- What is the "force" of this jussive? Is it expressing a command, request, invitation, or a wish (cf. van der Merwe, §19.4)? The answer is difficult for two reasons: (i) it depends on context, and in Ps 24 the context is a string of discrete entities in juxtaposition, and (ii) according to Walkte-O'Connor, the "sense of a jussive in simple discourse usually follows from the status relations of the speaker and addressee" (§34.3). Yet the identity of the speakers is not given. If we strictly follow BHS an accept the first person suffix in v. 4 (נַפְשִׁי ), we could argue that Yhwh is speaking. In that case, it could express his wish, but it could also be a kind of command: "Let such a person receive a blessing" or even an invitation (cf. Waltke-O'Connor, §34.3). On the other hand, one could also argue that the speakers have switched, so that the person who posed the question in v. 3 is now responding to Yhwh. In that case, the only possibility would be that a wish is being expressed ("O that such a person would receive a blessing").
- To repeat: Who is expressing this desire/command? The same person who is giving the answer in v. 3 or the person who posed the question in v. 2?
- What is the function of this wish/command/invitation within the whole? It seems strange that there is a sudden jump to a volitional expression within this context. On the other hand, it contrasts nicely with the immediacy of the imperatives in vv. 7 and 9. Is a wish somehow being realized there?
- Does the presence of the jussive add to the overall "subjunctivity" of the passage, as I indicated in my post Is Psalm 24:3-6 subjunctive??
Saturday, 1 August 2009
Is יִשָּׂא in Ps 24:5 jussive?
I have wrestled a number of times with the syntax of the verb יִשָּׂ֣א in Psalm 24:5. Here's the full context:
מִי־יַעֲלֶה בְהַר־יהוה וּמִי־יָקוּם בִּמְקוֹם קָדְשֹׁו׃
4 נְקִי כַפַּיִם וּבַר־לֵבָב אֲשֶׁר לֹא־נָשָׂא לַשָּׁוְא נַפְשִׁי וְלֹא נִשְׁבַּע לְמִרְמָה׃
5 יִשָּׂא בְרָכָה מֵאֵת יהוה וּצְדָקָה מֵאֱלֹהֵי יִשְׁעֹו׃
6 זֶה דּוֹר דֹּרְשָׁו מְבַקְשֵׁי פָּנֶיךָ יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה׃
All translations that I am aware of, ancient and modern, take יִשָּׂ֣א to be a straightforward future, starting a new clause, i.e. "He will receive a blessing" (cf. Ps 15:5). Andersen and Forbes, however, have come up with a different solution. For them, יִשָּׂ֣א is the predicate of the entire of v. 4: i.e. "One clean of hands ... will receive ... ." For a discussion of the pros and cons of this view, see my post What is the syntax of Psalm 24:3-5?
While at SBL in Rome recently, John Hobbins made another suggestion that I find pretty exciting (given its possible interpretative implications). He feels that יִשָּׂ֣א is most likely to be a jussive. This accords with Niccacci's synchronic-discourse approach to the verb in poetry, which holds that clause initial yiqtol verbs, unless doing "double-duty," are always jussive. I guess if Niccacci's approach holds any water, the jussive interpretation is to be preferred, as long as one can prove that יִשָּׂ֣א really is clause initial (see my caveats in aforementioned post). Or are there other grounds for thinking that it is a jussive, beyond its placement in the verse?
Classifying this verb as a jussive, however, still leaves open a bunch of questions for me:
In short, my main problem with reading יִשָּׂ֣א as a jussive is semantic: I just don't know what it wants to communicate to us.