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Does the grammar in Psalm 104:30 support what is to come, as opposed to what has happened in the past? From my extremely basic understanding it supports what is to come, but I want to be sure.

30 When you send your Spirit,

they are created,

and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;

may the Lord rejoice in his works—

32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,

who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;

I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,

as I rejoice in the Lord.

35 But may sinners vanish from the earth

and the wicked be no more.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Praise the Lord.[b]

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  • Welcome to BHSE, Stacy! Make sure you take our tour. Thanks – John Martin Dec 16 '19 at 19:36
  • Please indicate which translation you are citing. Thanks. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Jul 31 '20 at 16:28
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Unwittingly – for your part – you have open, with your question, a Hebrew-language-related Pandora’s box.

Though a number of scholars (a minority, happily) continue to labour the point that ‘Biblical’ Hebrew possesses specific tense-related verbal forms, in actual fact the ‘Biblical’ Hebrew we may deduce from the Masoretic Texts (not Text!) has no tense-related verbal forms. Sorry, but this is the grim reality, whatever one may say contrarywise.

But – you would ask – in this case, then, in what manner Bible translators apply the indispensable tense-related verbal forms in all target languages?

Whether you like it or not, the only answer is: context, only and sole context. But, be careful! When I speak about ‘context’ I do not relate only of some passages before or after the text at issue (depending on the length of the logical paragraph in which the verse is built-in), but also to what the Bible (globally seen) has to tell about this specific argument/expression/term.

Anyway, this is the only method every Bible translators possess today (I specify ‘today’ because I believe that in the original form of ‘Hebrew’ the tense-related verbal forms were alive and kicking) to indicate where they may attach some chronological factor (past, present, or future) to some given verbal forms.

Well, as regards Bible passages related to historical chronicles (for example, the majority of contents of the books of the Pentateuch, and - obviously - the historical books of the OT) the troubles we are expatiate on are reduced. The real problem happens when the translator bumps into Bible texts poorly - semantic, theological, doctrinal, logical, linguistical - connected with other Bible passages. And this happens especially in poetic, sapiential, and prophetic Books of the Scriptures, Psalms including.

In the case you speak of (Psa 104:30-35) we may try – together – to assign some tense-related verbal forms to the several verbs included in the passages, with the help of the context. Let’s try…

In the following section I list (for each verse): the Hebrew text, the verbs included in it, the probable best attachments of a given past-present-future-related chronological factor, along with the grounds (also, only Bible passages) for every single choice:

Psa 104:30 תשׁלח רוחך יבראון ותחדשׁ פני אדמה

Verbs included:

  1. To send, to issue (שׁלח):
  2. To create (ברא)
  3. To renew, to innovate (חדשׁ)

Conclusion: if the poet is reviewing here the 5th and 6th days of creation – as we read in Genesis 1 - (as Keil & Delitzsch stated), then the verbs in this verses may be past-related.

Psa 104:31

יהי כבוד יהוה לעולם ישׂמח יהוה במעשׂיו

Verbs included:

  1. To become (היה/הוה)
  2. To rejoice, to be glad (שׂמח)

Conclusion: since the presence of the expression לעולם that means – literally – ‘for an unsighted (future) time’ it is probable that the verbs in this verses should be translated into future forms.

Psa 104:32

המביט לארץ ותרעד יגע בהרים ויעשׁנו

Verbs included:

  1. To scan, to have regard, to see (מבט)
  2. To shudder, to tremble (רעד)
  3. To touch (נגע)
  4. To smoke (עשׁן)

Conclusion: the verbs # 2, 4 are chronologically linked with the verbs # 1, 3, since the first (2 and 4) are verbs of reaction to the latter verbs (1 and 3). If the poet is alluding to the happening of Exo 19:18 (Psa 68:8), all the verbs in this verse must be translated in the past.

Psa 104:33

אשׁירה ליהוה בחיי אזמרה לאלהי בעודי

Verbs included:

  1. To sing (שׁיר)
  2. To touch > strike > play [a musical instrument] (זמר)
  3. To touch (נגע)

Conclusion: since the presence of the expression בעודי, ‘until I be’, it is probable that the future is the best choice, for all the verbs included in this verse.

Psa 104:34

יערב עליו שׂיחי אנכי אשׂמח ביהוה

Verbs included:

  1. To be (only implicit)
  2. To rejoice, to be glad (שׂמח)

Conclusion: present and future factors are both on the finishing stretch. Maybe, future is slightly the best choice, if this verse is linked (conceptually speaking) with the previous one.

Psa 104:35

יתמו חטאים מן־הארץ ורשׁעים עוד אינם ברכי נפשׁי את־יהוה הללו־יה

Verbs included:

  1. To complete, to come to an end (תמם)
  2. To bless (ברך)
  3. To praise (הלל)

Conclusion: the first two verbs must be related to future factors, for obvious grounds (the wicked ones are yet present today…). The third verb may be translated in the present or future.

As you see, the attaching of chronological factor (past, present, or future) to Hebrew verbal forms of the Bible depends from a lot of factors.

I continue to believe that a day someone (archaeologist, or alike) will find a OT text penned in an archaic form of Hebrew, when these chronological factors were present…

I hope these information answer your question.

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  • You wrote: "I believe that in the original form of ‘Hebrew’ the tense-related verbal forms were alive and kicking". Can you cite any references? – Glukrom Aug 2 '20 at 11:18
  • Regrettably, I should make reference on my own essays (in continuous updating), "The Primordial Language - A Reconstructive, Theological, Bible-Logic-based Grammar", and "The Primordial Language - A Lexicon Regrouped by Semantic Fields". I'm searching for other scholars who wants to explore - with me - beyond the 'Masoretic Horizon', and beyond the 'sole-phenomenological' paradigm. If you are interested, this is my e-mail address: sarofedele@gmail.com. Greetings. – Saro Fedele Aug 2 '20 at 21:22

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