Sunday, December 8, 2013

Psalm 131: Verses 6-8

The Ark of the Covenant (with The Budding Staff),
by the illustrator of 'Speculum humanae salvationis,'
Germany (?), circa 1400-1500
Museum Meermanno Westreenianum, The Hague
With the next few verses of Psalm 131, the focus shifts to the ceremony of the dedication of the Temple.

Notes on the Verses

Ecce audívimus eam in ephrata: * invénimus eam in campis silvæ.
Ecce audivimus eam esse in Ephratha, invenimus eam in campis Iaar.
Ecce audiuimus illum in Efratha : inuenimus illum in regione saltus.  

δο κούσαμεν ατν ν Εφραθα ερομεν ατν ν τος πεδίοις το δρυμο

Ecce (behold/for) audívimus (we have heard) eam (it/that) in Ephrata invénimus (we have found) eam (it/that) in campis (in the fields) silvæ (of the wood)

Ephrata probably means Bethlehem; campis silvae may also be a proper name, perhaps an allusion to the Forest-Town of Kiryath-Yearim where the arc rested for a considerable period, hence the RSV's translation (see below).  Eam is ambiguous - it could either be referring to David's oath, or to the ark.

ecce, adv.  lo see! Behold
audio, ivi or li, Itum, ire to hear; to hear gladly; sound forth, utter, announce;  hear favorably, to grant,
Ephrata, ae, f. fruitful, fruitland;an ancient name for Bethlehem, the city of David.
campus, i, m., a field, plain, an open level country
silva, ae, f. a wood, forest

Behold we have heard of it in Ephrata: we have found it in the fields of the wood.
Behold, we heard of it in Ephratha; we found it in the fields of the wood
Lo, we heard of it in Eph'rathah, we found it in the fields of Ja'ar.
 Lo, we heard of the same at Ephratah, and found it in the wood.

Pope Benedict XVI has suggested that this verse seeks to link the current event of the dedication of the Temple with the history of the arc's travels:

"Perhaps at this point, after David's words, a liturgical choir's words prepare the way for the memory of the past. In fact, it recalls the rediscovery of the Ark in the plains of Yearím in the Éphrata region (cf. v. 6): it had been left there for a long time after the Philistines had restored it to Israel, which had lost it during a battle (cf. I Sm 7: 1; II Sm 6: 2, 11)."

St Augustine projected this link into the future, pointing out that the Hebrew word Ephrata is translated as speculum, or mirror in Latin, and so sees it as linked to the prophesy of Our Lord's birth at Bethlehem.

Introíbimus in tabernáculum ejus: * adorábimus in loco, ubi stetérunt pedes ejus.
Ingrediamur in tabernaculum eius, adoremus ad scabellum pedum eius.
Intremus in tabernacula eius; adoremus scabellum pedum eius.  

εσελευσόμεθα ες τ σκηνώματα ατο προσκυνήσομεν ες τν τόπον ο στησαν ο πόδες ατο

Introíbimus (we will go in) in tabernáculum (into the tabernacle/tent) ejus (his) adorábimus (we will adore) in loco (in that place) ubi (where) stetérunt (they have stood) pedes (the feet) ejus (his/its)

The subjunctive in the Monastic Diurnal translation (Let us go into) is picked up by the 1979 Neo-Vulgate.  The Hebrew MT, followed here by the neo-Vulgate, has 'footstool of his feet' rather than place where his feet rested (ie the Temple, Mt Sion).  But the Septuagint version can be interpreted not only as a reference to the arc’s physical presence, but also as a reference to Christ, who ascended into heaven from Mt Sion…

introeo, ivi or li, Itum, ire, to go into, to enter.
sto, steti, statum, are,  to stand, stand up, remain standing
pes, pedis, m.  the foot
adoro, avi, atum, are,  to worship, adore

We will go into his tabernacle: we will adore in the place where his feet stood.
Let us enter into his tabernacles: let us worship at the place where his feet stood.
Let us go into His tabernacles, let us adore in the place where his feet rest
We will go into his tabernacle, and fall low on our knees before his footstool.

The perspective now shifts to a description of the ceremony whereby the arc of the covenant was brought into the Temple.  2 Chronicles 6 provides some helpful commentary on these verses, and particularly on a problem that has puzzled some, namely the contrast between the idea that God is  present everywhere, and the need for the Real Presence and churches.  It states:

Is it credible then that God should dwell with men on the earth? If heaven and the heavens of heavens do not contain you, how much less this house, which I have built?  

But to this end only it is made, that you may regard the prayer of your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God: and may hear the prayers which your servant pours out before you. That you may open your eyes upon this house day and night, upon the place wherein you have promised that your name should be called upon, and that you would hear the prayer which your servant prays in it: hearken then to the prayers of your servant, and of your people Israel. Whosoever shall pray in its place, hear from your dwelling place, that is, from heaven, and show mercy…”

Surge, Dómine, in réquiem tuam, * tu et arca sanctificatiónis tuæ.
Surge, Domine, in requiem tuam, tu et arca fortitudinis tuae.

νάστηθι κύριε ες τν νάπαυσίν σου σ κα  κιβωτς το γιάσματός σου

Surge (Arise), Dómine (O Lord), in réquiem (in the resting place) tuam (your) tu (you) et (and) arca (the arc) sanctificatiónis (of the holiness) tuæ (your)

The sense of the first phrase here comes from the context of the liturgical ceremony, which the Monastic Diurnal perhaps captures best: Arise O Lord to take up they abode'. Vulgate and MT differences in the second phrase (holy vs mighty) seem to reflect text variances in the manuscript tradition. I would suggest that the stress on holiness in the Vulgate (rather than strength) should be preferred as it links rather nicely to the holiness ascribed to the Christ in the closing verse…

surgo, surrexi, surrectum, ere 3,  rise, stand up; to awake; to rise, to get up from bed or from sleep
requies, ei,   rest;  a resting-place.
arca, ae, .the Ark of the Covenant
sanctificatio, onis, . Holiness; a holy place, shrine, sanctuary

Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified.
Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thine holiness.
Arise O Lord to take up Thy abode, Thou and Thy holy Ark!
 Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength.

St Augustine sees this verse as a prayer for the Incarnation. Hesychius of Jerusalem (a priest in the first half of the fifth century) takes the analogy further:

“What is "the ark of your sanctification?” The Virgin Mother of God, of course. For if you are the pearl, she is rightly the ark; if you are the sun, the Virgin must necessarily be called the sky; and if you are the uncontaminated flower, then the Virgin will be the plant of incorruption, the paradise of immortality".

Psalm 131 (132) – Memento Domine

Canticum graduum.
A gradual canticle.
1 Meménto, Dómine, David, * et omnis mansuetúdinis ejus :
O Lord remember David, and all his meekness.

2  Sicut jurávit Dómino, * votum vovit Deo Jacob
2 How he swore to the Lord, he vowed a vow to the God of Jacob:
3  Si introíero in tabernáculum domus meæ, * si ascéndero in lectum strati mei :
3 If I shall enter into the tabernacle of my house: if I shall go up into the bed wherein I lie:
4  Si dédero somnum óculis meis, * et pálpebris meis dormitatiónem :
4 If I shall give sleep to my eyes, or slumber to my eyelids,
5  Et réquiem tempóribus meis : donec invéniam locum Dómino, * tabernáculum Deo Jacob.
5 or rest to my temples: until I find out a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
6. Ecce audívimus eam in Ephrata: * invénimus eam in campis silvæ.
6 Behold we have heard of it in Ephrata: we have found it in the fields of the wood.
7  Introíbimus in tabernáculum ejus: * adorábimus in loco, ubi stetérunt pedes ejus.
7 We will go into his tabernacle: we will adore in the place where his feet stood. .
8  Surge, Dómine, in réquiem tuam, * tu et arca sanctificatiónis tuæ.
8 Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified
9  Sacerdótes tui induántur justítiam: * et sancti tui exsúltent.
9 Let your priests be clothed with justice: and let   your saints rejoice.
10  Propter David, servum tuum: * non avértas fáciem Christi tui.
10 For your servant David's sake, turn not away the face of your anointed.
11  Jurávit Dóminus David veritátem, et non frustrábitur eam: * de fructu ventris tui ponam super sedem tuam.
11 The Lord has sworn truth to David, and he will not make it void: of the fruit of your womb I will set upon your throne
12  Si custodíerint fílii tui testaméntum meum: * et testimónia mea hæc, quæ docébo eos.
12 If your children will keep my covenant, and these my testimonies which I shall teach them:
13  Et fílii eórum usque in sæculum: * sedébunt super sedem tuam.
Their children also for evermore shall sit upon your throne.
14  Quóniam elégit Dóminus Sion: * elégit eam in habitatiónem sibi.
13 For the Lord has chosen Sion: he has chosen it for his dwelling.
15  Hæc réquies mea in sæculum sæculi: * hic habitábo, quóniam elégi eam.
14 This is my rest for ever and ever: here will I dwell, for I have chosen it.
16  Víduam ejus benedícens benedícam: * páuperes ejus saturábo pánibus.
15 Blessing I will bless her widow: I will satisfy her poor with bread.
17  Sacerdótes ejus índuam salutári: * et sancti ejus exsultatióne exsultábunt.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall rejoice with exceeding great joy.
18  Illuc prodúcam cornu David: * parávi lucérnam Christo meo.
17 There will I bring forth a horn to David: I have prepared a lamp for my anointed
19  Inimícos ejus índuam confusióne: * super ipsum autem efflorébit sanctificátio mea.
18 His enemies I will clothe with confusion: but upon him shall my sanctification flourish.

And you can find the next set of notes on this psalm here.

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