The NET rendition Psalm 72 differs from most modern translations in translating most verbs in Psalm 72 as future indicative – "he will" – rather than jussive – "may he". For instance, verse 2:
Then he will judge your people fairly,... (NET)
May he judge your people with righteousness... (ESV)
In a note that falls somewhat short of their usual degree of general intelligibility, the NET tells us, of "he will judge" (v.2) and again 72:4 ("he will deliver"):
The prefixed verbal form appears to be an imperfect, not a jussive.
After pondering it, I think this "appears to be" true.1 On the other hand, verses 8 ("may he rule") and 11 ("may he live") I think must be jussive in form.2 The rest, from what I can tell, are ambiguous — verbs that are identical in form whether jussive or indicative. The general rule I learned in this case is that verbs that are first in their clause should be considered jussive. Nearly all of these are first.
From verses 12 to 14, translations agree about the indicative (see note 1), but the NET is unusual in rendering these imperfects as future rather than present.3
- Should Psalm 72:1-11 be translated as future indicative, jussive, or some combination?
- Is it possible to speculate about how the text would have been understood prior to written vowels or vowel letters (when I think all of these points of confusion would have been non-issues)?
1. Imperfect because these two verbs (qal from דין (v.2) and hiphil from ישע (v. 4)) have a stem vowel hireq-yod that could be have been shortened(?) to a tsere to make an explicitly jussive form. The same applies to verse 12, hiphil נצל, but the indicative nature of this seems to be uncontested.
2. Both III-hey (לייה) that have dropped the final hey.
3. To make things more confusing, יָחֹס in verse 13 is apocopated (should have a medial shureq), but all translations seem to agree that it's indicative. NET notes there call the holem defective, but there is a qibbuts for that...