Thursday, July 25, 2013

Key verses - poetry that will not submit to a simple rule

I am not surprised that circles aren't everything. Sometimes it is just a unique word, a word that seems out of place in the psalm that makes it stick in the memory. I am going to do Psalm 2 right away (no, I am not in a hurry) because the second psalm belongs with the first as a unit introducing the Psalter as a whole. I am not the first to suggest this.

What stands out for me in Psalm 2? Two verses 4 and 9 have words that do not repeat in the poem. They are mocking and destructive verses - about scorn and smashed pots. The only other use of smashed in the Psalter is the smashed babies of Psalm 137. Memorable because it is not nice. I never said these poems were nice.

Verses 6 and 7 are the centre-piece of this psalm, however, not the verses with no recurrence. And there are circles. (My translation is fun - so the individual glosses are a bit odd). But it is questionable to me whether the circles are significant.

Nonetheless, if you gaze on these poems, if you look and draw, you will be drawn by your looking into the gaze of the psalms.

Now that was a deliberate pair of circles with you in the middle.

The significant memorable aspect of this poem for me (besides everything concerning this king in Zion) is the verb offered as libation, some translate 'set', some have translated 'anoint' as we saw in Robert Lowth's lecture. But I was provocative.

And of course we could have an argument over several verses here - especially verse 11.
לָמָּה רָגְשׁוּ גוֹיִם
וּלְאֻמִּים יֶהְגּוּ רִיק
1Why such a throng of nations?
and tribes in empty muttering?
יִתְיַצְּבוּ מַלְכֵי אֶרֶץ
וְרוֹזְנִים נוֹסְדוּ יָחַד
עַל יְהוָה וְעַל מְשִׁיחוֹ
2They station themselves, these sovereigns of earth
these rule-makers reasoning as one
over יהוה and over his anointed
נְנַתְּקָה אֶת מוֹסְרוֹתֵימוֹ
וְנַשְׁלִיכָה מִמֶּנּוּ עֲבֹתֵימוֹ
3Let us snap their bonds
and kiss good-bye to their cords

יוֹשֵׁב בַּשָּׁמַיִם יִשְׂחָק
אֲדֹנָי יִלְעַג לָמוֹ
4The one sitting in the heavens, he laughs
My Lord derides them
אָז יְדַבֵּר אֵלֵימוֹ בְאַפֹּו
וּבַחֲרוֹנוֹ יְבַהֲלֵמוֹ
5Then he will speak to them in his anger
and in his burning vex them
וַאֲנִי נָסַכְתִּי מַלְכִּי
עַל צִיּוֹן הַר קָדְשִׁי
6I myself have offered as libation my own king
on Zion, my holy hill

אֲסַפְּרָה אֶל חֹק יְהוָה
אָמַר אֵלַי בְּנִי אַתָּה
אֲנִי הַיּוֹם יְלִדְתִּיךָ
7I will recount the decree of יהוה
He promised to me, you are my son
I myself this day gave birth to you
שְׁאַל מִמֶּנִּי וְאֶתְּנָה גוֹיִם נַחֲלָתֶךָ
וַאֲחֻזָּתְךָ אַפְסֵי אָרֶץ
8Ask me and I give the nations as your legacy
and as yours to hold, the ends of the earth
תְּרֹעֵם בְּשֵׁבֶט בַּרְזֶל
כִּכְלִי יוֹצֵר תְּנַפְּצֵם
9you will injure them with an iron sceptre
like fashioned pots, you will smash them

וְעַתָּה מְלָכִים הַשְׂכִּילוּ
הִוָּסְרוּ שֹׁפְטֵי אָרֶץ
10So now, you sovereigns, let there be insight
be warned you who judge on earth
עִבְדוּ אֶת יְהוָה בְּיִרְאָה
וְגִילוּ בִּרְעָדָה
11serve יהוה in fear
and rejoice in trembling
נַשְּׁקוּ בַר פֶּן יֶאֱנַף
וְתֹאבְדוּ דֶרֶךְ
כִּי יִבְעַר כִּמְעַט אַפּוֹ
אַשְׁרֵי כָּל חוֹסֵי בוֹ
12Kiss, each of you - pure lest he be angry
and you perish in the way
for he kindles as a hint of his anger
Happy! all who take refuge in him
Hebrew words: 92. Percentage of Hebrew words that recur in this psalm: 29%. Average keywords per verse: 2.3.
Selected recurring words - showing the four that are used in reverse order.

Word and gloss * first usage123456VsRoot
* מלכי these sovereigns of
2מלך
* ארץ earth
2ארץ
* מוסרותימו their bonds
3יסר
* ממנו bye to
3מן
* באפו in his anger
5אף
* ואני myself
6אני
* מלכי my own king
6מלך
* אני myself
7אני
* ממני me
8מן
* ארץ the earth
8ארץ
* מלכים you sovereigns
10מלך
* הוסרו be warned
10יסר
* ארץ earth
10ארץ
* אפו his anger
12אף