[b-hebrew] Dahood on `ecah, derek, mow$ab

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Wed Oct 1 15:42:09 EDT 2003

On Wednesday 01 October 2003 12:13, B. M. Rocine wrote:
> B-Haveray,
> Why is it that Dahood's work on Psalms (Anchor, 1965!) is not impacting
> recent translations, commentaries, lexicons?
> For instance, he suggests the following for 1:1--
> "...has not entered the council (`ecah) of the wicked,/ Nor in the assembly
> (derek) of sinners stood,/ nor in the session (mow$ab) of scoffers sat."
> He says `ecah can mean council as well as counsel.  That's easy enough to
> take, right?
> For derek, he points out a Ug. cognate drkt, meaning throne, and says that
> Hb. derek can mean throne (or seat of power) in the Tanakh in passages such
> as Ps 110:7 (and I might add Hos. 10:13, Pro 31:3, Ps 138:5, Jer 3:13, Ps
> 119:37).   The idea has barely snuck into HALOT.
> He says mow$ab may have a political nuance as in Ps 107:32 (and I add Gen
> 36:43, 1 Ki 10:5, Job 29:7, Ps 132:13).
> His suggestions totally change my perception of the psalm from the
> traditional analysis as an exposition on *behavior* to an exposition on
> *being in the correct place* (or study).   I think Dahood's analysis
> presents a much more cohesive poem than we find in other English
> translations.
> I have not seen a hint of Dahood's ideas on 1:1 in one translation of or
> commentary on Psalms since he went to press.  Once again, why?

Dahood's approach really threw the scholarly world for a loop when it first 
appeared, because his extensive use of Ugaritic in his lexicography stood the 
field on its collective ear.  Some of his proposals are speculative, as Peter 
suggested; however, Ugaritic exists and we need to deal with it.  
Unfortunately, that means that a lot of folks' houses of cards come tumbling 
down if Dahood's approach is viable.  Hence, the scholarly world has done 
with Dahood's commentaries on Psalms what it frequently does with drastic new 
ideas based on new evidence: it has ignored them in favor of Qumran and the 
versions (again, see Peter's response).

Dahood in his lifetime was aware of this trend; in a festschrift for Cyrus H. 
Gordon he wrote an article, "Ugaritic and Phoenician or Qumran and the 
Versions" (_Orient and Occident: Essays Presented to Cyrus H. Gordon on the 
Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday_, ed. by Harry A. Hoffner, Jr.  AOAT 22 
Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1973, p. 53-58) in which he argued 
strongly that evidence from the Palestinian/Canaanite languages, Ugaritic and 
Phoenician, is much more important and useful than the Qumran materials for 
understanding the HB.  I highly recommend it.

Dave Washburn
"God does a lot of things in the Psalms
that He can't get away with in systematic theology."

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