Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Psalm 23

Note: I profess a much greater humility in regards to my Hebrew comments than Greek!

Verse 1: The word "LORD" in Hebrew is Yahweh. This most of us know. But I think two things are worth reflecting on here. First is that in English we always put the word "The" in front of the "LORD." In Hebrew it simply reads, "Yahweh is my shepherd." Second, we read the "LORD" with a certain complacency unimaginable to early readers of this.

Verse 1: The word "Shepherd" is a verbal noun in Hebrew, that is, it is a participle (shepherding) that has been fixed into a noun. Thus, every time you read the word "Shepherd" in the OT, you are reading something much more akin to, "The one shepherding." If you notice the Vulgate and Septugint translation of this verse actually leave the word as a verb: "The Lord shepherds me."

Verse 1: The word for lack here, K/H-S-R, is also used in Deuteronomy 2:7, when God says the people lacked nothing. A reminder that what God says we need is probably different from our own estimation...

Also, the translation, "I want for nothing" in stead of "I am not wanting" is from the Greek and Latin, not the Hebrew (ie, the Hebrew simply reads: "I am not wanting..."

Verse 2: The word for "resting place" is interesting. As Bible Work's TWOT dictionary says: "Basically the root nûaµ relates to absence of spatial activity and presence of security, as seen, e.g. in the ark which "rested" on Mount Ararat (Gen 8:4),"

Verse 2: The word "green" as in "Green pastures" does not appear in the Hebrew. The word is "grass." God wants to feed us, not show us pretty pictures.

Verse 3: The word "restore" is the reason I find Hebrew so wonderful but so frustrating. If you look at the word, you might have no clue that its root is Sh-U-V, which means to turn, even to repent. The sentence could read, "He turns my soul."

Verse 3: The word "name" as in "Name's sake" might be a little weak here. The word of name in Hebrew "SheM" means name, but in the sense of "reputation" or even "glory."

Verse 4: How does one translate "Valley of the shadow of death." I again defer to the TWOT dictionary, which is so helpful here: "It describes the darkness of eyelids tired from weeping (Job 16:16), the thick darkness present in a mine shaft (Job 28:3), the darkness of the abode of the dead (Job 10:21ff; Job 38:17), and the darkness prior to creation (Amos 5:8). Emotionally it describes the internal anguish of one who has rebelled against God (Psa 107:10-14; cf. Psa 44:19ff [H 20f]). Thus it is the strongest word in Hebrew for darkness." Shadow of darkeness is probably too weak a translation, but the idea here is that it encompasses more than death.

Verse 5: (heehee) The word here for "oil" is also "fat" and the word here for "overflow" is "saturate," so here we have a feast with saturated fats :-)

Verse 6: Warning on manuscripts: The Hebrew literally reads, "I will return in(to) the house of the Lord," however everyone translates this "I will live" (amending the text). Which is bizarre; the NET translation says, "return" makes no sense. Which is too bad because I think it makes more sense this way!

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