Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Samuel or The Psalm?

While reading 2 Samuel, it came to me that what I was reading sounded strangely familiar. As I went digging, lo and behold, a psalm came to light virtually identical to the section I was reading. Here is a brief excerpt from the duplicate passages:
And David spoke unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul; and he said: The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God who is my rock, in Him I take refuge; my shield, and my horn of salvation, my high tower, and my refuge; my saviour, Thou savest me from violence.
--2 Samuel 22:1-3, JPS

For the Leader. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who spoke unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul; And he said: I love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in Him I take refuge; my shield, and my horn of salvation, my high tower.
--Psalm 18:1-3, JPS
While the two seem virtually identical, there are discrepancies that become more apparent in the Hebrew. Unlike Yeshua, who was an itinerant prophet and said the same thing many different times in slightly different ways, if David actually spoke this, he would not have spoken both versions. One has obviously borrowed from the other. So I leave you for 2006 with my own quandary: which came first, 2 Samuel 22 or Psalm 18?

1 Comments:

Anonymous Simon Holloway said...

The comparison between the two extends beyond this point as well, of course. One of the more important differences between them (for me) is in 2Sam 22:51 and Ps 18:51, within which they both feature a word that is formed off the same triliteral Hebrew root, but which has two different meanings.

JPS translates the verse in 2Sam as "tower of victory" and the verse in Ps as "he accords great victories". This is interesting for me because the Grace after Meals in the Jewish tradition (the ברכת המזון) features both: the first is read on Sabbaths and festivals and the second is read on regular weekdays.

There is a theory: early commentators on the siddur (prayer-book) wrote both, considering it was a genuine variant in the Biblical text, and made a note next to one to stress that it was from 2Sam. That note, which may have been שב, could have then been mistaken for an abbreviation for שבת. Don't know if that's true, but I think it's great!

5:23 PM  

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