Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ridicule is not enough

If you want to sort out the concordance in a set of synonyms and decide when one text is alluding to another and reflect this allusion in your translation, then you have to find all the texts that might interact. So where are they?

First I am glad to know that there is a difference between gladness and laughter. Gladness is in the psalms 68 times by my count, laughter only 7 times. And laughter is associated with derision or ridicule only some of the time.  It is, as Alice says, a curious procession of laughs. (RWB's Alice with my daughter-in-law dancing Alice, was here last night at the Royal theatre). Notice that שׂחק 'laugh' does not occur in psalm 22. Also the other word קלס for derision, ridicule, scorn, or whatever in psalms 44 and 79 (see prior post) is only used twice - and these verses are a pair and so the translation must reflect that. (Looks like Jeremiah 20:7 reflects this verse as well but there's no way you could tell from the King James translation).
HebrewPsalm verseEnglish
שׂחק derisive laughterיוֹשֵׁב בַּשָּׁמַיִם יִשְׂחָק
יְהוָה יִלְעַג-לָמוֹ
2.4The one sitting in the heavens, he laughs
יְהוָה derides them
שׂחק derisive?? or is that wicked one to be recreated?אֲדֹנָי יִשְׂחַק לוֹ
כִּי רָאָה כִּי יָבֹא יוֹמוֹ
37.13my Lord laughs at him
for he sees that his day is coming
שׂחק laughter following fear - curiouser and curiouserוְיִרְאוּ צַדִּיקִים וְיִירָאוּ
וְעָלָיו יִשְׂחָקוּ
52.8And the many righteous will see and fear
and they will laugh at him
שׂחק clearly alluding to psalm 2 - right? - so cross out ridicule and insert derision in psalm 2 or vice versaוְאַתָּה יְהוָה תִּשְׂחַק לָמוֹ
תִּלְעַג לְכָל גּוֹיִם
59.9But you יְהוָה will laugh at them
you will deride all the nations
שׂחק hey - hold on - this is too good - Job gets a place in the economy of the world - my dear Leviathan, my own Levity! שָׁם אֳנִיּוֹת יְהַלֵּכוּן
לִוְיָתָן זֶה יָצַרְתָּ לְשַׂחֶק בּוֹ
104.26there go the ships
Leviathan that you formed to play there
שׂחק More laughter at the root of the promise!אֲשֶׁר כָּרַת אֶת אַבְרָהָם
וּשְׁבוּעָתוֹ לְיִשְׂחָק
105.9which he cut with Abraham
and his oath to Isaac
שׂחק And here laughter that is not derision but a prelude to joy - part of the psalms of ascent.אָז יִמָּלֵא שְׂחוֹק פִּינוּ
וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה
אָז יֹאמְרוּ בַגּוֹיִם
הִגְדִּיל יְהוָה לַעֲשׂוֹת עִם אֵלֶּה
126.2then our mouth filled with laughter
and our lips a cry of joy
then they said among the nations
יְהוָה acted greatly among them

Now let's see if we can contain the buzz of contempt: 
HebrewPsalm verseEnglish
בוז hmm - lips carries us to psalm 52 and its tongue of deceitתֵּאָלַמְנָה שִׂפְתֵי שָׁקֶר
הַדֹּבְרוֹת עַל צַדִּיק
עָתָק בְּגַאֲוָה וָבוּז
31.19let lips of deceit be bound
speaking of the righteous
arrogance of pride and contempt
בוז contempt is part of the wider human experience reflected in psalm 107שֹׁפֵךְ בּוּז עַל נְדִיבִים
וַיַּתְעֵם בְּתֹהוּ לֹא דָרֶךְ
107.40pouring contempt on nobles
he makes them wander in disorder without a way
בוז Oh no - another word in parallel - ignominy - wonder what that is - no no - that's reproach again and this is the only place I did not use 'reproach' - tsk tsk! (Except in winter - joke - see psalm 74 later)גַּל מֵעָלַי חֶרְפָּה וָבוּז
כִּי עֵדֹתֶיךָ נָצָרְתִּי
119.22Get from me ignominy and contempt
for I have observed your testimonies
בוז We've seen these alreadyחָנֵּנוּ יְהוָה
כִּי רַב שָׂבַעְנוּ בוּז
123.3have mercy on us יְהוָה
have mercy on us
for greatly are we filled with contempt
בוז this is the only psalm where contempt is used as a frame - and we've seen this scorn but translated otherwise.רַבַּת שָׂבְעָה
לָּהּ נַפְשֵׁנוּ
הַלַּעַג הַשַּׁאֲנַנִּים
הַבּוּז לִגְאֵיוֹנִים
123.4exceeding filled
her very being, our life
the scorn of those at ease
the contempt of the proud