7

Psalm 34:16-17 in the ESV reads:

The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
     to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
     and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The subject of v. 17a (Hebrew v. 18a) — "the righteous" — is not in the Hebrew text. There vv. 17-18 read in BHS:

פְּנֵי יְהוָה בְּעֹשֵׂי רָע לְהַכְרִית מֵאֶרֶץ זִכְרָם׃
צָעֲקוּ וַיהוָה שָׁמֵעַ וּמִכָּל־צָרוֹתָ֗ם הִצִּילָם׃

Without a stated subject, it seems like the most natural subject of "they cry out" (צעקו) is "those who do evil" (עשי רע) from the prior verse. Per the BHS note, there is versional evidence of something like what we have in English (e.g. Greek: οἱ δίκαιοι), but as far as I can tell there is no Hebrew manuscript evidence.

  • Is there justification for adding "the righteous" here?

  • Alternatively, is there any possibility that v. 17(18) is about the "evildoers" of v. 16(17), presumably having repented, now receiving the LORD's help?

5

The ESV interpolates the "the righteous" from verse 15 into verse 17. I think that it is also possible that the implied subject of verse 17 is the "brokenhearted" of verse 18. The reasoning is as follows.

Read ESV 17 and 18 as the thematic unit, not ESV 16 and 17. The ESV printing gets the couplets wrong.

Read the entire Psalm as couplets and everything works out fine. Each couplet (starting from MT ב) is a separate thematic and metaphorical entity, as follows:

א לְדָוִ֗ד בְּשַׁנּוֹת֣וֹ אֶת-טַ֭עְמוֹ לִפְנֵ֣י אֲבִימֶ֑לֶךְ וַֽ֝יְגָרֲשֵׁ֗הוּ וַיֵּלַֽךְ

ב אֲבָרֲכָ֣ה אֶת-יְהוָ֣ה בְּכָל-עֵ֑ת תָּ֝מִ֗יד תְּֽהִלָּת֥וֹ בְּפִֽי: ג בַּ֭יהוָה תִּתְהַלֵּ֣ל נַפְשִׁ֑י יִשְׁמְע֖וּ עֲנָוִ֣ים וְיִשְׂמָֽחוּ

ד גַּדְּל֣וּ לַיהוָ֣ה אִתִּ֑י וּנְרוֹמְמָ֖ה שְׁמ֣וֹ יַחְדָּֽו: ה דָּרַ֣שְׁתִּי אֶת-יְהוָ֣ה וְעָנָ֑נִי וּמִכָּל-מְ֝גוּרוֹתַ֗י הִצִּילָֽנִי

ו הִבִּ֣יטוּ אֵלָ֣יו וְנָהָ֑רוּ וּ֝פְנֵיהֶ֗ם אַל-יֶחְפָּֽרוּ: ז זֶ֤ה עָנִ֣י קָ֭רָא וַיהוָ֣ה שָׁמֵ֑עַ וּמִכָּל-צָ֝רוֹתָ֗יו הוֹשִׁיעֽוֹ

ח חֹנֶ֤ה מַלְאַךְ-יְהוָ֓ה סָ֘בִ֤יב לִֽירֵאָ֗יו וַֽיְחַלְּצֵֽם: ט טַעֲמ֣וּ וּ֭רְאוּ כִּי-ט֣וֹב יְהוָ֑ה אַֽשְׁרֵ֥י הַ֝גֶּ֗בֶר יֶחֱסֶה-בּֽוֹ

י יְר֣אוּ אֶת-יְהוָ֣ה קְדֹשָׁ֑יו כִּי-אֵ֥ין מַ֝חְס֗וֹר לִירֵאָֽיו: יא כְּ֭פִירִים רָשׁ֣וּ וְרָעֵ֑בוּ וְדֹרְשֵׁ֥י יְ֝הוָ֗ה לֹא-יַחְסְר֥וּ כָל-טֽוֹב

יב לְֽכוּ-בָ֭נִים שִׁמְעוּ-לִ֑י יִֽרְאַ֥ת יְ֝הוָ֗ה אֲלַמֶּדְכֶֽם: יג מִֽי-הָ֭אִישׁ הֶחָפֵ֣ץ חַיִּ֑ים אֹהֵ֥ב יָ֝מִ֗ים לִרְא֥וֹת טֽוֹב

יד נְצֹ֣ר לְשׁוֹנְךָ֣ מֵרָ֑ע וּ֝שְׂפָתֶ֗יךָ מִדַּבֵּ֥ר מִרְמָֽה: טו ס֣וּר מֵ֭רָע וַעֲשֵׂה-ט֑וֹב בַּקֵּ֖שׁ שָׁל֣וֹם וְרָדְפֵֽהוּ

טז עֵינֵ֣י יְ֭הוָה אֶל-צַדִּיקִ֑ים וְ֝אָזְנָ֗יו אֶל-שַׁוְעָתָֽם: יז פְּנֵ֣י יְ֭הוָה בְּעֹ֣שֵׂי רָ֑ע לְהַכְרִ֖ית מֵאֶ֣רֶץ זִכְרָֽם

יח צָעֲק֣וּ וַיהוָ֣ה שָׁמֵ֑עַ וּמִכָּל-צָ֝רוֹתָ֗ם הִצִּילָֽם: יט קָר֣וֹב יְ֭הוָה לְנִשְׁבְּרֵי-לֵ֑ב וְֽאֶת-דַּכְּאֵי-ר֥וּחַ יוֹשִֽׁיעַ

כ רַ֭בּוֹת רָע֣וֹת צַדִּ֑יק וּ֝מִכֻּלָּ֗ם יַצִּילֶ֥נּוּ יְהוָֽה: כא שֹׁמֵ֥ר כָּל-עַצְמוֹתָ֑יו אַחַ֥ת מֵ֝הֵ֗נָּה לֹ֣א נִשְׁבָּֽרָה

כב תְּמוֹתֵ֣ת רָשָׁ֣ע רָעָ֑ה וְשֹׂנְאֵ֖י צַדִּ֣יק יֶאְשָֽׁמוּ: כג פּוֹדֶ֣ה יְ֭הוָה נֶ֣פֶשׁ עֲבָדָ֑יו וְלֹ֥א יֶ֝אְשְׁמ֗וּ כָּֽל-הַחֹסִ֥ים בּֽוֹ

The units are (using the ESV lexical choices)

  1. Bless, boast (1-2)
  2. Magnify, sought (3-4)
  3. Look, cried (5-6)
  4. Delivers, takes refuge (7-8)
  5. No lack, lack no good thing (9-10)
  6. O children, what man (11-12)
  7. Tongue from evil, turn from evil (13-14)
  8. Eyes, face (15-16)
  9. Delivers them out of all their troubles, saves the crushed in spirit (17-18)
  10. Delivers, not one of them is broken (19-20)
  11. Affliction will slay, redeems the life (21-22)
  • Thanks! That makes a lot of sense. At least in my printing of the ESV, the spacing seems to indicate vv. 15-18 as a unit, so not breaking up 16-17. I'm a little curious how the ESV came up with this spacing scheme (English vv. 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 11-14, 15-18, and 19-22), none of which seems obvious thematically. – Susan Apr 26 '17 at 21:15

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