Saturday, February 4, 2017

not the sharpest pick in the plant

Cold out this morning. Selfie inside the Beck door upon returning from Saturday morning stroll

That old Mister Bubba is not the sharpest pick in the ice-plant can come as a surprise to nobody, much less the first person singular. But  I may nevertheless recognize lousy poetry when I see it, and the responsive psalm for tomorrow, Sunday Epiphany 5A, Psalm 112, is nothing if not lousy poetry. In fact when I saw the lectionary for the day, glanced through all four readings, and shifted back to the designated Psalm 112:1-10, I thought, something's missing, this is crummy poetry, as poetry it doesn't hold together at all, it must be an acrostic, there must be another twelve verses to make up the 22 letter Hebrew alphabet. See, here it is:

112    Beatus vir

Happy are they who fear the Lord *
    and have great delight in his commandments!

Their descendants will be mighty in the land; *
    the generation of the upright will be blessed.

Wealth and riches will be in their house, *
    and their righteousness will last for ever.

Light shines in the darkness for the upright; *
    the righteous are merciful and full of compassion.

It is good for them to be generous in lending *
    and to manage their affairs with justice.

For they will never be shaken; *
    the righteous will be kept in everlasting remembrance.

They will not be afraid of any evil rumors; *
    their heart is right;
    they put their trust in the Lord.

Their heart is established and will not shrink, *
    until they see their desire upon their enemies.

They have given freely to the poor, *
    and their righteousness stands fast for ever;
    they will hold up their head with honor.

The wicked will see it and be angry;
they will gnash their teeth and pine away; *
    the desires of the wicked will perish.

So I check BibleGateway for several English translations, but no, this is it, just ten verses. Some begin Hallelujah some begin Praise the Lord, but all that I looked at just ten verses. So I check the Mechon-Mamre Hebrew-English website, look at the English and the Hebrew,
and listen to a scholar read the Hebrew online,
but no this is still it. Well, why is it such disjointed poetry? So I look for a commentary on Psalm 112, what's the background? The first thing I come across is that psalm 112 is an acrostic. Obviously I didn't listen closely enough to the mechon-mamre reading online or I should have picked it up. Anyway,  this is the first acrostic I remember noticing that wasn't 22 verses, or 22 sets of 8 verses or some such, so I assign myself, who can't even remember the letters of the Hebrew alefbet overnight, the task of proving it's an acrostic, among other reasons, to see for myself how the poet did it and crammed it into ten verses. 

Below is what I came out with. I have no confidence about it whatsoever, much less any certainty, certitude. Anyone who wants to check me is welcome. I'm not sure I got the acrostic right, and I'm certainly not sure I matched up the English properly with the Hebrew, and the final verse gave me such a fit that I ran out of patience before getting round to checking an online interlinear.  


 יָרֵא אֶת-יְהוָה;
Happy is the man that feareth the LORD,
בְּמִצְו‍ֹתָיו, חָפֵץ מְאֹד
that delighteth greatly in His commandments.

גִּבּוֹר בָּאָרֶץ, יִהְיֶה זַרְעוֹ;
His seed shall be mighty upon earth;

דּוֹר יְשָׁרִים יְבֹרָךְ.
the generation of the upright shall be blessed.

הוֹן-וָעֹשֶׁר בְּבֵיתוֹ;
Wealth and riches are in his house;

וְצִדְקָתוֹ, עֹמֶדֶת לָעַד.
and his merit endureth for ever.

זָרַח בַּחֹשֶׁךְ אוֹר, לַיְשָׁרִים;
Unto the upright He shineth as a light in the darkness, 

חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם וְצַדִּיק.
gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

טוֹב-אִישׁ, חוֹנֵן וּמַלְוֶה;
Well is it with the man that dealeth graciously and lendeth

יְכַלְכֵּל דְּבָרָיו בְּמִשְׁפָּט.
that ordereth his affairs rightfully.

כִּי-לְעוֹלָם לֹא-יִמּוֹט;
For he shall never be moved

לְזֵכֶר עוֹלָם, יִהְיֶה צַדִּיק.
the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance.

מִשְּׁמוּעָה רָעָה, לֹא יִירָא 
He shall not be afraid of evil tidings;

נָכוֹן לִבּוֹ, בָּטֻחַ בַּיהוָה.
his heart is stedfast, trusting in the LORD.

סָמוּךְ לִבּוֹ, לֹא יִירָא;
? His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, 

עַד אֲשֶׁר-יִרְאֶה בְצָרָיו.
until he gaze upon his adversaries.

פִּזַּר, נָתַן לָאֶבְיוֹנִים--    
9 He hath scattered abroad,

צִדְקָתוֹ, עֹמֶדֶת לָעַד;
he hath given to the needy

קַרְנוֹ,    תָּרוּם בְּכָבוֹד.
his righteousness endureth for ever;
his horn shall be exalted in honour.

רָשָׁע יִרְאֶה, וְכָעָס-- 

שִׁנָּיו יַחֲרֹק וְנָמָס;
The wicked shall see it, and be vexed;

תַּאֲוַת רְשָׁעִי תֹּאבֵדם
he shall gnash with his teeth,   
and melt away;
the desire of the wicked shall perish.

DThos+ the Saturday dunce 

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