Monday, 1 December 2014

Isaiah 64:4(5)

Here's a verse from yesterday's readings - it is a bit odd. What does it mean?

Thou didst take away him that joyfully worked righteousness, those that remembered Thee in Thy ways--behold, Thou wast wroth, and we sinned--upon them have we stayed of old, that we might be saved.

Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness,those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.

The English is odd enough, isn't it?

Here's the REB (which we read) (Well, I think we did - but I was quite late so missed the OT lesson).
You welcome him who rejoices to do what is right, who is mindful of your ways. When you showed your anger, we sinned.

I think this is off-base - but who will help me? And do you even see a problem? It is a cause and effect issue. REB is way off on the first word פגע - good grief. Is this the word that Ruth would use to Naomi 'do not force me to leave you' or Boaz to Ruth about being 'forced' into another field. 

Here's the Leningrad codex:
פָּגַ֤עְתָּ אֶת־שָׂשׂ֙ וְעֹ֣שֵׂה צֶ֔דֶק בִּדְרָכֶ֖יךָ יִזְכְּר֑וּךָ
הֵן־אַתָּ֤ה קָצַ֙פְתָּ֙ וַֽנֶּחֱטָ֔א בָּהֶ֥ם עוֹלָ֖ם וְנִוָּשֵֽׁעַ

That word קצפ occurs only once in the Psalms, Psalm 106:32 describing the rage of the people at the waters of Meribah. There are several words for anger in the Hebrew and I have used differing words in English correspondingly.
ומאלה whether imprecation אלה
אנפת you are angry אנף
אף anger אף
ותבער and was kindled בער
וזעם and indignation זעם
בחמתי in my heat חמה
ויחר and he was burning with anger חרה
מחרון from fierce חרה
נשׂקה was ignited נשׂק
בעברות in the outbursts of עבר
בעברתך from your fury עבר
התעברת you have passed through עבר
ויתעבר and he was furious עבר
בעיר when you are roused עור
בקצפך in your rage קצף
ויקציפו and they rage קצף
So what does the writer of this chapter have in mind here? It is hard to tell from one verse and this chapter is not yet on my radar or in my data. You can see that the verse divides in two and the second phrase is the one that seems to reverse cause and effect, especially notable in the REB. There appears to be a clear elision in the second part of the verse... no on second thought, I doubt it - what is the antecedent of בהם?

ideas? I am not going to translate this at present - too busy.


  1. Sorry, December was a frantic month. What a difficult verse! My first attempt at a very literal rendering looks something like:

    You smote /met the exultant person and the one who acts rightly
    *met from LXX
    in your way they will remember you.
    Look, you were angry and we sin
    among/through them of old we will be saved.
    I don't know what to do with your problem apparent cause and effect. If I manage to work more on this I'll let you know, for now the more I look the less I see (like the preceding verse?)

  2. What you have suggested is already dealing with the problem of cause and effect. Putting we sin in the continuous present helps re-frame the problem. Thanks

  3. It makes it less stark which is probably why I preferred it... though since it does not remove this problem and overall it seems a very difficult text. Perhaps there is a better approach.