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(0.13) (Psa 34:1)

sn In this song of thanksgiving the psalmist praises God for delivering him from distress. He encourages others to be loyal to the Lord, tells them how to please God, and assures them that the Lord protects his servants. The psalm is an acrostic; vv. 1-21 begin with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. (Verse 6 begins with the letter he (ה) and v. 7 with the letter zayin (ז). The letter vav (ו), which comes between ה and ז, seems to be omitted, although it does appear at the beginning of v. 6b. The final verse of the psalm, which begins with the letter pe (פ), is outside the acrostic scheme.

(0.13) (Psa 4:1)

tn Heb “in distress (or “a narrow place”) you make (a place) large for me.” The function of the Hebrew perfect verbal form here is uncertain. The translation above assumes that the psalmist is expressing his certitude and confidence that God will intervene. The psalmist is so confident of God’s positive response to his prayer, he can describe God’s deliverance as if it had already happened. Such confidence is consistent with the mood of the psalm (vv. 3, 8). Another option is to take the perfects as precative, expressing a wish or request (“lead me”). See IBHS 494-95 §30.5.4c, d. However, not all grammarians are convinced that the perfect is used as a precative in biblical Hebrew.

(0.13) (Job 6:25)

tn The word נִּמְרְצוּ (nimretsu, “[they] painful are”) may be connected to מָרַץ (marats, “to be ill”). This would give the idea of “how distressing,” or “painful” in this stem. G. R. Driver (JTS 29 [1927/28]: 390-96) connected it to an Akkadian cognate “to be ill” and rendered it “bitter.” It has also been linked with מָרַס (maras), meaning “to be hard, strong,” giving the idea of “how persuasive” (see N. S. Doniach and W. E. Barnes, “Job vi 25. √מרץ,” JTS [1929/30]: 291-92). There seems more support for the meaning “to be ill” (cf. Mal 2:10). Others follow Targum Job “how pleasant [to my palate are your words]”; E. Dhorme (Job, 92) follows this without changing the text but noting that the word has an interchange of letter with מָלַץ (malats) for מָרַץ (marats).

(0.11) (Nah 1:7)

tc Some ancient versions read, “The Lord is good to those who trust him.” The MT reads לְמָעוֹז (lemaʿoz, “a fortress”): the noun מָעוֹז (maʿoz, “fortress”) with the preposition לְ (le, see below). However, the LXX reflects the reading לְמֵעִיז (lemeʿiz, “to those who trust [him]”): the Hiphil participle from עוּז (ʿuz, “seek refuge”) with the preposition לְ. The variants involve only different vocalizations and the common confusion of vav (ו) with yod (י). Most English versions follow the traditional Hebrew reading (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NKJV); however, several others follow the alternate Greek reading (NEB, NJPS). The BHS editors and several other scholars favor the LXX tradition; however, the Masoretic tradition has been defended by others. The Masoretic tradition is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah). The problem with the LXX reading is the absence of the direct object in the Hebrew text; the LXX is forced to supply the direct object αὐτόν (auton, “him”; for a similar addition of the direct object αὐτόν by the LXX, see Amos 9:12). The main objection to the MT reading לְמָעוֹז (“a fortress”) is that לְ is hard to explain. However, לְ may be taken in a comparative sense (Cathcart: “Yahweh is better than a fortress in time of distress”) or an asseverative sense (Christensen: “Yahweh is good; indeed, a fortress in time of distress”). See K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic (BibOr), 55; idem, “More Philological Studies in Nahum,” JNSL 7 (1979): 4; D. L. Christensen, “The Acrostic of Nahum Reconsidered,” ZAW 87 (1975): 22. Elsewhere, the Lord is commonly portrayed as a “fortress” (מָעוֹז) protecting his people (Pss 27:1; 28:8; 31:3, 5; 37:39; 43:2; 52:9; Isa 17:10; 25:4; 27:5; Joel 4:16 HT [3:16 ET]; Jer 16:19; Neh 8:10; Prov 10:29).

(0.10) (Nah 2:1)

tc The BHS editors suggest revocalizing the Masoretic noun מְצֻרָה (metsurah, “rampart”) to the noun מַצָּרָה (matsarah, “the watchtower”) from the root נָצַר (natsar, “to watch, guard”). This would create a repetition of the root נָצַר which immediately precedes it: מַצָּרָה נָצוֹר (natsor matsarah, “Watch the watchtower!”). However, the proposed noun מַצָּרָה (“the watchtower”) appears nowhere in the Hebrew Bible. On the other hand, the Masoretic reading מְצֻרָה (“rampart”) and the related noun מָצוֹר (matsor, “rampart”) appear often (Pss 31:22; 60:11; Hab 2:1; Zech 9:3; 2 Chr 8:5; 11:5, 10, 11, 23; 12:4; 14:5; 21:3; 32:10). Thus, the Masoretic vocalization should be preserved. The LXX completely misunderstood this line. The LXX reading (“one who delivers out of tribulation”) has probably arisen from a confusion of the MT noun נָצוֹר (“guard”) with the common verb נָצַר (“deliver”). It also reflects a confusion of MT מְצֻרָה (“road, rampart”) with מִצְּרָה (mitserah, “from distress”).

(0.10) (Jon 4:6)

tn Or “evil attitude.” The meaning of the noun רָעָה (raʿah) is intentionally ambiguous; the author puns on its broad range of meanings to create a polysemantic wordplay. It can signify (1) “distress, misery, discomfort,” (2) “misfortune, injury,” (3) “calamity, disaster,” (4) “moral evil,” and (5) “ill-disposed, evil attitude” (see BDB 949 s.v. רָעָה; HALOT 1262-63 s.v. רָעָה). The narrator has used several meanings of רָעָה in 3:8-4:2, namely, “moral evil” (3:8, 10) and “calamity, disaster” (3:9, 10; 4:2), as well as the related verb רָעַע (raʿaʿ, “to be displeasing”; see 4:1). Here the narrator puns on the meaning “discomfort” created by the scorching desert heat, but God’s primary motivation is to “deliver” Jonah, not from something as trivial as physical discomfort from heat, but from his sinful attitude about God’s willingness to spare Nineveh. This gives the term an especially ironic twist: Jonah is only concerned about being delivered from his physical “discomfort,” while God wants to deliver him from his “evil attitude.”

(0.10) (Jer 10:18)

tn The meaning of this last line is somewhat uncertain: Heb “I will cause them distress in order that [or with the result that] they will find.” The absence of an object for the verb “find” has led to conjecture that the text is wrong. Some commentators follow the lead of the Greek and Latin versions which read the verb as a passive: “they will be found,” i.e., be caught and captured. Others follow a suggestion by G. R. Driver (“Linguistic and Textual Problems: Jeremiah,” JQR 28 [1937-38]: 107) that the verb be read not as “they will find” (יִמְצָאוּ [yimtsaʾu] from מָצָא [matsaʾ]) but “they will be squeezed/ drained” (יִמְצוּ [yimtsu] from מָצָה [matsah]). The translation adopted assumes that this is an example of the ellipsis of the object supplied from the context (cf. E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 8-12). For a similar nuance for the verb “find” = “feel/experience” see BDB 592 s.v. מָצָא Qal.1.f and compare the usage in Ps 116:3.

(0.10) (Psa 42:5)

tn According to HALOT the term יָחַל (yakhal) means “to wait” in both the Piel and the Hiphil stems. The many contexts where the subjects are biding their time (e.g. Gen 8:10; Job 29:21; 1 Sam 10:8; 13:8; 2 Sam 18:14; 2 Kgs 6:33) suggest that simple waiting is its base meaning. In some contexts the person waiting is hopeful or expectant (Isa 42:4; Ezek 13:6). A number of translations use “hope” in Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5 (NASB, NIV, NRSV, ESV). This makes assumptions about what the Psalmist says to himself. The Psalmist presents a mixture of emotions and is at odds within himself. Given his level of distress, it is very possible that he is telling himself (his soul) to just hang on and not give up, while another part of him is confident that he will have reason to praise God in the future. The translation “wait for God” invites more consideration of the possible emotional state of the Psalmist. The nuance may be to “hope against hope,” to “gut it out” in faith despite not feeling hopeful, to trust, or to have hope.

(0.10) (Psa 2:11)

tn Traditionally, “rejoice with trembling” (KJV). The verb גִּיל (gil) normally means “rejoice,” but this meaning does not fit well here in conjunction with “in trembling.” Some try to understand “trembling” (and the parallel יִרְאָה, yirʾah, “fear”) in the sense of “reverential awe” and then take the verbs “serve” and “rejoice” in the sense of “worship” (cf. NASB). But רְעָדָה (reʿadah, “trembling”) and its related terms consistently refer to utter terror and fear (see Exod 15:15; Job 4:14; Pss 48:6; 55:5; 104:32; Isa 33:14; Dan 10:11) or at least great emotional distress (Ezra 10:9). It seems more likely here that גִּיל carries its polarized meaning “mourn, lament,” as in Hos 10:5. “Mourn, lament” would then be metonymic in this context for “repent” (referring to one’s rebellious ways). On the meaning of the verb in Hos 10:5, see F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Hosea (AB), 556-57.

(0.10) (Job 19:25)

tn Or “my Vindicator.” The word is the active participle from גָּאַל (gaʾal, “to redeem, protect, vindicate”). The word is well-known in the OT because of its identification as the kinsman-redeemer (see the book of Ruth). This is the near kinsman who will pay off one’s debts, defend the family, avenge a killing, marry the widow of the deceased. The word “redeemer” evokes the wrong connotation for people familiar with the NT alone; a translation of “Vindicator” would capture the idea more. The concept might include the description of the mediator already introduced in Job 16:19, but surely here Job is thinking of God as his vindicator. The interesting point to be stressed here is that Job has said clearly that he sees no vindication in this life, that he is going to die. But he knows he will be vindicated, and even though he will die, his vindicator lives. The dilemma remains though: his distress lay in God’s hiding his face from him, and his vindication lay only in beholding God in peace.

(0.10) (Gen 34:7)

tn The Hebrew verb עָצַב (ʿatsav) can carry one of three semantic nuances depending on the context: (1) “to be injured” (Ps 56:5; Eccl 10:9; 1 Chr 4:10); (2) “to experience emotional pain; to be depressed emotionally; to be worried” (2 Sam 19:2; Isa 54:6; Neh 8:10-11); (3) “to be embarrassed; to be insulted; to be offended” (to the point of anger at another or oneself; Gen 6:6; 45:5; 1 Sam 20:3, 34; 1 Kgs 1:6; Isa 63:10; Ps 78:40). This third category develops from the second by metonymy. In certain contexts emotional pain leads to embarrassment and/or anger. In this last use the subject sometimes directs his anger against the source of grief (see especially Gen 6:6). The third category fits best in Gen 34:7 because Jacob’s sons were not merely wounded emotionally. On the contrary, Shechem’s action prompted them to strike out in judgment against the source of their distress.

(0.10) (Gen 3:16)

tn Heb “your pain and your conception,” suggesting to some interpreters that having a lot of children was a result of the judgment (probably to make up for the loss through death). But the next clause shows that the pain is associated with conception and childbirth. The two words form a hendiadys (where two words are joined to express one idea, like “good and angry” in English), the second explaining the first. “Conception,” if the correct meaning of the noun, must be figurative here since there is no pain in conception; it is a synecdoche, representing the entire process of childbirth and child rearing from the very start. However, recent etymological research suggests the noun is derived from a root הרר (hrr), not הרה (hrh), and means “trembling, pain” (see D. Tsumura, “A Note on הרוֹן (Gen 3, 16),” Bib 75 [1994]: 398-400). In this case “pain and trembling” refers to the physical effects of childbirth. The word עִצְּבוֹן (ʿitsevon, “pain”), an abstract noun related to the verb (עָצַב, ʿatsav), includes more than physical pain. It is emotional distress as well as physical pain. The same word is used in v. 17 for the man’s painful toil in the field.

(0.09) (Sos 5:4)

tn Heb “my inward parts,” “my intestines,” or “my bowels.” Alternately, “my feelings” or “my emotions.” The term מֵעֶה (meʿeh) is used of the internal organs in general (“inward parts”) (e.g., 2 Sam 20:10; 2 Chr 21:15, 18; Pss 22:14; 40:9) or the digestive organs in particular (“intestines, bowels, stomach”) (e.g., Num 5:22; Job 20:14; Ezek 3:3; 7:19; Jonah 2:1-2). It is frequently used as a metonymy of adjunct for the emotions which Hebrew psychology associated with these internal organs (see H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, 63-66). These include pity (Isa 16:11), lamentation (Jer 48:36), distress (Jer 4:19; Lam 1:20; 2:11), and compassion (Isa 63:15; Jer 31:20) (HALOT 610-11 s.v. מֵעֶה 3; BDB 589 s.v. מֵעֶה 5). Most scholars suggest that the Beloved’s feelings of love were revived—a reversal of her feelings of indifference and apathy in 5:3. This is reflected in many translations which use equivalent English idioms: “the core of my being” (JB) and “my heart” (NIV, NJPS) over the woodenly literal “my bowels” (KJV, NEB, AV). On the other hand, the term is also used to refer to the procreative organs, both male (e.g., Gen 15:4; 2 Sam 7:12; 16:11; Isa 48:19; 2 Chr 32:21) and female (e.g., Gen 25:23; Ruth 1:11; Ps 71:6; Isa 49:1). NASB well renders the line, “my feelings were aroused for him” (NASB).

(0.09) (Ecc 4:1)

tn Heb “the tear of the oppressed.” Alternately, “the oppressed [were in] tears.” The singular noun דִּמְעָה (dimʿah, “tear”) is used as a collective for “tears” (2 Kgs 20:5; Isa 16:9; 25:8; 38:5; Jer 8:23 HT [9:1 ET]; 9:7 HT [9:18 ET]; 13:17; 14:17; 31:16; Ezek 24:16; Mal 2:13; Pss 6:7; 39:13; 42:4; 56:9; 80:6; 116:8; 126:5; Lam 1:2; 2:18; Eccl 4:1); see HALOT 227 s.v. דִּמְעָה; BDB 199 s.v. דִּמְעָה. It is often used in reference to lamentation over calamity, distress, or oppression (e.g., Ps 6:7; Lam 1:2; 2:11; Jer 9:17; 13:17; 14:17). The LXX translated it as singular δάκρουν (dakroun, “the tear”); however, the Vulgate treated it as a collective (“the tears”). Apart from the woodenly literal YLT (“the tear”), the major English versions render this as a collective: “the tears” or “tears” (KJV, ASV, NEB, NAB, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NJPS, MLB, NIV). The term דִּמְעָה functions as a metonymy of association for “weeping” (e.g., Isa 16:9; Jer 8:23 HT [9:1 ET]): “the oppressed [were weeping with] tears.” The genitive construct דִּמְעַת הָעֲשֻׁקִים (dimʿat haʿashuqim, literally, “tear of the oppressed”) is a subjective genitive construction, that is, the oppressed are weeping. The singular דִּמְעָה (dimʿah, “tear”) is used as a collective for “tears.” This entire phrase, however, is still given a woodenly literal translation by most English versions: “the tears of the oppressed” (NEB, NAB, ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, MLB, NIV, NJPS). Some paraphrases attempt to fill out the meaning, e.g., “the oppressed were in tears” (Moffatt).

(0.09) (Gen 6:6)

tn Heb “and he was grieved to his heart.” The verb עָצָב (ʿatsav) can carry one of three semantic senses, depending on the context: (1) “to be injured” (Ps 56:5; Eccl 10:9; 1 Chr 4:10); (2) “to experience emotional pain”; “to be depressed emotionally”; “to be worried” (2 Sam 19:2; Isa 54:6; Neh 8:10-11); (3) “to be embarrassed”; “to be offended” (to the point of anger at another or oneself); “to be insulted” (Gen 34:7; 45:5; 1 Sam 20:3, 34; 1 Kgs 1:6; Isa 63:10; Ps 78:40). This third category develops from the second by metonymy. In certain contexts emotional pain leads to embarrassment and/or anger. In this last use the subject sometimes directs his anger against the source of grief (see especially Gen 34:7). The third category fits best in Gen 6:6 because humankind’s sin does not merely wound God emotionally. On the contrary, it prompts him to strike out in judgment against the source of his distress (see v. 7). The verb וַיִּתְעַצֵּב (vayyitʿatsev), a Hitpael from עָצָב, alludes to the judgment oracles in Gen 3:16-19. Because Adam and Eve sinned, their life would be filled with pain, but sin in the human race also brought pain to God. The wording of v. 6 is ironic when compared to Gen 5:29. Lamech anticipated relief (נָחָם, nakham) from their work (מַעֲשֶׂה, maʿaseh) and their painful toil (עִצְּבֹן, ʿitsevon), but now we read that God was sorry (נָחָם) that he had made (עָשָׂה, ʿasah) humankind for it brought him great pain (עָצָב).

(0.06) (Jon 2:4)

tc Or “Yet I will look again to your holy temple,” or “Surely I will look again to your holy temple.” The MT and the vast majority of ancient textual witnesses vocalize consonantal אך (ʾkh) as the adverb אַךְ (ʾakh), which functions as an emphatic asseverative like “surely” (BDB 36 s.v. אַךְ 1) or an adversative like “yet, nevertheless” (BDB 36 s.v. אַךְ 2; so Tg. Jonah 2:4: “However, I shall look again upon your holy temple”). These options understand the line as expressing hopeful piety in a positive statement about surviving to worship again in Jerusalem. It may be a way of saying, “I will pray for help, even though I have been banished” (see v. 8; cf. Dan 6:10). The sole dissenter is the Greek recension of Theodotion. It reads the interrogative πῶς (pōs, “how?”), which reflects an alternate vocalization tradition of אֵךְ (ʾekh)—a defectively written form of אֵיךְ (ʾekh, “how?”; BDB 32 s.v. אֵיךְ 1). This would be translated, “How shall I again look at your holy temple?” (cf. NRSV). Jonah laments that he will not be able to worship at the temple in Jerusalem again—this is a metonymical statement (effect for cause) that he feels certain he is about to die. It continues the expression of Jonah’s distress and separation from the Lord, begun in v. 2 and continued without relief in vv. 3-7a. The external evidence favors the MT; however, internal evidence seems to favor the alternate vocalization tradition reflected in Theodotion for four reasons. First, the form of the psalm is a declarative praise in which Jonah begins with a summary praise (v. 2), continues by recounting his past plight (vv. 3-6a) and the Lord’s intervention (vv. 6b-7), and concludes with a lesson (v. 8) and vow to praise (v. 9). So the statement with אֵךְ in v. 4 falls within the plight—not within a declaration of confidence. Second, while the poetic parallelism of v. 4 could be antithetical (“I have been banished from your sight, yet I will again look to your holy temple”), synonymous parallelism fits the context of the lament better (“I have been banished from your sight; will I ever again see your holy temple?”). Third, אֵךְ is the more difficult vocalization because it is a defectively written form of אֵיךְ (“how?”) and therefore easily confused with אַךְ (“surely” or “yet, nevertheless”). Fourth, nothing in the first half of the psalm reflects any inkling of confidence on the part of Jonah that he would be delivered from imminent death. In fact, Jonah states in v. 7 that he did not turn to God in prayer until some time later when he was on the very brink of death.

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