Psalms 73

 

מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף אַךְ טוֹב לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אֱלֹהִים לְבָרֵי לֵבָב׃   73:1

Psal. 73:1   A psalm of Asaph's:

                     Surely God is good to Israel,

                              to the pure of heart.

For my remarks on Asaph, see Psal. 50:1.  But if you followed this link, you might want to now reserve any judgment until you get to the next psalm.

וַאֲנִי כִּמְעַט (נָטוּי) [נָטָיוּ] רַגְלָי כְּאַיִן (שֻׁפְּכָה) [שֻׁפְּכוּ] אֲשֻׁרָי׃   73:2

Psal. 73:2   Yet I, my foot is almost bent

                              -- the slip of my step is of no consequence.

Aside from the two alleged errors that I’ll have more to say about below, there’s some odd Hebrew in this verse.  All other translations are minor variations of “But as for me, my feet were almost gone. My steps had nearly slipped.”  Notice that the translation makes it seem as if Asaph is referring to the past, whereas my translation is in the present.  Then the translators all copy the original assumption that the two Hebrew nouns yl'g>r (my foot) and yr'vua] (my step) are plural and they conclude that the verbs have to match in number, thus the two “errors.”  However, the nouns can be either plural or singular as they are spelled, so I see no reason to assume that the two nouns are plural.  The translation I have reads just fine with their being singular.  Finally, the other translations mistranslate the negative word !yIa;K in the verse, which I translate as is of no consequence.  In their translation it becomes nearly.  But every other appearance of this word is translated something like is as nothing.  My translation implies something none of the others do -- namely, Asaph is contrasting God’s goodness to his poor physical condition, but admits that his condition is of no consequence.  God is still good and is All Important!

כִּי־קִנֵּאתִי בַּהֹולְלִים שְׁלֹום רְשָׁעִים אֶרְאֶה׃   73:3

Psal. 73:3   I was envious toward the arrogant

                               when I would see the prosperity of the wicked.

כִּי אֵין חַרְצֻבֹּות לְמֹותָם וּבָרִיא אוּלָם׃   73:4

Psal. 73:4   For there are no pangs in their death,

                               and their body is firm.

בַּעֲמַל אֱנֹושׁ אֵינֵמֹו וְעִם־אָדָם לֹא יְנֻגָּעוּ׃   73:5

Psal. 73:5   None of them is with the trouble of humankind,

                               and they might not be plagued as long as humankind.

לָכֵן עֲנָקַתְמֹו גַאֲוָה יַעֲטָף־שִׁית חָמָס לָמֹו׃   73:6

Psal. 73:6   For this, pride might serve as their necklace,

                               a garment of injustice might envelop them.

יָצָא מֵחֵלֶב עֵינֵמֹו עָבְרוּ מַשְׂכִּיֹּות לֵבָב׃   73:7

Psal. 73:7   Their eye exudes from fatness,

                               they surpass the imaginings of the heart.

יָמִיקוּ וִידַבְּרוּ בְרָע עֹשֶׁק מִמָּרֹום יְדַבֵּרוּ׃   73:8

Psal. 73:8   They might scoff and speak oppression in wickedness;

                               from a high place they would speak.

שַׁתּוּ בַשָּׁמַיִם פִּיהֶם וּלְשֹׁונָם תִּהֲלַךְ בָּאָרֶץ׃   73:9

Psal. 73:9   They set their mouth in the heavens,

                                though their tongue would walk on the ground.

לָכֵן (יָשִׁיב) [יָשׁוּב] עַמֹּו הֲלֹם וּמֵי מָלֵא יִמָּצוּ לָמֹו׃   73:10

Psal. 73:10   Therefore His people must draw back here,

                                as waters of fullness might drain out of them.

There is nothing wrong with the spelling of the word in the parentheses.  The correction is unnecessary.

וְאָמְרוּ אֵיכָה יָדַע־אֵל וְיֵשׁ דֵּעָה בְעֶלְיֹון׃   73:11

Psal. 73:11   Then they say, “How does God acknowledge?”

                                and, “Is there knowing by the Most High?”

הִנֵּה־אֵלֶּה רְשָׁעִים וְשַׁלְוֵי עֹולָם הִשְׂגּוּ־חָיִל׃   73:12

Psal. 73:12   Behold, these are wicked,

                                and the prosperous of old increase wealth.

אַךְ־רִיק זִכִּיתִי לְבָבִי וָאֶרְחַץ בְּנִקָּיֹון כַּפָּי׃   73:13

Psal. 73:13   Surely vainly I have cleansed my heart

                                and bathed my hands with innocence,

וָאֱהִי נָגוּעַ כָּל־הַיֹּום וְתֹוכַחְתִּי לַבְּקָרִים׃   73:14

Psal. 73:14   as I am stricken all the time,

                                with my chastisement every morning.

אִם־אָמַרְתִּי אֲסַפְּרָה כְמֹו הִנֵּה דֹור בָּנֶיךָ בָגָדְתִּי׃   73:15

Psal. 73:15   When I said, “I can explain like so,”

                                behold, a generation of Your children have I deceived,

וָאֲחַשְּׁבָה לָדַעַת זֹאת עָמָל (הִיא) [הוּא] בְעֵינָי׃   73:16

Psal. 73:16   and I must ponder to understand this,

                                it was troubling in my eyes,

Here again I must disagree with the sages who marked the word in the parentheses as an error.  The word is typically translated as she, being feminine in its spelling.  The replacement is the masculine form, he.  However, in English either of them may be translated as it if the context calls for it.  Now the feminine form is usually found in the context of a nonspecific antecedent.  And I believe this to be the correct form here.  The pronoun it in it was troubling refers back to his questioning the correctness of his explanation.  That is precisely the kind of context in which a pronoun reference would be feminine.  As embarrassingly conspicuous support for my viewpoint, the word translated as this, which refers to the same antecedent, is also feminine in form.  What were the sages thinking when they voted to call this error?

עַד־אָבֹוא אֶל־מִקְדְּשֵׁי־אֵל אָבִינָה לְאַחֲרִיתָם׃   73:17

Psal. 73:17   until I would go in to the holy places of God;

                                I would understand about their end.

אַךְ בַּחֲלָקֹות תָּשִׁית לָמֹו הִפַּלְתָּם לְמַשּׁוּאֹות׃   73:18

Psal. 73:18   Surely You will set them in slippery places,

                               You cast them down to utter ruin.

אֵיךְ הָיוּ לְשַׁמָּה כְרָגַע סָפוּ תַמּוּ מִן־בַּלָּהֹות׃   73:19

Psal. 73:19   How they become instantly as waste!

                               They come to an end, consumed by terrors.

כַּחֲלֹום מֵהָקִיץ אֲדֹנָי בָּעִיר צַלְםָם תִּבְזֶה׃   73:20

Psal. 73:20   As a dream, upon awakening, O Master,

                                on rousing, You will despise their semblance.

כִּי יִתְחַמֵּץ לְבָבִי וְכִלְיוֹתַי אֶשְׁתּוֹנָן׃   73:21

Psal. 73:21   But my heart would be embittered, and my organs;

                                I would be pierced.

וַאֲנִי־בַעַר וְלֹא אֵדָע בְּהֵמוֹת הָיִיתִי עִמָּךְ׃   73:22

Psal. 73:22   But I would be stupid that I would not understand;

                                I am beastly in spite of You.

He compares himself to a dumb animal or a fool, because of his troubling doubts.  A typical translation of this verse is similar to “But I was brutish, and ignorant; I was as a beast before You.”  The two instances of the verb they translate as was and the word translated as before You are mistranslations.  Notice how that distorts the intended meaning.

וַאֲנִי תָמִיד עִמָּךְ אָחַזְתָּ בְּיַד־יְמִינִי׃   73:23

Psal. 73:23   Still, I continually am with You,

                                You hold on to my right hand.

בַּעֲצָתְךָ תַנְחֵנִי וְאַחַר כָּבוֹד תִּקָּחֵנִי׃   73:24

Psal. 73:24   With Your counsel You will guide me,

                                and gloriously You will receive me after.

מִי־לִי בַשָּׁמָיִם וְעִמְּךָ לֹא־חָפַצְתִּי בָאָרֶץ׃   73:25

Psal. 73:25   Who is for me in heaven?

                                And beside You I have no desire on earth.

כָּלָה שְׁאֵרִי וּלְבָבִי צוּר־לְבָבִי וְחֶלְקִי אֱלֹהִים לְעוֹלָם׃   73:26

Psal. 73:26   My flesh is spent, and my heart,

                                God shall be the Rock of my heart and my Portion forever.

כִּי־הִנֵּה רְחֵקֶיךָ יֹאבֵדוּ הִצְמַתָּה כָּל־זוֹנֶה מִמֶּךָּ׃   73:27

Psal. 73:27   For behold, those far from You must perish,

                                You cut off every adulterous one from Yourself.

וַאֲנִי קִרֲבַת אֱלֹהִים לִי־טוֹב שַׁתִּי בַּאדֹנָי יְהֹוִה מַחְסִי לְסַפֵּר כָּל־מַלְאֲכוֹתֶיךָ׃   73:28

Psal. 73:28   But I, the nearness of God to me is good;

                                I take my stand with my Master, the Lord, my Refuge,

                        to recount all of Your works.

Aside from my above disagreements with the sages, I have one more point to emphasize.  It turns out that many of the verbs in this psalm are imperfect, but they are almost all translated as perfect by virtually every translator.  And I believe these frequent mistakes change the thrust of some of the verses, as I show in v. 22 above.  To see how others are changed, refer to any other translation of this psalm and compare it with this translation.

 

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