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Psalms 49:5-6

Context

49:5 Why should I be afraid in times of trouble, 1 

when the sinful deeds of deceptive men threaten to overwhelm me? 2 

49:6 They trust 3  in their wealth

and boast 4  in their great riches.

1 tn Heb “days of trouble.” The phrase also occurs in Ps 94:13. The question is rhetorical; there is no reason to be afraid when the rich oppressors threaten the weak (see v. 17). The following verses explain why this is so.

2 tc The MT has, “the iniquity of my heels surrounds me.” The clause is best understood as temporal and as elaborating on the preceding phrase “times of trouble.” If the MT is retained, the genitive “of my heels” would probably indicate location (“the iniquity at my heels”); the sinful actions of the rich threaten to overtake the psalmist, as it were. It is better, however, to emend עֲקֵבַי (’aqivay, “my heels”) to either (1) עֲקֻבַּי (’aqubay, “my deceitful ones,” i.e., “those who deceive me” [from the adjective עָקֹב (’aqov), “deceitful,” see Jer 17:9]) or (2) עֹקְבַי (’oqÿvay, “those who deceive me” [a suffixed active participle from עָקַב, ’aqav, “betray, deceive”]). Origen’s transliteration of the Hebrew text favors the first of these options. Either of the emendations provides a much smoother transition to v. 6, because “those who trust in their wealth” would then be appositional to “those who deceive me.”

3 tn Heb “the ones who trust.” The substantival participle stands in apposition to “those who deceive me” (v. 5).

4 tn The imperfect verbal form emphasizes their characteristic behavior.



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