Hebrew Criticisms -- By: M. Stuart

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 009:33 (Jan 1852)
Article: Hebrew Criticisms
Author: M. Stuart


Hebrew Criticisms

M. Stuart

No. I. A word more on Psalm 22:17

What more can be said, or needs to be said? are questions which may very naturally be asked, by any one who knows that a little library of books has already been written, on the controverted clause of the text in question. And after all, the matter has not, as our cousin-Germans express it, come into the clear. Doubt and division of opinion remain; and not only as it regards the readers in general of the original Scriptures, but also among the most learned Hebrew scholars now living.

These grounds of doubt and difficulty cannot be felt, or duly appreciated, by the mere English reader. They rest almost wholly on the form of a single Hebrew word, viz. כָּאֲרִי, as now presented in our commonly received Hebrew text The English reader finds the verse in question apparently very plain. It runs thus: “For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; they pierced my hands and my feet” The word dogs will, of course, be tropically understood by every intelligent reader; just as it is in the New Testament, when the Apostle says: “Beware of dogs “(Phil. 3:2), and again, when the Apocalyptist says: “Without are dogs” (Rev. 22:15). In all these three cases, degraded, vile, ravenous, and shameless men are tropically designated.

The second clause of Ps. 22:17 (Eng. version, v. 16) employs a more literal diction, instead of this figurative one. Its words are: The assembly of the wicked; which is an equivalent of the preceding word dogs, such as is common in Hebrew parallelisms. All then appears to be plain. The meaning thus far seems to be simply,

that many base and mischievous persons have surrounded the complainant, and with an intent to injure him.

The last clause only of the verse might suggest some doubts to the mind of a practised reader of the Bible. To speak of piercing my hands and my feet, instead of saying me, or my person, or my body, is at least very unusual, and therefore seems somewhat strange. Indeed, the particularity of it is such, as to excite something of wonder, at first view, if not a suspicion that the original text has somehow been disturbed. Yet a little further investigation will serve to allay this feeling, in a good measure, since we shall find other very striking and unusual pa...

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