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Psalms 46:8-9

Context

46:8 Come! Witness the exploits 1  of the Lord,

who brings devastation to the earth! 2 

46:9 He brings an end to wars throughout the earth; 3 

he shatters 4  the bow and breaks 5  the spear;

he burns 6  the shields with fire. 7 

1 sn In this context the Lord’s exploits are military in nature (see vv. 8b-9).

2 tn Heb “who sets desolations in the earth” (see Isa 13:9). The active participle describes God’s characteristic activity as a warrior.

3 tn Heb “[the] one who causes wars to cease unto the end of the earth.” The participle continues the description begun in v. 8b and indicates that this is the Lord’s characteristic activity. Ironically, he brings peace to the earth by devastating the warlike, hostile nations (vv. 8, 9b).

4 tn The verb שָׁבַר (shavar, “break”) appears in the Piel here (see Ps 29:5). In the OT it occurs thirty-six times in the Piel, always with multiple objects (the object is either a collective singular or grammatically plural or dual form). The Piel may highlight the repetition of the pluralative action, or it may suggest an intensification of action, indicating repeated action comprising a whole, perhaps with the nuance “break again and again, break in pieces.” Another option is to understand the form as resultative: “make broken” (see IBHS 404-7 §24.3). The imperfect verbal form carries on and emphasizes the generalizing nature of the description.

5 tn The perfect verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive carries along the generalizing emphasis of the preceding imperfect.

6 tn The imperfect verbal form carries on and emphasizes the generalizing nature of the description.

7 tn Heb “wagons he burns with fire.” Some read “chariots” here (cf. NASB), but the Hebrew word refers to wagons or carts, not chariots, elsewhere in the OT. In this context, where military weapons are mentioned, it is better to revocalize the form as עֲגִלוֹת (’agilot, “round shields”), a word which occurs only here in the OT, but is attested in later Hebrew and Aramaic.



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