Thursday, February 5, 2015

Music for Psalm 20:10

Who interprets the punctuation for Ps 20:10 (21:9)? The MT reads as a parallel, Yahweh save : may the king answer us when we call. The atnach is after the word 'save'. The Greek and almost all translations read the king as the direct object of save. I suppose one could argue for both. It is rare to have an atnach between the verb and its object. It is not rare to have it near the beginning or near the end of a verse. It is common for the translator to impose politics or religion or current social desire onto the text. Is this a case of justifying the divine right of kings or is the common rendering a correct reading and the punctuation in the Hebrew is imposed in this odd way, the major disjunctive between the subject and the verb?

Here's the music
I have been told that ole-veyored is a stronger disjunctive in the Psalms than the atenach, but I remain to be convinced by usage. (See my prior post with updated stats on this point).

in any case, there is no ole-veyored in this verse, so the primary disjunctive is the atenach (^). It occurs where the music comes to the cadence on ho-shi-ah. Here's the text. The fourth column is the syllable count on each side of the disjunctive. It is a typical parallel, very common in Hebrew poetry.
יְהוָ֥ה הוֹשִׁ֑יעָה

הַ֝מֶּ֗לֶךְ יַעֲנֵ֥נוּ בְיוֹם־קָרְאֵֽנוּ
10Yahweh save,

let the king answer us in the day of our call.
The side question is - when were the accents imposed on the text? This too is a question that has little evidence. People assume that they were imposed in the 8th century CE. It does not seem likely. They are a comprehensive set of hand signals that map to a musical interpretation. It seems very unlikely, unless you are Victor Borge, that we can make music with punctuation. It also seems unlikely that in the 8th century, when notation was being invented for music that a comprehensive set of hand signals would just appear. The geresh-revia that begins the second half of the verse is not likely to undo the disjunctive effect of the atenach. This characteristic phrase occurs 1600 times in the Psalms. It appears to be a combination in the 3 poetry books only.

Nonetheless, it appears that the Greeks translated the text as: Yahweh save your king, and answer us when we call upon you.

κύριε, σῶσον τὸν βασιλέα σου // καὶ ἐπάκουσον ἡμῶν ἐν ᾗ ἂν ἡμέρᾳ ἐπικαλεσώμεθά σε.

So if the Greeks ignored the disjunctive, did they not have any accents in their text?  Maybe - but I can't answer to the ancientness of that LXX reading.