acrostic in Psalms 9/10

Psalms 9 and 10 constitute one psalm in the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate translations. Accordingly all Orthodox and some Catholic translations also treat it as one psalm. One indication that it might in fact have been intended to be one psalm is the fact that both Psalm 9 and 10 together constitute one acrostic, a literary form in which each verse is started with one of the successive 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. According to Brenda Boerger (in Open Theology 2016, p. 179ff. ) there are three different reasons for acrostics in the Hebrew text: “for ease of memorization,” the representation “of the full breadth and depth of a topic, all the way from aleph to taw (tav),” and the perception of “the acrostic form as aesthetically attractive.” (p. 191)

While most translations mention the existence of the acrostic in a note or a comment, few implement it in their translation. The Natügu translation is one such exception. Boerger (see above) cites a strong tradition in singing the psalms and the fact that Natügu, like Hebrew, also has 22 possible initial letters as motivating factors to maintain the acrostics in that language.

Click or tap here for both Psalm 9 and 10 successively in Natügu

Psalm 9
1 Awi Yawe! Naglqpx-atwrnr-ngrne nim.
Ale-zvzq da kcng tzkctipxng, x napipxxng.
2 Angrlvzx drtqm.
Bilvzx nim kc tqmyalz-esz’ngr.
3 Brngzvxitx nzyzlukr enqmi rnge mz nzmc-krde nim.
Bz x tao-ngrde nzulrm.
4 Clvetio-lzbqx x rpiq kx tubqx.
Clveq leplz amrlx mz nzwxbuo-krme mz tron, x ayzlu-ngrbzme da badr.
5 Dalr nrlc nzmailzlr kxdrka’-ngrng.
Delc napnanati-ngrn nidr x
Drtqdr na-amrbrtx-alobzme.
6 Doa ngr alwx lcng nzyrkrtrpeng.
Enqmi rngeng trpengr nzdcpx-krdr mz drtwr leplz x mztea nyzdr amznrpe-ngrnq.
7 Eu, a’ Yawe ngini-alom King.
Elalvzx nzwxbuo-krme mz tron nyzm murde nzayzlu-krbzme da mz leplz tubq.
8 Eu, murde nzaclve-krm nrlc tubq-esz’ngr,
Esakrlrngr nzpipx-krm nztubqkr leplz o trtingr.
9 Gct, nim lrpalvc nyz kxnzobqszong.
Glxx kx nim me nzrlakitrkr mzli kx prtzngr da.
10 Gct, krkcng tzkrlzlr nim nzabrtrpzlr drtwrdr bam.
Itoto x doa amrlx kcng tzrtangrtilr nim, trmrbrtru mz drtwrm.
11 Itoto x nigu amrlx napipxbzku mz kxnzmnc-mrbrng da kcng tqale Yawe.
Jerusalem ngi mzteadau nyzde mrkc tqmnc-ngrde. Na-angrlvzku nide.
12 Jzsle krkcng tzrnibqting leplz mz nzayzlu-kr-mopwzle badr da kcng tqtrka tzalelr.
Kxnzmncng mz drtq kxetq sa na-ayzlu-kzpzle badr natq ngr nzyrni-krbzlr bade.
13 Kxetu, nayc mz drtwrm ninge x mcom kxmu nzaetq-krm enqmi rngeng drtqnge.
Kxrpalz, bzkq rlrpx-ngrn nzbz-krnge.
14 Kxarlapx, naelalz-ngrm drtwrnge nzarlapx-krm ninge.
Leplz kxkqlu Jerusalem sa naxlrlr nzglqlz-krnge nim.
15-16 Lalztqmamu! Yawe aelwapx-lzbqngr mz nztubqkr nzayzlu-krbzle da mz leplz.
Murde lr mrkzbleng nztao-moung mz gq kx nzekqtilr.
Mz br kx nzatu-kapqlr, nzdwatr-moung elr.
Mz trtxki kx nzamwilr, nzprtz mou kxdrka’-ngrng elr.
17 Mz nzesablqti-krdr Gct,
Nabz-ngrdr leplz ngr nrlc.
18 Nzmu nakxpung, trtxpnzngr nzmrbrtitrkr drtwr Gct nidr.
Nzobqtipxngr kxtrnzrngiscung trtxpnzngr nzbotxpx-krde.
19 Natulzme Yawe, mz nzaryplapx-krm lr mrkzbleng amrlx.
Na-aelwapx-ngrn kx drtwr kxnzetung amrlx ngi brmrda.
20 Namwxlrtilr x na-amrluelr nim.
Nakrlzlr kx nidr leplz txneng, x sa nabzng.

Psalm 10
1 Opxm kx mncme rlru, Yawe.
Opxm kz kx mnc-kapqq mzli kc tqkxpu-ngrgr.
2 Obqm! Kxdrka’ngr glqpx-lzbqmile nzayoti-krde leplz kxnzkxpung.
Pnz drtwrnge kx sa namwati-lzbq mz br scde.
3 Pipxle kx nzaotikr drtwrde da kxtrka zlwz ngi da kxmrlz mz nzbilvz-zvz-krdele.
Pivxile Yawe x pxtxpx-ngrde nide, a’ amrlzle leplz kx nztrkibrng.
4 Rblx nzrtangrti-krde Gct murde glqpx-lzbq.
Rblx nzrmcti-krde Gct murde mz drtwrde trtxpnzngr Gct.
5 Rlr! Xplrmi-zlwzle nzmncngr kxtrka, a’ pxtxpx-ngrde me pnz drtwrm.
Suti txpwz drtwrde nzyrpalelvz-krde enqmi rdeng.
6 Sc tqrpipele kx, “Trpnzngr da kxtrka kx naprtzm bange,
X trpnzngr nzodatingr ninge kalr.”
7 Sc tqglqlz-zvzle alwx x nzpokiangr.
Natqdeng amrlx ngi dalr nzrpikitingr, nzrpibqtingr, x nzrpilzngr. Rom 3:14
8 Trmrlzu nzmnc-kapq-aepztr-krde mztea mz nzrnibq-krde kx nabzdr lq.
Tu zvz mz nzaenzli-krde ncblo kxesz’nebz.
9 Tqtu-kapq apule laion kc
Tqtcngzpxm mz gq nyzde mz nzkivzti-krde ncblo kx trxplru.
10 Vz zvz nzxplr-zlwz-krde.
Vz zvz nzatrkati-krde nzmnckr kxnzkxpung.
11 Vz-rbr kxdrka’ngr mz nzrpi-krde kx, “Gct trobqpepuu bange.
Wzx a’ trkrlzleu da kcng trka tqalex.”
12 Wztitxpxbz nzwzkr ncblo kxdrka’ngr, kx Yawe, mz nzayrplapx-krm nide.
Wai-ngrn da lc murde bzkq mrbrtr mz drtwrm kxnzkxpung.
13 Wai-ngrdele kxdrka’ngr pxtxpx-ngrde nim.
X rpile kx, “Gct trtxpnzngr nzayrplapx-krde ninge.”
14 Xlqkqamu nimu kxdrka’-ngrng, murde Gct mcle da kxtrka lcng amrlx tqaleamu.
X oliqtile nzokatr-krde kxnzkxpung kcng tzrtangrtilr nide.
Xlrle nidr murde nide kc tqokatr zvz kxnzobqszong.
15 Yawe, katxpxbz zmatq ngr kxdrka’-ngrng.
Yrpalelvz nidr x ayrplapxng mz da kxtrka kcng tzalelr, navz x naesaki zpwx.
16 Yawe, nim King.
Yc zvz nzaclve-krm nrlc.
Yrlqtxpx mz drtc’ nyzm krkcng trnzangiolru nim.
17 Zmatq ngrm etu-esz’ngr, murde krlzpe-kaiq nike narlxtibz kxnztubqng.
Zbq kalvz axplrq nidr x kabzme badr nike nzrlxtilr.
18 Zbo ngr leplz kxnzobqszong x kxnzkxpung, sa na-arlapxbzmeng mz zmatq ngr leplz mz nrlc ka.
Zmwxlr amrlx sa na-aesaki-zvzq.

© 2008, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Inc. All rights reserved.

help (Japanese honorifics)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way to do this is through the usage (or a lack) of an honorific prefix as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017.

The concept of “help” is translated in the Shinkaiyaku Bible as o-tasuke (お助け), combining “help” (tasuke) with the respectful prefix o-.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

female second person singular pronoun in Psalms

In Garifuna the second person singular pronoun (“you” in English) has two forms. One is used in women’s speech and one in men’s speech. In the Garifuna Bible the form used in men’s speech is typically used, except when it’s clear that a woman is quoted or in Psalms where the women on the translation team insisted that the form used in women’s speech (buguya) would be used throughout the whole book.

Ronald Ross (in Omanson 2001, p. 375f.) tells the story: “Throughout most of the translation, [the distinctions between the different forms of the pronouns] presented no problem. Whenever the speaker in the text was perceived as a man, the male speech forms were used; and when a woman was speaking, the female speech forms were used. True, the women members of the translation team did object on occasion to the use of the male forms when the author (and narrator) of a book was unknown and the men translators had used the male speech forms as the default. Serious discord arose, however, during the translation of the Psalms because of their highly devotional nature and because throughout the book the psalmist is addressing God. The male translators had, predictably, used the male form to address God, and the male form to refer to the psalmist, even though women speakers of Garifuna never use those forms to address anyone. The women contended that they could not as women read the Psalms meaningfully if God and the psalmist were always addressed as if the readers were men. The men, of course, turned the argument around, claiming that neither could they read the Psalms comfortably if the reader was assumed to be a woman.

“Initially there seemed to be no way out of this impasse. However a solution was found in the ongoing evolution of the language. There is a strong propensity for male speech and female speech to merge in favor of the latter, so the few remaining male forms are gradually dying out. Moreover, male children learn female speech from their mothers and only shift to the male speech forms when they reach adolescence to avoid sounding effeminate. However they use the female form buguya when addressing their parents throughout life. So the women wielded two arguments: First, the general development of the language favored the increasing use of the female forms. Secondly, the female forms are less strange to the men than the male forms are to the women, because the men habitually use them during early childhood and continue to use them to address their parents even in adulthood. Therefore, the female pronominal forms prevailed and were adopted throughout the book of Psalms, though the male forms remained the default forms in the rest of the translation.”

See also female first person singular pronoun in Psalms and addressing God.

hand (of God) (Japanese honorifics)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way to do this is through the usage (or a lack) of an honorific prefix as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017. When the referent is God, the “divine” honorific prefix mi- (御 or み) can be used, as in mi-te (御手) or “hand (of God)” in the referenced verses.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

See also hand of the LORD.

addressing God

Translators of different languages have found different ways with what kind of formality God is addressed. The first example is from a language where God is always addressed distinctly formal whereas the second is one where the opposite choice was made.

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Like many languages (but unlike Greek or Hebrew or English), Tuvan uses a formal vs. informal 2nd person pronoun (a familiar vs. a respectful “you”). Unlike other languages that have this feature, however, the translators of the Tuvan Bible have attempted to be very consistent in using the different forms of address in every case a 2nd person pronoun has to be used in the translation of the biblical text.

As Voinov shows in Pronominal Theology in Translating the Gospels (in: The Bible Translator 2002, p. 210ff.), the choice to use either of the pronouns many times involved theological judgment. While the formal pronoun can signal personal distance or a social/power distance between the speaker and addressee, the informal pronoun can indicate familiarity or social/power equality between speaker and addressee.

In these verses, in which humans address God, the informal, familiar pronoun is used that communicates closeness.

Voinov notes that “in the Tuvan Bible, God is only addressed with the informal pronoun. No exceptions. An interesting thing about this is that I’ve heard new Tuvan believers praying with the formal form to God until they are corrected by other Christians who tell them that God is close to us so we should address him with the informal pronoun. As a result, the informal pronoun is the only one that is used in praying to God among the Tuvan church.”

In Gbaya, “a superior, whether father, uncle, or older brother, mother, aunt, or older sister, president, governor, or chief, is never addressed in the singular unless the speaker intends a deliberate insult. When addressing the superior face to face, the second person plural pronoun ɛ́nɛ́ or ‘you (pl.)’ is used, similar to the French usage of vous.

Accordingly, the translators of the current version of the Gbaya Bible chose to use the plural ɛ́nɛ́ to address God. There are a few exceptions. In Psalms 86:8, 97:9, and 138:1, God is addressed alongside other “gods,” and here the third person pronoun o is used to avoid confusion about who is being addressed. In several New Testament passages (Matthew 21:23, 26:68, 27:40, Mark 11:28, Luke 20:2, 23:37, as well as in Jesus’ interaction with Pilate and Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well) the less courteous form for Jesus is used to indicate ignorance of his position or mocking (source Philip Noss).

In Dutch and Western Frisian translations, however, God is always addressed with the formal pronoun.

See also female second person singular pronoun in Psalms.

Translation commentary on Psalm 10:14

The psalmist strongly denies the claim of the wicked in verse 13 that God is not concerned; on the contrary, God does see, he does take note of people’s trouble and vexation (the second noun appears in 6.7a, meaning there “grief”). Biblia Dios Habla Hoy, however, refers these two words to the evildoers, translating “You yourself have noticed their irritating evil.” New Jerusalem Bible seems to do the same: “You take note of mischief and vexation!” See often requires an indication of what is seen. Here the object is general, and one may say “but you see everything that happens.” Note is sometimes rendered “pay attention to.” Trouble and vexation must often be rendered as clauses; for example, “people who are in trouble and who suffer.”

The meaning of line b in Hebrew is disputed; literally it says “to take in your hand.” Some interpret this in a good sense, to help, to save (so New American Bible “taking them in your hands”; Bible en français courant “you keep watch to take his cause in hand”; also New Jerusalem Bible). Others, however (see Briggs), take it to have the unfavorable meaning of avenging, taking revenge (see 28.3); so King James Version “to requite it with thy hand”; New Jerusalem Bible “to requite is in Your power”; and Biblia Dios Habla Hoy “you will give them what they deserve.” The Septuagint translates “to deliver them into your hands”; so An American Translation. If the translator takes this expression as referring to God’s favorable activity, then it will often be necessary to make explicit the goal of God’s help. This can refer to the hapless in the next line or the troubled and suffering in the preceding line; for example, “you are always ready to help them.” If, on the other hand, one takes the expression take it into thy hands to refer to an unfavorable act, one may have to say “in order that you can avenge them” or “so that you punish their enemies.”

For the hapless see comments on verse 8.

Commits translates a verb meaning to leave, let go, abandon; here it has the sense of abandoning oneself, that is, trusting oneself completely to God. This idea is expressed in some languages by idioms such as “to lean upon God,” “to rest one’s heart on God,” or “to put oneself in God’s hands.”

The fatherless, or “the orphan,” is used here as a representative of all those who have no one to support them and protect them from exploitation and oppression (also verse 18). Good News Translation uses a term which includes them all, “the needy.” The standard biblical phrase for the helpless and oppressed people is “widows, orphans, and resident aliens.” Normally the term “orphan” is too restrictive in meaning to be used here, and so the expression used for “the poor” in 9.18 can serve.

Quoted with permission from Bratcher, Robert G. and Reyburn, William D. A Handbook on the Book of Psalms. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1991. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .