his very life from crossing over 2 the river.
and his life to the messengers of death. 4
‘Spare 7 him from going down
to the place of corruption,
I have found a ransom for him,’ 8
from going down to the place of corruption,
and my life sees the light!’
2 tc Here is another difficult line. The verb normally means “to pass through; to pass over,” and so this word would normally mean “from passing through [or over].” The word שֶׁלַח (shelakh) does at times refer to a weapon, but most commentators look for a parallel with “the pit [or corruption].” One suggestion is שְׁאוֹלָה (shÿ’olah, “to Sheol”), proposed by Duhm. Dhorme thought it was שַׁלַח (shalakh) and referred to the passageway to the underworld (see M. Tsevat, VT 4 : 43; and Svi Rin, BZ 7 : 25). See discussion of options in HALOT 1517-18 s.v. IV שֶׁלַח. The idea of crossing the river of death fits the idea of the passage well, although the reading “to perish by the sword” makes sense and was followed by the NIV.
3 tn Heb “his soul [נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh, “life”] draws near.”
4 tn The MT uses the Hiphil participle, “to those who cause death.” This seems to be a reference to the belief in demons that brought about death, an idea not mentioned in the Bible itself. Thus many proposals have been made for this expression. Hoffmann and Budde divide the word into לְמוֹ מֵתִּים (lÿmo metim) and simply read “to the dead.” Dhorme adds a couple of letters to get לִמְקוֹם מֵתִּים (limqom metim, “to the place [or abode] of the dead”).
5 tn This verse seems to continue the protasis begun in the last verse, with the apodosis coming in the next verse.
6 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
7 tc The verb is either taken as an anomalous form of פָּדַע (pada’, “to rescue; to redeem,” or “to exempt him”), or it is emended to some similar word, like פָּרַע (para’, “to let loose,” so Wright).