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תהלים כט | Psalms 29, an interpretive translation by Avi Dolgin

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

1 מִזְמ֗וֹר לְדָ֫וִ֥ד
הָב֣וּ לַֽ֭יהוָה בְּנֵ֣י אֵלִ֑ים
Havu l’YHVH bnei elim

Acknowledge the Creator
You who are semi-divine.


הָב֥וּ לַ֝יהוָ֗ה כָּב֥וֹד וָעֹֽז׃

2 הָב֣וּ לַֽ֭יהוָה כְּב֣וֹד שְׁמ֑וֹ
הִשְׁתַּחֲו֥וּ לַ֝יהוָ֗ה בְּהַדְרַת־קֹֽדֶשׁ׃

Havu l’YHVH kavod va’oz

Acknowledge the glory and power of creation,

Havu l’YHVH kvod sh’mo,
hishtachavu l”YHVH b’hadrat kodesh

the honour of naming the Creator
in the beauty of holiness.


3 ק֥וֹל יְהוָ֗ה עַל־הַ֫מָּ֥יִם
אֵֽל־הַכָּב֥וֹד הִרְעִ֑ים
יְ֝הוָ֗ה עַל־מַ֥יִם רַבִּֽים׃
Kol YHVH al hamayim
el hakavod hir’im

The call of creation is in the waters
The call of creation is in the mountains

YHVH al mayim rabim

Even in the many fluids of our bodies.


4 קוֹל־יְהוָ֥ה בַּכֹּ֑חַ
ק֥וֹל יְ֝הוָ֗ה בֶּהָדָֽר׃
Kol YHVH bakoach,
kol YHVH behadar

Creation calls out in strength and in beauty


5ק֣וֹל יְ֭הוָה שֹׁבֵ֣ר אֲרָזִ֑ים
וַיְשַׁבֵּ֥ר יְ֝הוָ֗ה אֶת־אַרְזֵ֥י הַלְּבָנֽוֹן׃
Kol YHVH shover arazim

in the cedar clearcuts

Vayishaber YHVH et arzei halvanon

and in the virgin old growth.


6 וַיַּרְקִידֵ֥ם כְּמוֹ־עֵ֑גֶל
לְבָנ֥וֹן וְ֝שִׂרְיֹ֗ן כְּמ֣וֹ בֶן־רְאֵמִֽים׃
Vayarkidem k’mo egel
l’vanon v’shiryon k’mo ven r’emim

Our world rings with nesting murrelets and diving orcas


7 קוֹל־יְהוָ֥ה חֹצֵ֗ב לַהֲב֥וֹת אֵֽשׁ׃
Kol YHVH chotzev lahavot esh

and the Creator calls to us in acid rain and global warming.


8 ק֣וֹל יְ֭הוָה יָחִ֣יל מִדְבָּ֑ר
יָחִ֥יל יְ֝הוָ֗ה מִדְבַּ֥ר קָדֵֽשׁ׃
9 ק֤וֹל יְהוָ֨ה ׀ יְחוֹלֵ֣ל אַיָּלוֹת֮ וַֽיֶּחֱשֹׂ֪ף יְעָ֫ר֥וֹת
וּבְהֵיכָל֑וֹ
כֻּ֝לּ֗וֹ אֹמֵ֥ר כָּבֽוֹד׃
Kol YHVH yachil midbar,
yachil YHVH midbar kadesh,
Kol YHVH y’cholel ayalot

The fault lines shake.
The landfills overflow

Vayechesof yarot
u’v’hechalo
kulo omer kavod

In this temple, do we see creative glory?


10 יְ֭הוָה לַמַּבּ֣וּל יָשָׁ֑ב
וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב יְ֝הוָ֗ה מֶ֣לֶךְ לְעוֹלָֽם׃
YHVH lamabul yashav

The Creator was there when the first Flood struck

Vayeshev YHVH melech l’olam

and the Creator will be there if new global disasters come.


11 יְֽהוָ֗ה עֹ֭ז לְעַמּ֣וֹ יִתֵּ֑ן
יְהוָ֓ה ׀ יְבָרֵ֖ךְ אֶת־עַמּ֣וֹ בַשָּׁלֽוֹם׃
YHVH oz l’amo yiten

The Creator will give humanity the strength

YHVH yivarech et amo vashalom

and bless us to use that strength for Shalom.


Avi Dolgin’s translation of תהילים כט (Psalm 29) interweaves between the original Hebrew (הָב֣וּ לַֽ֭יהוָה בְּנֵ֣י אֵלִ֑ים | havu l’YHVH b’nei eilim) and an English language interpretation. The interpretation, while faithful to the original, leans heavily on environmental concerns, especially as seen from a North American West Coast perspective. Avi Dolgin is a long-time resident of Vancouver, Canada and a member of Congregation Or Shalom.

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