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Psalms 21:4-6

Context

21:4 He asked you to sustain his life, 1 

and you have granted him long life and an enduring dynasty. 2 

21:5 Your deliverance brings him great honor; 3 

you give him majestic splendor. 4 

21:6 For you grant him lasting blessings;

you give him great joy by allowing him into your presence. 5 

Psalms 61:6-7

Context

61:6 Give the king long life!

Make his lifetime span several generations! 6 

61:7 May he reign 7  forever before God!

Decree that your loyal love and faithfulness should protect him. 8 

Psalms 72:5

Context

72:5 People will fear 9  you 10  as long as the sun and moon remain in the sky,

for generation after generation. 11 

Psalms 72:17

Context

72:17 May his fame endure! 12 

May his dynasty last as long as the sun remains in the sky! 13 

May they use his name when they formulate their blessings! 14 

May all nations consider him to be favored by God! 15 

1 tn Heb “life he asked from you.” Another option is to translate the perfect verbal forms in v. 4 with the present tense, “he asks…you grant.”

2 tn Heb “you have granted him length of days forever and ever.” The phrase “length of days,” when used of human beings, usually refers to a lengthy period of time (such as one’s lifetime). See, for example, Deut 30:20; Job 12:12; Ps 91:16; Prov 3:2, 16; Lam 5:20. The additional phrase “forever and ever” is hyperbolic. While it seems to attribute eternal life to the king (see Pss 61:6-7; 72:5 as well), the underlying reality is the king’s enduring dynasty. He will live on, as it were, through his descendants, who will continue to rule over his kingdom long after he has passed off the scene.

3 tn Or “great glory.”

4 tn Heb “majesty and splendor you place upon him.” For other uses of the phrase הוֹד וְהָדָר (hod vÿhadar, “majesty and splendor”) see 1 Chr 16:27; Job 40:10; Pss 96:6; 104:1; 111:3.

5 tn Heb “you make him happy with joy with [i.e., “close by” or “in”] your face.” On the idiom “with your face” (i.e., “in your presence”) see Ps 16:11 and BDB 816 s.v. פָּנֻה II.2.a.

6 tn Heb “days upon days of the king add, his years like generation and generation.”

sn It is not certain if the (royal) psalmist is referring to himself in the third person in this verse, or if an exile is praying on behalf of the king.

7 tn Heb “sit [enthroned].” The prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive here, expressing the psalmist’s prayer.

8 tn Heb “loyal love and faithfulness appoint, let them protect him.”

9 tn In this context “fear” probably means “to demonstrate respect for the Lord’s power and authority by worshiping him and obeying his commandments.” See Ps 33:8. Some interpreters, with the support of the LXX, prefer to read וְיַאֲרִיךְ (vÿaarikh, “and he [the king in this case] will prolong [days]”), that is, “will live a long time” (cf. NIV, NRSV).

10 tn God is the addressee (see vv. 1-2).

11 tn Heb “with [the] sun, and before [the] moon [for] a generation, generations.” The rare expression דּוֹר דּוֹרִים (dor dorim, “generation, generations”) occurs only here, in Ps 102:24, and in Isa 51:8.

12 tn Heb “may his name [be] permanent.” The prefixed verbal form is jussive, not imperfect.

13 tn Heb “before the sun may his name increase.” The Kethib (consonantal text) assumes יָנִין (yanin; a Hiphil of the verbal root נִין, nin) or יְנַיֵן (yÿnayen; a Piel form), while the Qere (marginal reading) assumes יִנּוֹן (yinnon; a Niphal form). The verb נִין occurs only here, though a derived noun, meaning “offspring,” appears elsewhere (see Isa 14:22). The verb appears to mean “propagate, increase” (BDB 630 s.v. נוּן, נִין) or “produce shoots, get descendants” (HALOT 696 s.v. נין). In this context this appears to be a prayer for a lasting dynasty that will keep the king’s name and memory alive.

14 tn Heb “may they bless one another by him,” that is, use the king’s name in their blessing formulae because he is a prime example of one blessed by God (for examples of such blessing formulae, see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11). There is some debate on whether the Hitpael form of בָּרַךְ (barakh, “bless”) is reflexive-reciprocal (as assumed in the present translation) or passive. The Hitpael of בָּרַךְ occurs in five other passages, including the hotly debated Gen 22:18 and 26:4. In these two texts one could understand the verb form as passive and translate, “all the nations of the earth will be blessed through your offspring,” or one could take the Hitpael as reflexive or reciprocal and translate, “all the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings [i.e., on themselves or one another] by your offspring.” In the first instance Abraham’s (or Isaac’s) offspring are viewed as a channel of divine blessing. In the second instance they are viewed as a prime example of blessing that will appear as part of the nations’ blessing formulae, but not necessarily as a channel of blessing to the nations. In Deut 29:18 one reads: “When one hears the words of this covenant [or “oath”] and invokes a blessing on himself (Hitpael of בָּרַךְ) in his heart, saying: ‘I will have peace, even though I walk with a rebellious heart.’” In this case the Hitpael is clearly reflexive, as the phrases “in his heart” and “I will have peace” indicate. The Hitpael of בָּרַךְ appears twice in Isaiah 65:16: “The one who invokes a blessing on himself (see Deut 9:18) in the land will invoke that blessing by the God of truth; and the one who makes an oath in the land will make that oath by the God of truth.” A passive nuance does not fit here. The parallel line, which mentions making an oath, suggests that the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ refers here to invoking a blessing. Both pronouncements of blessing and oaths will appeal to God as the one who rewards and judges, respectively. Jer 4:2 states: “If you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ with truth, integrity, and honesty, then the nations will pronounce blessings by him and boast in him.” A passive nuance might work (“the nations will be blessed”), but the context refers to verbal pronouncements (swearing an oath, boasting), suggesting that the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ refers here to invoking a blessing. The logic of the verse seems to be as follows: If Israel conducts its affairs with integrity, the nation will be favored by the Lord, which will in turn attract the surrounding nations to Israel’s God. To summarize, while the evidence might leave the door open for a passive interpretation, there is no clear cut passive use. Usage favors a reflexive or reciprocal understanding of the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ. In Ps 72:17 the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ is followed by the prepositional phrase בוֹ (vo, “by him”). The verb could theoretically be taken as passive, “may all the nations be blessed through him” (cf. NIV, NRSV), because the preceding context describes the positive effects of this king’s rule on the inhabitants of the earth. But the parallel line, which employs the Piel of אָשַׁר (’ashar) in a factitive/declarative sense, “regard as happy, fortunate,” suggests a reflexive or reciprocal nuance for the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ here. If the nations regard the ideal king as a prime example of one who is fortunate or blessed, it is understandable that they would use his name in their pronouncements of blessing.

15 tn Heb “all the nations, may they regard him as happy.” The Piel is used here in a delocutive sense (“regard as”).



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