Psalm 2:12 and Proverbs 31 ben/bar

Lisbeth S. Fried lizfried at
Fri Mar 22 09:37:26 EST 2002

Let me recite the decree of YHWH; he said to me
"You are my son, this day have I begotten you.
Ask wealth of me and I will give it;
       the nations will be your patrimony,
      and your possessions the ends of the earth.
You will break them with a rod of iron,
            Shatter them like a potter's jar."
And now, O kings, be prudent,
        Take warning, you rulers of the earth.
Serve YHWH with reverence,
        and live in trembling, O mortal men!
Lest he grow angry and your assembly perish
        for his ire flares up quickly.
How blest are all who trust in him.

You are correct, GfSomsel, that ancient Hebrew did not
have word divisions. My first Hebrew teacher, Prof.
Krahmolkov, told us that if we were in doubt about a line,
always to remove all the nikudot, the matres lexiones,
and  the word divisions and then translate.

I like Dahood's translation because it makes sense that
since the king is speaking here, he would be addressing
the foreign kings, and reminding them they don't live forever,
rather than speaking of himself in the third person. If the latter,
there would have been an aleph suffixed, as has been noted.


 -----Original Message-----
From: Polycarp66 at [mailto:Polycarp66 at]
Sent: Fri, March 22, 2002 12:45 AM
To: lizfried at; b-hebrew at
Subject: Re: Psalm 2:12 and Proverbs 31 ben/bar

  In a message dated 3/21/2002 11:55:37 PM Eastern Standard Time,
lizfried at writes:

  Mitchell Dahood, a Catholic priest,
  translates it "Serve YHWH with reverence and
  live in trembling, O mortal men!"
  He reads O mortal men with no consonental
  changes: ne$e qaber, men of the grave,
  or men appointed for the grave.
  He compares i$ mawet (I kings 2:26)
  bene mawet (1 Sam 26:16).

  Now that makes sense.  The RSV and NRSV translate "kiss his feet", but
that requires emending the text from BR to RGLYW.  Maintaining the
consonantal text is always preferable.  In the oldest manuscripts the
letters were not always separated (in fact, as I recall, they usually
weren't).  Liz, could you cite some more of Dahood's translation for
context?  I'm afraid I left most of my books in storage.

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