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Psalms 22:16-17

Context

22:16 Yes, 1  wild dogs surround me –

a gang of evil men crowd around me;

like a lion they pin my hands and feet. 2 

22:17 I can count 3  all my bones;

my enemies 4  are gloating over me in triumph. 5 

1 tn Or “for.”

2 tn Heb “like a lion, my hands and my feet.” This reading is often emended because it is grammatically awkward, but perhaps its awkwardness is by rhetorical design. Its broken syntax may be intended to convey the panic and terror felt by the psalmist. The psalmist may envision a lion pinning the hands and feet of its victim to the ground with its paws (a scene depicted in ancient Near Eastern art), or a lion biting the hands and feet. The line has been traditionally translated, “they pierce my hands and feet,” and then taken as foreshadowing the crucifixion of Christ. Though Jesus does appropriate the language of this psalm while on the cross (compare v. 1 with Matt 27:46 and Mark 15:34), the NT does not cite this verse in describing the death of Jesus. (It does refer to vv. 7-8 and 18, however. See Matt 27:35, 39, 43; Mark 15:24, 29; Luke 23:34; John 19:23-24.) If one were to insist on an emendation of כָּאֲרִי (kaariy, “like a lion”) to a verb, the most likely verbal root would be כָּרָה (karah, “dig”; see the LXX). In this context this verb could refer to the gnawing and tearing of wild dogs (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV). The ancient Greek version produced by Symmachus reads “bind” here, perhaps understanding a verbal root כרך, which is attested in later Hebrew and Aramaic and means “to encircle, entwine, embrace” (see HALOT 497-98 s.v. כרך and Jastrow 668 s.v. כָּרַךְ). Neither one of these proposed verbs can yield a meaning “bore, pierce.”

3 tn The imperfect verbal forms in vv. 17-18 draw attention to the progressive nature of the action.

4 tn Heb “they.” The masculine form indicates the enemies are in view. The referent (the psalmist’s enemies) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

5 tn Heb “they gaze, they look upon me.”



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