Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rarely used words in the Psalter - 18

February has been a slow month. I turn my computer off frequently. And I have been waiting for some new tools to be signed in for testing. I have come across a few rare words since my 17th post on the subject at the end of January. Here are a pair from Psalm 12: זלות glossed as 'vile' used once only in this form from זלל used 8 times in the rest of the Bible. It is curious that spellings vary even for such a rare word. זלות is listed in my Hebrew Latin concordance as זלת and זלל as זולל. All the vowels are -u- with or without the mater.

The general tone of this word is vile. In Latin: vilitas, ignominia. In its purer form: prodigum abiectum vilum esse, Niphal concuti, contremere. Don't they all sound ugly - real Dark Arts stuff. (Oh and I have been reading Harry Potter).

Another rarity in this psalm:
זקק - purify - variously rendered in the KJV in the 7 other places it is used outside the psalter: refined, fine, pour, purify, purge. The Latin concordance gives percolare, liquare, purgare, fundere, solvere. Makes one think more about how fire purifies. (Yes this is the one in Malachi 3:3 that Handel set to those singing exercises.)

The other cool word in Psalm 12 is
גמר, used 5 times in the Psalter and nowhere else. KJV renders it 5 different ways: cease 1, fail 1, come to an end 1, perfect 1, perform 1.

How did I do with this word? Is it structurally significant in the Psalms? I note another unique word used in the parallel - This one shows there are two hapax words פסס unique in Bible see also Psalm 72:16 פסה (and a touch of corn in the earth).

I was equally variable - and I ponder what to do here:

Psalm 7:9
Mature the fruits of wickedness
and steady the righteous
and test hearts and vital centres
O God of righteousness
My shield is of God delivering the upright of heart
God judges right and God is indignant every day
Psalm 12:1
Save יְהוָה, for ceased are the merciful
for vanished are the faithful
among the children of dust
Psalm 57:2
I will call to God Most High
to God who fulfills all for me
Psalm 77:8
in the ages to come will the Lord reject?
will he never again be favorable?
has his mercy ceased in perpetuity?
a word from generation to generation ended?
has the One forgotten grace?
as if his tender mercies were shut up in anger?
Psalm 138:8
יְהוָה will complete his work for my sake
יְהוָה your mercy is forever
do not forsake the work of your hands

There is a certain irony in the 'mature' of Psalm 7, resigned lament in psalm 12, a similar lament in psalm 77, and hope expressed by this word in psalms 57 and 138. Most of these English nuances can be contained in the ambiguous 'bring to an end' - the question is 'what end?'. The answer in Christ is to the death that is in his cross - a unique destruction for the wicked and the hope of all. For whatever is conformed to his death awakens to new life now and in the age to come.

No comments: