Stop it!

How one translates a language into another often poses challenges.

Take Psalm 46:10, for example. The original Hebrew text is usually translated into English as “Be still.”

But what does it mean to “be still”?

Stop moving? Stay put? Be calm? Get yourself together?

Hebrew Bible scholar Artur Weiser offered an altogether different translation” “Leave off!” — a command, like “STOP IT!” — spoken by the Holy One described in the preceding line as the God “who makes wars to cease to the end of the earth, who breaks the bow and shatters the spear, who burns the shields with fire” (Ps. 46:9).

“Leave off (i.e, quit your war-making), and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations. I am exalted in the earth!” – Artur Weiser, The Psalms: a Commentary,  originally published in German as Die Psalmen. The English translation by Herbert Hartwell was published by Westminster Press in 1962. So “leave off” is an English translation of a German translation of a Hebrew psalm. Parenthesis added to Hartwell’s translation of Weiser’s translation by GCS for purposes of emphasis and clarity.

Psalm 46 is called “the Refuge Psalm” because of how it begins – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” – and ends – “the God of Jacob is our refuge.” But this God of refuge commands action, not quiescence, against militarism, violence, and war.

“Leave off! Stop it!”

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 9, 2017.






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