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In need of antecedents in Psalm 80:6


Susan
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I’m trying to make sense of Psalm 80:6 (MT 81:6, Eng. 81:5):

 

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μαρτύριον ἐν τῷ Ιωσηφ ἔθετο αὐτὸν

ἐν τῷ ἐξελθεῖν αὐτὸν ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου·

 

In particular, I trying to figure out the antecedent for αὐτὸν, x2, and the meaning of ἐν τῷ Ιωσηφ.  In the first line, the subject of ἔθετο  appears to be θεὸς, and the topic is ἡμέρα ἑορτῆς from v. 4, but that's feminine, even if ἑορτή rather than ἡμέρα. The Hebrew here is easier:

 

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 עֵ֤דוּת ... שָׂמ֗וֹ

He made it/him a testimony

 

because it/him refers (I think) to (י֣וֹם (חַגֵּֽנוּ (day [of the feast]), which is masculine. Is the Greek just reproducing of the Hebrew and has the gender wrong for that reason, or is there a different antecedent in the Greek?

 

And how is this related to Joseph (ἐν τῷ Ιωσηφ)?

 

And who went out from Egypt? (Joseph? - I guess, given that he seems to be the subject of the following line: γλῶσσαν, ἣν οὐκ ἔγνω, ἤκουσεν - although this deviates from the MT’s שְׂפַ֖ת לֹא־יָדַ֣עְתִּי אֶשְׁמָֽע - *I* heard a language [which] *I* did not know - which apparently introduces the speech of God in the following verse.)

 

​I have a feeling I’m being dense about this, but any help is appreciated.

 

 

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I seem to recall a recent discussion about this sort of thing in the Nerdy Language Majors facebook page. The pronoun, under the influence of the recent  participial phrase Gk. μαρτύριον ἐν τῷ Ιωσηφ, takes its case, rather than that of its nominal antecedent, which is unclear in this instance.  If I had to guess, I'd say it (αὐτὸν) refers to the commands to celebrate (vv. 1-3).

Edited by Timothy Jenney
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Thanks, Timothy. I’m a little confused about 

 

The pronoun, under the influence of the recent  participial phrase Gk. μαρτύριον ἐν τῷ Ιωσηφ, takes its case, rather than that of its nominal antecedent,

 

If we’re talking about the first αὐτὸν, isn’t its case determined just by being the object of ἔθετο? (A double accusative with μαρτύριον as a complement.) I wouldn’t expect it to take the case of the antecedent. It’s more the gender I was trying to use to identify the antecedent. The commands (or I guess command) is an interesting idea. Hadn’t thought of it that way. Though as an abstraction I might expect it to be neuter in that case.

Edited by Susan
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Hah! You may be right, Susan.

 

Your question about gender got me thinking, though. Should we also be asking about the author's choice of μαρτύριον instead of μαρτυρία?

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Wow, I’m not sure I even realized there were two distinct lexemes there.  Just looked at the BDAG entries but I’m still not sure I understand the difference. Interesting.  (I wouldn’t expect the gender to change to match anything else, though, if that’s what you mean.)

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It's all I've got to offer, Susan. Sorry.

 

I admit my Greek is kind of rusty.  Maybe we have an expert in LXX Greek here on the forums.

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My impression is that we have several. :)

 

Thanks for your input. I learned a new word. Or learned that I knew two (evidently minus their gender) where there used to be one, if that counts.

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Hey Susan,

 

  Spoiler alert : there is no answer in the following. It's just the output of having looked at the passage again in light of your question.

 

  Hmmm.....ok the full quote ... to get enough context :

 

 2     Ἀγαλλιᾶσθε τῷ θεῷ τῷ βοηθῷ ἡμῶν,
    ἀλαλάξατε τῷ θεῷ Ιακωβ·
 3     λάβετε ψαλμὸν καὶ δότε τύμπανον,
    ψαλτήριον τερπνὸν μετὰ κιθάρας·
 4     σαλπίσατε ἐν νεομηνίᾳ σάλπιγγι,
    ἐν εὐσήμῳ ἡμέρᾳ ἑορτῆς ἡμῶν·
 5     ὅτι πρόσταγμα τῷ Ισραηλ ἐστὶν
    καὶ κρίμα τῷ θεῷ Ιακωβ.
 6     μαρτύριον ἐν τῷ Ιωσηφ ἔθετο αὐτὸν
    ἐν τῷ ἐξελθεῖν αὐτὸν ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου·
    γλῶσσαν, ἣν οὐκ ἔγνω, ἤκουσεν·

 

  If Brenton is translating the first αυτον he is translating it as "it" :

 

Psa. 80:5 He made it to be a testimony in Joseph

 

  NETS on the other hand translates it as "him" and then footnotes it with this :

 

f Possibly Israel or Iakob

 

  I wonder if Brenton did that to remain as vague as the original. Clearly NETS does not have certainty here either.

  Ok found something else. I have a hardcopy of Brenton and he has occasional notes - would be nice to have them in Acc. - and here he notes :

 

μ Gr., him, ac. Israel.

 

  which I take to mean he believed the antecedent of the first αυτον was Israel. So scratch my comment above. He has no comment on the second.

 

  As to the second αυτον (which is what I thought you meant by "2x"), the referent would appear to be Joseph I agree. Curiously Sinaiticus has a variant reading here with the preferred reading being :

 

εν τω  εξελθεν  αυτον εκ γηϲ αιγυπτου

 

  with the infinitive listed under S1. The infinitive works better grammatically with the accusative pronoun.

 

  But honestly the entire chunk (vv 6-7) seems a little discontinuous with the surrounding. Not the first example in the Psalms I've noticed.

 

  Checking my grammars I didn't find anything grammatically useful.

  Perhaps the answer is not in the grammar here - merely some constraints on the possible answer. I don't have much in the way of commentaries that do useful things here. Comparison with the Hebrew might help but I'm not the one for that I'm afraid.

 

  Sorry - a long-winded way of being almost no help but thanx for the question - made me think over it all which is no bad thing.

 

Thx

D
 

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Thanks for your thoughts, Daniel!

 

I hadn’t seen the NETS footnote. Interesting. When you say Brenton believed the antecedent of the first αυτον was Israel - we’re talking about Israel the people, not Israel=Jacob, correct? “He made Israel to be a testimony in Joseph”? I just don’t quite get it.

 

With regard to the 5b, I agree that εξελθεν seems (grammatically) nonsensical with an acc. pronoun (+ article!). The infinitive also corresponds nicely with  בְּצֵאתוֹ - the Hebrew inf. construct with bet preposition, which works (from what I gather, in my limited understanding of Hebrew) exactly like ἐν + articular infinitive, complete with sufformative pronoun corresponding to the Greek accusative.

 

My difficulty with that second αὐτὸν referring to Joseph was an external one - did he “go out from" Egypt? I think his bones did, and maybe that counts, but.... it just seems not exactly straightforward.

 

Anyway, thanks for your time to look at it - I really appreciate it.

Edited by Susan
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Hey ya,

 

  Brenton doesn't explain whether he means the house of Israel or the man. Establishing the man or the festival as a witness to God (testimony to who or what is not expressly stated either of course, though God or the power of the God who led His people out of Egypt is presumed), makes more sense than the people of Israel.

 

  On the second αυτον there is an interesting different in nuance in the English translations from the Hebrew and from the Greek.

 

  NASB :

 

5      He established it for a testimony in Joseph
    When he 1awent throughout the land of Egypt.

 

  ESVS :

 

5     He made it ma decree in nJoseph
        when he owent out over* the land of Egypt.

 

    Incidentally the footnotes m, n and o here are interesting as references to earlier passages they consider relevant. The * indicates the translation committee considered "against" a possible alternative here.

 

  RSVS:

 

5     He made it a decree in Joseph,
        when he went out over the land of Egypt.
 

  Now I had not considered suggesting a going out over the land of Egypt rather than leaving Egypt's borders when I considered the Greek. I would not normally consider that part of the semantic range of εκ. NBC suggests that this could be Joseph going out over Egypt in rulership, rather than leaving it's borders. To me that suggests that "in Joseph" and the following "he" refer to the to different interpretations of the term "Joseph". My head will now explode !

 

  So yep, not an easy one even if the language can be brought to heel. Some of the commentary material seems to have real trouble here also. One could no doubt write a lengthy dissertation on this and fail to arrive at anything but more questions. But I've always said, I prefer a good question to a good answer.

 

Thx

D

Edited by Daniel Semler
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One could no doubt write a length[y] dissertation on this...

 

Feeling the call, Susan? I see you're in Boston, one of many research hubs where such research is done.

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Man I hate that - dropped a "y". Thanx for picking that up. Corrected.

 

Thx

D

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OK, Daniel, you prompted my to go one more step with the Hebrew. This is interesting.  I searched for  yʾ (qal) + preposition ʿal (= to go out + over/above)  within 2 words. (I'm sure there's some fancy way to search syntax to yield only results where the preposition is actually funtioning with the verb, but I'm not that good with Accordance.) I got 11 hits, 8 of which appears to be actual examples of the preposition syntactically related to the verb. (If somebody's good with this stuff and wants to correct/educate me on how this should done, feel free.) Among the more interesting:

 

Gen 41:45

‏וַיֵּצֵ֥א יוֹסֵ֖ף עַל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם

And Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.

Interesting because "Joseph" and "Egypt".  (The LXX is missing this part.)

 

Jud 3:19

וַיֵּֽצְאוּ֙ מֵֽעָלָ֔יו כָּל־הָעֹמְדִ֖ים עָלָֽיו

And all his attendants went out from his presence. 

Interesting because "went out from" is more like ἐξῆλθον (and indeed is translated as such) than other examples. But this requires another preposition, mem = from.

 

I found no examples where ʿal means "against" with this verb. (Actually, one of the excluded hits was Nah 11:11

‏מִמֵּ֣ךְ יָצָ֔א חֹשֵׁ֥ב עַל־יְהוָ֖ה

From among you went out one who plotted against y'...

But there ʿal is functioing with šb [=to think, so šb ʿal = to plot against].)

 

So it seems to me that the Hebrew means "he went out over" as most translations render it. The subject in the Hebrew looks to be God (I think?*), though, which is different from the Greek. So this is another post that offers very little toward answering the question, but fun all the same. :)

 

*The ESV cross-reference is Ex 11:4: יוֹצֵ֖א בְּת֥וֹךְ מִצְרָֽיִם

(The LORD speaking): I will go out in the midst of Egypt.

Same verb but no עַל there; בְּת֥וֹךְ is different.

 

Feeling the call, Susan? I see you're in Boston, one of many research hubs where such research is done.

 

Pretty sure I'm not qualified for that one, Dr. J. !

Edited by Susan
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