Hebrew Scholars

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Posts 242
Lankford Oxendine | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Dec 15 2011 9:53 AM

Is there anything in the morphology or syntax that can show who the "he" and "his" is referring to in the following passage:

Psalm 37:23 - "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: And he delighteth in his way."

Is the he God or a good man?  Thanks!

Posts 12
Ekkie Tepsupornchai | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 15 2011 11:54 AM

 

There's no clear indication from what I can see of the Hebrew word itself. The "he" that you refer to is not a standalone word in Hebrew, it is instead implied from the form of the verb "delights."  The Hebrew system provides unique forms of each given verb depending upon the subject (e.g. 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person, singular, plural, masculine, feminine). On the other hand, the word for "his" is indeed a standalone word, but is generic in form and thus would not provide a clear indication of its antecedent.

My reading would be that both pronouns are referring to the "man"; thus, the man delights in his way. My reasoning is that this man is the subject of both the preceding and the following clauses. By the way, the word used for "good man" is actually one word in Hebrew which can also mean strong or young man. The Hebrew language has many words to denote "man," each with a different nuance. For what it's worth, the NASB disagrees with me, as it capitalizes the "He" implying that it's referring to God.

 I welcome any correction. I'm still relatively new to Hebrew, but I believe that what I have above is objective (aside from my interpretation of the verse itself).

 

Posts 9947
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 15 2011 2:46 PM

Lankford Oxendine:

Is there anything in the morphology or syntax that can show who the "he" and "his" is referring to in the following passage:

 

Psalm 37:23 - "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: And he delighteth in his way."

Is the he God or a good man?  Thanks!

 

מֵיהוה מִצְעֲדֵי־גֶבֶר כּוֹנָנוּ וְדַרְכּוֹ יֶחְפָּץ׃

The footsteps of a man are made firm by YHWH
And his path delights.

On the other hand, the JPS Tanak renders

23The steps of a man are made firm by the Lord,
   when He delights in his way.

The NRSV similarly renders it as a temporal or circumstantial relation.  Of course, the waw is subject to various understandings.  What must be understood is not simply the morphological form of the words but the poetical structure as well.  Sometimes the parallelism can be antithetical, but usually the second line builds on or explicates the first.

 

 

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

Posts 242
Lankford Oxendine | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 15 2011 3:01 PM

So the normal Hebrew structure for hymns is abab not the chiastic abba?

Posts 9947
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 15 2011 3:10 PM

Lankford Oxendine:

So the normal Hebrew structure for hymns is abab not the chiastic abba?

The Psalms aren't my primary focus so I don't offhand recall the possibilities, but abba might be conceivable.  See what comes down the pike.

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

Posts 1875
Paul-C | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 15 2011 3:22 PM

Why not consult some of the more scholarly commentaries to see what others suggest about the literary structure of this passage?

Posts 242
Lankford Oxendine | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 15 2011 3:38 PM

The commentaries in the Platinum package are not of much use.  They either don't address the issue or if they do, they don't explain their point of view.  Which commentaries do you consider "scholarly"?

 

Posts 1875
Paul-C | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 15 2011 3:50 PM

Mark Barnes (on his training videos website) helpfully suggests the following "technical" commentaries when suggesting ways to tag your library:

Technical Commentaries

  • Anchor Yale Bible
  • Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha Commentaries (Charles)
  • Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
  • The Book of Isaiah (Young)
  • Charles Ellicott Commentary
  • Classic Commentaries on the Greek New Testament
  • Continental Commentary
  • Eerdmans Critical Commentary
  • Exegetical Summaries
  • The Expositor’s Greek Testament
  • Forms of the Old Testament Literature
  • Hermeneia
  • International Critical Commentary
  • JPS Tanakh Commentary
  • Lange’s Commentary
  • Mentor Old Testament Commentary
  • New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament
  • New International Greek Testament Commentary
  • Socio-Rhetorical Commentary Series
  • Word Biblical Commentary
  • Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Posts 1875
Paul-C | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 15 2011 3:57 PM

Morris Proctor suggested a similar list (I haven't compared them to each other):

Scholar or Critical

 

  • Analytical Bible Expositor
  • Anchor Yale Bible Commentary
  • Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture
  • Ariel’s Bible Commentary
  • Baker Exegetical Commentary
  • Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels (Thomas Aquinas)
  • Charles Hodge Commentary
  • Classic Commentaries on the Greek New Testament
  • Commentary on the OT (Keil & Delitzsch)
  • Critical and Exegetical Commentary
  • Eerdmans Critical Commentary
  • Form of the OT Literature
  • Greek Testament (Henry Alford)
  • Hermeneia
  • Horae Homileticae (Simeon)
  • JPS Bible and Torah Commentary
  • JPS Tanakh Commentary Collection
  • Lange’s Commentary on the Hole Scriptures
  • Lenski’s Commentary on the New Testament
  • New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament
  • Pillar NT Commentary
  • Socio-Rhetorical Commentary Series 
  • Word Biblical Commentary

 

 

Posts 9947
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 15 2011 4:05 PM

Paul Clarke:

Why not consult some of the more scholarly commentaries to see what others suggest about the literary structure of this passage?

Good suggestion.  Here is what Dahood has to say

23. who makes sure. With Perles, Analekten zur Textkritik des Alten Testaments, p. 76, deriving yeḥpāṣ from ḥāpaṣ ii, which in Job 40:17 describes the action of the hippopotamus or crocodile which stiffens its tail like a cedar. Being paired with kōnānū, "are made steady," and occurring in a sapiential psalm, ḥāpaṣ is surely related to the root in Job 40:17. Hence yeḥpōṣ is vocalized as in Job 40:17.

Dahood, Mitchell, S.J. Vol. 16, Psalms I: 1-50: Introduction, Translation, and Notes, in loc. Anchor Yale Bible. New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008.

This would confirm the parallelism.

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

Posts 30941
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 15 2011 4:49 PM

Lankford Oxendine:

So the normal Hebrew structure for hymns is abab not the chiastic abba?

If we had The Dynamics of Biblical Parallelism (Biblical Resource) by Adele Berlin in Logos I'd answer. Hint HintWink

 

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 9947
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 15 2011 4:57 PM

MJ. Smith:

Lankford Oxendine:

So the normal Hebrew structure for hymns is abab not the chiastic abba?

If we had The Dynamics of Biblical Parallelism (Biblical Resource) by Adele Berlin in Logos I'd answer. Hint HintWink

 

I support that.

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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