In Psalm 74:12 (ESV) we read "Yet God my King is from of old, ...". While I understand that to mean something like "Yet God my King is from ancient times", why would translators use the phrase "is from of old". The more I look at that phrase, the less it seems to make sense. The phrase also appears in Micah 5:2.

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    The more of the ESV you read, the less like English it will seem ;)
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 15, 2016 at 12:03
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    Do you have a suggestion about how this should have been translated?
    – user25930
    Nov 18, 2018 at 21:41
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  • "of old" is somewhat archaic English but to my ears faithfully represents the intended meaning of the original. What is the objection? Greek "palin" maps very well to the Hebrew words.
    – Ruminator
    Jan 16, 2019 at 11:16

2 Answers 2


Job 29:2 English Standard Version

“Oh, that I were as in the months of old [H6924], as in the days when God watched over me,

Psalm 74:12 English Standard Version

Yet God my King is from of old [H6924], working salvation in the midst of the earth.

Why would translators use the phrase "is from of old"?

ESV did it to be consistent with the usage in Job 29:2.

NIV's translation philosophy is different.

Job 29:2 New International Version

“How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me,

Psalm 74:12 New International Version

But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth.

For the same Hebrew word, NIV uses different English phrases for these two passages. In addition to the formal process of translation, they interpreted the contexts of the respective passages.

ESV leans toward formal equivalence. NIV leans toward dynamic equivalence. These are different translation philosophies. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Given any reading difficulties, it is best to consult a variety of versions.


The hebrew word is קדמ and the correct translation is something like 'from the old'. It means more than anicent, this word hints towards creation. The topic of creation is then picked up in V 13-17. Furthermore קדמ is used rather frequently in the psalms of Asaph (Ps 50.73-83), like in Ps 78, where it is mentioned several times.

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