Monday, July 11, 2011

Psalm 23

I've mentioned that I'm taking Biblical Hebrew for the first summer session and I thought it might be interesting to share some of what I'm learning. I was hoping we would get to translate this Psalm as it is one of the most well known. I'm going to post my translation which will be slightly different from the version of the Bible you have since its my own. Remember I'm still learning so my translation isn't going to be perfect.  I'm going to include some interesting notes about the verse in italics underneath the translation.
Psalm 23
1: The Lord is my shepherd; I do not lack.
In this verse what I translated as Lord is actually the Lord's name which is not pronounced. You can read more about this here.The idea of not pronouncing the Lord’s name is common in Semitic cultures. The same thing happened with the Canaanite storm god Adad/Hadad. At some point speaking his name fell out of use and instead they substituted Baal which means Lord.

2:He makes me lie down in green pastures;He leads me to waters of rest places.

3:He renews my life;He guides me in paths of righteousness to benefit his name.

 There is a hint of movement towards the Temple some say this is a pilgrimage song.

4: Though I walk through the valley of darkness,I fear no evil,because you are with me;Your rod and Your staff comfort me.
I know your are probably looking at my translation and thinking"where is the valley of the shadow of death?" Originally scholars thought the word was a compound word combining shadow and death. Scholars later discovered that it was not a compound word but a little used word meaning darkness. However valley of the shadow of death has a much better poetic ring to it so English translations have kept it. 

5:You arrange a table before me opposite my enemies,You anoint my head with oil;My cup is full.

6:Only good and loving kindness will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for the length of my days. 

Of course this is a song that is meant to be heard. Here you can hear it in Hebrew. 

1 comment:

  1. Years ago in a Youth Sunday School class we were required to memorize the 23rd Psalm. I fell in love with the poetic verses and would find myself silently repeating it whenever I was anxious or wanted to calm or comfort myself. The words are powerful and the thought never occured to me they weren't the original Hebrew words. Your translation back to the original Hebrew has more subtle meaning and changes my understanding. The shadow of darkness isn't as frightening as death. Thanks for sharing about your Biblical Hebrew.