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Psalm 3: Title

Psalm 3:1 (BHS/WHM 4.2)

1 מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִ֑ד בְּ֝בָרְח֗וֹ מִפְּנֵ֤י׀ אַבְשָׁל֬וֹם בְּנֽוֹ׃

מִזְמ֥וֹר

A Psalm: The BHS has 57 uses of the noun. It is translated as “Psalm” on each occasion in the ESV. Gesenius’ Lexicon derives the piel of zmr: to sing.  

With Ps. 3, begin, as already stated, the hymns arranged for music. By מִזְמֹורלְדָוִד, a Psalm of David, the hymn which follows is marked as one designed for musical accompaniment. Since מזמור occurs exclusively in the inscriptions of the Psalms, it is no doubt a technical expression coined by David. זָמַר (root זם) is an onomatopoetic word, which in Kal signifies to cut off, and in fact to prune or lop (the vine) (cf. Arabic zbr, to write, from the buzzing noise of the style or reed on the writing material). The signification of singing and playing proper to the Piel are not connected with the signification “to nip.” For neither the rhythmical division (Schultens) nor the articulated speaking (Hitz.) furnish a probable explanation, since the caesura and syllable are not natural but artificial notions, nor also the nipping of the strings (Böttch., Ges.), for which the language has coined the word נִגֵּן (of like root with נָגַע). Moreover, the earliest passages in which זִמְרָה and זִמֵּר occur (Gen. 43:11, Exod. 15:2, Judges 5:3), speak rather of song than music and both words frequently denote song in distinction from music, e.g., 98:5; 81:3, cf. Cant. 2:12. Also, if זִמֵּר originally means, like ψάλλειν, carpere (pulsare) fides, such names of instruments as Arab. zemr the hautboy and zummâra the pipe would not be formed. But זִמֵּר means, as Hupfeld has shown, as indirect an onomatope as canere, “to make music” in the widest sense; the more accurate usage of the language, however, distinguishes זִמֵּר and שִׁיר as to play and to sing. With בְּ of the instrument זִמֵּר denotes song with musical accompaniment (like the Aethiopic זמר instrumento canere) and זִמְרָה (Aram. זְמָר) is sometimes, as in Amos 5:23, absolutely: music. Accordingly מִזְמֹור signifies technically the music and שִׁיר the words. And therefore we translate the former by “Psalm,” for ὁ ψαλμός ἐστιν—says Gregory of Nyssa—ἡ διὰ τοῦ ὀργάνου τοῦ μουσικοῦ μελωδίὰ ᾠδὴ δὲ ἡ διὰ στόματος γενομένου τοῦ μέλους μετὰ ῥημάτων ἐκφώνησις.

Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 5 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 59–60.

 

The accent is a Merkha: conjunctive.

לְדָוִ֑ד

Of David: Joun explains that rather than use the genitive construct relationship, the genitive relationship may be shown by use of the lamed prefixed to the noun: “The genitive is usually avoided and replaced by l when the second noun is determinate and the first one is logically indeterminate” (Jouon & Muraoka, section 130b, p. 474). This usage is common when one marks an indeterminate noun, such as “A Psalm” to a proper and thus determinate noun. Jouon calls this the “l auctoris =l of author” (Ibid).

The accent is an athnah; the primary disjunctive in a short verse.

בְּ֝בָרְח֗וֹ

בְּ

When/at the time of

Prefixed beth, standard pointing. Here the beth marks time: “With the infinitive construct, b denotes in general the temporal proximity of one even to another” (Waltke & OConnor, 36.2.2b, 604):

When used with the preposition בְּ, the action implied by the infinitive construct is simultaneous with that of the main clause. Simultaneous in the sense that the action referred to by the בְּ + infinitive construction constitutes a stretch of time within which the action in the main clause takes place.

Christo Van der Merwe, Jackie Naudé, et al., A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar, electronic ed. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), 157.

בָרְח֗וֹ

Infinitive construct with third person plural masculine singular suffix: His fleeing. The infinitive construct can function as a noun. Here the idea seems to be along the lines, The Psalm [which David wrote/sang] during the time he fled ….

The accent is the R’bhia Mugrash:

This accent has a two-fold graphical sign because in early tiems it had probably a two-fold modulation. The first part is a simple stroke not unlike the Geresh of the prose accentuation, and placed above and on the right of the initial letter; while the second and more important part is an ordinary R’bhia, which is used like the accents generally, to indicate the tone syllable.

John Adams, Sermons in Accents: Studies in the Hebrew Text (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1906), 155-56.

מִפְּנֵ֤י

From the face of.

Before indefinite nouns, מִן is usually inseparable. The נ‍ is assimilated to the following consonant, that is, the נ‍ begins to sound like the following consonant, as in irregular from *inregular, then the נ‍ is written like the following consonant and is indicated with a strong dagesh.

Mark David Futato, Beginning Biblical Hebrew (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2003), 50.

פָּנֶה

Face, thus a person. The plural is often used idiomatically even where only one “face” is at issue. For example, Jacob refers to his personal encounter with God as meetings faces to faces:

Genesis 32:31 (BHS/WHM 4.2)

31 וַיִּקְרָ֧א יַעֲקֹ֛ב שֵׁ֥ם הַמָּק֖וֹם פְּנִיאֵ֑ל כִּֽי־רָאִ֤יתִי אֱלֹהִים֙ פָּנִ֣ים אֶל־פָּנִ֔ים וַתִּנָּצֵ֖ל נַפְשִֽׁי׃

 

Genesis 32:30 (ESV)

30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

The construct is formed in the normal manner. First, the yim ending is reduced to “ee-y”. The accent is thrown forward to the last syllable and the pretonic syllable in an unaccented open syllable is reduced to a shewa (see Futato, 13.2).

The accent is a Mehpakh (conjunctive).

אַבְשָׁל֬וֹם

Absalom. Proper name. The accent is a munah superior (conjunctive).

בְּנֽוֹ׃

His son. A vowel reduction in the first syllable from segol to shewa due to the accent being brought forward to the third person singular suffix (his).

Accent: Silluq.

 

Psalm 3:1 (LXX)

Ψαλμὸς τῷ Δαυιδ, ὁπότε ἀπεδίδρασκεν ἀπὸ προσώπου Αβεσσαλωμ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ.

Ψαλμὸς: A Psalm.

τῷ Δαυιδ: Of David. That is a Psalm written by David.

The dative for the genitive. This seems to be a dative of interest, “The person for whom something is or is done, or in reference to whose case an action is viewed, is put in the dative” (Smyth, 1474). Smyth goes onto write, “The person by whom (not for whom) an action is explicitly said to be done is in the genitive with upo  (1698.1.b)” (1491). But Blass and Debrunner state that there is a dative of agency which is the equivalent of the hypo tinos of classical Greek (section 191).

ὁπότε: When

ἀπεδίδρασκεν: imperfect: he fled.

ἀποδιδράσκω: Escape

ἀπὸ: from; takes the genitive

προσώπου: Face of

Αβεσσαλωμ: Absalom

τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ. His son. Here the article probably marks Absalom as the well-known son of David.  The article could have been sufficient to mark Absalom as David’s son. The personal pronoun makes the relationship explicit and thus draws attention to the relationship. It may have also been added under the force of the Hebrew also having an explicit relationship marker.

Psalm 3:1 (VGCLEM)

1 Psalmus David, cum fugeret a facie Absalom filii sui.

Psalmus David:  A Psalm of David.

Cum: when:

Cum is not only a preposition meaning ‘with’, but it occurs also as a subordinating conjunction with the meanings ‘when’, ‘since’, and ‘although’. The verb in such cases is most often in the subjunctive ….

Moreland & Fleischer, 248.

fugeret: he fled; imperfect active subjunctive of fugere.

a facie: From the face

Absalom filii sui: Absalom his son.