[b-hebrew] Translating the Psalms

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman joel at exc.com
Thu Sep 28 09:07:22 EDT 2006

>I would be interested in recommendations of books that help see the poetry.
>My resources for learning are the BDB lexicon and Lambdin?s introduction to
>Biblical Hebrew. My resources for the Psalms are noted on my blog
>http://drmacdonald.blogspot.com/ which I am confining to the psalms.

It will take some time before you have the ability to do a better job
understanding the Hebrew than those who have devoted their lives to
it.  So I suggest that you look not only at grammars but also at other

You will probably want to look at the Jewish Study Bible, which is a
scientific (as opposed to strictly religious) approach to looking at
the Bible.

I have translated some of the Pslams (including 145) in the various
volumes of _My People's Prayerbook_; my translations, too, are
scientific, and include copious notes, both about linguistic issues
and about other translations.

Bibliographic references to these are on-line:


If you haven't already done so, you will of course want to learn about
translation.  I list most of the standard works and some of my
personal favorites on the syllabus I used when I taught about
translation at Brandeis University:


>e.g. It seems to me that the pronominal suffixes can also be attached to
>verbs ? is that right?


>A Hebrew friend says this is only true in archaic poetry. ? also true?

It is not only archaic.  This construction is used in all ancient
dialects of Hebrew, and (in more limited circumstances) in Modern
Hebrew as well.  But be careful - you don't want to to learn Modern
Hebrew to help with the Psalms.

I hope this helps.

-Joel M. Hoffman, PhD

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