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Psalms 73:3-7

Context

73:3 For I envied those who are proud,

as I observed 1  the prosperity 2  of the wicked.

73:4 For they suffer no pain; 3 

their bodies 4  are strong and well-fed. 5 

73:5 They are immune to the trouble common to men;

they do not suffer as other men do. 6 

73:6 Arrogance is their necklace, 7 

and violence their clothing. 8 

73:7 Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; 9 

their thoughts are sinful. 10 

1 tn The imperfect verbal form here depicts the action as continuing in a past time frame.

2 tn Heb “peace” (שָׁלוֹם, shalom).

3 tn In Isa 58:6, the only other occurrence of this word in the OT, the term refers to “bonds” or “ropes.” In Ps 73:4 it is used metaphorically of pain and suffering that restricts one’s enjoyment of life.

4 tn Or “bellies.”

5 tc Or “fat.” The MT of v. 4 reads as follows: “for there are no pains at their death, and fat [is] their body.” Since a reference to the death of the wicked seems incongruous in the immediate context (note v. 5) and premature in the argument of the psalm (see vv. 18-20, 27), some prefer to emend the text by redividing it. The term לְמוֹתָם (lÿmotam,“at their death”) is changed to לָמוֹ תָּם (lamo tam, “[there are no pains] to them, strong [and fat are their bodies]”). The term תָּם (tam, “complete; sound”) is used of physical beauty in Song 5:2; 6:9. This emendation is the basis for the present translation. However, in defense of the MT (the traditional Hebrew text), one may point to an Aramaic inscription from Nerab which views a painful death as a curse and a nonpainful death in one’s old age as a sign of divine favor. See ANET 661.

6 tn Heb “in the trouble of man they are not, and with mankind they are not afflicted.”

7 sn Arrogance is their necklace. The metaphor suggests that their arrogance is something the wicked “wear” proudly. It draws attention to them, just as a beautiful necklace does to its owner.

8 tn Heb “a garment of violence covers them.” The metaphor suggests that violence is habitual for the wicked. They “wear” it like clothing; when one looks at them, violence is what one sees.

9 tc The MT reads “it goes out from fatness their eye,” which might be paraphrased, “their eye protrudes [or “bulges”] because of fatness.” This in turn might refer to their greed; their eyes “bug out” when they see rich food or produce (the noun חֵלֶב [khelev, “fatness”] sometimes refers to such food or produce). However, when used with the verb יָצָא (yatsa’, “go out”) the preposition מִן (“from”) more naturally indicates source. For this reason it is preferable to emend עֵינֵמוֹ (’enemo, “their eye”) to עֲוֹנָמוֹ, (’avonamo, “their sin”) and read, “and their sin proceeds forth from fatness,” that is, their prosperity gives rise to their sinful attitudes. If one follows this textual reading, another interpretive option is to take חֵלֶב (“fatness”) in the sense of “unreceptive, insensitive” (see its use in Ps 17:10). In this case, the sin of the wicked proceeds forth from their spiritual insensitivity.

10 tn Heb “the thoughts of [their] heart [i.e., mind] cross over” (i.e., violate God’s moral boundary, see Ps 17:3).



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