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Here are a day’s translation notes:

Psalm 39 (ESV)

To the choirmaster: to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David. 1 I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” 2 I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. 3 My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: 4 “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! 5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah 6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! 7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. 8 Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! 9 I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. 10 Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. 11 When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah 12 “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers. 13 Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!”

Translation Notes:

1לַמְנַצֵּ֥חַ לִֽיד֯יּת֗וּן מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִֽד

To the choirmaster, to Jeduthun.

A Psalm of David.

Delitzsch notes that Jeduthun was one of David’s three musicians  (1 Chronicles 16:41 & 25:1). Thus, the name Jeduthun must be the choirmaster addressed.

2אָמַ֗רְתִּי אֶֽשְׁמְרָ֣ה דְרָכַי֮ מֵחֲט֪וֹא בִלְשׁ֫וֹנִ֥י

I said, I will guard my ways/words from sin with my tongue

The second אשׁמרה “I will guard” is probably a scribal error; the translation is based on the reading אשׂימה, implied by G.

Peter C. Craigie, vol. 19, Psalms 1–50, 2nd ed., Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville, TN: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004), 307.


Min (from) + ha (the) tu’ (to sin). Jouon notes that “Like the infinitive absolute, the infinitive construct is a verbal noun of action” (sec. 124 (a)).  Jouon’s notes regarding the infinitive construction with the lamed seem appropriate here, albeit, this concerns a min: The infinitive used with a    [lamed] after a verb to express an action which gives more details about or explains the preceding action (Jouon sec. 124(o)).

The guarding is for the purpose of not sinning.


      2. ( ֥֫) עוֹלֶהוְיוֹרֵד ʿÔlè weyôrēd, 1 a stronger divider than

      3. (֑) ʾAthnâḥ (see above, I, 2). In shorter verses ʾAthnâh suffices as principal distinctive; in longer verses ʿÔlè weyôrēd serves as such, and is then mostly followed by ʾAthnâḥ as the principal disjunctive of the second half of the verse.


Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, ed. E. Kautzsch and Sir Arthur Ernest Cowley, 2d English ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910), 61. Since this verse contains three lines, there is a need for three levels of distinction. The athnah will come in the next colon.

אֶשְׁמְרָ֥ה לְפִ֥י מַחְס֑וֹם

I will guard my mouth with a muzzle.

Line c has a word that appears nowhere else in the Old Testament, “muzzle, bridle,” a picturesque description of the psalmist’s firm resolve to keep silent. In English it is more natural to speak of a “muzzle” rather than a bridle on one’s mouth: “I will keep a muzzle on my mouth” (NEB, NJB). Translators who are attempting to keep poetic images will need to find a receptor language equivalent for I will bridle my mouth. The context makes it clear that the term refers to keeping silence, not to subjection, as a bridle may imply. In some languages this is expressed “I will keep my hand on my lips” or “I will tie my lips.”

Robert G. Bratcher and William David Reyburn, A Translator’s Handbook on the Book of Psalms, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1991), 374.


בְּעֹ֖ד רָשָׁ֣ע לְנֶגְדִּֽי

As long as the evil ones are before me/in my presence.

Note on the beth + ‘od:

1. a) sbst. duration: בְּעוֹד as long as (? Ph. bodi, Poenulus 933, 941; Sznycer Poenulus 105; Friedrich Phön. Gramm.2 §248b), בְּעוֹדהַיּוֹם while it was still day 2S 335 = בְּעוֹדיוֹמָם Jr 159; בְּעוֹדִי as long as I am Ps 10433 and 1462 (parallel with בְּחַיַּי); while Gn 256 2S 1222 Jb 116f.18 (BHS); בְּעוֹדשְׁלֹשֶׁתיָמִים within three days Gn 4013.19 Jos 111; בְּעוֹדשְׁנָתַיִםיָמִים within two years Jr 283.11; בְּעוֹדשָׁנָה (rd. with 1QIsa בעודשלוששנים) Is 2116;

Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1999), 796.

The expression for “in my presence” is a bit odd: the expression here is literally in front of me/opposite to me. I found only 10 examples in the BHS2. The expression seems to entail more than physical presence: there is also a matter of intent and interaction: the presence causes some subjective response in the speaker.



 BHS/WHM 4.2

 English Standard Version

Num 22:32

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהוָ֔ה עַל־מָ֗ה הִכִּ֙יתָ֙ אֶת־אֲתֹ֣נְךָ֔ זֶ֖ה שָׁל֣וֹשׁ רְגָלִ֑ים הִנֵּ֤ה אָנֹכִי֙ יָצָ֣אתִי לְשָׂטָ֔ן כִּֽי־יָרַ֥ט הַדֶּ֖רֶךְ לְנֶגְדִּֽי׃

And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me.

2 Sam 22:23

כִּ֥י כָל־ מִשְ֯פָּטָ֖ו לְנֶגְדִּ֑י וְחֻקֹּתָ֖יו לֹא־אָס֥וּר מִמֶּֽנָּה׃

For all his rules were before me, and from his statutes I did not turn aside.

Hab 1:3

לָ֣מָּה תַרְאֵ֤נִי אָ֙וֶן֙ וְעָמָ֣ל תַּבִּ֔יט וְשֹׁ֥ד וְחָמָ֖ס לְנֶגְדִּ֑י וַיְהִ֧י רִ֦יב וּמָד֖וֹן יִשָּֽׂא׃

Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.

Ps 16:8

שִׁוִּ֬יתִי יְהוָ֣ה לְנֶגְדִּ֣י תָמִ֑יד כִּ֥י מִֽ֝ימִינִ֗י בַּל־אֶמּֽוֹט׃

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Ps 18:23

כִּ֣י כָל־מִשְׁפָּטָ֣יו לְנֶגְדִּ֑י וְ֝חֻקֹּתָ֗יו לֹא־אָסִ֥יר מֶֽנִּי׃

For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me.

Ps 39:2

אָמַ֗רְתִּי אֶֽשְׁמְרָ֣ה דְרָכַי֮ מֵחֲט֪וֹא בִלְשׁ֫וֹנִ֥י אֶשְׁמְרָ֥ה לְפִ֥י מַחְס֑וֹם בְּעֹ֖ד רָשָׁ֣ע לְנֶגְדִּֽי׃

I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.”

Ps 50:8

לֹ֣א עַל־זְ֭בָחֶיךָ אוֹכִיחֶ֑ךָ וְעוֹלֹתֶ֖יךָ לְנֶגְדִּ֣י תָמִֽיד׃

Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.

Dan 8:15

וַיְהִ֗י בִּרְאֹתִ֛י אֲנִ֥י דָנִיֵּ֖אל אֶת־הֶחָז֑וֹן וָאֲבַקְשָׁ֣ה בִינָ֔ה וְהִנֵּ֛ה עֹמֵ֥ד לְנֶגְדִּ֖י כְּמַרְאֵה־גָֽבֶר׃

When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man.

Dan 10:13

וְשַׂ֣ר׀ מַלְכ֣וּת פָּרַ֗ס עֹמֵ֤ד לְנֶגְדִּי֙ עֶשְׂרִ֣ים וְאֶחָ֣ד י֔וֹם וְהִנֵּ֣ה מִֽיכָאֵ֗ל אַחַ֛ד הַשָּׂרִ֥ים הָרִאשֹׁנִ֖ים בָּ֣א לְעָזְרֵ֑נִי וַאֲנִי֙ נוֹתַ֣רְתִּי שָׁ֔ם אֵ֖צֶל מַלְכֵ֥י פָרָֽס׃

The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia,

Dan 10:16

וְהִנֵּ֗ה כִּדְמוּת֙ בְּנֵ֣י אָדָ֔ם נֹגֵ֖עַ עַל־שְׂפָתָ֑י וָאֶפְתַּח־פִּ֗י וָאֲדַבְּרָה֙ וָאֹֽמְרָה֙ אֶל־הָעֹמֵ֣ד לְנֶגְדִּ֔י אֲדֹנִ֗י בַּמַּרְאָה֙ נֶהֶפְכ֤וּ צִירַי֙ עָלַ֔י וְלֹ֥א עָצַ֖רְתִּי כֹּֽחַ׃

And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength.

3 נֶאֱלַ֣מְתִּי ד֭וּמִיָּה הֶחֱשֵׁ֣יתִי מִטּ֑וֹב


I was dumb/mute [and] silent, I caused to hesitate/kept silent from good  

 This colon uses three separate words convey a lack of speaking. The second is a noun which is not preceded by a copulative: it reads I made myself mute, silence; I caused to keep silent from good.  It is difficult to convey the feeling of the language into English:








‎‎Ps 39:2 I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse.

‎‎Ps 39:2 I was mute and silent, I refrained even from good, And my sorrow grew worse.

‎‎Ps 39:2 So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish increased;

‎‎Ps 39:2 But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased.

‎‎Ps 39:2 I was stone silent; I held back the urge to speak. My frustration grew;

‎‎Ps 39:2 I was speechless and quiet; I kept silent, even from speaking good, and my pain intensified.






וּכְאֵבִ֥י נֶעְכָּֽר׃

But my pain stirred up.

The verb in the qal means to entangle, throw into confusion. In the niphal (here), Halot has “stirred up” for this verse with “ruined” in Proverbs 15:6. The image is one of great confusion, agitation: his silence did not work.


חַם־לִבִּ֨י׀ בְּקִרְבִּ֗י

Hot my heart within me.


בַּהֲגִיגִ֥י תִבְעַר־אֵ֑שׁ

In my meditations/groans there burned a fire.

Do the meditations/sighing kindle the fire (a possible translation) or are they place expression for the burning?


דִּ֝בַּ֗רְתִּי בִּלְשֽׁוֹנִי

I spoke with my tongue:

Beth + tongue: by means of, the agency of my tongue.

—Where will this distress go? What will he break out against?


5הוֹדִ֘יעֵ֤נִי יְהוָ֨ה׀ קִצִּ֗י

Cause me to know Lord (YHWH) my end.

This is the only instance of “my end” in BHS2.   The word “end” typically means a place of termination. Job 6:11 is an appropriate reference here:

What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient? Job 6:11 (ESV)

Here is a powerful biblical counseling insight: The difficulty of life can best be responded to when it is seen and understood in a context, within the course of a story. Stories give events meaning. An event, alone, means nothing. Only in the context of a story does an event have significance.

וּמִדַּ֣ת יָמַ֣י מַה־הִ֑יא

And the measure of my days, what is it?

Measure (middath) is definite, because it is in a construct form and thus has the level of definiteness as the head noun.  “A noun with a pronominal suffix is definite” (Ross, 116).


אֵ֝דְעָ֗ה מֶה־חָדֵ֥ל אָֽנִי׃

That I should know what fleetingness/transience I am.

That I should know how fleeting I am.

The word for “fleeting” is little used and has some interesting examples:

<Lemma = lls/he/חָדֵל>

 BHS/WHM 4.2

 English Standard Version

Isa 53:3

נִבְזֶה֙ וַחֲדַ֣ל אִישִׁ֔ים אִ֥ישׁ מַכְאֹב֖וֹת וִיד֣וּעַ חֹ֑לִי וּכְמַסְתֵּ֤ר פָּנִים֙ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ נִבְזֶ֖ה וְלֹ֥א חֲשַׁבְנֻֽהוּ׃

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Ezek 3:27

וּֽבְדַבְּרִ֤י אֽוֹתְךָ֙ אֶפְתַּ֣ח אֶת־פִּ֔יךָ וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵיהֶ֔ם כֹּ֥ה אָמַ֖ר אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהֹוִ֑ה הַשֹּׁמֵ֤עַ׀ יִשְׁמָע֙ וְהֶחָדֵ֣ל׀ יֶחְדָּ֔ל כִּ֛י בֵּ֥ית מְרִ֖י הֵֽמָּה׃ ס

But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ He who will hear, let him hear; and he who will refuse to hear, let him refuse, for they are a rebellious house.

Ps 39:5

הוֹדִ֘יעֵ֤נִי יְהוָ֨ה׀ קִצִּ֗י וּמִדַּ֣ת יָמַ֣י מַה־הִ֑יא אֵ֝דְעָ֗ה מֶה־חָדֵ֥ל אָֽנִי׃

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!

The verb is much more common and refers to things which are refused, something from which one desists.


6הִנֵּ֤ה טְפָח֨וֹת׀ נָ֘תַ֤תָּה יָמַ֗י

Behold (mere) handspans you give/gave my days.

The “behold”, while strange English, does draw direct attention to the thing which follows: Look here!


וְחֶלְדִּ֣י כְאַ֣יִן נֶגְדֶּ֑ךָ

And the duration of my life is nothing before you.

A slight vowel change and the word “duration” is the word “mole”. Spelling counts!

The LXX has καὶ ἡ ὑπόστασίς μου ὡσεὶ οὐθὲν ἐνώπιόν σου : and the substance of me is like nothing before you.


 אַ֥ךְ כָּֽל־הֶ֥בֶל כָּל־אָ֝דָ֗ם נִצָּ֥ב סֶֽלָה


Surely all is hebel, all adam stands.

Hebel: The word “vanity” (NIV meaningless, Eccl. 1:2); transitory, a mere breath or vapor.

Adam: In Genesis 2-5, the proper noun Adam. It means humankind and is derived from the word for “dirt”.[1]

7אַךְ־בְּצֶ֤לֶם׀ יִֽתְהַלֶּךְ־אִ֗ישׁ

Surely as a shadow a man goes about.

The word “man” here is the word for “man” as opposed to “woman”.

Delitzsch notes, the beth is a beth essentiae, he walks on, consisting only of an unsubstantial shadow (vol. 2, 34).

The verb is a hithpael of the common (qal) verb “to walk” (hlk).

Like a shadow: the word shadow, selem, also means image: as in Genesis 1:27.  Thus the irony of the usage. The verb sounds like Ecclesiastes 6:12:  For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?

The word “shadow” in Ecclesiastes 6:12 is sel, shadow.  Sel, sounds like image, selem. The words also bear a relationship to one-another:

Sel, comes from the root verb s-l-l, to be shaded or dusky.[2] The words by sound and concept are related to the word for shadow[3] – hence either an image or something insubstantial.[4] Hence a pun on the nature of Adam: He was created the image of God (selem) but became a mere shadow (sel). Man created for eternity becomes insubstantial and false (selem, a mere image, an idol).[5]

אַךְ־הֶ֥בֶל יֶהֱמָי֑וּן

Surely hebel they are in turmoil

Hebel: see above.


יִ֝צְבֹּ֗ר וְֽלֹא־יֵדַ֥ע מִי־אֹסְפָֽם׃

They heap up and do not know who will gather.

There is no object for the verb “to heap”.

The sense of verse 6c is that a person will spend all his life and strength in acquiring possessions (heaps up), but will die without knowing who will get all he accumulated (who will gather). It is all futile, all useless.

Due to the very great differences in the way a dead person’s property is disposed of, translators should make clear that heaps us refers to becoming the owner of physical property and not to a season’s harvest. In some cases it will be necessary to drop the agricultural figures as TEV has done. In order to make clear that who will gather takes place after the wealthy man’s death, it may be necessary to say, for example, “A person gets wealth while he is alive, but after he dies, he does not know who gets it.” Some languages have proverbs which will fit this passage.



Robert G. Bratcher and William David Reyburn, A Translator’s Handbook on the Book of Psalms, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1991), 376.

8וְעַתָּ֣ה מַה־קִּוִּ֣יתִי אֲדֹנָ֑י תּ֝וֹחַלְתִּ֗י לְךָ֣ הִֽיא

But now, why do I wait/hope O Lord! My expectation/hope is you.

The sentence contains only one finite verb qwh, which means to wait or to hope. The second clause/colon reads: My hope in you – it (is). 

Of the difference between the two words for hope, HALOT states:

Although the etymology is different the more common תִּקְוָה and the rarer תּוֹחֶלֶת are synonymous, and the most prominent idea of both is the aspect of waiting and expectation, so Zimmerli Der Mensch und seine Hoffnung im Alten Testament (1968) 15: expectation, hope.

Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1999), 1697.

As for the “she” (it) which ends the sentence, “When an independent personal pronoun stands in apposition to suffixed pronoun, it serves an emphatic role” (Waltke, 16.3.4, p. 299).


9מִכָּל־פְּשָׁעַ֥י הַצִּילֵ֑נִי חֶרְפַּ֥ת נָ֝בָ֗ל אַל־תְּשִׂימֵֽנִי׃

From all my transgressions, deliver me;

Shame/disgrace of the fool [construct relationship] do not set to me.

Pesha‘ means a crime or offense, something deserving of punishment.

Shame/disgrace is related to the verb to taunt/mock.

The verb to save, has the feeling of pulling someone/thing out of a circumstance, a rescue; salvation. The LXX has rhusai: rescue.

10נֶ֭אֱלַמְתִּי לֹ֣א אֶפְתַּח־פִּ֑י כִּ֖י אַתָּ֣ה עָשִֽׂיתָ׃

I am tied, I do not open my mouth

For you acted.

The first verb was previously used in v. 3, I am dumb/mute.

The “you” is emphatic.

11הָסֵ֣ר מֵעָלַ֣י נִגְעֶ֑ךָ מִתִּגְרַ֥ת יָ֝דְךָ֗ אֲנִ֣י כָלִֽיתִי׃

Remove [hiphil imperative] from you your affliction/blow [the affliction/blow which comes from you]

Your hand, I [am] destroyed/spent/consumed.

The “I” is emphatic.

12בְּֽתוֹכָ֘ח֤וֹת עַל־עָוֹ֨ן׀ יִסַּ֬רְתָּ אִ֗ישׁ וַתֶּ֣מֶס כָּעָ֣שׁ חֲמוּד֑וֹ

 אַ֤ךְ הֶ֖בֶל כָּל־אָדָ֣ם סֶֽלָה׃


In the punishment for sin, you chastise a man and cause to melt/consume like a moth his desire/treasure

Surely hebel is all adam. Selah.

The language of the first clause sounds like Psalm 6:1-8. There is some linguistic similarity between the passages.


Psalm 39:13 (BHS/WHM 4.2)

13שִֽׁמְעָ֥ה־תְפִלָּתִ֨י׀ יְהוָ֡ה

Listen to my prayer, Lord (YHWH)

This precise phrase, hear my prayer also appears in 84:9 and 102:2

וְשַׁוְעָתִ֨י׀ הַאֲזִינָה֮ אֶֽל־דִּמְעָתִ֗י אַֽל־תֶּ֫חֱרַ֥שׁ

And to my cry for help, give ear, unto my tears, do not be deaf.

Echoes Psalm 5:1-2

1 Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. 2 Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.

כִּ֤י גֵ֣ר אָנֹכִ֣י עִמָּ֑ךְ

For a stranger/sojourner I am with you.

תּ֝וֹשָׁ֗ב כְּכָל־אֲבוֹתָֽי׃

One who dwells/a foreigner, like all my fathers.

The LXX has

Psalm 38:13 (LXX)

ὅτι πάροικος ἐγώ εἰμι παρὰ σοὶ καὶ παρεπίδημος καθὼς πάντες οἱ πατέρες μου.

The phrase paroikos kai parepidemos is used 1 Peter 2:11, Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and exiles …. (ESV).

Psalm 39:14 (BHS/WHM 4.2)

14הָשַׁ֣ע מִמֶּ֣נִּי וְאַבְלִ֑יגָה בְּטֶ֖רֶם אֵלֵ֣ךְ וְאֵינֶֽנִּי׃

Look away from me, and I will be cheerful

Before I go and I am not.

The verb sh‘h means to gaze, look at; but with min in the object, it means to avert one’s gaze.


[1] m.—(1) man (perhaps so called from the idea of redness, compare דָּם [“The Arabs distinguish two races of men; one red, ruddy, which we call white, the other black.” Gesen. add. But both these races are sprung from Adam]). It has neither const, state, nor plural form; but it is very often used collect. to denote men, the human race, Gen. 1:26, 27; 6:1; Ps. 68:19; 76:11; Job 20:29; כָּל־אָדָם “all men,” Job 21:33. Sometimes it is put as a genitive after adjectives, as אֶבְיוֹנֵי אָדָם “the needy of men,” i.e. needy men, Isa. 29:19; comp. Hos. 13:2; and with בְּ between, as בֹּגְדִים בְּאָדָם Pro. 23:28.—Specially used—(a) for other men, the rest of mankind, as opposed to those in question; Jer. 32:20, בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל וּבָאָדָם “in Israel and in other men,” Jud. 16:7; 18:28; Ps. 73:5; Isa. 43:4.—(b) of common men, as opposed to those of better condition. So כְּאָדָם nach der (gemeinen) Menfchen Weife, Job 31:33; Hos. 6:7; Ps. 82:7. Opposed to אִישׁ viri (more noble), Isa. 2:9; 5:15; שָׂרִים Ps. 82:7; comp. Isa. 29:21, and in pl. בְּנֵי אִישׁ Ps. 49:3; Pro. 8:4.—(c) used of slaves, like נֶפֶשׁ Nu. 16:32.—(d) of soldiers, Kriegsmannfchaft, Isa. 22:6; comp. אִישׁ No. 1, letter (h).

(2) a man, vir, i.q. אִישׁ Ecc. 7:28, “a man (i.e. one emphatically, worthy of the name) I have found one of a thousand, but a woman in all their number I have not found.”

(3) any one, Lev. 1:2; with a negative particle, no one, Job 32:21; comp. אִישׁ No. 4.

(4) [Adam], pr.n.—(a) of the first man made, Gen. 2:7, seq. 3, 4. In these passages at least אָדָם assumes somewhat the nature of a proper name, as denoting the man as the only one of his kind; as הַבַּעַל Baal, lord; κατʼ ἐξ., הַשָּׂטָן Satan (Lehrg. p. 653, 654). Hence LXX. Ἀδάμ, Vulg. Adam.—(b) a town on the Jordan, Josh. 3:16.



Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 13.


צֵל m. (f. Isa. 37:8, compare the form צִלָּה), with suff. צִלִּי (from the root צָלַל No. III) a shadow (Arab. ظِلُّ), Jud. 9:36; Ps. 80:11, etc. Metaph. Job 17:7, “all my members (are) like a shadow,” i.e. scarce a shadow of my body remains. Also—(a) used of anything fleeting and transient, Job 8:9; Psal. 102:12; Ecc. 8:13.—(b) of a roof which affords shade and protection (compare Lat. umbra); hence used for protection and defence; preserving sometimes however the image of a shadow, Psalm 17:8; 36:8; Isa. 16:3, “make thy shadow at noon as in the night,” i.e. afford a safe refuge in glowing heat. Isa. 23:4, “thou (O Jehovah) art a shadow in heat;” sometimes not retaining the image, Nu. 14:9; Ecc. 7:12. In plur. is used the form צְלָלִים.


Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 709.


צֵל: probably a primary noun (Bauer-L. Heb. 454b), > III צלל; SamP. ṣål (Babylonian vocalisation צַל); MHeb., DSS (Kuhn Konkordanz 187); JArm. טֻלָּא, טוּלָּא, טְלָלָא; Sam. טל (Ben-H. Lit. Or. 2:578), טלל (see 3/2:240); טל and similarly in the comparable dialects of Aramaic, BArm. parallel with טלל; Ug. ẓl (Gordon Textbook §19:1052; Aistleitner 2371; Fisher Parallels 1: p. 220 entry 270; on ẓlm (Dietrich-L.-S. Texte 1, 161:1) see Dietrich-Loretz UF 12 (1980) 382); Akk. ṣillu shade, covering, protection (AHw. 1101; CAD Ṣ: 189); cf. ṣillûlu cover (AHw. 1102; CAD Ṣ: 194) and ṣulūlu roof, canopy (AHw. 1111; CAD Ṣ: 242); Arb. ẓill; ? OSArb. ẓlt (Conti Chrest. 160b, uncertain) roof, roofing; Eth. ṣĕlālōt (Dillmann Lex. 1257); Tigr. ṣĕlāl (Littmann-H. Wb. 632a) shadow: shadow: sf. צִלִּי, צִלְּךָ, צִלֵּךְ, צִלּוֹ, צִלֲּלוֹ (Jb 4022, Bauer-L. Heb. 570t), צִלָּהּ, צִלָּם; pl. צְלָלִים (Bauer-L. Heb. 570t), cs. צִלְלֵי־; (Bauer-L. Heb. 570t), Is 388 and 2K 2011 (gloss) fem. :: 2K 209.10 masc. (THAT 2:223: 53 times); Bordreuil RHPhR 46 (1966) 372-387.


Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1999), 1024-25.


צָלַם an unused root, Æth. ጸልመ፡ TO BE SHADY, Arab. ظَِاَِم to be obscure, ظامةُ darkness. Hence—


צֶלֶם m. with suff. צַלְמוֹ—(1) a shadow, Psalm 39:7; metaph. used of any thing vain, Psal. 73:20. Hence—

(2) an image, likeness (so called from its shadowing forth; compare σκία, σκίασμα, σκιαγραφέω), Genesis 1:27; 5:3; 9:6; an image, idol, 2 Kings 11:18; Am. 5:26. (Syr. and Chald. ܨܠܰܡܐܳ, צַלְמָא id., Arab. صَنَمُ an image, the letters נ and ל being interchanged.)


צֶלֶם, צְלֵם Ch. emphat. state, צַלְמָא m. an image, idol, Dan. 2:31, seqq.; 3:1, seqq.


צַלְמוֹן (“shady”), [Zalmon, Salmon], pr.n.—(1) of a mountain in Samaria, near Shechem, Jud. 9:48; this apparently is the one spoken of as covered with snow, Ps. 68:15.

(2) of one of David’s captains, 2 Sa. 23:28.


צַלְמוֹנָה (“shady”), [Zalmonah], pr.n. of a station of the Israelites in the desert, Nu. 33:41.


צַלְמָוֶת f. pr. shadow of death (comp. of צֵל shadow, and מָוֶת death), poet. for very thick darkness, Job 3:5; 10:21; 28:3; 34:22; 38:17, שַׁעֲרֵיצַלְמָוֶת “the gates of darkness.”


צַלְמֻנָּע (perhaps for צֵלמְמֻנָּע “to whom shadow is denied”), [Zalmunna], pr.n. of a prince of the Midianites, Jud. 8:5; Ps. 83:12.



Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 710-11.


  : I *צלם (Bauer-L. Heb. 458s; THAT 2:556f :: W.H. Schmidt WMANT 172 (1967) 1331: צֵל + מ‍); SamP. ṣā̊låm; MHeb. image, statue, idol; DSS (Kuhn Konkordanz 187; THAT 2:562); JArm. צַלְמָא; Sam.; Ph. (Jean-H. Dictionnaire 245; THAT 2:556); EmpArm. ṣlmʾ, ṣlmh the effigy, his effigy (Donner-R. Inschriften text 225:3, 6; text 226:2; Jean-H. Dictionnaire 245; Hoftijzer-Jongeling Dictionary 968: statue); Ug. ṣlm pny (Gordon Textbook text 1002:59 = Dietrich-L.-S. Texte 2, 31:61; Aistleitner 2319; cf. Gordon Textbook §19:2059); Akk. sbst. ṣalmu statue, figurine, image (AHw. 1078f; CAD Ṣ: 78): in particular: 1. the statue of a god; 2. the statue of a king; 3. a statue in general; 4. a figurine; 5. a relief, bas-relief; 6. metaphorical, a constellation, shape, likeness, representation; BArm. צְלֵם; Syr. ṣalmā, ṣəlemtā; CPArm. ṣlm; Mnd. ṣilma (Drower-M. Dictionary 393b) image, idol, shape, form; Nab., Palm. Hatra ṣlm, ṣlmʾ and ṣlmtʾ statue (Jean-H. Dictionnaire 245; Hoftijzer-Jongeling Dictionary 968, ṣlm I; see also BArm. under צְלֵם); OSArb. ẓlm (Conti Chrest. 161a) and ṣlm (Conti Chrest. 224b) likeness, statue; Arb. ṣanam idol (Arm. loanword, see Fraenkel Fremdwörter 273): cs. צֶלֶם, sf. צַלְמוֹ, צַלְמֵנוּ, צַלְמָם; pl. cs. צַלְמֵי, sf. צְלָמָיו, צַלְמֵיכֶם: THAT 2:556-563.

  —1. statue, inscribed column 2K 1118/2C 2317.

  —2. idol Nu 3352 Ezk 720, Am 526 (text uncertain) צַלְמֵיכֶם probably meaning effigies of the Kēwān, Babylonian astral deities (see AHw. 420b kajjamānû; CAD Ṣ: 38a line 6ff kajamānu adj. b: “steady” as a name of Saturn) and sakkut (Sumerian dSAG.KUD, see E. Reiner Šurpu tablet 2 line 180; Rudolph KAT 13/2:207; Wolff BK 14/2:304; THAT 2:557).

  —3. pl.: —a. images, figures: צַלְמֵיזָכָר effigies of men Ezk 1617, צַלְמֵיכַשְׂדִּים pictures of the Chaldaeans carved into the wall Ezk 2314; —b. replicas, likenesses of the boils and mice 1S 65.11 (see THAT 2:557f).

  —4. a. transitory image Ps 397 (parallel with הֶבֶל), Ps 7320 text uncertain (parallel with חֲלוֹם) cj. for צַלְמָם prp. צַלְמוֹ (BHS) :: Würthwein Wort und Existenz 169: MT “their idol”; —b. the צֶלֶם of Ps 397 7320 belongs to II *צלם rather than to I, and so means silhouette, fleeting shadows, so e.g. Humbert Études sur le récit du paradis et de la chute 156; cf. Kopf VT 9 (1959) 272 and in general W.H. Schmidt WMANT 172 (1967) 1331.

  —5. likeness: —a. of a man as the צֶלֶם of God Gn 126f 96: for bibliography see Westermann BK 1/1:203-214; see further Barr BJRL 51 (1968) 11-26; Stamm “Zur Frage der Imago Dei im Alten Testament” (in Humanität und Glaube. Gedenkschrift für Kurt Guggisberg 243-253); Mettinger ZAW 86 (1974) 403-24; O.H. Steck FRLANT 115 (1975) 140567; O. Loretz Die Gottebenbildlichkeit des Menschen; THAT 2:558-562: man, God’s likeness, God’s image, i.e. he is God’s viceroy, representative or witness among the creatures; —b. the son as the צֶלֶם of his father Gn 53. †


Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1999), 1028-29.