Psalm 12:5-7

Dan Wagner Dan.Wagner at
Fri Feb 2 17:27:37 EST 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Theodore H. Mann [mailto:theomann at]
> Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2001 17:04
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Psalm 12:5-7
> Greetings all.
>    I just joined the list and this is my first post; I hope it's
> reasonably intelligent.

Yes, although you'll find that many on this list have no concern for
inerrancy, preservation, or any doctrine of Scripture--which this psalm is
sometimes asserted to relate to. But your question concerns the Hebrew text,
so it is a good one.

>    Regarding Ps.12:5-7, I recently read the following statement in a
> locally generated theological journal.  This was in reference to the
> providential preservation of the Bible issue:
> "... it is... probable that verse 7 ('Thou shall keep them... 
> thou shalt
> preserve them') is not... referring to 'the words of the 
> Lord' in verse 6.
>  The Hebrew term for 'them' (twice in v. 7) is masculine, 
> while the term
> for 'words' is feminine.

Correct, _)eMAROTH_ is fem. plural in v. 7[6], but in verse 8[7] the suffix
on _$MR_ (the first verb) is masc. plural, and the second verb for
"guard/keep" _NCR_ has the masc. singular suffix (i.e., the object of the
verb). So literally, we should translate "You, Yahweh, will keep them [MP];
You will guard him [MS] from this generation forever." It does not refer to
the fem. "words." Rather, it references 
(1.) the masc. pl. "poor ones," "afflicted ones," in v. 6[5] & "faithful
ones" in v. 2[1], and also 
(2.) David, the "loyal/godly one" _XASID_ of verse 1-2[1]. 

I think it's interesting (at least to my theology) that the singular
reference to David, the king, and the plural of those of his kingdom are
equated by the parallelism. In any case, God preserves His *people* in this
passage which teaches nothing with reference to the preservation of

Actually, there is no text in the Bible (OT or NT) that *intends* to
directly teach a doctrine of preservation of manuscripts or documents
(though there are some general implications). This gives a certain
liberty--and a certain responsibility--regarding textual criticism (that
some want to resist). I'd be happy to give you my view of that, off-list, if
you're interested.

Dan Wagner

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