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Psalms 46:5-6

Context

46:5 God lives within it, 1  it cannot be moved. 2 

God rescues it 3  at the break of dawn. 4 

46:6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms are overthrown. 5 

God 6  gives a shout, 7  the earth dissolves. 8 

1 tn Heb “God [is] within her.” The feminine singular pronoun refers to the city mentioned in v. 4.

2 tn Another option is to translate the imperfect verbal form as future, “it will not be upended.” Even if one chooses this option, the future tense must be understood in a generalizing sense. The verb מוֹט (mot), translated “upended” here, is used in v. 2 of the mountains “tumbling” into the seas and in v. 6 of nations being “upended.” By way of contrast, Jerusalem, God’s dwelling place, is secure and immune from such turmoil and destruction.

3 tn Or “helps her.” The imperfect draws attention to the generalizing character of the statement.

4 tn Heb “at the turning of morning.” (For other uses of the expression see Exod 14:27 and Judg 19:26).

sn At the break of dawn. The “morning” is viewed metaphorically as a time of deliverance and vindication after the dark “night” of trouble (see Ps 30:5; Isa 17:14). There may be an allusion here to Exod 14:27 (where the Lord destroyed the Egyptians at the “break of dawn”) or, more likely, to the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrian siege, when the people discovered the dead bodies of the Assyrian army in the morning (Isa 37:36).

5 tn Heb “nations roar, kingdoms shake.” The Hebrew verb הָמָה (hamah, “roar, be in uproar”) is used in v. 3 of the waves crashing, while the verb מוֹט (mot, “overthrown”) is used in v. 2 of mountains tumbling into the sea (see also v. 5, where the psalm affirms that Jerusalem “cannot be moved”). The repetition of the verbs suggests that the language of vv. 2-3 is symbolic and depicts the upheaval that characterizes relationships between the nations of the earth. As some nations (symbolized by the surging, chaotic waters) show hostility, others (symbolized by the mountains) come crashing down to destruction. The surging waters are symbolic of chaotic forces in other poetic texts (see, for example, Isa 17:12; Jer 51:42) and mountains can symbolize strong kingdoms (see, for example, Jer 51:25).

6 tn Heb “He.” God is the obvious referent here (see v. 5), and has been specified in the translation for clarity.

7 tn Heb “offers his voice.” In theophanic texts the phrase refers to God’s thunderous shout which functions as a battle cry (see Pss 18:13; 68:33).

8 tn Or “melts.” See Amos 9:5. The image depicts the nation’s helplessness before Jerusalem’s defender, who annihilates their armies (see vv. 8-9). The imperfect verbal form emphasizes the characteristic nature of the action described.



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