Grammatical stuff in Psalm 95

Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Fri Sep 1 11:34:54 EDT 2000

> Dear Dave,
> You write:
> >There are a couple of particles in Psalm 95 that have me wondering
> >about some things.  The first is )IM in v.7.  On the surface it makes
> >sense, sort of: "Today if you will listen to his voice..."  However, the
> >next several clauses are a direct oracle in first person, obviously
> >from YHWH, so we end up with a rather harsh anacoluthon
> >between v.7 and 8ff.  So I'm thinking, could we legitimately render it
> >as an emphatic, i.e. "Today you will surely hear his voice: begin
> >oracle here" so to speak?  The problem is that )IM seems to be
> >used in this sense later on in v.11, but there it has its "normal"
> >(whatever that means) emphatic use as a negative, "no way will
> >this happen."  If that is the only emphatic use it has, then I would
> >have to render v.7 "Today you will not listen to his voice."  That
> >doesn't make sense.  If it were the common emphatic positive use,
> >I would expect )IM LO) "you will surely hear his voice."  So I have a
> >bit of a dilemma here.  Anybody have thoughts on this?
> The men who wrote the psalms could function as prophets, and the prophets
> sometimes moderated their speech between their own voice and that of the
> Lord. They could speak one sentence as their own thought about the Lord and
> the next sentence as a thought directly from of the Lord. This may be what
> is occurring in Psalm 95:7-8. See for example, Isaiah 10:4-5.

I understand this, and I agree fully.  But the Isaiah passage doesn't 
have the )IM or anything similar, and that's the part I'm trying to 
figure out.  I haven't found another passage where this type of 
formula (if it's a formula) occurs, so I'm trying to decide whether 
there really is an anacoluthon here or if this is some kind of 
idiomatic or otherwise "good Hebrew" construction.

> >The other problem word I have is the ):A$ER at the beginning of
> >v.11.  On the surface it appears to mean "therefore," but I'm not
> >sure this is really an attested meaning of the word.  The LXX
> >apparently read KA):A$ER, something along the lines of "they did
> >not know my way, when I swore in my anger etc."  I have trouble
> >making sense of that, too.  Any thoughts on this word would be
> >very welcome, as well.
> The ):A$ER in verse 11 probably functions as a relative pronoun
> construction referring back to the H"M ("they") in verse 10. As a mere
> connecting link, ):A$ER may need more than one word in translation.  BDB
> gives "as to which" as an example. In Psalm 95:11 the idea might be
> something like "as to whom." The verse could begin: "about whom I swore in
> my wrath, 'They will never enter into my rest.'"

OK, that makes sense.  I could wonder in passing about the 
absence of a preposition, but really in poetry it's not all that 
unusual.  Thanks.

Dave Washburn
"Éist le glór Dé."

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