or else I could bear it;
it is not one who hates me who arrogantly taunts me, 2
or else I could hide from him.
my close friend in whom I confided. 5
in God’s temple we would walk together among the crowd.
May they go down alive into Sheol! 8
For evil is in their dwelling place and in their midst.
1 tn Or “for.”
3 sn It is you. The psalmist addresses the apparent ringleader of the opposition, an individual who was once his friend.
4 tn Heb “a man according to my value,” i.e., “a person such as I.”
5 tn Heb “my close friend, one known by me.”
6 tn Heb “who together we would make counsel sweet.” The imperfect verbal forms here and in the next line draw attention to the ongoing nature of the actions (the so-called customary use of the imperfect). Their relationship was characterized by such intimacy and friendship. See IBHS 502-3 §31.2b.
7 tc The meaning of the MT is unclear. The Kethib (consonantal text) reads יַשִּׁימָוֶת עָלֵימוֹ (yashimavet ’alemo, “May devastation [be] upon them!”). The proposed noun יַשִּׁימָוֶת occurs only here and perhaps in the place name Beth-Jeshimoth in Num 33:49. The Qere (marginal text) has יַשִּׁי מָוֶת עָלֵימוֹ (yashi mavet ’alemo). The verbal form יַשִּׁי is apparently an alternate form of יַשִּׁיא (yashi’), a Hiphil imperfect from נָשַׁא (nasha’, “deceive”). In this case one might read “death will come deceptively upon them.” This reading has the advantage of reading מָוֶת (mavet, “death”) which forms a natural parallel with “Sheol” in the next line. The present translation is based on the following reconstruction of the text: יְשִׁמֵּם מָוֶת (yeshimmem mavet). The verb assumed in the reconstruction is a Hiphil jussive third masculine singular from שָׁמַם (shamam, “be desolate”) with a third masculine plural pronominal suffix attached. This reconstruction assumes that (1) haplography has occurred in the traditional text (the original sequence of three mems [מ] was lost with only one mem remaining), resulting in the fusion of originally distinct forms in the Kethib, and (2) that עָלֵימוֹ (’alemo, “upon them”) is a later scribal addition attempting to make sense of a garbled and corrupt text. The preposition עַל (’al) does occur with the verb שָׁמַם (shamam), but in such cases the expression means “be appalled at/because of” (see Jer 49:20; 50:45). If one were to retain the prepositional phrase here, one would have to read the text as follows: יַשִּׁים מָוֶת עָלֵימוֹ (yashim mavet ’alemo, “Death will be appalled at them”). The idea seems odd, to say the least. Death is not collocated with this verb elsewhere.
8 sn Go down alive. This curse imagines a swift and sudden death for the psalmist’s enemies.