Translating Psalms (9)

Since this is a medieval authors course for me, I’m going to follow the Vulgate numbering.  Most modern bibles, following the Hebrew text, split Psalm 9 into two psalms.  The numbering discrepancy continues until Psalm 147, at which point the Vulgate combines two psalms and we end up with 150 by both numbering systems.

Very famous psalms, like 23 or 51 or 119, will have “wrong” numbers (22, 50, 118) to modern eyes.  And with psalms this long, my mistakes will start to multiply fast.

“Confitebor tibi, Domine” (Psalm 9)

[1] In finem, pro occultis filii. Psalmus David.

Unto the end, for the secrets of the son.  A Psalm of David.

[2] Confitebor tibi, Domine, in toto corde meo; narrabo omnia mirabilia tua.

I will confess to You, O Lord, in my whole heart; I will narrate all Your marvels.

[3] Laetabor et exsultabo in te; psallam nomini tuo, Altissime.

I will rejoice and exult in You; I will sing to Your name, O Most High.

[4] In convertendo inimicum meum retrorsum; infirmabuntur, et peribunt a facie tua.

Behold my enemy turning back; they will be infirm, and will perish from Your face.

[5] Quoniam fecisti judicium meum et causam meam; sedisti super thronum, qui judicas justitiam.

For Thou has made my judgment and my cause; Thou has sat upon the throne, Who judge justice.

[6] Increpasti gentes, et periit impius: nomen eorum delesti in aeternum, et in saeculum saeculi.

Thou has rebuked the nations, and the impious hath perished: their name Thou has erased into eternity, and unto the age of age.

[7] Inimici defecerunt frameae in finem, et civitates eorum destruxisti. Periit memoria eorum cum sonitu;

The spears of the enemy fell in the end, and their states Thou hast destroyed.  Their memory has perished with a crash;

[8] et Dominus in aeternum permanet. Paravit in judicio thronum suum;

and the Lord remains into eternity.  He hath prepared his throne in judgment;

[9] et ipse judicabit orbem terrae in aequitate, judicabit populos in justitia.

and He Himself will judge the orb of the earth in equity, He shall judge the peoples in justice.

[10] Et factus est Dominus refugium pauperi; adjutor in opportunitatibus, in tribulatione.

And the Lord shall be made refuge of the poor; a helper in trials, in tribulation.

[11] Et sperent in te qui noverunt nomen tuum, quoniam non dereliquisti quaerentes te, Domine.

And let them hope in You who know Thy name, for You have not abandoned those seeking You, O Lord.

[12] Psallite Domino qui habitat in Sion; annuntiate inter gentes studia ejus,

Sing to the Lord who dwells in Zion; announce among the nations His zeal,

[13] quoniam requirens sanguinem eorum recordatus est; non est oblitus clamorem pauperum.

for the one seeking after their blood has been recalled; He has not forgotten the cry of the poor.

[14] Miserere mei, Domine: vide humilitatem meam de inimicis meis,

Have mercy on me, O Lord: see my humiliation before my enemies,

[15] qui exaltas me de portis mortis, ut annuntiem omnes laudationes tuas in portis filiae Sion.

You Who exalt me from the gates of death, that I may announce all thy praises in the gates of Daughter Zion.

[16] Exultabo in salutari tuo. Infixae sunt gentes in interitu quem fecerunt; in laqueo isto quem absconderunt comprehensus est pes eorum.

I will exult in Thy salvation.  The nations have been impaled on the ruin which they have made; on that snare which they hid their foot has been caught.

[17] Cognoscetur Dominus judicia faciens; in operibus manuum suarum comprehensus est peccator.

The Lord will be known making judgments; in the works of his own hands has the sinner been caught.

[18] Convertantur peccatores in infernum, omnes gentes quae obliviscuntur Deum.

Sinners shall be turned unto hell, all the nations which forget God.

[19] Quoniam non in finem oblivio erit pauperis; patientia pauperum non peribit in finem.

For not unto the end will there be oblivion for the poor; the patience of the poor will not perish unto the end.

[20] Exsurge, Domine; non confortetur homo: judicentur gentes in conspectu tuo.

Arise, O Lord; let man not be encouraged: let the nations be judged in Your sight.

[21] Constitue, Domine, legislatorem super eos, ut sciant gentes quoniam homines sunt.

Establish, O Lord, a legislator over them, that the nations may know that they are men.

**[22] Ut quid, Domine, recessisti longe, despicis in opportunitatibus, in tribulatione?

Why, O Lord, have You withdrawn far off, do You look away in trials, in tribulation?

[23] Dum superbit impius, incenditur pauper: comprehenduntur in consiliis quibus cogitant.

While the impious be proud, the poor are burned: let them be caught in the plots which they purpose.

[24] Quoniam laudatur peccator in desideriis animae suae, et iniquus benedicitur.

For the sinner is praised in the desired of his soul, and the iniquitous is blessed.

[25] Exacerbavit Dominum peccator, secundum multitudinem irae suae, non quaeret.

The sinner provokes the Lord, according to the multitude of His wrath He will not ask.

[26] Non est Deus in conspectu ejus, inquinatae sunt viae illius in omni tempore. Auferuntur judicia tua a facie ejus; omnium inimicorum suorum dominabitur.

God is not in his sight, iniquitous are the ways of that one in every time.  Thy judgments are borne away from his face; of all his enemies shall he be lord.

[27] Dixit enim in corde suo: Non movebor a generatione in generationem, sine malo.

For he hath said in his own heart: I will not be moved from generation into generation, without evil.

[28] Cujus maledictione os plenum est, et amaritudine, et dolo; sub lingua ejus labor et dolor.

With whose malediction is the mouth full, and with bitterness, and deceit; under his tongue is labor and sorrow.

[29] Sedet in insidiis cum divitibus in occultis, ut interficiat innocentem.

He sits in ambush with the wealthy in secret places, that he slay the innocent.

[30] Oculi ejus in pauperem respiciunt; insidiatur in abscondito, quasi leo in spelunca sua. Insidiatur ut rapiat pauperem; rapere pauperem dum attrahit eum.

His eyes regard unto the poor; he ambushes in hiding, as if a lion in his cave.  He ambushes that he may seize the poor; to seize the poor when he draws him.

[31] In laqueo suo humiliabit eum; inclinabit se, et cadet cum dominatus fuerit pauperum.

In his own snare he will humble him; he will lay himself low, and he will fall when will have dominated the poor.

[32] Dixit enim in corde suo: Oblitus est Deus; avertit faciem suam, ne videat in finem.

For he hath said in his own heart: God has forgotten; He has turned His face, lest He see unto the end.

[33] Exsurge, Domine Deus, exaltetur manus tua; ne obliviscaris pauperum.

Arise, O Lord God, let Thy hand be exalted; lest You forget the poor.

[34] Propter quid irritavit impius Deum? dixit enim in corde suo: Non requiret.

For what reason has the impious provoked God?  For he hath said in his own heart: He will not repay.

[35] Vides, quoniam tu laborem et dolorem consideras, ut tradas eos in manus tuas. Tibi derelictus est pauper; orphano tu eris adjutor.

You see, for You behold labor and sorrow, that You deliver them into Your hands.  To You the poor is neglected; for the orphan You will be Helper.

[36] Contere brachium peccatoris et maligni; quaeretur peccatum illius, et non invenietur.

Stay the arm of the sinner and the maligner; his sin shall be sought, and not found.

[37] Dominus regnabit in aeternum, et in saeculum saeculi; peribitis, gentes, de terra illius.

The Lord shall reign into eternity, and unto age of age; you shall perish, nations, from His earth.

[38] Desiderium pauperum exaudivit Dominus; praeparationem cordis eorum audivit auris tua,

The desire of the poor, the Lord He hath heard; the preparation of their heart Your earth hath heard,

[39] judicare pupillo et humili, ut non apponat ultra magnificare se homo super terram.

to judge the orphan and the humble, that man may no more appoint to magnify himself over the earth.


“Framea,” spear (vs. 7), ain’t no Latin word.  I thought it was a typo when I first saw it.  It’s a Germanic loanword.  It’s probably just the simple evolution of Latin as the Germans et alii migrated, invaded, dominated the military, etc., but it could be that St. Jerome is angling for something here.

**After another week of translating and finding framea in Psalms 16 and 21 as well, I finally looked over my shoulder at the Septuagint.  I was shocked to find rhomphaia in the Greek, which goes a long way to explaining the odd choice of framea by St. Jerome.  The rhomphaia was a Thracian polearm with a cutting and thrusting blade on it–i.e., a sword on the end of a stick.  If you are into ancient weaponry (and if not, well, you should be), check out the wikipedia page on rhomphaia and start your research from there.

Eventually the Roman army started drafting heavily from the Germans and the rhomphaia, often translated into Latin as framea, evolved into a big ol’ heavy sword.  Connection established!  Except now I have no good basis, without recourse to the Hebrew, to choose spear or sword–framea changed its meaning along with rhomphaia.  I’m sticking with spear here just because swords aren’t as period-correct for ancient Israelites, but now I have half a mind to do a proper research project on the words and the weapons both.

Luckily I finally got this figured out 2 days before this post was scheduled to publish!


4 thoughts on “Translating Psalms (9)

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