[b-hebrew] An interesting translation of Psalms 143:2a

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Aug 27 06:55:38 EDT 2004

On 27/08/2004 04:08, moon at mail.sogang.ac.kr wrote:

> Thanks, Peter. Please see my comments below.
> Psalms 143:2a:
> >> >>W:)aL_T.fBoW B:Mi$:P.f+ )eT_(aB:D.eKf C.iY Lo)_YiCD.aQ L:PfNeYKf 
> KfL_XfY
> [Peter]
> > My own interpretation would be along the lines of "don't go with your
> > servant to (the place of) judgment", i.e. "don't take your servant to
> > court". Compare Isaiah 3:14, Job 22:4, the same idiom except with `IM
> > instead of 'ET, and Job 9:32. Compare also Jeremiah 1:16, 4:12, 12:1,
> > 39:5 where MISHPATIM 'ET- implies litigation against.
> >
> [Moon] I would like to translate Isaiah 3:14 as follows:
> Isaiah 3:14: ADONAI B:Mi$:P.f+ YfBoW (iM-CiQ:N"Y (fM.oW
> The Lord with judgement will come against the elders of his people.
> Your second set of examples (Jer 1:16, 4:12, 12:1, 39:5)
> have to do with "Lord will tell judgement against you"
> In these verses, IM-X, ET_X can be taken to mean
> "with respect to X" and in the context of the above verses, "against X".
> To me, "Lord going with his servant to a court" is strange, because
> Lord himself is the judge.

You may be right. The Lord is in such cases both the prosecutor and the 
judge, and of course (as the psalmist notes in the second half of the 
verse) the defendant has no chance of acquittal, except by pleading for 

> The reason why I quibble with the traditional translation "enter into 
> judgement
> with your servant" is that it treats "judgement with your servant" as
> a single constituent in the sentence. In Psalms 143:2a, B:Mi$:P.f+ 
> )eT_(aB:D.eKf
> might be taken as a phrase, if we can combine the two words together as
> B:Mi$:P.f+--eT_(aB:D.eKf. Then B: can govern the whole phrase. But as 
> it is,
> I wonder if this kind of parsing is legitimate.
> The word order of Isaiah 3:14 clearly shows that B:Mi$:P.f+ and 
> (iM-CiQ:N"Y (fM.oW are two separate constituents. So, it is not 
> legitimate to take the verse to
> mean "God will come into judgement-with-his-elders". Rather, YfBoW 
> (iM-CiQ:N"Y
> is naturally translated as "come unto the elders", and together with
> B:Mi$:P.f+, we have "Lord will come unto the elders with judgement" or
> "Lord will come against the elders with judgement".
> What do you think?

You make a good point about the constituents. While some languages 
(certainly Greek, occasionally English) can put a verb in the middle of 
a noun phrase, that is probably not what is happening here. That is why 
I would understand the syntax as suggesting that the Lord and his 
adversaries are metaphorically entering together into a place of 
judgment, a court, which means of course that they are both involved in 
the same law suit.

> -----------------------------------
> By the way, do you use a software to find parallels of a sentence or a 
> phrase?
In this case I used BDB, which has very useful lists of collocations. I 
don't have any software which is powerful enough to do this kind of search.

> Because I am myself a computer scientist, I am very much interested in 
> using
> the best software for that purpose or making it sometime in the future.
> My current tool, Bible Windows, is not as powerful as I want with 
> respect to
> intelligent search, and I think other softwares in the market are not 
> so intelligent in search, either. I used to write a computer program 
> parsing natural language based on
> modern computational linguistics. I guess no bible software uses this 
> advanced
> theory and techniques of parsing. Oh well.
There are some reasonably powerful tools available, but I don't know 
what is best now. If you can write something more powerful, and which 
works well and is user friendly, there may be large market for it worldwide.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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