Saturday, January 03, 2009

Rarely used words in the Psalter - 3

In Psalm 2 we have a rare root נסך. The traditional translation is of course

I myself have set וַאֲנִי נָסַכְתִּי that one - my own king in Zion, my holy hill

After all, what do you do with a king? You establish or set him up (qal perfect). But curiously, this is the only use of נסך with that translation. The other usage of נסך in the Psalter (Psalm 16:4 - qal imperfect) and most of the other uses in the rest of the canon are used for the act of pouring out an offering. The curious thing about the offering in Psalm 16 is that it is negative and can be conceptually matched with the negative expression of resurrection. The use of drink-offerings (same root) is unique to Psalm 16 but frequent (63 times) in the rest of the canon.

I will not offer their offerings בַּל־אַסִּיךְ נִסְכֵּיהֶם with blood
and I will not put their names on my lips
יְהוָה is the portion of my field and my cup
for you will not abandon my life to the place of the dead
You will not allow your righteous to see a pit
You will make known to me a path of Life
satisfaction of joys in your presence
pleasures unending at your right hand

The not's are matched only conceptually since a different particle (לֹא) is used in the second pair.

Another use of נסך with the translation 'set up' is in Proverbs 8:23 נִסַּכְתִּי (niphal) speaking of Wisdom. What if we translated that as

From everlasting I was poured out
From the beginning
Before ever the earth was

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