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Psalms 17:9-13

Context

17:9 Protect me from 1  the wicked men who attack 2  me,

my enemies who crowd around me for the kill. 3 

17:10 They are calloused; 4 

they speak arrogantly. 5 

17:11 They attack me, now they surround me; 6 

they intend to throw me to the ground. 7 

17:12 He 8  is like a lion 9  that wants to tear its prey to bits, 10 

like a young lion crouching 11  in hidden places.

17:13 Rise up, Lord!

Confront him! 12  Knock him down! 13 

Use your sword to rescue me from the wicked man! 14 

1 tn Heb “from before”; or “because.” In the Hebrew text v. 9 is subordinated to v. 8. The words “protect me” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

2 tn Heb “destroy.” The psalmist uses the perfect verbal form to emphasize the degree of danger. He describes the wicked as being already in the process of destroying him.

3 tn Heb “my enemies, at the risk of life they surround me.” The Hebrew phrase בְּנֶפֶשׁ (bÿnefesh) sometimes has the nuance “at the risk of [one’s] life” (see 1 Kgs 2:23; Prov 7:23; Lam 5:9).

4 tn Heb “their fat they close.” The Hebrew term חֵלֶב (khelev, “fat”) appears to stand by metonymy for their calloused hearts. They attack the psalmist without feeling any pity or remorse. Some propose emending the text to חֵלֶב לִבָּמוֹ (khelev libbamo, “fat of their heart[s]; cf. Ps 119:70, “their heart is insensitive like fat”). This assumes haplography of the לב (lamed-bet) consonantal sequence.

5 tn Heb “[with] their mouth they speak with arrogance.”

6 tc Heb “our steps, now they surround me.” The Kethib (consonantal text) has “surround me,” while the Qere (marginal reading) has “surround us,” harmonizing the pronoun to the preceding “our steps.” The first person plural pronoun does not fit the context, where the psalmist speaks as an individual. In the preceding verses the psalmist uses a first person singular verbal or pronominal form twenty times. For this reason it is preferable to emend “our steps” to אִשְּׁרוּנִי (’ishÿruni, “they attack me”) from the verbal root אָשֻׁר (’ashur, “march, stride, track”).

7 tn Heb “their eyes they set to bend down in the ground.”

8 tn Here the psalmist switches to the singular pronoun; he views his enemies collectively, or singles out a representative of the group, perhaps its leader.

9 tn Heb “his likeness [is] like a lion.”

10 tn Heb “[that] longs to tear.”

11 tn Heb “sitting.”

12 tn Heb “Be in front of his face.”

13 tn Or “bring him to his knees.”

14 tn Heb “rescue my life from the wicked [one] [by] your sword.”



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