[b-hebrew] Psalm 80:10-12

Steve Miller smille10 at sbcglobal.net
Sun Oct 2 00:39:49 EDT 2005

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mark Eddy" <markeddy at adams.net> Sent: Friday, September 30, 2005 2:41 

> In Psalm 80:10 the first verb PiNNiYTha is 2nd person, with AeLoHiYM
> from v. 8 as the subject: "You cleared [the ground] for it. Everyone seems
> to agree on this.
> But the second verb WaThTha$Re$ is translated as 2nd person by LXX,
> Luther,
> KJV, and older translations, so that it reads: "You made it take [deep]
> root," while most newer translations read it as 3rd person: "it took
> [deep]
> root."

In John Joseph Owens' _Analytical Key to the Old Testament_, he says that
this verb is 2nd masc. singular, but translates it as "and it took root".
It seems to me also  that the 2nd person causitive better translates the
Hebrew: "You [God] caused its [the vine's] root to take deep root."

Is there an English translation of Luther's Bible?

> All translations take the third verb WaThThMaLLe( as 3rd person: "it
> filled
> the land", though in form it also could be 2nd person: "You filled the
> land."

Owens also says that this verb is 2nd masc.sing., but translates it in 3rd
person sing.. I like the 2nd person translation much better. By Israel
filling the land, God filled the land. Asaph is telling God how glorious it
was for Him when Israel was healthy.

> Similarly in verse 12 the verb Th$aLLaCh could be read either as 2nd
> person:
> "You sent out its boughs" (with Luther) or as 3rd person: "It sent out its
> boughs" (everybody else).

Owens says this verb is 3rd fem. sing. You say it could be read either as
2nd person or 3rd. Is that 2nd person masculine? I do not know how to tell.
If it is fem., then the subject is the vine. You get a rather different
meaning depending on whether the subject here is God or Israel.

> Verse 13 complains with a 2nd person verb PaRaCTha, "Why did You [God]
> break
> down its walls."

Can anyone tell me what Asaph is referring to? Asaph served during the time
of King David. When were Israel's walls ever broken down during the time of
David? or Solomon? Is he referring to the time of Absalom's rebellion? That
is the only dark time that I can think of during David's rule.

> Since the point of these verses seems to be the contrast between what God
> has done for Israel previously and what is happening to Israel at the time
> the psalm was written, it makes sense to me to take all these verbs as
> second person, addressed to God and describing God's actions.

yes, except that from context alone, I could see v. 12 going either way.
With God as the subject, the meaning of v12 is a simple continuation of the
same thought as v10. With the vine as the subject, maybe Israel sending out
its shoots to the Euphrates River was Israel's doing and not totally God's
will, or not His perfect will.
In between v10 and v12, is verse 11 concerning Israel's exaltation above the
mountains and cedars, in which the verb is passive, and hence ambiguous as
to whether the doer is God or Israel or both.  So there could be a
transition from God as the initiator in vs9-10, to both initiating in v11,
to Israel as the initiator in v12.

Is the Hebrew verb in v12 totally ambiguous between 3. f. s. and 2. m. s?

> What is there in the grammar or context that leads most
> translators/commentators to choose to take these verbs as third person
> rather than second person? Or is this more art than science?
> I have looked at all three biblical instances of the hiphil of $R$ (Job
> 5:3;
> Ps. 80:10; Is. 27:6). And the sense "form a root system" (HALOT) or "send
> out roots" is something that people, plants, or God can do.

In Job 5:3, since there is no object for the hiphil verb, I take it to mean
"I saw the foolish causing himself to take root." Is that correct?

thank you for your this posting.
-Steve Miller

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