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Psalms 81:13-16

Context

81:13 If only my people would obey me! 1 

If only Israel would keep my commands! 2 

81:14 Then I would quickly subdue their enemies,

and attack 3  their adversaries.”

81:15 (May those who hate the Lord 4  cower in fear 5  before him!

May they be permanently humiliated!) 6 

81:16 “I would feed Israel the best wheat, 7 

and would satisfy your appetite 8  with honey from the rocky cliffs.” 9 

1 tn Heb “if only my people were listening to me.” The Hebrew particle לוּ (lu, “if not”) introduces a purely hypothetical or contrary to fact condition (see 2 Sam 18:12).

2 tn Heb “[and if only] Israel would walk in my ways.”

3 tn Heb “turn my hand against.” The idiom “turn the hand against” has the nuance of “strike with the hand, attack” (see Isa 1:25; Ezek 38:12; Amos 1:8; Zech 13:7).

4 tn “Those who hate the Lord” are also mentioned in 2 Chr 19:2 and Ps 139:21.

5 tn See Deut 33:29; Ps 66:3 for other uses of the verb כָּחַשׁ (kakhash) in the sense “cower in fear.” In Ps 18:44 the verb seems to carry the nuance “to be weak; to be powerless” (see also Ps 109:24). The prefixed verbal form is taken as a jussive, parallel to the jussive form in the next line.

6 tc Heb “and may their time be forever.” The Hebrew term עִתָּם (’ittam, “their time”) must refer here to the “time” of the demise and humiliation of those who hate the Lord. Some propose an emendation to בַּעֲתָתָם (baatatam) or בִּעֻתָם (biutam; “their terror”; i.e., “may their terror last forever”), but the omission of bet (ב) in the present Hebrew text is difficult to explain, making the proposed emendation unlikely.

tn The verb form at the beginning of the line is jussive, indicating that this is a prayer. The translation assumes that v. 15 is a parenthetical “curse” offered by the psalmist. Having heard the reference to Israel’s enemies (v. 14), the psalmist inserts this prayer, reminding the Lord that they are God’s enemies as well.

7 tn Heb “and he fed him from the best of the wheat.” The Hebrew text has a third person form of the preterite with a vav (ו) consecutive attached. However, it is preferable, in light of the use of the first person in v. 14 and in the next line, to emend the verb to a first person form and understand the vav as conjunctive, continuing the apodosis of the conditional sentence of vv. 13-14. The third masculine singular pronominal suffix refers to Israel, as in v. 6.

sn I would feed. After the parenthetical “curse” in v. 15, the Lord’s speech continues here.

8 tn Heb “you.” The second person singular pronominal suffix refers to Israel, as in vv. 7-10.

9 sn The language in this verse, particularly the references to wheat and honey, is reminiscent of Deut 32:13-14.



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