Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rarely used words in the Psalter - 21

That day - let it be darkness
let God not ask for it from above
nor let a sunbeam on it shine

Job at the beginning of his opening speech. Can't you just imagine the comic strip 'For better or for worse' and the sunbeam that the little one used to greet?

I have been buried with Job and paying little attention to rare words over here. It turns out that I have seen dozens of linkages in the first five chapters of Job to the Psalms and some of them are rare words in both. If only I would stop long enough to make a note or two - and then be able to find the note!

But here is one - that word 'sunbeam' traditionally rendered as 'light'.

Light rare? What are you saying? Light is that initial statement of faith.
And God saw the light that it was good.
וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאֹור כִּי־טֹוב

No this sunbeam is not the אֹור, a word which Job also uses at the end of his first speech:
Why give to the miserable light
לָמָּה יִתֵּן לְעָמֵל אֹור

but the נהר as in the enlightened used in Psalm 34.
הִבִּיטוּ אֵלָיו וְנָהָרוּ וּפְנֵיהֶם אַל־יֶחְפָּרוּ (Psalm 34:5)
him they paid attention to and were radiant,
and their faces were not embarrassed.

I wondered how many words begin with nun and end with resh? Some are among the first we learn in the old grammar books - like lad נער, and river, נהר. That looks so familiar! Light as a river? A stream of light as an ancient metaphor? No. BDB simply lists the second meaning of 'beam' as derived from other languages.

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