May an accuser stand 3 at his right side!
Then his prayer will be regarded as sinful.
May another take his job! 7
and his wife a widow!
asking for handouts as they leave their ruined home! 10
May strangers loot his property! 12
May no one have compassion 14 on his fatherless children!
May the memory of them be wiped out by the time the next generation arrives! 17
May his mother’s sin not be forgotten! 19
and cut off the memory of his children 21 from the earth!
he harassed the oppressed and needy,
and killed the disheartened. 23
He had no desire to bless anyone, so he has experienced no blessings. 26
so curses poured into his stomach like water
and seeped into his bones like oil. 28
or a belt 30 one wears continually!
1 sn In vv. 6-19 the psalmist calls on God to judge his enemies severely. Some attribute this curse-list to the psalmist’s enemies rather than the psalmist. In this case one should paraphrase v. 6: “They say about me, ‘Appoint an evil man, etc.’” Those supporting this line of interpretation point out that vv. 2-5 and 20 refer to the enemies’ attack on the psalmist being a verbal one. Furthermore in vv. 1-5, 20 the psalmist speaks of his enemies in the plural, while vv. 6-19 refer to an individual. This use of the singular in vv. 6-19 could be readily explained if this is the psalmist’s enemies’ curse on him. However, it is much more natural to understand vv. 6-19 as the psalmist’s prayer against his enemies. There is no introductory quotation formula in v. 6 to indicate that the psalmist is quoting anyone, and the statement “may the
2 tn Heb “appoint against him an evil [man].”
3 tn The prefixed verbal form is taken as a jussive here (note the imperative in the preceding line).
5 tn Heb “he will go out [as] a criminal” (that is, guilty).
7 tn The Hebrew noun פְּקֻדָּה (pÿquddah) can mean “charge” or “office,” though BDB 824 s.v. suggests that here it refers to his possessions.
8 tn Or “sons.”
9 tn Or “sons.”
10 tn Heb “and roaming, may his children roam and beg, and seek from their ruins.” Some, following the LXX, emend the term וְדָרְשׁוּ (vÿdoreshu, “and seek”) to יְגֹרְשׁוּ (yÿgoreshu; a Pual jussive, “may they be driven away” [see Job 30:5; cf. NIV, NRSV]), but דָּרַשׁ (darash) nicely parallels שִׁאֵלוּ (shi’elu, “and beg”) in the preceding line.
12 tn Heb “the product of his labor.”
13 tn Heb “may there not be for him one who extends loyal love.”
15 tn Or “offspring.”
17 tn Heb “in another generation may their name be wiped out.”
18 tn Or “fathers’ sins.”
19 tn Heb “not be wiped out.”
sn According to ancient Israelite theology and its doctrine of corporate solidarity and responsibility, children could be and often were punished for the sins of their parents. For a discussion of this issue see J. Kaminsky, Corporate Responsibility in the Hebrew Bible (JSOTSup). (Kaminsky, however, does not deal with Ps 109.)
22 tn Heb “he did not remember to do loyal love.”
23 tn Heb “and he chased an oppressed and needy man, and one timid of heart to put [him] to death.”
24 sn A curse in OT times consists of a formal appeal to God to bring judgment down upon another. Curses were sometimes justified (such as the one spoken by the psalmist here in vv. 6-19), but when they were not, the one pronouncing the curse was in danger of bringing the anticipated judgment down upon himself.
25 tn Heb “and he loved a curse and it came [upon] him.” A reference to the evil man experiencing a curse seems premature here, for the psalmist is asking God to bring judgment on his enemies. For this reason some (cf. NIV, NRSV) prefer to repoint the vav (ו) on “it came” as conjunctive and translate the verb as a jussive of prayer (“may it come upon him!”). The prefixed form with vav consecutive in the next line is emended in the same way and translated, “may it be far from him.” However, the psalmist may be indicating that the evil man’s lifestyle has already begun to yield its destructive fruit.
26 tn Heb “and he did not delight in a blessing and it is far from him.”
27 tn Heb “he put on a curse as [if it were] his garment.”
28 tn Heb “and it came like water into his inner being, and like oil into his bones.” This may refer to this individual’s appetite for cursing. For him cursing was as refreshing as drinking water or massaging oneself with oil. Another option is that the destructive effects of a curse are in view. In this case a destructive curse invades his very being, like water or oil. Some who interpret the verse this way prefer to repoint the vav (ו) on “it came” to a conjunctive vav and interpret the prefixed verb as a jussive, “may it come!”
29 tn Heb “may it be for him like a garment one puts on.”