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Psalms 18:11-12

Context

18:11 He shrouded himself in darkness, 1 

in thick rain clouds. 2 

18:12 From the brightness in front of him came

hail and fiery coals. 3 

Psalms 18:14

Context

18:14 He shot his 4  arrows and scattered them, 5 

many lightning bolts 6  and routed them. 7 

1 tc Heb “he made darkness his hiding place around him, his covering.” 2 Sam 22:12 reads, “he made darkness around him coverings,” omitting “his hiding place” and pluralizing “covering.” Ps 18:11 may include a conflation of synonyms (“his hiding place” and “his covering”) or 2 Sam 22:12 may be the result of haplography/homoioarcton. Note that three successive words in Ps 18:11 begin with the Hebrew letter samek: סִתְרוֹ סְבִיבוֹתָיו סֻכָּתוֹ (sitro sÿvivotayv sukkato).

2 tc Heb “darkness of water, clouds of clouds.” The noun “darkness” (חֶשְׁכַת, kheshkhat) is probably a corruption of an original reading חשׁרת, a form that is preserved in 2 Sam 22:12. The latter is a construct form of חַשְׁרָה (khashrah, “sieve”) which occurs only here in the OT. A cognate Ugaritic noun means “sieve,” and a related verb חָשַׁר (khashar, “to sift”) is attested in postbiblical Hebrew and Aramaic. The phrase חַשְׁרַת מַיִם (khashrat mayim) means literally “a sieve of water.” It pictures the rain clouds as a sieve through which the rain falls to the ground (see F. M. Cross and D. N. Freedman, Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry [SBLDS], 146, n. 33).

3 tc Heb “from the brightness in front of him his clouds came, hail and coals of fire.” 2 Sam 22:13 reads, “from the brightness in front of him burned coals of fire.” The Lucianic family of texts within the Greek tradition of 2 Sam 22:13 seems to assume the underlying Hebrew text: מנגה נגדו עברו ברד וגחלי אשׁ, “from the brightness in front of him came hail and coals of fire” (the basis for the present translation). The textual situation is perplexing and the identity of the original text uncertain. The verbs עָבָרוּ (’avaru; Ps 18:12) and בָּעֲרוּ (baaru; 2 Sam 22:13) appear to be variants involving a transposition of the first two letters. The noun עָבָיו (’avayv, “his clouds,” Ps 18:12) may be virtually dittographic (note the following עָבְרוּ, ’avru), or it could have accidentally dropped out from the text of 2 Sam 22:13 by virtual haplography (note the preceding בָּעֲרוּ, which might have originally read עָבְרוּ). The noun בָּרָד (barad, “hail,” Ps 18:12) may be virtually dittographic (note the preceding עָבְרוּ), or it could have dropped out from 2 Sam 22:13 by virtual haplography (note the preceding בָּעֲרוּ, which might have originally read עָבְרוּ). For a fuller discussion of the text and its problems, see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 74-76.

4 tn 2 Sam 22:15 omits the pronominal suffix (“his”).

5 tn The pronominal suffixes on the verbs “scattered” and “routed” (see the next line) refer to the psalmist’s enemies. Some argue that the suffixes refer to the arrows, in which case one might translate “shot them far and wide” and “made them move noisily,” respectively. They argue that the enemies have not been mentioned since v. 4 and are not again mentioned until v. 17. However, usage of the verbs פוּץ (puts, “scatter”) and הָמַם (hamam, “rout”) elsewhere in Holy War accounts suggests the suffixes refer to enemies. Enemies are frequently pictured in such texts as scattered and/or routed (see Exod 14:24; 23:27; Num 10:35; Josh 10:10; Judg 4:15; 1 Sam 7:10; 11:11; Ps 68:1).

6 sn Lightning is a common motif in in OT theophanies and in ancient Near Eastern portrayals of the storm god and warring kings. See R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 190-92.

7 tn Heb “lightning bolts, many.” 2 Sam 22:15 has simply “lightning” (בָּרָק, baraq). The identity of the word רָב (rav) in Ps 18:14 is problematic. (1) It may be a form of a rare verb רָבַב (ravav, “to shoot”), perhaps attested in Gen 49:23 as well. In this case one might translate, “he shot lightning bolts and routed them.” Other options include (2) understanding רָב (rav) as an adverbial use of the adjective, “lightning bolts in abundance,” or (3) emending the form to רַבּוּ (rabbu), from רָבַב (ravav, “be many”) or to רָבוּ (ravu), from רָבָה (ravah, “be many”) – both a haplography of the vav (ו); note the initial vav on the immediately following form – and translating “lightning bolts were in abundance.”

sn Arrows and lightning bolts are associated in other texts (see Pss 77:17-18; 144:6; Zech 9:14), as well as in ancient Near Eastern art (see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” [Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983], 187).



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