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Psalm 68: Conversation “Pieces through Time”

July 23, 2013

I have to thank our BLT co-blogger, Suzanne, for getting me, for drawing many of us, into blogging about the Bible. She humbly suggests that it was somebody else who asked her to blog on Psalm 68 some time ago; with some reluctance, Suzanne says, she began a commentary in a series of posts as a co-blogger at the old Better Bibles Blog. The post here this week that many of you have read and a few of you have taken some time to comment on recalls the conversations Suzanne started, as pieces through time.

Below are links to each of Suzanne’s posts in chronological order. And yet it seems good first to highlight, and actually to reproduce, what Suzanne identifies as her own hopes and intentions in writing about Psalm 68. She kindly gives me permission here to do this. As you’ll see, Suzanne has been quite interested in others’ views and has regularly taken us, her readers, to places where she herself was reading. And so without further ado:

Psalm 68: Commentary

It’s not going to happen anytime soon, but if and when I ever retire, I would love to write a book à la Wolters’ Song of a Valiant Woman. It would be on Psalm 68 and include excerpts or reprints of translations and commentary ever since it was written.

It would be filled with many languages and richly obscure and exotic prose in a form of English usually consigned to the past. It would include Julia Greswell, Neale, Mary Sidney and Erasmus, Luther,and Bucer, Marot and Beza, Pagnini and Vatable, and Kimhi, and Aquinas and everybody else that I haven’t met yet. I have just begun and will collect commentary on this psalm until it fills a book 6 inches thick.

It would include selections in several different writing systems. The psalm would be presented as prose, a poem, a song and a dance. There would even be a wordless version. A better bible is not always every word of the “canon” accumulated in one place. I would take a vertical slice and follow one piece through time.

All contributions are welcome. More on Ps. 68 soon. I am like a pig in mud.

And now the series for those who missed it or want to revisit it:

Psalm 68 Part l

I have put off for over a year a series which has been requested more than once. It is only with the utmost hesitation and reluctance that I embark on this series. It is about the names of God. Because I really am an old fashioned person, and reared in a very strict way, I feel a certain taboo in talking directly about God. It is like looking directly into the sun….

Psalm 68 Part 2

Tonight I want to write about Psalm 68 verse 4, the second line. Some of you might have noticed that it is translated in at least four significantly different ways….

Psalm 68 Part 3

Here is Psalm 68:4 in total. I will follow it with the KJV, which I have chosen arbitrarily for this study….

Ps 68: Pt. 4: A house full of children

Down the hatch with the chicken scratch. I am in a four way race and even though I got off the starting block first, I have lost the lead and John has pulled ahead. Dave is already pondering the “lovely lady”, Bob has provided the whole psalm en bloque, and I am slowly going to plod through one little word at a time….

Ps. 68: Part 5 The barren woman

Update: I have just looked at Bob’s image and noticed how he outlines the verse with the name of God in it. He also uses the very evocative phrase “bound in chains” instead of “captives” which I used. The shading really emphasizes the high density of the names of God in this psalm.

Lingamish has pointed out that Psalm 68 is the most difficult of all psalms. So I understand. Adam Clarke quotes Simon de Muis 1587-1644 saying,….

Ps. 68: Part 6: The heavens dripped

There are new posts on Psalm 68 by Lingamish, along with a fleet of comments, Bob offers commentary insight, some critical text analysis and alternative readings of verse 5, John brings in more musical background and J. K. joins the fray with a comparison of how Aristotle and Luther would read the psalm. J. K. quotes Luther writing,….

Ps. 68: Part 7: Reflections

J. K. Gayle had written on Psalm 68, picking up again my reference to the psalmist as possibly a woman. He comments,….

Ps. 68: Notes

Stefan has joined us on Psalm 68, writing about a few interesting features of the Greek version mentioned by J. K. Gayle…..

Psalm 68: Part 8: turns on a tent peg

Update: Bob has ventured into the next few verses.

Some readers might feel that by letting myself imagine the “background” to this psalm, I have left the text, as it is, and have added what is not there. On the contrary, it turns out that I have wandered into what really is there…..

Psalm 68: Pt.9: of one mind in an house

Iyov has provided access to Neale’s commentary on Psalm 68 through a new widget(thingy) on his blog. This certainly puts an end to all dire predictions that blogs will disable people from reading extended texts. Cyberspace is now enabling us all to read one copy of the same book at the same time…..

Hen Scratches 11-09-07

Just a few notes.

I did not mention yesterday that the 1662 prayer book psalter is basically the same as the Coverdale translation. I was surprised to see that these psalms are so dependent on the LXX and Vulgate tradition, at least what I have seen so far.

Recent posts on Ps. 68 around the blogosphere are Bob’s, Dave’s, Iyov’s, J. K.’s, John’s, and Stefan’s….

Hen Scratches 13-09-07

Chris Heard has joined the Ps. 68 blogabout with a post on the names of God. He demonstrates the need to differentiate LORD, meaning YHVH, and LORD meaning Baal…..

Hen Scratches 16-09-07

Lots of great blog posts around. First, a good post by Wade Burleson on the days when you could be accused of not believing in the doctrine of the infallibility of scripture if you protested against slavery. Hermeneutics: Slavery & Feminism by Mike Aubrey points to The Civil War as a Theological Crisis.….

I will return to Psalm 68 soon. In many ways we haven’t even touched on the more interesting elements. There is a ton of conversation between Lingamish, Peter, John, Bob, Doug et al. – I don’t think it needs pointing to, I don’t want to appear to be leaving anyone out, seems like everyone is there but me.

If someone has written a post that they would like to see mentioned here, please email me any time, I may have missed it. Ilona continues to blog on Hesed.

Ps. 68: Part 10

Update: John reviews Alter’s Psalter and Chris shares some impressions,

    Is it merely an entrance liturgy suitable for a variety of worship occasions, or is it specifically an entrance liturgy to be used in conjunction with the celebration of military victories?

I enjoy reading other people’s take on the psalm, and have no intention of being comprehensive here. I am indulging in my interest in the history of translation by following this psalm throughout two millenia.

Bob writes on Bright Wings, a reference to Gerald Manley Hopkins.


In verse 11 of psalm 68, we meet women again…..

Psalm 68: part 11

Tyler has posted an excerpt from an interview with Alter on his Psalms.

I am taking a course in something called Spiritual Traditions. A rather vague title, but it involves reading something from Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Bucer, etc. each week and is supplemented every week with singing psalms from the Presbyterian hymnbook and looking at rare books like an original Geneva Psalter or Vatable’s commentary on the Pagnini Psalter, etc. Right up my alley, in any case.

In exploring the Geneva Psalter, translated into French by Clément Marot and Théodore Beza, I have also discovered the Psalms of Mary Sidney, an English translation of the Geneva Psalter. Here is Katherine Larsons’s commentary on Sidney’s Psalm 68…..

Psalm 68, Pt 12: invitation to dance

I have to write this post to music! First, Lingamish and then John. I had already decided that I would write about verse 26, the remaining verse which mentions women, next….

Ambiguity and more humility

I can’t respond usefully to all the issues raised on this issue. However, I would like to point out that I have held this view since I came on this blog. I do not regard my views on translation to have any intellectual or spiritual superiority. Call it a wish list, if you will.

However, I have recently encountered two instances where after some research I have decided that the meaning of a word or verse in the Bible must remain obscure for me. First. Psalm 68:11. Who divides the spoil? Women, if we go back to Deborah’s song. But I have utterly no insights into what the Hebrew says in this verse, and I will have to leave it this way. It may or may not be a word meaning “women.”….

Psalm 68: scripture citing scripture

One of the most puzzling cases of a citation of the Hebrew scriptures in the Christian scriptures is found in Psalm 68:19. It is not only cited in Eph. 4:8, but it also contains a citation from Judges 5:12…..

Psalm 68: Breasts and Mountains

This cannot be the first time that someone has remarked that mountains resemble breasts and are a symbol of fertility.

In seeking the meaning or connotation for El Shaddai I have come up with no answers but plenty of poetic allusions. Here are the three major connotations of El Shaddai – breasts and by association mountains, and destruction. These do not represent the known etymological roots of the word, but rather euphonic and associative connections…..

Psalm 68: Shaddai cont.

I thought I gave Shaddai rather short shrift last time so I am going to continue with this topic. There are three derivations of Shaddai that I did not mention. In this comment on my previous post, ElShaddai Edwards addresses two of them…..

Psalm 68: Almighty

It is always nice these days to find something to say that hasn’t been already been said in greater detail in wikipedia. I note that the origin of the word Almighty does not fare too well there…..

Shaddai – Heavenly

I can’t find the meaning “Heavenly” for Shaddai mentioned anywhere but it is how Shaddai was translated in the Psalms of the Septuagint. Shaddai occurs only twice in the Psalms, once in Ps. 68:14 and once in Ps. 91:1. This verse forms such a lovely couplet in which we see varying types of alliteration and metaphor, that I can’t resist writing about it…..

Shaddai – Sufficient

Update: Mark comments,

Shaddai is also translated with hikanos in Job 21.15; 31.2; and 40.2.
A great tool for doing exactly what you hope to do in lining up the Hebrew with the LXX is the way Tov’s Parallel Aligned Hebrew and LXX is implemented in BibleWorks7. I’ve posted about it a couple times here and here.


I finally found it. Apologies. I had no idea of this translation. In the Septuagint, in Ruth 1:20, Shaddai is translated as “sufficient” or “enough” – hikanos…..

Shaddai – reflections

The study of Shaddai has completely taken me by surprise. I had thought when I began that Shaddai meant Almighty. In fact, this is the meaning and translation that I have found most frequently on the internet and in other resources. However, now I see that “Almighty” comes from Lord of Hosts…..

Shaddai in Modern Translations

Here are a few modern translations of Psalm 91:1,….

Parallel Bibles: S. Bagster & Sons’

I take a risk in admitting that I have jumped into another series which will run in parallel to my continued exploration of Ps. 68 and the names of God…..

Shaddai in Ps. 68

This is a short post to round up the series on Shaddai. Shaddai in Psalm 68 is translated in the Septuagint as the “Heavenly One.”….

Hen Scratches 02-12-07

Here are the names of God from Psalm 68 along with their transliteration, an approximate translation and for some a traditional translational equivalent. I have written about Shaddai and I hope to write about adonai next…..

Psalm 68:20 Sovereign Lord

This post is terribly late. I was asked several months ago if there was an explanation for the use of “Sovereign” in the (T)NIV, when it does not appear in other translations. I have been taking my own sweet time in responding. Fortunately, it is fairly straightforward. Here is Psalm 68:20,….














4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2013 9:46 am

    Now these were the days when blogging was working in community. By the way all links to are no longer available, but any such link may work if changed to – such as thie link to my first explorations of the psalms – so to this one:

  2. Dana Ames permalink
    July 23, 2013 1:17 pm

    I miss Suzanne’s presence. I hope all is well with her, and that she can write again soon.


  3. July 23, 2013 1:28 pm

    Thanks for providing the links back to your past work. I know that in the Psalm 68 series, there are many links to blogs no longer available. As we all recall, Tim Bulkeley first began the roundup to some of Suzanne’s BBB posts and to several of the others in his Carnival: Lots of missing links in that fossil bed, lol.

    Thanks so much! I don’t think Suzanne ever stops writing. 🙂 She’s working on a project that keeps her away from the BLT blogging, unfortunately for us. (And I think none of us here is able really to sustain a steady stream of posts without a good break from time to time. There’s a point where real life, of course, is a priority. I’m just amazed at how many in the blogosphere from Suzanne’s Ps 68 series are still going, though less surprisingly many have gone on to other things.)


  1. Breast-God: women in the male literary imagination of Genesis 49 | BLT

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