[b-hebrew] Psalm 36:2

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Tue Dec 19 22:55:38 EST 2006

JBarach at aol.com wrote:
> Any suggestions for the translation of Psalm 36:2 (in the Hebrew text,  i.e., 
> the verse after the title)?
> The opening words ("a declaration/oracle of rebellion") are unusual, since  
> it's normal to have the second word in this construction be the name of the  
> person making the declaration (e.g., "an oracle of Yahweh" or "an oracle of  
> David").  It's possible, I suppose, that Rebellion is here personified and  is 
> the one making the declaration.
> The next phrase may mean "belonging to the wicked" or "by the wicked" (on  
> the lines of "by David" in the title), so that it's a declaration of the  
> rebellion which belongs to or is committed by the wicked.  Or it could be a  
> declaration by Rebellion (personified) *to* the wicked person, as if Rebellion  is 
> his god (comparable to "an oracle of Yahweh").
> But then we get "within my heart."  That's the MT.  I realize  that some 
> Hebrew manuscripts have "his heart," so that it's possible to take  this a 
> statement within the heart of the wicked man.  Maybe.
> But is it possible (with some translations) to take this as an oracle which  
> is within the heart of the Psalmist?  That is, an oracle ABOUT the  rebellion 
> of the wicked man?  That would be a different use of the "oracle  of..." 
> construction, which normally involves a word indicating the speaker, not  a word 
> indicating the subject.
> Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
HH: This is a difficult verse, with numerous translation suggestions. 
Yes, the idea at the top of the last real paragraph of your comments is 
taken by some (including the NIV). Here is the HCSB: "An oracle within 
my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no dread 
of God before his eyes, for in his own eyes he flatters himself [too 
much] to discover and hate his sin.

HH: However, most translations go with the third person singular variant 
"his heart," and that is what the UBS Handbook on Psalms recommends. I 
wrote in my BHS that along with the cited evidence for the variant in a 
few Hebrew manuscripts, in one column of Origen's Hexapla, in the 
Syriac, and in the LXX, Delitzsch says that the third person reading is 
also in Jerome and in the Arabic.

Here is a NET Bible note about another difficulty in the verse:

5tn Heb “for it causes to be smooth to him in his eyes to find his sin 
to hate.” The meaning of the Hebrew text is unclear. Perhaps the point 
is this: His rebellious attitude makes him reject any notion that God 
will hold him accountable. His attitude also prevents him from 
recognizing and repudiating his sinful ways.

HH: One could repoint the word "transgression" to get "transgressor," as 
the LXX does, and repoint "to a wicked man" to an infinitive "to commit 
wickedness. There are a lot of variables.

Harold Holmyard

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