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Psalms 58:8-9

Context

58:8 Let them be 1  like a snail that melts away as it moves along! 2 

Let them be like 3  stillborn babies 4  that never see the sun!

58:9 Before the kindling is even placed under your pots, 5 

he 6  will sweep it away along with both the raw and cooked meat. 7 

1 tn There is no “to be” verb in the Hebrew text at this point, but a jussive tone can be assumed based on vv. 6-7.

2 tn Heb “like a melting snail [that] moves along.” A. Cohen (Psalms [SoBB], 184) explains that the text here alludes “to the popular belief that the slimy trail which the snail leaves in its track is the dissolution of its substance.”

3 tn The words “let them be like” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. The jussive mood is implied from the preceding context, and “like” is understood by ellipsis (see the previous line).

4 tn This rare word also appears in Job 3:16 and Eccles 6:3.

5 tn Heb “before your pots perceive thorns.”

6 tn Apparently God (v. 6) is the subject of the verb here.

7 tn Heb “like living, like burning anger he will sweep it away.” The meaning of the text is unclear. The translation assumes that within the cooking metaphor (see the previous line) חַי (khay, “living”) refers here to raw meat (as in 1 Sam 2:15, where it modifies בָּשָׂר, basar, “flesh”) and that חָרוּן (kharun; which always refers to God’s “burning anger” elsewhere) here refers to food that is cooked. The pronominal suffix on the verb “sweep away” apparently refers back to the “thorns” of the preceding line. The image depicts swift and sudden judgment. Before the fire has been adequately kindled and all the meat cooked, the winds of judgment will sweep away everything in their path.



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