Friday, January 02, 2009

Rarely used words in the Psalter - 1

In Psalm 2, there is a word used only twice נתק: Psalm 2:3, and Psalm 107:14. These are clearly closely connected.

The taunt of the kings is to break the bonds of יְהוָה and his anointed.

They set themselves - these kinglets of earth
these rule-makers reasoning as one
against יְהוָה and against his anointed
Let us break נְֽנַתְּקָה their monopoly מֹֽוסְרֹותֵימֹו
and kiss good-bye to their cartel

The bonds of the contentious in Psalm 107 are broken in mercy.

Sitting in darkness and shadow of death
bindings of affliction and iron
for they contended words of God
and the counsel of the Most High they spurned
and he will humble their heart with toil
they fell and there was no help
And they cry to יְהוָה in their trouble
and out of their distress he delivers them
He rescues them from darkness and shadow of death
and their bonds וּמֹוסְרֹותֵיהֶם he breaks יְנַתֵּֽק

The bonds word (מוסר) is rare also, occurring in these two passages as well as Psalm 116:16 (Here the word for loosed (פתח) is much more frequent - 18 times in the psalms).

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 לְמֹוסֵרָֽי

This sounds a little gentler than the breaking asunder of bonds - but perhaps strong willed and contentious folk need a more violent treatment.

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