Saturday, September 6, 2014

Psalm 123: verses 3-4

 Verses 3-4 present the second major image of Psalm 123, of a torrent of waters seeking to drown us.

Cum irascerétur furor eórum in nos, * fórsitan aqua absorbuísset nos.
cum irasceretur furor eorum super nos : forsitan aquae circumdedissent nos, 

ν τ ργισθναι τν θυμν ατν φ' μςρα τ δωρ κατεπόντισεν μς 

Text notes:  The Monastic Diurnal omits to translate the ‘forte’ here, but Ladouceur suggests that is appropriate, as the word is added to translate an untranslatable Greek particle of contingency (in a contrary to the fact condition).  Boylan suggests that the overall image conjured up here is that of a sea monster, which fits with the flooding waters that follow, and is picked up again in verse 5.

irascor, iratus sum, irasci  to be angry or wrathful. (1) Of God. (2) Of men
furor, oris, m.  rage, wrath, fury, indignation
aqua, ae, water
forsitan, adv.  perhaps, perchance, peradventure; surely.
absorbeo, ui, ere 2, to swallow up, gulp down

When their fury was enkindled against us, perhaps the waters had swallowed us up.
when their wrath was kindled against us: verily the water would have drowned us,
When their fury was inflamed against us, the waters might have rushed over us.
when their anger was kindled against us; then the flood would have swept us away,
Yea, the waters had drowned us, and the stream had gone over our soul.

Cassiodorus parses out the text as follows:

"The first half of the verse goes with what precedes. This is how the sense is to be combined: If it had not been that the Lord was with us when men rose up against us, perhaps they would have swallowed us alive. We must place a fullstop here, so that we may take the remainder of the verse with the connection between the words sundered. 

With regard to his phrase, they would have swal­lowed us alive, it is not a human practice for opponents to swallow people alive; but we are swallowed alive when plunged into the evils of heresy or into the steep depths of sins with sacrilegious wicked­ness. This could have befallen the holy men if heavenly power had not rescued them. 

Next follows the other half of this verse, which must clearly be joined to the statement coming next. He says: When their anger was roused against us. The sense of their roused anger is that they did not have most righteous motives, for anger and envy are lacking in judgment, pursuing as they do their desires with headlong purpose. As Solomon puts it: Anger killeth the foolish, and envy slayeth the little one.What just motive could they have against God's servants when they had the audacity to despise the Creator of all when He was with them? Animus (anger) is a Greek word formed from anemos (wind), because its movement is comparable to the swiftest breezes, or from anaima (bloodlessness) because it is bloodless, since it is not physical, as was stated in the book which with the Lord's help we wrote on the soul.

Torréntem pertransívit ánima nostra: * fórsitan pertransísset ánima nostra aquam intolerábilem.
torrens pertransisset animam nostram; forsitan pertransissent animam nostrum aquae intumescentes.
torrens transisset super animam nostram : forsitan transissent super animam nostram 
aquae superbae. 

χείμαρρον διλθεν  ψυχ μνρα διλθεν  ψυχ μν τ δωρ τ νυπόστατον

Text notes: The Vulgate (and Septuagint) reverse the subject and object (soul and torrent) in each of the phrases here compared to the Masoretic Text, and the Diurnal follows the MT.  The Septuagint/Vulgate version however makes just as much if not more sense however, making the movement of the soul more active (ie ‘Our soul has passed through the torrent’, rather than ‘the torrent passed over our soul’).  Either way, floods and overwhelming waters often symbolize misfortune.

torrens, entis, m.  a brook, stream, torrent
pertranseo, ii or ivi, ire  to pass through,traverse; to go about, wander, roam; to pass, flow
anima, ae, (1) Equivalent to a personal pronoun:   (2) Untranslated:. (3) Life, soul, and heart
intolerabilis, e, overwhelming, unbearable

Our soul has passed through a torrent: perhaps our soul had passed through a water insupportable.
our soul would have gone under the torrent. Yea, our soul would have gone under the overwhelming water.
The torrent might have overwhelmed us, the raging flood might have swept us along.
the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters.
The deep waters of the proud had gone even over our soul.

Pope Benedict XVI commented on these verses as follows:

In the first, the raging waters, a biblical symbol of devastating chaos, evil and death, predominate: "Then would the waters have engulfed us, the torrent gone over us; over our head would have swept the raging waters" (vv. 4-5). The person of prayer now has the feeling that he lies on a beach, miraculously saved from the pounding fury of the waves. Human life is surrounded by the snares of evil lying in wait that not only attack the person's life but also aim at destroying all human values. We see how these dangers exist even now. However, the Lord rises - and we can be sure of this also today - to preserve the just and save him, as the Psalmist sings in Psalm 18[17]: "From on high he reached down and seized me; he drew me forth from the mighty waters. He snatched me from my powerful foe, from my enemies... the Lord was my support. He brought me forth into freedom, he saved me because he loved me" (vv. 17-20)

Psalm 123: Nisi quia Dóminus erat in nobis 
Canticum graduum

 Nisi quia Dóminus erat in nobis, dicat nunc Israël: * nisi quia Dóminus erat in nobis,
If it had not been that the Lord was with us, let Israel now say: 2 If it had not been that the Lord was with us,
2  Cum exsúrgerent hómines in nos, * forte vivos deglutíssent nos:
When men rose up against us, 3 perhaps they had swallowed us up alive.
3  Cum irascerétur furor eórum in nos, * fórsitan aqua absorbuísset nos.
When their fury was enkindled against us, perhaps the waters had swallowed us up.
4  Torréntem pertransívit ánima nostra: * fórsitan pertransísset ánima nostra aquam intolerábilem.
5 Our soul has passed through a torrent: perhaps our soul had passed through a water insupportable.
5  Benedíctus Dóminus * qui non dedit nos, in captiónem déntibus eórum.
6 Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us to be a prey to their teeth.
6  Anima nostra sicut passer erépta est * de láqueo venántium.
7 Our soul has been delivered as a sparrow out of the snare of the fowlers.
7  Láqueus contrítus est, * et nos liberáti sumus.
The snare is broken, and we are delivered.
8  Adjutórium nostrum in nómine Dómini, * qui fecit cælum et terram.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth

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