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Psalms 78:43-58


78:43 when he performed his awesome deeds 1  in Egypt,

and his acts of judgment 2  in the region of Zoan.

78:44 He turned their rivers into blood,

and they could not drink from their streams.

78:45 He sent swarms of biting insects against them, 3 

as well as frogs that overran their land. 4 

78:46 He gave their crops to the grasshopper,

the fruit of their labor to the locust.

78:47 He destroyed their vines with hail,

and their sycamore-fig trees with driving rain.

78:48 He rained hail down on their cattle, 5 

and hurled lightning bolts down on their livestock. 6 

78:49 His raging anger lashed out against them, 7 

He sent fury, rage, and trouble

as messengers who bring disaster. 8 

78:50 He sent his anger in full force; 9 

he did not spare them from death;

he handed their lives over to destruction. 10 

78:51 He struck down all the firstborn in Egypt,

the firstfruits of their reproductive power 11  in the tents of Ham.

78:52 Yet he brought out his people like sheep;

he led them through the wilderness like a flock.

78:53 He guided them safely along,

while the sea covered their enemies.

78:54 He brought them to the border of his holy land,

to this mountainous land 12  which his right hand 13  acquired.

78:55 He drove the nations out from before them;

he assigned them their tribal allotments 14 

and allowed the tribes of Israel to settle down. 15 

78:56 Yet they challenged and defied 16  the sovereign God, 17 

and did not obey 18  his commands. 19 

78:57 They were unfaithful 20  and acted as treacherously as 21  their ancestors;

they were as unreliable as a malfunctioning bow. 22 

78:58 They made him angry with their pagan shrines, 23 

and made him jealous with their idols.

1 tn Or “signs” (see Ps 65:8).

2 tn Or “portents, omens” (see Ps 71:7). The Egyptian plagues are referred to here (see vv. 44-51).

3 tn Heb “and he sent an insect swarm against them and it devoured them.”

4 tn Heb “and a swarm of frogs and it destroyed them.”

5 tn Heb “and he turned over to the hail their cattle.”

6 tn Heb “and their livestock to the flames.” “Flames” here refer to the lightning bolts that accompanied the storm.

7 tn Heb “he sent against them the rage of his anger.” The phrase “rage of his anger” employs an appositional genitive. Synonyms are joined in a construct relationship to emphasize the single idea. For a detailed discussion of the grammatical point with numerous examples, see Y. Avishur, “Pairs of Synonymous Words in the Construct State (and in Appositional Hendiadys) in Biblical Hebrew,” Semitics 2 (1971): 17-81.

8 tn Heb “fury and indignation and trouble, a sending of messengers of disaster.”

9 tn Heb “he leveled a path for his anger.” There were no obstacles to impede its progress; it moved swiftly and destructively.

10 tn Or perhaps “[the] plague.”

11 tn Heb “the beginning of strength.” If retained, the plural form אוֹנִים (’onim, “strength”) probably indicates degree (“great strength”), but many ancient witnesses read “their strength,” which presupposes an emendation to אֹנָם (’onam; singular form of the noun with third masculine plural pronominal suffix).

12 tn Heb “this mountain.” The whole land of Canaan seems to be referred to here. In Exod 15:17 the promised land is called the “mountain of your [i.e., God’s] inheritance.”

13 tn The “right hand” here symbolizes God’s military strength (see v. 55).

14 tn Heb “he caused to fall [to] them with a measuring line an inheritance.”

15 tn Heb “and caused the tribes of Israel to settle down in their tents.”

16 tn Or “tested and rebelled against.”

17 tn Heb “God, the Most High.”

18 tn Or “keep.”

19 tn Heb “his testimonies” (see Ps 25:10).

20 tn Heb “they turned back.”

21 tn Or “acted treacherously like.”

22 tn Heb “they turned aside like a deceitful bow.”

23 tn Traditionally, “high places.”

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