Grammatical stuff in Psalm 95

Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Fri Sep 1 17:39:59 EDT 2000

> On Wed 30 Aug 2000 (09:31:40), dwashbur at wrote:
> > 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.
>  Dear Dave,
>  What very interesting questions. I think it was Mowinckel who pointed out the
>  Liturgical structure here:

I don't know who first pointed it out, but I've noticed it in the past 
myself.  The easy-to-read layout you've put here, though, is a 
definite keeper.

>  Verses 1 and 2 are the Call to Worship from the worship leader; verses 3-5 are
>  the Response of the congregation, giving their strong reasons for thus singing
>  joyfully unto the LORD.
>  Verse 6 is a repeat call to worship; verse 7a is another shorter Response from
>  the congregation.
>  Verse 7b is the Prophet getting up to begin the Sermon: "Today, *if* you want
>  to hear the voice of YHWH...." Here is not an anacoluthon, but an *ellipsis*.
>  The apodosis is left unstated at this point. YHWH Himself then speaks through
>  the mouth of his Prophet (verses 8-11). So translate 'iM in its usual meaning
>  as the protasis "If...". The Sermon is an application of a pericope from the
>  Wilderness Wandering story, from YHWH Himself.

Interesting!  And it makes good sense, definitely worth exploring 
further.  Thanks!

> > 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.
>  IMHO the word 'a:$eR is a relative pronoun referring back to the twice
>  repeated HeM W:HeM of verse 10, the nearest antecedent. Translate 'a:$eR here
>  "To whom...". Maybe it should be 'a:$eR LaHeM, but the LaHeM has dropped out?
>  This final oracle is likely the missing apodosis in the ellipsis ending verse
>  7b.

I was wondering if we shouldn't have expected LA)A$ER, but again, 
poetry does these things.  Re the last sentence, let me see if I 
follow: the prophet says "Today, if you will hearken to his voice, do 
not harden your hearts" - YHWH takes over "As they did at 
Meribah etc."  Or perhaps YHWH's speech begins at "do not 
harden."  Do you have a preference, and if so, I'd be interested to 
hear why.  Good stuff!  Again, thanks.

Dave Washburn
"Éist le glór Dé."

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