Friday, August 26, 2016

A Tour through Ps. 119: Qoph

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Sigh.  This has been two weeks in process; maybe that's the new normal for now.  But finally I can hit 'publish'

Besides being the 4th from the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet, Qoph is a really, really good word to remember when you're playing Scrabble (R)... :-)  It bears a passing resemblance to a capital P, if you stretch it out a bit, and it begins all the first words in verses 145-152.  Here's the NIV 84 version:

I call with all my heart; answer me, O LORD, and I will obey your decrees.
I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statues.
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your laws.
Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law.
Yet you are near, O LORD, and all your commands are true.
Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.

Now, I have had a bit of an epiphany-- someone who actually knows something about Hebrew left a comment on the last post about the translation.  And I went back and checked the dictionary I was using and found that the translation she gave me was not listed in the definition of the word, nor was it ever translated that way in King James.  So my dictionary has lost a bit of its credibility....or maybe my use of it is not quite correct. Because she KNOWS.

But, because it's all I have, I'm going to plug right along.  Just keep in mind...this is not any kind of authoritative work here.  I'm exploring and learning how to research.

Here's this week's exploration...

[I] cry out with [my] entire inner man:  Answer me, Yahweh; your statutes [I] will guard.
[I] cry out [to] you: Save me; I will protect your divine testimonies.
Before dawn, I cry out for help, waiting for your word.
My two eyes meet the watches of the night, [as I] meditate upon your word.
Hear my voice according to your kindness, Yahweh; by your judgements refresh me.
Pursuers of mischief come near [it? me?]; from your law they are distant.
You are near, Yahweh, and all your commandments are true.
From antiquity, it is obvious that your divine testimonies have been established as everlasting.

The last verse was hard...the individual words didn't match up well to the Hebrew listed in the interlinear, but I'm limited to looking them up by the numbers so I'm not sure what the extra letters are about.  And the word min, which modifies edah, which I have rendered 'divine testimonies' when I encounter it (the dictionary states 'always plural and always of laws as divine testimonies'), is particularly puzzling.  The most common usage of it is that it is referring to a part out of a whole...which made me wonder if the verse is actually saying something along the lines of 'I only know a part of your eternal divine testimonies'  ....but that really didn't match up at all with what any of the knowledgeable translators have said, so I backed off of that.  What I have is a pretty lame paraphrase, I think, but since I just couldn't come up with something I was confident in based on the resources I had...I think it works..

Verse 150 has an interesting construction, too.  The NIV implies that the wicked folks are near to the psalmist; the King James is a little more vague...They draw nigh that follow after mischief.  From the construction, it seems to me that the verse is demonstrating that folks who chase after mischief will pull right up to it, but in doing so they put themselves farther from the laws of God.

Which is kinda sad...

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