Saturday, January 10, 2009

Rarely used words in the Psalter - 10

We have not quite finished with Psalm 7. I had a bizarre query that made me miss the obvious. There is yet another rarely used word דלק which I have rendered as related to burning - a continuing metaphor for Hell.
his arrow for burnings he will make

There is something uniquely expressed about God's indignation and fire in this psalm - and in Psalm 10 where this word is also used

In pride criminal burns poor

and the playful acrostic enters a confusing section. You really need to read the whole frantic poem to get the turbulence suggested in this word at the beginning of the non-acrostic section.

Finally in this psalm is the pit that is dug חפר.

A pit he will dig and will explore it
and will fall into the depths that he made

This word occurs also in Psalm 35:7 where the subject of the verbs is not ambiguous as it is in Psalm 7

because for nothing they hid a pit for me
their net for nothing
they dig for my life
Let destruction come upon him unknown to him
and let his net which he hid catch him
in destruction he will fall

It is this psalm and other verses about nets and pits and digging that allow a translator to remove the ambiguity from Psalm 7.

- well it's obvious what it means, eh. Why would God fall into a pit? Is he blind or something?

But why would we remove ambiguity? If the psalm says such-and-such or fails to say what-I-think-it-should-say - why would I presume 'to restore' something that in a momentary whim seems meaningful to me? As if words might fly over the centuries to my writing desk.

- Oh - right you are, Bob - that's exactly what I meant - well done!

No friends, and no, Beloved, or to steal a lovely phrase, no, my gentle snowflakes, I will try and avoid such an imposition - but be sure to correct me if you think I need it.

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