his heart God has forgotten
He hides his face
He will never see

ק Quash! יְהוָה God
Lift up your hand
He will not forget the poor
Since when does criminal spurn God?
He said in his heart - He will not search

ר Regard you will, for you take notice of trouble and grief to repay by your hand
To you the poor will commit
and the orphan you will help

שׁ Shatter the arm of criminal and evil one and seek out his wickedness till none is found
יְהוָה is king everlasting and for ever
Perished are the nations from his land

ת The desire of the poor you have heard
יְהוָה prepare their heart
You will make your ears hear to judge orphan and the crushed

Humanity that is from the earth will not continue oppression

9:6 God - added for the acrostic, not in the Hebrew, similarly 'verily' in verse 8, and Zion repeated verse 12.
10:1 the lamedh is in the substitution LORD for the tetragrammeton. Hashem or YHWH won't do it in this case.
10:12 quash is chosen for the acrostic, the Hebrew is Arise as at the end of Psalm 9.]

About the world
Psalm --9 ט will govern the world יִשְׁפֹּט תֵּבֵל
Psalm -18 יד world תֵּבֵל
Psalm -24 א a world תֵּבֵל
Psalm -77 יט the world תֵּבֵל
Psalm -89 יב The world תֵּבֵל
Psalm -93 א the world will not slip תֵּבֵל בַּל תִּמּוֹט
Psalm -96 י the world not to be moved תֵּבֵל בַּל תִּמּוֹט
Psalm -96 יג he will judge the world יִשְׁפֹּט תֵּבֵל
Psalm -97 ד the world תֵּבֵל
Psalm -98 ז the world תֵּבֵל
Psalm -98 ט he will judge the world יִשְׁפֹּט תֵּבֵל

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Psalm 118 - Bob's Version

This is not a grand book on one Psalm, but is stimulated by this post and because I am interested in discovering the role of the Psalms in the expression of the Gospel. (You can read most of the introduction to the grand book here.)

Give thanks to יְהוָה for good
כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ for his mercy is forever
Let Israel please say for his mercy is forever
Let the house of Aaron please say for his mercy is forever
Let all who fear יְהוָה please say for his mercy is forever
Let all you who read and write - let all please say
for his mercy is forever

This is an inclusive call - what does it mean? What is forever, (literally to the age)? What is this good ci-tov that we are to give thanks for. The same phrase is used 6 times in Genesis 1 and in Psalm 34 - taste and see that יְהוָה is good.
In the distress I called Yah
Yah answered me in a large place
יְהוָה for me - I will not fear
What can a human do to me?
If God is for us, who is against us (Romans 8:31)
יְהוָה is for me with those helping me
and I will see with those hating me
better to seek refuge in יְהוָה than to trust in a human
better to seek refuge in יְהוָה than to trust in princes

All nations encompassed me
in the name of יְהוָה indeed I will have them circumcised
They encompassed me yea encompassed me
In the name of יְהוָה indeed I will have them circumcised
They encompassed me like a swarm of bees
They burned like a fire of thorns
In the name of יְהוָה indeed I will have them circumcised

That's what the text says - don't blame me for the tanins in the wine. Perhaps we might begin to understand circumcision as the type of the death of Jesus (see Colossians 2:11). It is not so much that he needs to win his bride by slaying so many Philistines but that we, his bride, need to find our place on the horns of the altar that is his gift to us.

Pushing you push me to fall but יְהוָה has helped me
Yah is my strength and sentinel and has become to me salvation
A voice of a ringing cry and salvation in the tents of righteous ones

The right hand of יְהוָה making victory
The right hand of יְהוָה exalted
The right hand of יְהוָה making victory
I will not die for I will live and declare the works of Yah

To chasten Yah chastened me but to death he did not give me over
Open to me gates of righteousness
I will go into them
I will praise Yah
This is the gate of יְהוָה
Righteous ones will enter into it

I will praise you for you have answered me and you are to me salvation
A stone the builders rejected becomes the head of the corner
From יְהוָה is this
It is marvelous in our eyes
This is the day יְהוָה made
Rejoice and be glad in it
Now יְהוָה Save Please
Now יְהוָה Send prosperity Please

Blessed is the one coming in the name of יְהוָה
We have blessed you from the house of יְהוָה
יְהוָה is God and will show us light
Bind a sacrifice with the cords even to the horns of the altar
My God you are - I will praise you
My God I will exalt you
Give thanks to יְהוָה for good for his mercy is forever

Of course you could write a book on this psalm. Just consider the extent of the heavily loaded words of covenant in this psalm: mercy, fear, refuge, blessing, salvation, the day. How do we translate even one of them: חַסְדּוֹ XSDV - chesedo - his mercy? It is untranslatable because our tradition cannot find its understanding of the extent of the protection of God's promises in covenant. Perhaps no single word can substitute for the sense of covering, protection, loving kindness, mercy, and completeness contained in this word. How does one word come to have such weight? By repetitive usage over a long period of time in canonical tradition? Not only that - but by the joy of one knowing of the presence of such a God. Perhaps there is a chosen after all - and it is Israel, it is Aaron, it is each and all who fear Yah, it is each who reads and believes, and is blessed, and who loves and walks in the name of יְהוָה, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Commentary on Psalm 1:1-2 BMV

Following the lead of the inimitable JHV from which translation I have benefited so much in the last two years, I am going to critique the BMV translation of Psalm 1 found here - just verses 1 and 2 for the moment. Working from the Hebrew, the LXX and the Vulgate, the BMV attempts to distinguish and capture whole thoughts from the Hebrew text.

1 beatus vir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum
et in via peccatorum non stetit
et in cathedra pestilentiae non sedit
2 sed in lege Domini voluntas eius et
in lege eius meditabitur die ac nocte

1 μακάριος ἀνήρ ὃς οὐκ ἐπορεύθη ἐν βουλῇ ἀσεβῶν
καὶ ἐν ὁδῷ ἁμαρτωλῶν οὐκ ἔστη
καὶ ἐπὶ καθέδραν λοιμῶν οὐκ ἐκάθισεν
2 ἀλλ' ἢ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ κυρίου τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ
καὶ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ αὐτοῦ μελετήσει ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός

Notice how both the Latin and the Greek preserve the word order of verse 1. So the BMV retains the ancient word order. [Update - I couldn't resist the coloring]
1. Happy! is that one who has not walked in the advice of the wicked
and in the way of the sinners has not stood
and in the seat of the scornful has not sat.

vs 1. The BMV could avoid the traditional word sinner. Compare JHV villain. The form of the word order in this case is easy to reproduce without awkwardness in English. Even in French it works reasonably.
Heureux l`homme qui ne marche pas selon le conseil des méchants,
ou sur la voie des pécheurs ne s`arrête pas,
ou en compagnie des moqueurs ne s`assied pas.

Happy! is an exclamation - an overture of joy, not just a pious blessing. Avoiding the limitations of male nouns and pronouns in English leads to much grief. So BMV translates 'that one' for 'man' in verse 1 but in verse 2, BMV begins to get into trouble using awkward gerunds for the verbs.

2. Case in point: such delight in the teaching of יְהוָה
and in this teaching meditating day and night

Verse 2 is clearly an incomplete thought. This psalm is a statement about the two ways and is extensive with respect to the righteous one, and brief to the point of dismissal of the other path. Verse 2 could begin: Such a one has delight in the teaching of יְהוָה, but BMV was not satisfied with this rendition of the unique pairing of the Hebrew, כִּי אִם in this verse and verse 4. Verse 2 is not a completion of verse 1 but the beginning of something new. The Greek does not imitate this unique Hebraism, neither does the Latin, though the Latin has a nice repetition in verse 4: non sic impii non sic.

Is this Psalm about a male? Verse 1 can of course be seen as anticipating the One who is free of sin, Jesus Christ himself, who is of course male. Is such a one, male or female, happy? Joy, like the goodness of creation (Genesis 1) and the goodness of יְהוָה (Psalm 34) is a matter of faith, not necessarily of sight. How is the joy of the Son completed? (John 15:11, 16:24, 17:13) It is when the saints bind the kings. Such honour is not discovered in the Psalter until Psalm 149, a closing parenthesis to the opening of Psalms 1 and 2. So verse 2 looks forward and is not simply a commentary on verse 1.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Psalms and the New Testament

David Ker of Lingapotamic fame has posed a question on Psalms in a comment.
I guess my question about the Psalms is with regard to the key theological concepts of the New Testament. Grace, justification, the fruits of the Spirit, love. These all seem to be missing in the Psalms and thus we can't really embrace them as representative of our New Covenant experience. Second, the ideas of community and family seem lacking while nation seems to be overly prominent in ways that I don't know how to appropriate.
There are 7 positives in this question and 1 negative.

  • Grace, justification, the fruits of the Spirit, love.
  • New Covenant experience
  • community and family
  • nation
David closes with a desire to 'appropriate' but a resistance in the same.

I think David has raised a set of very important issues related to Covenant, the Chosen People, Anointing, Experience, and Universality. That he has raised them is also important - for he represents North American New Testament Evangelism in Africa as a translator. More particularly, he represents his own uniqueness in this field as wit and poet, and a graduate in Creative Literature rather than Theology.

I think there is sufficient depth to the Psalms that addresses every one of his feelings of what is lacking in the positives and also what is positive in his negative concern.

As a brief introduction in reverse order:
  • Nation - raises the scandal of particularity and the danger of parochialism, both issues must be faced by the nation and by those who are not of the nation.
  • Community and family - the Psalms embrace all peoples (e.g. 149) as do the prophets yet their story is of a particular 'family' (104-106).
  • New Covenant experience - raises the question of jealousy. Has Abel killed Cain? (139 for experience).
  • Grace, justification, the fruits of the Spirit, love. God initiates - this is grace (6,38,143), God is justified (51), the Spirit is manifest in the Anointed (2,16,18,69), and love of instruction (1,19,119) breathes the oil that flows down on the beard and collar of the clothing (133).
This is only a beginning of how we Gentiles might begin to better embrace the depth of the riches of the material we have appropriated or failed to appropriate appropriately that is contained and implied in the Psalter on its own and in the way it is used in the New Testament.

I would welcome other author's posts on this subject and the incompleteness of Christian formation that the questions raise. Equally I would welcome posts that challenge completeness in TNK as if love of God were exclusive to the NT. (Note the chiasm T-N-K-N-T - the Psalms are encircled!)

Monday, August 18, 2008

End of Holidays

Back in Victoria now - wondering what to do next with the Psalms. Phil's comments here say to me that a lot of people don't know what a treasure they have in these words.

So how do we get the message?

I will likely continue to look for end-to-end structures as I try and make my raw translations more readable.

My response to David's question below is here.