[b-hebrew] Psalm 23

R. Lehmann lehmann at uni-mainz.de
Sat Feb 16 14:00:36 EST 2013

Dear Bryant, and list,

ad 1: tacet
ad 2: naphshi in 23:3 is "my life" (or life-energy, if you want), of course.
ad 3: yeshovev in connection weith naphshi is of course "restore" - "to make my nephesh return" means: to bring back my energy to live, and this because:
ad 4: whoever wrote Psalm 23, it consists of two pieces: first, there was a "liturgic piece" (vv 4-6), which originally belonged to the application area of asylum / shelter in the sanctuary (cities of refuge), see Numbers 35:22ss and the book by Lienhard Delekat, Asylie und Schutzorakel am Zionheiligtum, 1967. This explains fully the meaning od yeshovev naphshi and the following, including the double-meaning of W$BTY, which first was we-$ibti (Y$B inf+sff), see LXX kai to katoikein me: "I will stay in the temple / sanctuary ..." (as a refugee).
Later, when there were no more cities of refuge after exile, this changed into we-$abti ($WB perf 1sg.qal): "I will come back..."  Here, the Psalm has turned into a pilgrimage song. Praise to those who had done this and re-read the psalm this way! Without their work, it would have been lost like lots of other Ancient Hebrew texts.
I think the vv. 1-3 (maybe also 4) were added as a song of confidence and reliance to make it better fitting the pilgrimage situation.

Of course, all this is not my idea, but Delekat's. But it has been forgotten a little bit in the last decades, and in my opinion it is the best you can get to explain the philological AND theological profundity of this Psalm. I explain this every term to my students in the Hebrew beginner's class, and they are grateful to learn how theologically important it is to learn Hebrew. 

Dr. Reinhard G. Lehmann, Academic Director
Research Unit on Ancient Hebrew & Epigraphy
FB 01/ Faculty of Protestant Theology
Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz
D-55099 Mainz
lehmann at uni-mainz.de
11th Mainz International Colloquium on Ancient Hebrew (MICAH) 2013:

> Message: 2
> Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2013 19:23:43 -0800
> From: "Rev. Bryant J. Williams III" <bjwvmw at com-pair.net>
> Subject: [b-hebrew] Psalm 23
> To: "B-Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID: <6ABD59E8097841778D2D049FD45BE5E5 at williamspc>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> Dear List,
> I have been reviewing the Messianic Psalms 22, 23, 24 very recently. Since these three Psalms are a triad, it puzzles me that while Psalms 22 and 24 prophecy the death and glory of the Messiah Psalm 23 is silent.
> I have several questions:
> 1.    How does Psalm 23 fit with the prophetic Messianic Pss. 22 & 24?
> 2.    Does "nephesh" in 23:3 (MT) mean "soul" or "life" or ?
> 3.    Does "YeShUBeB" (Polel Impf) mean "restore" as traditionally translated or is it closer t o the idea of "to turn, return?"
> 4.    How would David have understood them when he wrote them NOT how they have been understood by the Christian exegetical tradition?
> Thank you,
> Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

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