[b-hebrew] Psalm 22 answering quotes

kenneth greifer greifer at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 14 10:34:22 EDT 2011

In case your email doesn't get through again, I have decided to send it to b-hebrew for you. 
Kenneth Greifer

From: srshead+bh at gmail.com
Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2011 07:36:13 -0400
Subject: Re: Psalm 22 answering quotes
To: greifer at hotmail.com
CC: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

Hi all,

I sent this reply to Kenneth Greifer and b-hebrew a few days ago, but for some reason it never showed up on the list. Having waited a few days, I figured I'd resend it, even though it's rather "old news" - partly because I'd be interested to know what you all think, and partly to see whether the list has suddenly decided I'm an evil robot. (And Kenneth, I've added more at the end...)


Hi Kenneth,

I agree with Pere: I think "You have answered me!" is the best translation, and that it breaks into the flow of the poem as a sudden cry of triumph. Perhaps the abruptness communicates something of the Psalmist's surprise at the sudden deliverance - even if it wasn't entirely unexpected (given his trust in God), it comes out of the blue.

I'd argue that the parallelism supports (or at least is consistent with) such an interpretation.

- v.21 has two parallel lines, with an elided verb in the second:
    "Rescue from the sword my NP$
    ** from the hand of the dog my YXYD"
(where ** represents the ellipsis)

- v.22 begins the same way, and so we would expect the same elided-verb structure in the second half. That is just what we get - except that the surprise interjection is tacked onto the end:
    "Save me from the mouth of the lion,
    and ** from the horns of the wild oxen -
    You have answered me!"

I hope that makes sense. The point is that the parallelism leads us not to expect a verb in the final line (let alone a perfect form stuck on the end).

Incidentally, from a very quick skim, there are various translations that render (NYTNY as an indicative ("you have rescued me") rather than an imperative, though the relationship with the rest of the line varies:

English Standard Version: "Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!"
Holman Christian Standard Bible: "Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen."
NET Bible (the closest to what I have argued for): "Rescue me from the mouth of the lion, and from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered me!"

With regard to (NWT in v.25, I just noticed that Holladay's excellent little lexicon in fact supports Kenneth: for Psalm 22:25, it says "read עֲנוֹת" - i.e. the infinitive construct of (NH - and refers to the entry for (NH "answer".

Pere referred to comparing with the LXX: in fact, the LXX has δεησις, "the entreaty/supplication of the poor", which certainly doesn't support "affliction".

And finally, the infinitive construct of (NH in David's song in 2 Sam 22:36 is interesting, because it is used as a simple substantive: וַעֲנֹתְךָ תַּרְבֵּנִי, "your answer makes me great". Again, in my mind, this makes Kenneth's suggestion at least worth considering.

The greatest difficulty is the semantic oddness: What would it mean, "he did not detest the answer of the afflicted"? It would either be "did not detest answering / (giving) an answer to the afflicted" (unlikely syntax??), or with the LXX tweak it to "the entreaty of the afflicted", which seems very unlikely. (And of course, the answer to this doesn't actually affect your argument for v.22 - the whole of v.25 implies an answer anyway.)

Stephen Shead
Centro de Estudios Pastorales
Santiago, Chile

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: kenneth greifer <greifer at hotmail.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2011 16:07:06 +0000
Subject: [b-hebrew] Psalm 22 answering quotes

Psalm 22:22 seems to say "...You answered me", but most translations say "answer me" with the command form. Psalm 22:25 says "You did not hate the affliction (afflicting?) an afflicted one", but it could say "You did not hate answering an afflicted one". It sounds like G-d answered the cry of the person in the from Psalm 22:2-3, but the translations make it sound like he was not answered. Am I misunderstanding the psalm?

Kenneth Greifer

"Real intellectuals can discuss any subject, but pseudo-intellectual snobs only discuss things they agree with." (I noticed many b-hebrew members have little sayings under their names, so I came up with this one. I wonder if that is allowed or do you have to quote someone else?)


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