Thursday, May 15, 2014

Psalm 94 v10-11

The concluding verses of Psalm 94 deals with the consequences of rejecting God.

Quadragínta annis próximus fui generatióni huic, et dixi : semper hi errant corde  
quadraginta annis offensus fui generationi illi, et dixi : semper hi errant corde.
Quadraginta annis taeduit me generationis illius et dixi: Populus errantium corde sunt isti.
Quadraginta annis displicuit milii generatio illa, et dixi, Populus errans corde est,

τεσσαράκοντα τη προσώχθισα τ γενε κείν κα επα ε πλαννται τ καρδί κα ατο οκ γνωσαν τς δούς μου

Text notes: The ‘proximus’ of the Old Roman here does, on the face of it, appear to be a mistranslation of the Greek.  Though perhaps not – after all, during the forty years God did indeed keep this generation near, guiding them with the smoke and pillar of flame, despite their sins.

Quadragínta annis= Forty years
próximus fui generatióni huic= I kept this generation near
et dixi= and I said
semper hi errant == always these stray
corde= in the heart

quadraginta, num. adj., forty.
annus, i, m year
proximus, a, um,  very near, close at hand;  neighbour
generatio, onis, a begetting, generating, generation  
semper, adv., ever, always, at all times.
hic, haec, hoc,  this
erro, avi, atum, are, to wander, stray, rove,
cor, cordis, n., the heart, regarded as the seat of the faculties, feelings, emotions, passions; the mind, the soul.

Forty years long was I offended with that generation, and I said: These always err in heart.
For forty years I loathed that generation and said always do they stray in heart
Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their hearts

The Catechism offers this explication of the importance of forty:

CCC 539: The evangelists indicate the salvific meaning of this mysterious event: Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation. Jesus fulfils Israel's vocation perfectly: in contrast to those who had once provoked God during forty years in the desert, Christ reveals himself as God's Servant, totally obedient to the divine will. In this, Jesus is the devil's conqueror: he "binds the strong man" to take back his plunder. Jesus' victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of his filial love for the Father.

Ipsi vero non cognovérunt vias meas : quibus jurávi in ira mea : si introíbunt in réquiem meam.
et isti non cognoverunt vias meas : ut juravi in ira mea : si introibunt in requiem meam.
Et ipsi non cognoverunt vias meas; ideo iuravi in ira mea: Non introibunt in requiem meam ”.
et non cognoscens uias meas : et iuraui in furore meo, ut non introirent in requiem meam.

ς μοσα ν τ ργ μου ε εσελεύσονται ες τν κατάπαυσίν μου

Text notes: The si phrase is the form of an oath – if so and so, then…, in this case, they shall not enter into my rest, viz the Promised Land (see Numbers 14:26ff), or as the author of Hebrews makes clear, heaven.

Ipsi vero non cognovérunt=they themselves have not truly known
vias meas= my ways
quibus jurávi = so I swore
in ira mea= in my anger
si introíbunt in réquiem meam= if they will enter into my rest, ie, they will not enter into my rest

verus, a, um, true
cognosco, gnovi, gnitum, ere 3, to know, see, learn, perceive, be come acquainted with.
via, ae, a way, road, path, street. God's way, God's policy, way of life
juro, avi, atum, are, to swear, take an oath
ira, ae, f, anger, wrath
introeo, ivi or ii, itum, ire, to go into, to enter.
requies, ei, /.,  rest;  a resting-place.

And these men have not known my ways: so I swore in my wrath that they shall not enter into my rest.
for they have not known my ways, unto whom I swore in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest.

St Augustine draws out the import of this warning here:

We began with exulting joy: but this Psalm has ended with great fear: Unto whom I swore in My wrath, that they should not enter into My rest Psalm 94:11. It is a great thing for God to speak: how much greater for Him to swear? You should fear a man when he swears, lest he do somewhat on account of his oath against his will: how much more should you fear God, when He swears, seeing He can swear nought rashly? He chose the act of swearing for a confirmation. And by whom does God swear? By Himself: for He has no greater by whom to swear. Hebrews 6:13 By Himself He confirms His promises: by Himself He confirms His threats. Let no man say in his heart, His promise is true; His threat is false: as His promise is true, so is His threat sure. You ought to be equally assured of rest, of happiness, of eternity, of immortality, if you have executed His commandments; as of destruction, of the burning of eternal fire, of damnation with the devil, if you have despised His commandments....

Psalm 94: Venite Exultemus Domino
Psalter (Vetus latina)
Laus cantici ipsi David.

Praise of a canticle for David himself.
1 Venite, exsultemus Domino; jubilemus Deo salutari nostro;
1. Veníte, exsultémus Dómino, jubilémus Deo, salutári nostro:
Come let us praise the Lord with joy: let us joyfully sing to God our saviour.
2 præoccupemus faciem ejus in confessione, et in psalmis jubilemus ei
præoccupémus fáciem ejus in confessióne, et in psalmis jubilémus ei.
2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; and make a joyful noise to him with psalms.
3 quoniam Deus magnus Dominus, et rex magnus super omnes deos.
2. Quóniam Deus magnus Dóminus, et Rex magnus super omnes deos
3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
4 Quia in manu ejus sunt omnes fines terræ, et altitudines montium ipsius sunt;
: quóniam non repéllet Dóminus plebem suam : quia in manu ejus sunt omnes fines terræ, et altitúdines móntium ipse cónspicit.
4 For in his hand are all the ends of the earth: and the heights of the mountains are his.

5 quoniam ipsius est mare, et ipse fecit illud, et siccam manus ejus formaverunt
3. Quóniam ipsíus est mare, et ipse fecit illud, et áridam fundavérunt manus ejus
5 For the sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.
6  Venite, adoremus, et procidamus, et ploremus ante Dominum qui fecit nos:
Veníte, adorémus, et procidámus ante Deum : plorémus coram Dómino, qui fecit nos,
6 Come let us adore and fall down: and weep before the Lord that made us.
7  quia ipse est Dominus Deus noster, et nos populus pascuæ ejus, et oves manus ejus.
quia ipse est Dóminus Deus noster ; nos autem pópulus ejus, et oves páscuæ ejus.
7 For he is the Lord our God: and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.
8 Hodie si vocem ejus audieritis, nolite obdurare corda vestra
4. Hódie, si vocem ejus audiéritis, nolíte obduráre corda vestra,
8 Today if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts:
9 sicut in irritatione, secundum diem tentationis in deserto, ubi tentaverunt me patres vestri : probaverunt me, et viderunt opera mea.
sicut in exacerbatióne, secúndum diem tentatiónis in desérto : ubi tentavérunt me patres vestri, probavérunt et vidérunt ópera mea.
9 As in the provocation, according to the day of temptation in the wilderness: where your fathers tempted me, they proved me, and saw my works.
10 Quadraginta annis offensus fui generationi illi, et dixi : Semper hi errant corde.
5. Quadragínta annis próximus fui generatióni huic, et dixi : Semper hi errant corde ;
10 Forty years long was I offended with that generation, and I said: These always err in heart.
11 Et isti non cognoverunt vias meas : ut juravi in ira mea : Si introibunt in requiem meam.
ipsi vero non cognovérunt vias meas : quibus jurávi in ira mea : Si introíbunt in réquiem meam.
11 And these men have not known my ways: so I swore in my wrath that they shall not enter into my rest.


  1. First of all thankyou for your many helpful posts on the psalms! Having recently started exploring the vetus latina psalter (and finding many passages puzzling) I’ve found your analyses particularly helpful. I have a question about your comment that ‘si’ is used to indicate an oath, of the form ‘if so and so, then…’ While that makes sense to me (because ‘si’ is used for conditional clauses) I still don’t understand how to identify this in the last verse, because it seems to me that in order for there to be such an oath, *two* verbs ought to follow ‘si’ (one for the ‘if’ part and one for the ‘then’ part: e.g. ‘si obdurant, non introibunt in requiem meam’ or something like that). But in the last verse there’s only one verb, ‘introibunt’. So, I still don’t understand how to read the verse. Perhaps I am missing something? Could you shed any light? God bless.

  2. It is a matter of English word order vs Latin here I think - the 'second verb' is the previous verse and the first half of verse 11: eg literally, it means I swore they would not enter because they had not followed my ways and continued to be obdurate for 40 years. But positively, if they had followed my ways/stopped erring in heart, then they would be able to enter my rest.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Thanks for that explanation. I was browsing on Wikipedia the other day and came across an alternate speculation on the explanation of the grammar at work here: the 'si' construction in this passage is a literal transliteration of the Hebrew (via a transliteration of the Hebrew preserved in the LXX) which preserves a Hebrew construction for expressing negation (using the Hebrew equivalent of 'si'). Not sure how reliable our Wikipedia author is, but it's interesting nevertheless!

  4. Interesting - my comments drew on Boylan and Bird's turn of the 20th century commentaries from memory, and seemed very plausible given the other uses of the formula in Scripture, but...