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Let me tell of the decree: the LORD said to me, "You are my son, I have fathered you this day." (Psalm 2:7 NJPS)
אספרה אל חק יהוה אמר אלי בני אתה אני היום ילדתיך

The phrase LORD (YHVH) said to me "You are my son... consists of four words, יהוה אמר אלי בני, literally YHVH (יהוה) said (אמר) to me (אלי) my son (בני).

However, אלי is understood as my God in Psalm 22:

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?... (Psalm 22:1)
אלי אלי למה עזבתני

In the original Hebrew אלי is identical in both places, yet it is treated differently.

What is the grammatical basis for understanding אלי in Psalm 2:7 differently than Psalm 22:1?

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  • 1
    The vowel pointings are different.
    – Dottard
    Jul 9, 2023 at 1:42
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    The problem with relying on the vowel pointings, without any other merit to the distinction, is simply that they were not written by the original author--they were added between 500 and more than a thousand years after Christ. All of these Hebrew niqqud did not exist in the original text and their insertion was not purely objective and/or mechanical. There was a level of subjectivity and interpretation involved, which is why the Masoretes' decisions are sometimes questioned...legitimately.
    – Biblasia
    Jul 9, 2023 at 3:07
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    @Biblasia Well said. I would also make the observation that the system implemented by the Masoretes was from Judaism after Jesus, and was from those of the Jewish faith who rejected the Christian belief Jesus was the Messiah. Their objectivity is questionable, especially in passages Christians applied to Jesus. Also their system of just a single meaning in passages where more than one is possible obscures the richness of the original text. Jul 9, 2023 at 13:39

2 Answers 2

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It's like "Wind the clock" and "The wind blows" in English, where the appropriate word is automatically understood from the context, despite having the same spelling.

In Hebrew, "אל" is the spelling of 6 different words, Strong's H408 through H413.

Psalm 2:7 uses H413, meaning "to", with "me" as a suffix.
Psalm 22:1 uses H410, meaning "God", with "my" as a suffix.

Saying "The LORD said my God you are my son …" doesn't make sense semantically.
Saying "To me, to me, why have you …" doesn't make sense, semantically or grammatically.

The other 4 words are parts of speech where adding a "me/my" suffix wouldn't have grammatical meaning.

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  • +1 This is the right answer. Context is the key, not the vowel pointings.
    – Biblasia
    Jul 9, 2023 at 3:09
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There are numerous words spelled the same as the Hebrew for "God" such as:

  1. אַל = "not"
  2. אַל = "not" (in Aramaic)
  3. אֵל = "God"
  4. אֵל = "these"
  5. אֵל = "these" (Aramaic)
  6. אֵל = to, into, towards

Note the slightly different vowel pointings in each case. To answer the OP's question:

  • in Ps 2:7 we have #413 above
  • in Ps 22:1 we have #410 above.
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  • Pointings were added 700-1000 AD. They reflect a Jewish understanding and in particular a belief Jesus is not the Messiah. Also ignores the Christian belief of the triune nature of God. Hence YHVH cannot say My God My Son because that means God is not only YHVH. Their understanding is doctrinal not grammatical. Jul 9, 2023 at 17:48
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    @RevelationLad - the pointings simply preserved what had been known for millennia. Jesus effectively confirmed that by what He said.
    – Dottard
    Jul 9, 2023 at 20:57
  • Then why does the LXX often disagree with the MT? Not in this Psalm but throughout the OT. Rather bold to say the entire OT was preserved in oral tradition before Masoretes saved the day by making permanent what previously was passed on by memory from generation to generation. Jul 10, 2023 at 0:58
  • @RevelationLad - there are several LXX texts - and most used a different exemplar from the Leningrad MT
    – Dottard
    Jul 10, 2023 at 2:12

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