Friday, January 30, 2009

Rarely used words in the Psalter - 17

This is a 17th post on the subject of rarely used words. It is not about Psalm 17. Here are the rare words I found in Psalm 11.
Psalm 11:2אֹפֶלdarkness or secretly (opher)
Psalm 91:6, Job (5 times) and once in Isaiah 29:18

בְּמוֹin (bmo)
Job (5 times) and Isaiah (4 times)
Psalm 11:4עַפְעַפָּיו his eyelids (apapaiv)
Psalm 132:4, Job (3 times), Proverbs (4 times) and Jeremiah 9:18
Psalm 11:6גָפְרִיתpitch or brimstone (gaprit)
Job 18:15 and a few other scattered places.

זִלְעָפוֹתraging heat (zilaphot)Psalm 119:53 and Lamentations 5:10

מְנָת portion(mnat)Psalm 63:10 and 2 Chronicles (2 times) and Nehemiah (3 times)

Is there any significance to this short psalm sharing 4 rare words with Job?

Verse 2 alone shares its two rare words in 10 verses of Job. It is not hard to imagine the threat of such 'darkness' or 'obscurity' in this formative portion of Job 3:6

הַלַּיְלָה הַהוּא יִקָּחֵהוּ אֹפֶל
halaila hahu yiqaxehu, opher
The night - that night, let אֹפֶל seize it

invent your word - how does normal darkness seize light - what darkness overcomes light?

אַל־יִחַדְּ בִּימֵי שָׁנָה בְּמִסְפַּר יְרָחִים אַל־יָבֹֽא
al-yixad biyomei shana bemispar yeraxim al-yabo
Let it have no joy in the days of the year
into the number of the months of the year let it not come

And here we link to another rare word occurring in Job and Psalm 21 חדה. (xdh) In Job it signifies not joining. In Psalm 21:6 it signifies the ultimate joining of the king in joy to God's presence. (One of its glosses in BDB is joy - but the KJV uses such a gloss only in Exodus 18:9. As with all words, it gets its 'meaning' by what usage we have of it. The usages are extreme as you can see.)

תְּחַדֵּהוּ בְשִׂמְחָה אֶת־פָּנֶיךָ
tixadhu bsimxah et-paneyka
you have filled him with the joy of your presence

[Update: I note more connections between Job and the psalms here]. And what about that preposition, בְּמוֹ? Seems to be just a preposition - translatable by just about any English preposition that you want to chose: At in into through with or for. (It is one of the few prepositions that BLB bothers to enumerate.)

Eyelids occurs in close proximity to אֹפֶל in Job 3:9 - here as the dawn of the day, the fluttering of the eyelids of the sun. Mostly, as in Psalm 11:4 and Psalm 132:4 it is used in parallel with eyes.

Verse 6 touches on Sodom and Hell of course. Where else do you find brimstone and burning heat? (Well - to tell you the truth, fire is omnipresent.) As to portion, perhaps we will return to this when we get to Psalm 63. That's enough free-association for today.

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