Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Carnival

I am grateful to Deane Galbraithe for his generous list of posts at PoC in the BS Carnival 69. There are in his list of blogs a huge number that I am not looking at - I wonder how to manage them.  I have not been reading much recently - too much collecting and purging (of my own notes) and testing internal structures for the Psalms. Next there is going to be the music project - I doubt that that qualifies as Biblical Studies.

PoC has 10 posts scheduled for next month too. And they have all been revised since they were first scheduled. I am trying to find beautiful or convincing diagrams for each psalm.  Some sections of the poems have very low recurrence - like maybe one word in 7 verses - but those verses connect very strongly to the rest of the poem - my thesis is that the poet is thinking in a larger block - i.e. 2 and 3 won't work as an organizing principle. 8, 10, 12 even 19 verse segments seem possible when recurrence is considered.

Probably I need another technique and another life to consider this question.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hearing the Psalter - an outline of the Grand Opera

The final result of the bulk of the Psalter is this note- this new song:
אֱלֹהִים שִׁיר חָדָשׁ
אָשִׁירָה לָּךְ
בְּנֵבֶל עָשׂוֹר
אֲזַמְּרָה לָּךְ
144.9O God, a song that is new
I will sing to you
on lute, a tenth
I will sing a psalm to you
הַנּוֹתֵן תְּשׁוּעָה לַמְּלָכִים
הַפּוֹצֶה אֶת דָּוִד עַבְדּוֹ
מֵחֶרֶב רָעָה
10giving salvation to kings
setting even David his servant free
from a sword of evil

Here then is the beginning of a draft of the Grand Opera known as the Psalter. (Links to music are on the right panel.)

First Act - David the Beloved, Book 1
Scene 1: Introduction (1-2) -
Ps 1 F+ A rising third and descending fifth motif for the 'Happy are' phrases - to be used whenever they recur at the seams and conclusions of the Psalter. A triple rhythm (hidden in this case in 4/4) that signifies the voice of the Most High.; angular diminished fifths as structural gates and as a tossed away motif.
Ps 2  F- (D-flat+) A lament motif - augmented descending fifth - recurs in various voices throughout the Psalter. Triple rhythm descending major 7th as well as high recitation on a single note for proclamation. Descending minor seconds for the derision. Rapid-fire 16th notes wrapping tenderness.
Scene 2: Prayer (3-6), problem (7), solution (8), celebration (9-10)
Ps 3-6 sequence in D+ upper minor third and lower major third separately then combined, then D- for lament. - the leit-motifs to be extended as the song develops.

Remainder of scenes in draft form... Note I am organizing the scenes using the acrostics in Books 1 and 5. I think that there are 4 is significant - copying perhaps the 4 in Lamentations and recognizing thereby the exile as a critical aspect of all human experience.
Scene 3: Restating the problem (12-15), leading to instruction (16-19), the king (20-24), celebration (25)
Scene 4: 26-34, Reprise (26),  ? (27-30), ? (31-33), celebration (34)
Scene 5: Oracle and celebration (36-37)
Entr'acte: 38-41

Second Act - Surrounding the harvest
Part 1 Book 2
Scene 1: Korah (42-49)
Scene 2: Asaph (50 in front of the curtain)
Scene 3: David (51-64)
Scene 4: Harvest (65-67)
Scene 5: David (68-70)
Scene 6: Solo (71), Solomon (72)

Part 2 Book 3
Scene 7: Asaph (73-83)
Scene 8: Korah + (84-88)
Entr'acte: Lament 89

Third Act  - Book 4 Moses
Scene 1: Moses and response (90-92), Rivers and judgment (93-94), Warning (95)
Scene 2: יְהוָה's reign (96-100)
Scene 3: David and renewal (101-103)
Entr'acte: Creation and redemption (104-106)

Fourth Act - Book 5
Scene 1: Predicament (107), redemption (108-110), celebration (111-112)
Scene 2: Praise and adoration (113-117), salvation (118), celebration (119)
Scene 3: Ascent (120-134), Arrival (135)
Scene 4: Creation and redemption (136)
Scene 5: Exile (137)
Scene 6: Recapitulation of David, Holy of Holies (138-139) Prayer of the anointed king on behalf of all (140-144), celebration (145)
Coda: 146-150

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Do you see any patterns?

Here are the words used in the Songs of Ascent more than once in the 15 psalms. (organized in order by count 2 to 15) I don't see much in the way of coherence internally. I suspect the collection has external references rather than internal.
Root120121122123124125126127128129130131132133134
אדני XX
אהל XX
אז XX
אח XX
איב XX
אכל XX
בטןXX
בנה XX
גדל XX
חנןXX
חסד XX
חץXX
יחד XX
יחל XX
ירא XX
כסא XX
כףXX
לב XX
לילה XX
לשׁוןXX
מה XX
מוט XX
מןXX
משׁךXX
נוח XX
נוםXX
נער XX
סבב XX
עבר XX
עדה XX
עזר XX
עיר XX
עלה XX
צדיק XX
קצר XX
קרא XX
רנןXX
רשׁע XX
שׁבט XX
שׁוב XX
שׁכןXX
שׁלא XX
שׁלח XX
שׁמע XX
שׁער XX
שׂבע XX
שׂמח XX
שׂנא XX
ארץXXX
אשׁר XXX
בוא XXX
בושׁ XXX
בןXXX
גםXXX
הלךXXX
הר XXX
חיה XXX
ילךXXX
ירושׁלםXXX
ישׁןXXX
כןXXX
לחםXXX
לי XXX
למעןXXX
מלא XXX
נא XXX
עבד XXX
עמד XXX
ענה XXX
עתה XXX
פה XXX
פרי XXX
קוםXXX
רגל XXX
אםXXXX
אמר XXXX
גבר XXXX
דבר XXXX
טוב XXXX
לה XXXX
לךXXXX
נשׂא XXXX
עיןXXXX
עלםXXXX
עשׂה XXXX
רבה XXXX
שׁמיםXXXX
שׁמר XXXX
בית XXXXX
היה XXXXX
יד XXXXX
נתןXXXXX
עםXXXXX
שׁלםXXXXX
שׁםXXXXX
ברךXXXXXX
דוד XXXXXX
ישׁב XXXXXX
כל XXXXXX
לא XXXXXX
נפשׁ XXXXXX
עד XXXXXX
הנה XXXXXXX
ציוןXXXXXXX
ישׂראל XXXXXXXX
מעלה XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
שׁיר XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Now for something quite different

Busking - just kidding - not like David Ker in Africa somewhere.  But here I am making music - you can't just see the psalms, you've gotta hear them too.  So here's the sheet music that I wrote this week for Psalms 1, 2, and 3 - and will I dare - or more to the point, can I remember how to record it?

Oh - I remember - but there are a few hard notes to hit! I think it is easier in Psalm 1 to sing the E-flat major triad at the end if the nor is an A-flat.  So let the variations begin!

In Psalm 2 there are likewise some tricky key-changes.

Psalm 3 with the other two show the beginning of the extent of chant music to map structure. (Psalm 4 and 5 will continue in D+ with Psalm 6 finding a minor key yet to be decided. I will be outlining the musical plan ... some day.)

Here they are - performance as I thought it might be - not note or word perfect but close - meant to be freely sung anyway. Probably could be mapped to other translations if they are close enough to the Hebrew. Performance links here: Psalms 12, and 3.

If all goes well over the next two years, I will set all 42000 words of my translation. One thing surely it will do is to help me verify them rhythmically.

Any ideas for accompaniment?  If you are a musician I can send you the .mscz files for experimentation.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Psalm 1 and 26

I made a comment months ago on Poetry of Christ that Psalms 26 and 1 were closely related. Here is the pattern of word usage between the two of them. Psalm 26 opens with the request for judgment. Psalm 1 ends with being able to stand in such. Do you think the poet was reading Psalm 1 as he composed Psalm 26?

Selected words occurring in each of psalms --1,-26

Word and gloss * first usage12345678910VsStem
* אשׁרי happy
--1.1אשׁר
* אשׁר who
--1.1אשׁר
* לא does not
--1.1לא
הלך walk
--1.1הלך
* רשׁעים the wicked
--1.1רשׁע
* חטאים sinners
--1.1חטא
* לא does not
--1.1לא
עמד stand
--1.1עמד
* ובמושׁב and in the seat of
--1.1ישׁב
* לא does not
--1.1לא
* ישׁב sit
--1.1ישׁב
* אשׁר that
--1.3אשׁר
* לא does not
--1.3לא
וכל and in all
--1.3כל
* אשׁר that
--1.3אשׁר
* לא not
--1.4לא
* הרשׁעים the-many wicked
--1.4רשׁע
* אשׁר that
--1.4אשׁר
* לא they will not
--1.5לא
יקמו arise
--1.5קום
* רשׁעים the wicked
--1.5רשׁע
במשׁפט in the judgment
--1.5שׁפט
* וחטאים nor sinners
--1.5חטא
* רשׁעים those wicked
--1.6רשׁע
שׁפטני judge me
-26.1שׁפט
* הלכתי have walked
-26.1הלך
לא --
-26.1לא
* והתהלכתי and I have walked
-26.3הלך
לא not
-26.4לא
ישׁבתי I have sat
-26.4ישׁב
לא not
-26.4לא
רשׁעים the wicked
-26.5רשׁע
לא not
-26.5לא
אשׁב I will sit
-26.5ישׁב
כל all
-26.7כל
ומקום and the -place of
-26.8קום
חטאים sinners
-26.9חטא
אשׁר whose
-26.10אשׁר
עמדה stands
-26.12עמד

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Psalm 1 - illustration of my new approach

Here ye! Hear ye! Extra! Extra! הנה Hey! הנה Behold!

This post illustrates how I am developing my visual structures in the Psalter. One year after the Psalms conference in Oxford, when I had just completed a first complete marathon (for me) read of the Hebrew Psalter in 2 months, I am now ready to focus on seeing - and hopefully eliminate the tendency to blather on about irrelevancies. If you would like to see the private work as it appears and as I work through each psalm again in sequence, drop me a comment or send me an email [bobmacdonald at gx.ca] and I will let you know where the readable pre-publication ms is.

I find I write differently for paper than for the web. The design problems are different and there is a need for frequent revision and editing. Also - it's the-whites-of-their-eyes issue. The whole will emerge when I am given enough time. It will represent all the visual aspects of seeing the psalms that I discover - but with as little commentary as I can manage.

I am still posting notes at Poetry of Christ. They are more commentary than visual, but they will morph into more visual for the last 50-odd posts scheduled there to March 31, 2012. That blog illustrates why blogs are unsuitable for real writing. So does this one. I have revised all those translations from 2010 by the hundredsthousands. That's not blogging. They hardly have any of the original post left - a few bits and pieces if I want to illustrate some day how writing develops.

Now if you want to help, here's what I need. One or two persons willing to point out mistakes and unnecessary comment.  And clarity of focus - when am I ambiguous or confusing?  Matters of taste or gloss we might not agree on. And of theology, I hope to say little but let the text speak for itself.  Also I don't think I am discovering magic - but rather the work of human poets and redactors with a devoted purpose.  What I see must have been possible for them to see before and as they created the poems in their present form.

So I think the Psalter was deliberately constructed in the form I see it in, and I think it was perfectly possible for editors and writers to do such a thing as a response within their ordinary-extraordinary lives.  There were great poets among them. Children also - Psalm 114 is the work of a young genius. Perhaps great musicians too.  Psalm 89, on the demise of the Davidic monarchy, is like the Chaconne in D Minor, on the death of Bach's first wife. And Symphony? Psalm 78, Brahms, Psalm 84 later Mozart, 86 early Mozart, Psalm 90-91 The Art of the Fugue. 139 Bairstow, I sat down. I am getting carried away

What the Hilliard ensemble did with the Chaconne is illustrative of what I would like to hear in the text of the Psalter, the inner joins and the cantus firmus.

Seeing the Psalter - Psalm 1

Introducing the technique.
How do we read? How do we hear or see what we are reading? I will illustrate three techniques: RecurrenceParallelism, and Prosody. They help see what is in the text.

Recurrence is the use of repeated words in the text. Following the text of each psalm, there are tables showing the patterns of the words that repeat. The patterns focus the sections of the psalm and help identify the thought of the one who constructed the text.

Distinguish parallelism and recurrence from each other. Parallelism is the expression of the same (or an antithetical) thought in different words. Recurrence is the repetition of the same word in the poem. This distinction removes some subjectivity from initial structural considerations. We will usually agree when two words have the same root letters. We may not agree that two concepts having differing letters in the poem represent a similar or contrasting thought.

Prosody: Prosody is the art of displaying poetry. In the case of Hebrew poetry, a starting point is to see the lines of a poem in twos and threes.

Here is Psalm 1 verse 1. This small example illustrates all three techniques.

Note the three lines that modify the happy individual. They are all in parallel with each other with a cumulative effect. They are each organized around three main words. A recurring motif is the word “not”!

who does not walk in the advice of the wicked
and in the way of sinners does not stand
and in the seat of the scornful does not sit

Parallelism: notice how the parallel phrases vary in conceptual order dividing each line in two: in this case, a, the action, and b where. These parallels are in the form a-b, then b-a, b-a. These are an example of rhyming ideas created with different words, walk -- sit -- stand; and wicked -- sinners -- scornful, and advice -- way -- seat.

Prosody: notice in the Hebrew that there are (apart from relative pronoun and negative particle) literally three words in each of the three lines. It is clear in English also. In the Hebrew below, I have underlined the roots of these “main words”. The other letters in a typical Hebrew word are prepositions, pronouns, verb forms, and so on. If you don’t read Hebrew, just look for the moment.

אֲשֶׁר לֹא הָלַךְ בַּעֲצַת רְשָׁעִים
וּבְדֶרֶךְ חַטָּאִים לֹא עָמָד
וּבְמוֹשַׁב לֵצִים לֹא יָשָׁב

Notice that as there are three main words in the English so there are three underlined parts in the Hebrew corresponding to the three main English words per line. The underlined parts are the 'roots' of the Hebrew words.

Recurrence: The bold words are those that recur, in this case the recurring no.

A second example: Here is a miniature table showing the last two verses of Psalm 1.
Word and gloss * first usage123VsRoot
* רשׁעים the wicked
5רשׁע
* צדיקים the-many righteous
5צדיק
* דרך the way of
6דרך
* צדיקים those righteous
6צדיק
* ודרך but the way of
6דרך
* רשׁעים those wicked
6רשׁע

The table shows the recurring words for verses 5 and 6. There are three of them: wicked -- righteous -- way. The numbered columns (1, 2, 3) represent the words in the sequence they occur in the poem, and the boxes in the grid show the pattern of their usage. The word itself and its gloss is in the left hand column. This column (*) also tells us if this is the first time the word has been used as a keyword in the Psalter. The verse numbers are in the second to last right hand column (Vs). The root of the word or where there is no root, the combination of prepositions and pronouns is in the right hand column (Root).

In this small table, we can see that wicked appears first and last in the table. An inner pair of words: righteous and way, recur in sequence. Wicked effectively 'frames' the two verses. A 'frame' is a word or set of words that recurs, effectively surrounding a text and highlighting it. It is similar to a picture frame in a gallery which sets off the picture for the viewer. This idea of framing is also expressed by other words in English: circling, enveloping, and including (via the Latin phrase inclusio).

Before continuing with the shapes to observe in the tables, first read and ponder Psalm 1. As you read, circle the words that recur.
Psalm 1 - The way of the wicked and the righteous
אַשְׁרֵי הָאִישׁ
אֲשֶׁר לֹא הָלַךְ בַּעֲצַת רְשָׁעִים
וּבְדֶרֶךְ חַטָּאִים לֹא עָמָד
וּבְמוֹשַׁב לֵצִים לֹא יָשָׁב
1Happy the person
who does not walk in the advice of the wicked
and in the way of sinners does not stand
and in the seat of the scornful does not sit
כִּי אִם בְּתוֹרַת יְהוָה חֶפְצוֹ
וּבְתוֹרָתוֹ יֶהְגֶּה יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה
2In contrast: in the instruction of יְהוָה is his delight
and in his instruction he mutters day and night
וְהָיָה כְּעֵץ
שָׁתוּל עַל פַּלְגֵי מָיִם
אֲשֶׁר פִּרְיוֹ יִתֵּן בְּעִתּוֹ
וְעָלֵהוּ לֹא יִבּוֹל
וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה יַצְלִיחַ
3and that one will be like a tree
transplanted by streams of water
that gives its fruit in its time
and its leaf does not wither
and in all that it does, it thrives
לֹא כֵן הָרְשָׁעִים
כִּי אִם כַּמֹּץ
אֲשֶׁר תִּדְּפֶנּוּ רוּחַ
4Not so the-many wicked
in contrast: like chaff
that wind blows
עַל כֵּן לֹא יָקֻמוּ
רְשָׁעִים
בַּמִּשְׁפָּט
וְחַטָּאִים בַּעֲדַת צַדִּיקִים
5So it is that they will not arise
the wicked
in the judgment
nor sinners in the assembly of the-many righteous
כִּי יוֹדֵעַ יְהוָה
דֶּרֶךְ צַדִּיקִים
וְדֶרֶךְ רְשָׁעִים תֹּאבֵד
6For יְהוָה knows
the way of those righteous
but the way of those wicked will perish
Selected recurring words in relative order
Word and gloss * first usage1234567891012VsRoot
* אשׁרי happy
1אשׁר
* אשׁר who
1אשׁר
* לא does not
1לא
* רשׁעים the wicked
1רשׁע
* ובדרך and in the way of
1דרך
* חטאים sinners
1חטא
* לא does not
1לא
* ובמושׁב and in the seat of
1ישׁב
* לא does not
1לא
* ישׁב sit
1ישׁב
כי in
2כי
* אם contrast
2אם
* בתורת in the instruction of
2תורה
* יהוה יהוה
2יהוה
* ובתורתו and in his instruction
2תורה
* אשׁר that
3אשׁר
* לא does not
3לא
* אשׁר that
3אשׁר
* לא not
4לא
* כן so
4כן
* הרשׁעים the-many wicked
4רשׁע
כי in
4כי
* אם contrast
4אם
* אשׁר that
4אשׁר
* כן so it is that
5כן
* לא they will not
5לא
* רשׁעים the wicked
5רשׁע
* וחטאים nor sinners
5חטא
* צדיקים the-many righteous
5צדיק
כי for
6כי
* יהוה יהוה
6יהוה
* דרך the way of
6דרך
* צדיקים those righteous
6צדיק
* ודרך but the way of
6דרך
* רשׁעים those wicked
6רשׁע
Here are some shapes and features to look for in these tables:

Check to see if all verses are present. A missing verse number shows that the words of the verse occur only once in the psalm. This may be a central message. In Psalm 1, there are no verses missing.

Check to see what the last recurring word in the passage is. This may form a focal point for the text. In Psalm 1, the final recurring word is righteous.

When you see a shape like an arrowhead, it indicates that a set of words is used in reverse order. If you drew circles or arcs joining these words to each other in the text, you would see they are concentric. If you look at what these circles surround, you may find a particular theme or focus of the psalm. In Psalm 1, wicked -- way -- sinners are such a group. Contrast the miniature table showing only verses 1, 5, 6 with the full table for Psalm 1). Note how they reappear at the end of the table in reverse order from the beginning. Almost every psalm has such a frame, often comprised of more than one word. Sometimes two consecutive psalms will have a single frame.

Word and gloss * first usage123VsRoot
* רשׁעים the wicked
1רשׁע
* ובדרך and in the way of
1דרך
* חטאים sinners
1חטא
* וחטאים nor sinners
5חטא
* ודרך but the way of
6דרך
* רשׁעים those wicked
6רשׁע

When you see a shape like parallel lines (like that -- not), this indicates that the recurring words occur in the same order. If you drew the circles, they would intersect. And you might find that the content is outlined with some emphasis by the feature. So in this case, the action of verse 3 is contrasted with the actions of verse 1. And the two words, that and not, surround the image of a fruitful tree.

When you see a vertical line of recurring words in the table, this indicates a word that recurs frequently. This may indicate a theme for the psalm or a word linking sections of the psalm. The example of no in Psalm 1 is typical. It will happen again in Psalm 15. A series of 18 such repetitions may be seen in Psalm 145. This is contrasted again by the that -- not of verses 4 and 5 which surround the scattering of the chaff by the wind.

Note: in order to keep the tables from getting too large, I have often but not always excluded the following words to reduce the volume of potentially non-significant structures. על(`l) preposition on, above, יהוה (yhvh), the tetragrammeton, אלוה ('lvh) God, usually plural, כי (ky) a very common conjunction meaning for or because, אל ('l) God or a negative (and many other possibilities but rare in the psalms), את ('t) the object marker, a word not usually translated. If any of these is significant in a poem, it will be noted. These 6 roots out of 1410 distinct combinations in the Psalter (<0.5%) account for more than 2,400 of the 19,584 words (>12.3%) of the Hebrew text.

Notes by verse
2in contrast, כִּי אִם (ky 'im) preserving the unique combination of כִּי אִם (see also Jeremiah 7, Deuteronomy 12, Esther 2.) Thanks for the suggestion from Boaz Shoshan, Ben Gurion University of the Negev to bring more contrast into my first rendering 'in this case'.
instruction, (תורה) Torah, or teaching, mentoring, but not Law in a legal sense
The tetragrammeton, (four letters יְהוָה YHVH, the Name revealed to Moses) is reproduced in Hebrew without transliteration. In your reading, substitute whatever name is in your tradition, such as Adonai, or Hashem (the Name), or LORD, or Yahweh as you desire.
mutter, הגה (hgh), reading to himself out loud, perhaps murmur or muse, meditate. Murmur המה (hmh) I have used later for its negative tone, so I cannot use it here.
3that one, emphasizing the singular without the personal pronoun
[Revelation 22:2]
4the-many, drawing attention to the singular-plural contrast in this psalm which sets the tone for the incorporation of the elect singular and plural
5so it is, therefore, but hear the similar sound of not so.
6the way, specific by implication with the aforementioned many wicked or righteous
Hebrew words: 67
English words: 136
Percentage of Hebrew words that recur in this psalm: 55%
Average keywords per verse: 6.2

Psalm 1
Translation and Notes last updated on 2011.11.14-12:08

Text added 2012.07.17 - illustrating the difficulties of doing this in English without an apparatus.

If you are reading and searching for frames in English, two things will become apparent.

Some words that recur in Hebrew will not show in English. In all these cases, for the verses that are included, the recurrence tables (based on Hebrew and showing English also) will show the pattern clearly.
a. Relative pronouns, who, that, are different in English but the same in Hebrew.
b. Homonyms in Hebrew will translate to different glosses in English. These may be significant in the Hebrew aural structure (assonance and word-play).
c. Synonyms in English may translate the same Hebrew word with different English glosses. I have minimized this in my own translations.
d. Different Hebrew verb forms may translate to different English glosses.

Some words will recur in English that do not recur in Hebrew. When working in English, check your reading of recurring words against the recurrence tables. Usually it will be clear why some words are or are not part of the internal structure of the poem.
a. In the example from Psalm 1 verses 5 and 6 above, those recurs in English because I have translated using that word to emphasize the plural form of the Hebrew for righteous and wicked in contrast to the singular in verse 1.
b. English helping verbs like do, have, make, that are part of the Hebrew verb are separate words in English.
c. To be or to become may be present or not in Hebrew but may be required in English.
d. Homonyms in English may arise from different Hebrew words, but this is rare.
e. Recurrence between psalms may require an echo that compromises similar sounding glosses in the current psalm.
f. Prepositions and conjunctions will vary in translation depending on context and verbs.
g. Prepositions and pronouns may show as separate words in English but are not separate in the Hebrew word.
h. Two words may be required in English to distinguish differing Hebrew words. For example, verb + preposition: bring up, bring down represent separate Hebrew verbs; or adjective + noun: burning anger, burning coals; or verb + noun: sing, sing a psalm. You can usually see this if you look left and count the words in the Hebrew.
i. Sometimes I have allowed similar sounding words (like righteous and righteousness) to stand separately.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

BBC Radio Evensong - live

This will be a podcast - repeats Sunday after noon. It is my daughter Sarah conducting the Ely Cathedral Choir.

Two hour review of the first 10 psalms

With some judicious questions and criticisms, CSRS Visiting Research Fellow, Bill Morrow helped me make a necessary course correction. He suggested from my answers to the question - why are you doing this - that I have conflicting motives striving for primacy.  One solid one is enough. I now know what I must focus on in any comments I make on the psalms. I am looking first at recurrence patterns. I am not a commentator.  I expect my translations to stand, but his review of the first 10 psalms pointed out some skills I need to hone to make the translations as precise as possible so that they reflect the focus I am suggesting. I will continue to report the odd experiment, but I don't expect to blog much except for the scheduled posts at the other blog. They are like the carrot pulling the donkey forward to carry the cart.  That post on Psalm 98 is cool - it shows how 97-98 are framed as a single poem.

I am most grateful to Bill.  A good teacher is a special gift. I didn't go to school to learn this stuff. Instead I spent 40 years in the database world - a skill I am using to pursue my research into the text. That's what I will eventually report. I am of course also grateful to many who share their knowledge through blogging on the Hebrew Bible.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Psalm 86 - a model for prayer and poetry

This psalm is a meditation on Exodus 34:6, among many in the TNK. Here is a snippet of the work I am working on. I would be delighted in some thoughtful feedback. [later] I have now had an oral review of psalms 1-10 this week, this Tuesday, with Bill Morrow of Queen's University, on sabbatical here during my own community fellowship at UVic.

Psalm 86 divides nicely into 4 sections, 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 13-17. The overall table is 24 keywords wide and therefore difficult to see. The division by 2 gives tables of 13 keywords wide each as shown below. Verses 5 and 15 identify two other roots that recur twice only in the poem and are therefore missed in the tables when taken 8 verses at a time. It is a good exercise to find the words that make each of the 4 sections cohere in themselves.  Yet these sections are also tightly bound together to each other. Altogether this is a model poem.

Notice too (from the tables) how verses 1-3 lay out the words that the poet will reuse in verses 4 to 8. Also verses 9-11 layout the words that are used in the remaining verses.  Groups of these words are clearly reused in reverse order. Apart from any errors I have made, (and I have corrected a few in the last two days) the analysis of such recurrence patterns is a fully objective exercise. These give a frame in which the more subjective parallelism and prosody tools can be applied.


תְּפִלָּה לְדָוִד
הַטֵּה יְהוָה אָזְנְךָ
 עֲנֵנִי כִּי עָנִי
וְאֶבְיוֹן אָנִי
1A prayer Of David
Stretch יְהוָה your ear
answer me for I am afflicted
and in need am I
שָׁמְרָה נַפְשִׁי
כִּי חָסִיד אָנִי
הוֹשַׁע עַבְדְּךָ
אַתָּה אֱלֹהַי
הַבּוֹטֵחַ אֵלֶיךָ
2Guard my being
for under mercy am I
save your servant
you, my God
the one trusting in you

חָנֵּנִי אֲדֹנָי
כִּי אֵלֶיךָ
אֶקְרָא כָּל הַיּוֹם
3be gracious to me, O Lord
for to you
I call every day
שַׂמֵּחַ נֶפֶשׁ עַבְדֶּךָ
כִּי אֵלֶיךָ אֲדֹנָי
נַפְשִׁי אֶשָּׂא
4Make glad the being of your servant
for to you O Lord
my being I lift up
כִּי אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי טוֹב
וְסַלָּח וְרַב חֶסֶד
לְכָל קֹרְאֶיךָ
5for you, O Lord, are good
and forgiving and full of kindness
to all calling on you

הַאֲזִינָה יְהוָה תְּפִלָּתִי
וְהַקְשִׁיבָה בְּקוֹל תַּחֲנוּנוֹתָי
6Give ear יְהוָה to my prayer
and attend with the voice of my supplication
בְּיוֹם צָרָתִי אֶקְרָאֶךָּ
כִּי תַעֲנֵנִי
7In the day of my straits I will call on you
for you will answer me
אֵין כָּמוֹךָ בָאֱלֹהִים
אֲדֹנָי וְאֵין כְּמַעֲשֶׂיךָ
8there is none like you among the gods
O Lord, and there is nothing like your doings

כָּל גּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ יָבוֹאוּ
וְיִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לְפָנֶיךָ אֲדֹנָי
וִיכַבְּדוּ לִשְׁמֶךָ
9All nations whom you made will come
and worship in your presence, O Lord
and glorify your name
כִּי גָדוֹל אַתָּה
וְעֹשֵׂה נִפְלָאוֹת
אַתָּה אֱלֹהִים לְבַדֶּךָ
10for you are great
and do wonders
you O God, you alone

הוֹרֵנִי יְהוָה דַּרְכֶּךָ
אֲהַלֵּךְ בַּאֲמִתֶּךָ
יַחֵד לְבָבִי לְיִרְאָה שְׁמֶךָ
11Instruct me יְהוָה your way
I will walk in your truth
make one my heart to fear your name
אוֹדְךָ אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהַי
בְּכָל לְבָבִי
וַאֲכַבְּדָה שִׁמְךָ לְעוֹלָם
12I will thank you, O Lord my God
with all my heart
and I will glorify your name forever
כִּי חַסְדְּךָ גָּדוֹל עָלָי
וְהִצַּלְתָּ נַפְשִׁי
מִשְּׁאוֹל תַּחְתִּיָּה
13for your kindness is great to me
and you have delivered my being
from Sheol's nether parts

אֱלֹהִים זֵדִים קָמוּ עָלַי
וַעֲדַת עָרִיצִים בִּקְשׁוּ נַפְשִׁי
וְלֹא שָׂמוּךָ לְנֶגְדָּם
14O God the presumptuous rise up against me
and an assembly of the ruthless demand my being
and not do they set you before them
וְאַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֵל
רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן
אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם
וְרַב חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת
15but you O Lord God
are compassionate and gracious
slow to anger
and full of kindness and truth

פְּנֵה אֵלַי וְחָנֵּנִי
תְּנָה עֻזְּךָ לְעַבְדֶּךָ
וְהוֹשִׁיעָה לְבֶן אֲמָתֶךָ
16be present to me and be gracious to me
give your strength to your servant
and salvation to the child of your maidservant
עֲשֵׂה עִמִּי אוֹת לְטוֹבָה
וְיִרְאוּ שֹׂנְאַי וְיֵבֹשׁוּ
כִּי אַתָּה יְהוָה
עֲזַרְתַּנִי וְנִחַמְתָּנִי
17make for me a sign of good
and those hating me will see and be ashamed
for you יְהוָה
have helped me and comforted me
Notes by verse
2under mercy, חסיד, the singular one under the חסד, that covenant mercy and kindness of יְהוָה
5forgiving סלח (slx) forgive, pardon, used 4 times in the Psalter, different from 'lift up'
9[Revelation 15:4]
16maidservant, אמה ('mh) easily misread as truth, אמת ('mt)
Selected recurring words in relative order (1 to 8)
Word and gloss * first usage12345678910123VsRoot
תפלה a prayer
1פלל
אזנך your ear
1אזן
ענני and answer me
1ענה
עני afflicted
1ענה
אני am I
1אני
נפשׁי my being
2נפשׁ
אני am I
2אני
עבדך your servant
2עבד
אתה you
2אתה
חנני be gracious to me
3חנן
אדני O Lord
3אדני
אקרא I call
3קרא
כל every
3כל
היום day
3יום
נפשׁ the being of
4נפשׁ
עבדך your servant
4עבד
אדני O Lord
4אדני
נפשׁי my being
4נפשׁ
אתה you
5אתה
אדני O Lord
5אדני
לכל to all
5כל
קראיך calling on you
5קרא
האזינה give ear
6אזן
תפלתי to my prayer
6פלל
תחנונותי my supplication
6חנן
ביום in the day of
7יום
אקראך I will call on you
7קרא
תענני you will answer me
7ענה
אין there is none
8אין
אדני O Lord
8אדני
ואין and there is nothing
8אין
Selected recurring words in relative order (9 to end)

Word and gloss * first usage12345678910123VsRoot
כל all
9כל
עשׂית you made
9עשׂה
לפניך in your presence
9פנה
אדני O Lord
9אדני
ויכבדו and glorify
9כבד
לשׁמך your name
9שׁם
גדול great
10גדל
אתה you are
10אתה
ועשׂה and do
10עשׂה
אתה you
10אתה
באמתך in your truth
11אמת
לבבי my heart
11לבב
שׁמך your name
11שׁם
אדני O Lord
12אדני
בכל with all
12כל
לבבי my heart
12לבב
ואכבדה and I will glorify
12כבד
שׁמך your name
12שׁם
חסדך your kindness
13חסד
גדול is great
13גדל
נפשׁי my being
13נפשׁ
נפשׁי my being
14נפשׁ
ואתה but you
15אתה
אדני O Lord
15אדני
וחנון and gracious
15חנן
חסד kindness
15חסד
ואמת and truth
15אמת
פנה be present
16פנה
וחנני and be gracious to me
16חנן
עשׂה make
17עשׂה
אתה you
17אתה

Seven occurrences of Lord (אדני), six occurrences of you (אתה), and five occurrences of being (נפשׁ) are the backbone of this psalm. Save, and servant form two concentric circles between verses 2 and 16. The central verse 9 recalls the worship of all nations from Psalm 22.
All nations whom you made will come
and worship in your presence, O Lord
and glorify your name

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Children of dust

For the record, I have abandoned the rendering of בְּנֵי אָדָם as children of dust.  There were several conflicts against my rule of concordance.  Also I had to be more serious in a few places. I am not generally updating my translations and notes on this blog any more, but for this one, I have done it and will eventually republish the stand-alone pages that contain glossary etc. I have decided generally to use 'children of humanity' or 'human child' depending on the plurality. In a few places where there is some irony or criticism, I have used 'earthling', or 'humus'.  I have now removed the conflict with עָפָר. It was quite a serious conflict, e.g. compare these verses


תַּסְתִּיר פָּנֶיךָ
יִבָּהֵלוּן
תֹּסֵף רוּחָם
יִגְוָעוּן
וְאֶל עֲפָרָם יְשׁוּבוּן
104.29you hide your face
they are vexed
you gather their spirit
they expire
and to their dust they return

and

תֵּצֵא רוּחוֹ
 יָשֻׁב לְאַדְמָתוֹ
בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא אָבְדוּ עֶשְׁתֹּנֹתָיו
146.4its spirit goes forth
it returns to its humus
In that day its gleams perish

similar thoughts in different words. It would not do to have used the same word 'dust' in English.

O dear - I am becoming serious.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Working on Psalm 71

I've been busy - so busy my blog doesn't even show up on my list of most frequently used pages!

If you can take time to read the following, I think you might agree that using recurrence as a means of deciding the higher level subdivisions of a longish psalm is helpful.  Smaller tables make it very easy to see the patterns. Verses 8-15 are a surprise to me but I suspect that for the long psalms I will see more of these patterns if I persevere in using the measuring rod I have.  And I think it is likely that I am also seeing the inner workings of the poetic mind of 2500 years ago.  So scan the psalm and glance at the patterns in the tables that follow.

Ashamed and your righteousness frame the poem as a whole. The content of the poem divides into 4 groups.

Verses 1-7: the poet expresses confidence to יְהוָה - this section is framed by refuge
Verses 8-15: framed by mouth and praise
Verses 16-18: framed by come and valour
Verses 19-24: framed by righteousness

Personally, I think recurrence is more objective than either parallelism or prosody in determining larger structures. For the tools see here.

Psalm 71 - the declarations of youth and age
בְּךָ יְהוָה חָסִיתִי
אַל אֵבוֹשָׁה לְעוֹלָם
1In you יְהוָה I take refuge
I will never be ashamed
בְּצִדְקָתְךָ תַּצִּילֵנִי
וּתְפַלְּטֵנִי
הַטֵּה אֵלַי אָזְנְךָ וְהוֹשִׁיעֵנִי
2In your righteousness you will deliver me
and you will secure me
Incline to me your ear and save me
הֱיֵה לִי לְצוּר
מָעוֹן לָבוֹא תָּמִיד
צִוִּיתָ לְהוֹשִׁיעֵנִי
כִּי סַלְעִי וּמְצוּדָתִי אָתָּה
3be to me a rock
a habitation to go to continually
you have commanded that I be saved
for my cliff and my fortress you are

אֱלֹהַי
פַּלְּטֵנִי מִיַּד רָשָׁע
מִכַּף
מְעַוֵּל וְחוֹמֵץ
4O my God
secure me from the hand of the wicked
from the palm
from an unjust and sour person
כִּי אַתָּה תִקְוָתִי
אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה
מִבְטַחִי
מִנְּעוּרָי
5for you I wait
O Lord יְהוָה
from my trust
from my youth

עָלֶיךָ נִסְמַכְתִּי מִבֶּטֶן
מִמְּעֵי אִמִּי אַתָּה גוֹזִי
בְּךָ תְהִלָּתִי תָמִיד
6by you I have been supported from the belly
from the inner parts of my mother you yourself severed me
in you is my praise continually
כְּמוֹפֵת הָיִיתִי לְרַבִּים
וְאַתָּה מַחֲסִי עֹז
7I have become as a portent to many
for you are my strong refuge

יִמָּלֵא פִי תְּהִלָּתֶךָ
כָּל הַיּוֹם תִּפְאַרְתֶּךָ
8let my mouth be filled with your praise
every day your adornment
אַל תַּשְׁלִיכֵנִי לְעֵת זִקְנָה
כִּכְלוֹת כֹּחִי אַל תַּעַזְבֵנִי
9do not cast me off in the time of old age
when my power is consumed do not forsake me

כִּי אָמְרוּ אוֹיְבַי לִי
וְשֹׁמְרֵי נַפְשִׁי
נוֹעֲצוּ יַחְדָּו
10for my enemies say of me
and watching for my being
they conspire as one
לֵאמֹר אֱלֹהִים עֲזָבוֹ
רִדְפוּ וְתִפְשׂוּהוּ
כִּי אֵין מַצִּיל
11saying God has forsaken him
pursue him and arrest him
for there is none to deliver

אֱלֹהִים אַל תִּרְחַק מִמֶּנִּי
אֱלֹהַי לְעֶזְרָתִי חוּשָׁה
12And your righteousness O God is to the heights
Who has done great things O God?
Who is like you
יֵבֹשׁוּ יִכְלוּ שֹׂטְנֵי נַפְשִׁי
יַעֲטוּ חֶרְפָּה וּכְלִמָּה
מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתִי
13Let the accusers of my being be ashamed and consumed
let them wrap themselves with reproach and humiliation
from seeking my hurt

וַאֲנִי
תָּמִיד אֲיַחֵל
וְהוֹסַפְתִּי עַל כָּל תְּהִלָּתֶךָ
14but I
continually will hope
and I will repeatedly add to all your praises
פִּי יְסַפֵּר צִדְקָתֶךָ
כָּל הַיּוֹם תְּשׁוּעָתֶךָ
כִּי לֹא יָדַעְתִּי סְפֹרוֹת
15my mouth will recount your righteousness
every day your salvation
for I do not know the counts

אָבוֹא בִּגְבֻרוֹת
אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה
אַזְכִּיר צִדְקָתְךָ לְבַדֶּךָ
16I will go in valour
O Lord יְהוָה
I will remember your righteousness yours alone
אֱלֹהִים
לִמַּדְתַּנִי מִנְּעוּרָי
וְעַד הֵנָּה אַגִּיד נִפְלְאוֹתֶיךָ
17O God
you have taught me from my youth
and till now I have announced your wonderful works
וְגַם עַד זִקְנָה וְשֵׂיבָה
אֱלֹהִים אַל תַּעַזְבֵנִי
עַד אַגִּיד זְרוֹעֲךָ לְדוֹר
לְכָל יָבוֹא גְּבוּרָתֶךָ
18and even to old age and grey haired
O God do not forsake me
till I have announced your arm to a generation
to all who come, your valour

וְצִדְקָתְךָ אֱלֹהִים עַד מָרוֹם
אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ גְדֹלוֹת אֱלֹהִים
מִי כָמוֹךָ
19And your righteousness O God is to the heights
Who has done great things O God?
Who is like you
אֲשֶׁר הִרְאִיתַנִי צָרוֹת רַבּוֹת וְרָעוֹת
תָּשׁוּב תְּחַיֵּנִי
וּמִתְּהֹמוֹת הָאָרֶץ
תָּשׁוּב תַּעֲלֵנִי
20who showed me many and evil troubles
you will turn and give me life
and from the abysses of the earth!
You will turn and make me ascend
תֶּרֶב גְּדֻלָּתִי
וְתִסֹּב תְּנַחֲמֵנִי
21you will increase my greatness
and you will surround and comfort me

גַּם אֲנִי אוֹדְךָ
בִכְלִי נֶבֶל
אֲמִתְּךָ אֱלֹהָי
אֲזַמְּרָה לְךָ בְכִנּוֹר
קְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל
22Also I, I will give thanks to you
in this instrument of skin
in your truth O my God
I will sing a psalm to you on a harp
the Holy One of Israel
תְּרַנֵּנָּה שְׂפָתַי
כִּי אֲזַמְּרָה לָּךְ
וְנַפְשִׁי אֲשֶׁר פָּדִיתָ
23My lips will shout for joy
for I will sing a psalm to you
and my being which you have ransomed
גַּם לְשׁוֹנִי כָּל הַיּוֹם
תֶּהְגֶּה צִדְקָתֶךָ
כִּי בֹשׁוּ
כִי חָפְרוּ
מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתִי
24even my tongue every day
will meditate on your righteousness
for they are shamed
for they are disappointed
from seeking my hurt
Notes by verse
4the repeated from (mem) in verses 4 to 6 is accurate as to sound and structure.
16I have chosen words related to valiant, valour, and prevail for all words with the root גבר
22skin נבל (nbl) as instrument,I chose lute (also could be guitar, psaltery, etc), but here it seems like a joke, meaning the foolishness of the not senseless (נבל) skin of the poet, i.e. the instrument that is the body itself.
Selected recurring words (1-7)
Word and gloss * first usage1234567VsRoot
בך in you
1בך
חסיתי I take refuge
1חסה
ותפלטני and you will secure me
2פלט
והושׁיעני and save me
2ישׁע
היה be
3היה
תמיד continually
3תמיד
להושׁיעני that I be saved
3ישׁע
אתה you are
3אתה
פלטני secure me
4פלט
אתה you are
5אתה
אתה you yourself
6אתה
בך in you
6בך
תמיד continually
6תמיד
הייתי I have become
7היה
ואתה for you
7אתה
מחסי are my refuge
7חסה
Selected recurring words (8-15)
Word and gloss * first usage123456789VsRoot
פי my mouth
8פה
תהלתך your praise
8הלל
כל every
8כל
היום day
8יום
ככלות when is consumed
9כלה
תעזבני do forsake be
9עזב
אמרו say
10אמר
נפשׁי my being
10נפשׁ
לאמר saying
11אמר
עזבו has forsaken him
11עזב
יכלו and consumed
13כלה
נפשׁי my being
13נפשׁ
כל all
14כל
תהלתך your praises
14הלל
פי my mouth
15פה
יספר will recount
15ספר
כל every
15כל
היום day
15יום
ספרות the counts
15ספר
Selected recurring words (16-18)
Word and gloss * first usage1234VsRoot
אבוא I will go
16בוא
בגברות in valour
16גבר
ועד and till
17עד
אגיד I have announced
17נגד
עד to
18עד
עד till
18עד
אגיד I have announced
18נגד
יבוא who come
18בוא
גבורתך your valour
18גבר
Selected recurring words (19-24)
Word and gloss * first usage12345678VsRoot
וצדקתך and your righteousness
19צדק
אשׁר who
19אשׁר
גדלות great things
19גדל
אשׁר who
20אשׁר
ורעות and evil
20רע
תשׁוב you will turn
20שׁוב
תשׁוב you will turn
20שׁוב
גדלתי my greatness
21גדל
גם also
22גם
אזמרה I will sing a psalm
22זמר
לך to you
22לך
אזמרה I will sing a psalm
23זמר
לך to you
23לך
אשׁר which
23אשׁר
גם even
24גם
צדקתך your righteousness
24צדק
רעתי my hurt
24רע