Psalms in Popularized English Texts
. . . Most Widely Chanted Contrasted
in Their 1916 and 1973 Versions
New Translation of Psalms--JPS 1916 and 1973 Texts Contrasted
Revision of the English translation of the Bible is
proceeding apace, and within three months the Jewish
Publication Society has issued two additional volumes in
the texts under preparation since the Torah translation
was issued 10 years ago.
The Book of Isaiah appeared in a new English text
three months ago. Last week, JPS released "The Book
of Psalms—A New Translation According to the Tradi-
tional Hebrey, Text."
The latest work is another source of pride for Jewish
scholarship. The translators' committee set up in 1966
to work on the Ketubim, the Hagiographa—the third part
of the Bible—which includes the Psalms—was composed
of Prof. Moshe Greenberg of the University of Pennsyl-
vania, now on the faculty of the Hebrew University; Prof.
Jonas C. Greenfield of the University of California, now
also with the Hebrew University; Prof. Nahum M. Sarna
of Brandeis University; and Rabbi Saul Leeman, Martin
Rozenberg and David Shapiro, representing the three
branches in American Judaism.
They based their work on the Masoretic text. The
rich literature that has been written on the Psalms was
consulted in the preparation of the new translation.
A preface to the new translation of the Psalms states:
"For many passages, our as yet imperfect under-
standing of the language of the Bible or what appears to
be some disorder in the Hebrew text makes sure trans-
lation impossible. The committee's uncertainty is indi-
cated in a marginal note, and alternative renderings have
sometimes been offered where the Hebrew permits them.
However, emendations of the text have not been proposed.
Marginal annotations have been kept to a minimum since
a companion volume of explanatory notes is in prepara-
tion. . . .
"Consistency in rendering Hebrew terms was an
aim but not an unqualified rule. Where its employment
would have resulted in encumbered or awkward language
it was abandoned. On the other hand, within a given
1 37 By the rivers of Babylon,
7 By the rivers of Babylon,
' There we sat down, yea, we
When we remembered Zion.
'Upon the willows in the midst
We hanged up our harps.
'For there they that led us captiv6
asked of us words of song,
And our tormentors asked of us
'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.'
there we sat,
sat and wept.
as we thought of Zion.
2 There on the poplars
we hung up our harps,
for our captors asked us there for songs,
our tormentors," for amusement,
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion."
4 1 low can we sing a song of the Lo.im
on alien soil?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
let 111• right hand wither:b
let 111V tongue stick to my palate
it I cease to think of You,
if I do not keep Jerusalem in memory
even at my happiest hour.
"How shall we sing the LORD'S song
In a foreign land?
'If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget her
°Let my tongue cleave to the roof
of my mouth,
If I remember thee not;
If I set not Jerusalem
Above my chief est joy.
*Remember, 0 Loan, against the
children of Edom
The day of Jerusalem;
Who said: 'Rase it, rase it,
Even to the foundation thereof.'
'0 daughter of Babylon, that art to
Happy shall he be, that repayeth
As thou hest served us.
°Happy shall he be, that taketh and
dasheth thy little ones
Against the rock
LORD, against the Edomites
the day of Jerusalem's fall;
how they cried. "Strip her, strip her
to her very foundations!"
S Fair Babylon, you predator,'
a blessing on him who repays you in kind
what you have inflicted on us;
a blessing on him who seizes your babies
and dashes them against the rocks!
• Meaning of Hcb uncertain
° Others "forget its
7 Remember, 0
94:4 A Psalm of David.
The Loan is my shepherd; I shall
'He maketh me to lie down in green
He leadeth me beside the still
'He restoreth my soul;
He guideth me in straight paths
for His name's sake.
'Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadoii of death,
I will fear no evil,
For Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff, they com-
°Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou halt anointed my head with
oil; my cup runneth over.
'Surely goodness and mercy shall
follow me all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of
the Loan for ever.
psalm, key or thematic words and phrases were, as far
as possible, rendered consistently. Repetition of key or
thematic terms is an element of structure and composi-
tion in the psalms; its representation is one of the proper
tasks of a translator."
For a Hier understanding of these arduous tasks un-
dertaken by noted scholars, it is best to make comparisons.
This reviewer has selected three psalms for study in
contrasts—the 23rd because it is so popular during periods
of mourning and in paying tribute to departed; the 137th
because of its Jewish nationalist significance and as a
Zionist ode, and the 103rd, because West German Chan-
cellor Willy Brandt chose to recite it, by heart, when he
appeared a•., the moving visit at the Yad Vashem in
Portions of these three psalms are presented here in
the Jewish Publication Society translations in the Holy
Scriptures 1916 translation—in the narrower texts -rid
the 1973 te:-.:t shown here in the wider measure.
:t7 31V74 4p'73?
111 5 1 i's V 5 TIF15
't7-6 1r411. r,T0'1.
711 '1 717? trIT, '77 5t.3 Nits 6
" I*1 rtt4.1.1*/; .7aVil
With Targ.; others
"who are to be destroyed"
2 3 A psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd;
I lack nothing.
2 He makes ow lie down in green pastures;
Others "still water.,"
He leads me to " - water in places of repose; . "
He renews my life;
I Ic guides nte in right paths
as befits I lis name.
4 Though I walk through b'a valley of deepest darkness, -b
I fear no harm, for You are With me;
others the %,;11tv
the shadow ei
Your rod and Your stalf—thev comfort me.
You spread a table for me in full view of my enemies;
You aRoint my head with oil;
• my drink is abundant.
6 Only goodness ..and steadfast love shall pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I- shall dwell-in the'house of the LORD
for 111.11ty long years.
[A Psalm] of David.
Bless the LORD, 0 my soul;
And all that is within me, bless
His holy name. -
'Bless the LORD, 0 my soul,
And forget not all His benefits;
'Who forgiveth all thine iniquity;
Who healeth all thy diseases;
'Who redeemeth thy life from the
Who encompasseth thee with loving-
kindness and tender mercies;
'Who satisfieth thine old age with
So that thy youth is renewed like
'The Loan executeth righteousness,
And nets of justice for all that are
*He made known His ways unto
His doings unto the children of
*The LORD is full of compassion and
Slow, to anger, and plenteous in
'He will not always contend;
Neither will He keep His anger fol.
2—Friday, June 22, 1973
1031. -X psalm' of David.
1:117 51L^ trMtP•171 5
Bless, the LORD, 0 my soul,
all my being, His holy name.
Bless the Lotter, 0 my soul
and do not forget all His bounties.
3 !le forgives all your sins,
• heals all your diseases.
.1 I le redeems your life front the Pit,
surrounds you with steadfast love and mercy.
He satisfies you with good things in " - the prime of life , -6
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
•-. Meaning of Heb uncertain
The LORD executes righteous acts
and jud,,,ments for all who are wronged.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His deeds to the children of Israel.
8 The Loan is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger. abounding in steadfast love.
(.) 1 Ic will not contend forever.
or nurse his anger for all time.
•to I le has not dealt %-cith us according to our sins,
It' .17 6
:1• :11t7t7 5t;c10
THE DETROIT JEWISH HEWS