Psalms 77


לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל־(יְדִיתוּן) [יְדוּתוּן] לְאָסָף מִזְמֹור׃   77:1

Psal. 77:1   A psalm of Asaph’s for the leader, for Jeduthun:

Jeduthun’s name is presumed to be misspelled here in the parentheses (for the second time).  The “correction” is in the brackets.  See Psal. 39:1 for more on Jeduthun (or Jedithun).

קוֹלִי אֶל־אֱלֹהִים וְאֶצְעָקָה קוֹלִי אֶל־אֱלֹהִים וְהַאֲזִין אֵלָי׃   77:2

Psal. 77:2   My voice is to God and I will cry out,

                               my voice is to God that He may listen to me.

בְּיוֹם צָרָתִי אֲדֹנָי דָּרָשְׁתִּי יָדִי לַיְלָה נִגְּרָה וְלֹא תָפוּג מֵאֲנָה הִנָּחֵם נַפְשִׁי׃   77:3

Psal. 77:3   In the time of my distress I seek the Master,

                               night time my hand is stretched out,

                     and my soul will not grow numb,

                               refuses to be comforted.

His soul will not grow numb?  Does that mean he can’t fall asleep?  See v. 5 below.

אֶזְכְּרָה אֱלֹהִים וְאֶהֱמָיָה אָשִׂיחָה וְתִתְעַטֵּף רוּחִי סֶלָה׃   77:4

Psal. 77:4   I can remember, O God, and I must mourn,

                                I may meditate on it and my soul must grow feeble.            Selah.

Here is the second exception to my theory regarding Selah (see Psal. 3:3).

אָחַזְתָּ שְׁמֻרוֹת עֵינָי נִפְעַמְתִּי וְלֹא אֲדַבֵּר׃   77:5

Psal. 77:5   You take hold of the lids of my eyes,

                                 I am so disturbed that I cannot speak.

חִשַּׁבְתִּי יָמִים מִקֶּדֶם שְׁנוֹת עוֹלָמִים׃   77:6

Psal. 77:6   I think of the days of old,

                                of ancient years.

אֶזְכְּרָה נְגִינָתִי בַּלָּיְלָה עִם־לְבָבִי אָשִׂיחָה וַיְחַפֵּשׂ רוּחִי׃   77:7

Psal. 77:7   I might remember my song at night,

                                commune with my heart,

                      that I could search out my spirit.

הַלְעוֹלָמִים יִזְנַח אֲדֹנָי וְלֹא־יֹסִיף לִרְצוֹת עוֹד׃   77:8

Psal. 77:8   Will the Master cast off for all time,

                                and not be favorable again any more?

הֶאָפֵס לָנֶצַח חַסְדּוֹ גָּמַר אֹמֶר לְדֹר וָדֹר׃   77:9

Psal. 77:9   Has His mercy ceased for always,

                                the promise to all generations come to an end?

הֲשָׁכַח חַנּוֹת אֵל אִם־קָפַץ בְּאַף רַחֲמָיו סֶלָה׃   77:10

Psal. 77:10   Has God forsaken graciousness,

                                 in “anger” shut off His compassion?           Selah.

וָאֹמַר חַלּוֹתִי הִיא שְׁנוֹת יְמִין עֶלְיוֹן׃   77:11

Psal. 77:11   But I must say, “It is my weakness,

                                 critiquing the right ‘hand’ of the Most High.”

The wise psalmist is saying here, “Who am I to think I know God and His intentions (and to ‘criticize’ Him)?”  I must add that the word I translate as critiquing is loosely translated by everyone.  In fact, the entire verse is loosely and variously translated.  The reason is that the word literally means years, which is hardly appropriate in this context.  But some translators have made it fit by mistranslating some of the rest of the verse.  However, a variant of the word in question means grading or gradation.  So, assuming that the meaning of the original word has been lost, I loosely translated it as critiquing as it is quite appropriate in this context.

אַזְכִּיר) [אֶזְכֹּור] מַעַלְלֵי־יָהּ כִּי־אֶזְכְּרָה מִקֶּדֶם פִּלְאֶךָ׃   77:12

Psal. 77:12   I might remind myself of the acts of the Lord,

                                  indeed I might remember the wonder of You from of old.

Once more I find myself amazed to be disagreeing with the sages about an error.  I believe the first word, the one  before the left parenthesis, is not incorrect.  Its form is correct as I translate it (I might remind myself).  Contrast the spelling of this word with the spelling of a word with the same root in v. 7 above (also the first word of that verse) that I translated as I must remember.

וְהָגִיתִי בְכָל־פָּעֳלֶךָ וּבַעֲלִילוֹתֶיךָ אָשִׂיחָה׃   77:13

Psal. 77:13   So I will meditate on all Your work

                                  and muse on Your deeds.

אֱלֹהִים בַּקֹּדֶשׁ דַּרְכֶּךָ מִי־אֵל גָּדוֹל כֵּאלֹהִים׃   77:14

Psal. 77:14   O God, Your path is in holiness.

                                  Who is a god as great as God?

אַתָּה הָאֵל עֹשֵׂה פֶלֶא הוֹדַעְתָּ בָעַמִּים עֻזֶּךָ׃   77:15

Psal. 77:15   You are the God producing wonder;

                                  You make Your strength known throughout the peoples.

גָּאַלְתָּ בִּזְרוֹעַ עַמֶּךָ בְּנֵי־יַעֲקֹב וְיוֹסֵף סֶלָה׃   77:16

Psal. 77:16   With an “arm” You redeemed Your people,

                                  the children of Jacob and Joseph.            Selah.

The phrase the children of Jacob and Joseph could lead to some interesting conjecture.  After all, Joseph was one of the children of Jacob.  Why was and Joseph added?  We may understand that Joseph’s children, Ephraim and Menasseh, were special, but why did the psalmist choose to include them here?  Maybe because they were those who carried forward Joseph’s legacy?  Remember that Joseph was not one of the tribes or territories of Israel.  Only his sons were each half tribes.  Thus it would seem appropriate to include Joseph’s children apart from the children of Jacob when explaining the extent of God’s people.

רָאוּךָ מַּיִם אֱלֹהִים רָאוּךָ מַּיִם יָחִילוּ אַף יִרְגְּזוּ תְהֹמוֹת׃   77:17

Psal. 77:17   The waters saw You, O God,

                                  the waters saw You,

                         they must have been writhing,

                                  also the depths must have been disturbed.

זֹרְמוּ מַיִם עָבֹות קֹול נָתְנוּ שְׁחָקִים אַף־חֲצָצֶיךָ יִתְהַלָּכוּ׃   77:18

Psal. 77:18   The clouds poured forth waters,

                                   the skies produced a sound,

                        Your arrows also would traverse.

קֹול רַעַמְכָ* בַּגַּלְגַּל הֵאִירוּ בְרָקִים תֵּבֵל רָגְזָה וַתִּרְעַשׁ הָאָרֶץ׃   77:19

Psal. 77:19   The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind,

                                   lightning flashes illuminated the world,

                         the earth trembled and quaked.

בַּיָּם דַּרְכֶּךָ (וּשְׁבִילֶיךָ) [וּשְׁבִילְךָ] בְּמַיִם רַבִּים וְעִקְּבֹותֶיךָ לֹא נֹדָעוּ׃   77:20

Psal. 77:20   Your path was in the sea,

                                   and Your way in the great waters,

                         so Your footsteps were not revealed.

In other words, this verse means that God’s actions are disguised (His footsteps are not revealed) so that none but the wise and perceptive can recognize His works.  But we also have a real error in this verse.  The second yad in the parentheses should not be there.  As spelled the word means Your ways (plural).  Removing the yad makes it properly singular.

נָחִיתָ כַצֹּאן עַמֶּךָ בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן׃   77:21

Psal. 77:21   You led Your people like a flock

                                    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

This psalm describes the psalmist’s pain and wonder at the plight of the Israelites.  The presumption must be that this psalm is also of the period of the Babylonian exile.  This gives some support to my guess that the person named in the superscription is not Jeduthun.

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