תהלים ק״ד | Psalms 104, translated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

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Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

בָּרֲכִ֥י נַפְשִׁ֗י אֶת־יְה֫וָ֥ה
יְהוָ֣ה אֱ֭לֹהַי גָּדַ֣לְתָּ מְּאֹ֑ד
ה֭וֹד וְהָדָ֣ר לָבָֽשְׁתָּ׃
Bless, my spirit, the All-Cause!
O All-Cause, my God, very great;
strength and splendor You wear.

עֹֽטֶה־א֭וֹר כַּשַּׂלְמָ֑ה
נוֹטֶ֥ה שָׁ֝מַ֗יִם כַּיְרִיעָֽה׃
Wrapping with light as a cloak;
stretching heaven as a cloth.

הַ֥מְקָרֶֽה בַמַּ֗יִם עֲֽלִיּ֫וֹתָ֥יו
הַשָּׂם־עָבִ֥ים רְכוּב֑וֹ
הַֽ֝מְהַלֵּ֗ךְ עַל־כַּנְפֵי־רֽוּחַ׃
Setting out in the water Their high-chambers;
placing clouds as Their chariot;
walking upon the wind’s wings.

עֹשֶׂ֣ה מַלְאָכָ֣יו רוּח֑וֹת
מְ֝שָׁרְתָ֗יו אֵ֣שׁ לֹהֵֽט׃
Making the winds Their messengers;
Their attendants the fiery flame.

יָֽסַד־אֶ֭רֶץ עַל־מְכוֹנֶ֑יהָ
בַּל־תִּ֝מּ֗וֹט עוֹלָ֥ם וָעֶֽד׃
They set up the earth on its foundation;
never to quake, forever and ever.

תְּ֭הוֹם כַּלְּב֣וּשׁ כִּסִּית֑וֹ
עַל־הָ֝רִ֗ים יַֽעַמְדוּ־מָֽיִם׃
With the depths, like clothing They clothed it;
up the mountains water stood.

מִן־גַּעֲרָ֣תְךָ֣ יְנוּס֑וּן
מִן־ק֥וֹל רַֽ֝עַמְךָ֗ יֵחָפֵזֽוּן׃
From Your rebuke they fled;
from the sound of Your thunder they ran off.

יַעֲל֣וּ הָ֭רִים יֵרְד֣וּ בְקָע֑וֹת
אֶל־מְ֝ק֗וֹם זֶ֤ה ׀ יָסַ֬דְתָּ לָהֶֽם׃
The mountains rose, the valleys sank;
to the place You set for them.

גְּֽבוּל־שַׂ֭מְתָּ בַּל־יַֽעֲבֹר֑וּן
בַּל־יְ֝שׁוּב֗וּן לְכַסּ֥וֹת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
You set a border for them not to pass;
so as not to return to cover the earth.

הַֽמְשַׁלֵּ֣חַ מַ֭עְיָנִים בַּנְּחָלִ֑ים
בֵּ֥ין הָ֝רִ֗ים יְהַלֵּכֽוּן׃
Sending out springs in the wadis;
between the mountains they run.

יַ֭שְׁקוּ כָּל־חַיְת֣וֹ שָׂדָ֑י
יִשְׁבְּר֖וּ פְרָאִ֣ים צְמָאָֽם׃
They let the wild beasts drink;
the onagers, sating their thirst.

עֲ֭לֵיהֶם עוֹף־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם יִשְׁכּ֑וֹן
מִבֵּ֥ין עֳ֝פָאיִ֗ם יִתְּנוּ־קֽוֹל׃
Upon them the sky’s birds settle;
between the boughs they sing out.

מַשְׁקֶ֣ה הָ֭רִים מֵעֲלִיּוֹתָ֑יו
מִפְּרִ֥י מַ֝עֲשֶׂ֗יךָ תִּשְׂבַּ֥ע הָאָֽרֶץ׃
Watering Their mountain high-chambers;
the earth is full of the fruit of Your labors.

מַצְמִ֤יחַ חָצִ֨יר ׀ לַבְּהֵמָ֗ה
וְ֭עֵשֶׂב לַעֲבֹדַ֣ת הָאָדָ֑ם
לְה֥וֹצִיא לֶ֝֗חֶם מִן־הָאָֽרֶץ׃
Making the grass spring fourth for the cattle;
and plants to serve humankind;
to bring out bread from the earth.

וְיַ֤יִן ׀ יְשַׂמַּ֬ח לְֽבַב־אֱנ֗וֹשׁ
לְהַצְהִ֣יל פָּנִ֣ים מִשָּׁ֑מֶן
וְ֝לֶ֗חֶם לְֽבַב־אֱנ֥וֹשׁ יִסְעָֽד׃
And wine bringing joy to people’s heart;
brightening the face more than oil;
and bread to strengthen humankind’s heart.

יִ֭שְׂבְּעוּ עֲצֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה
אַֽרְזֵ֥י לְ֝בָנ֗וֹן אֲשֶׁ֣ר נָטָֽע׃
The All-Cause’s trees are satiated;
the Lebanon cedars They planted.

אֲשֶׁר־שָׁ֭ם צִפֳּרִ֣ים יְקַנֵּ֑נוּ
חֲ֝סִידָ֗ה בְּרוֹשִׁ֥ים בֵּיתָֽהּ׃
In them the songbirds nest;
while the stork’s home is in the cypresses.

הָרִ֣ים הַ֭גְּבֹהִים לַיְּעֵלִ֑ים
סְ֝לָעִ֗ים מַחְסֶ֥ה לַֽשְׁפַנִּֽים׃
The high mountains are for the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyraxes.

עָשָׂ֣ה יָ֭רֵחַ לְמוֹעֲדִ֑ים
שֶׁ֝֗מֶשׁ יָדַ֥ע מְבוֹאֽוֹ׃
They made the moon for appointed times;
the sun knowing when it sets.

תָּֽשֶׁת־חֹ֭שֶׁךְ וִ֣יהִי לָ֑יְלָה
בּֽוֹ־תִ֝רְמֹ֗שׂ כָּל־חַיְתוֹ־יָֽעַר׃
You make darkness and there is night;
in which all the forest animals creep out.

הַ֭כְּפִירִים שֹׁאֲגִ֣ים לַטָּ֑רֶף
וּלְבַקֵּ֖שׁ מֵאֵ֣ל אָכְלָֽם׃
The lions roar for prey;
and to beg God for food.

תִּזְרַ֣ח הַ֭שֶּׁמֶשׁ יֵאָסֵפ֑וּן
וְאֶל־מְ֝עוֹנֹתָ֗ם יִרְבָּצֽוּן׃
The sun rises, they gather away;
and in their dens they lie down.

יֵצֵ֣א אָדָ֣ם לְפָעֳל֑וֹ
וְֽלַעֲבֹ֖דָת֣וֹ עֲדֵי־עָֽרֶב׃
Humankind goes out to its deeds;
and labors until evening.

מָֽה־רַבּ֬וּ מַעֲשֶׂ֨יךָ ׀ יְֽהוָ֗ה
כֻּ֭לָּם בְּחָכְמָ֣ה עָשִׂ֑יתָ
מָלְאָ֥ה הָ֝אָ֗רֶץ קִנְיָנֶֽךָ׃
How many are Your works, O All-Cause!
All of them in wisdom You made;
the earth, full of Your creatures.

זֶ֤ה ׀ הַיָּ֥ם גָּדוֹל֮ וּרְחַ֪ב
יָ֫דָ֥יִם שָֽׁם־רֶ֭מֶשׂ וְאֵ֣ין מִסְפָּ֑ר
חַיּ֥וֹת קְ֝טַנּ֗וֹת עִם־גְּדֹלֽוֹת׃
This is the big wide sea;
in it many critters;
animals, small and large.

שָׁ֭ם אֳנִיּ֣וֹת יְהַלֵּכ֑וּן
לִ֝וְיָתָ֗ן זֶֽה־יָצַ֥רְתָּ לְשַֽׂחֶק־בּֽוֹ׃
There go the boats;
the Sea-Beast who You crafted to play with.

כֻּ֭לָּם אֵלֶ֣יךָ יְשַׂבֵּר֑וּן
לָתֵ֖ת אָכְלָ֣ם בְּעִתּֽוֹ׃
All of them wait for You;
to give them their food at its time.

תִּתֵּ֣ן לָ֭הֶם יִלְקֹט֑וּן
תִּפְתַּ֥ח יָֽ֝דְךָ֗ יִשְׂבְּע֥וּן טֽוֹב׃
You give to them – they gather it;
You open Your hand – they are sated with good.

תַּסְתִּ֥יר פָּנֶיךָ֮ יִֽבָּהֵ֫ל֥וּן
תֹּסֵ֣ף ר֭וּחָם יִגְוָע֑וּן
וְֽאֶל־עֲפָרָ֥ם יְשׁוּבֽוּן׃
You hide Your face – they vanish;
You take back their breath – they expire;
And to their dust they return.

תְּשַׁלַּ֣ח ר֭וּחֲךָ יִבָּרֵא֑וּן
וּ֝תְחַדֵּ֗שׁ פְּנֵ֣י אֲדָמָֽה׃
You send out Your spirit – they are created;
and You renew the face of the land.

יְהִ֤י כְב֣וֹד יְהוָ֣ה לְעוֹלָ֑ם
יִשְׂמַ֖ח יְהוָ֣ה בְּמַעֲשָֽׂיו׃
May the honor of the All-Cause be eternal;
may the All-Cause rejoice in Their works!

הַמַּבִּ֣יט לָ֭אָרֶץ וַתִּרְעָ֑ד
יִגַּ֖ע בֶּהָרִ֣ים וְֽיֶעֱשָֽׁנוּ׃
Who regards the earth and it trembles;
who touches the mountains and they smoke.

אָשִׁ֣ירָה לַיהוָ֣ה בְּחַיָּ֑י
אֲזַמְּרָ֖ה לֵאלֹהַ֣י בְּעוֹדִֽי׃
I seek to sing to the All-Cause while I live;
I wish to hymn to my God while I exist.

יֶעֱרַ֣ב עָלָ֣יו שִׂיחִ֑י
אָ֝נֹכִ֗י אֶשְׂמַ֥ח בַּיהוָֽה׃
May my meditation please Them;
and as for me, I rejoice in the All-Cause.

יִתַּ֤מּוּ חַטָּאִ֨ים ׀ מִן־הָאָ֡רֶץ
וּרְשָׁעִ֤ים ׀ ע֤וֹד אֵינָ֗ם
בָּרֲכִ֣י נַ֭פְשִׁי אֶת־יְהוָ֗ה
הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ׃
May sinners end from the earth;
may evil no longer exist!
Bless, my spirit, the All-Cause!
Hallelujah!

A new translation of Psalm 104, posted today (Rosh Ḥodesh Elul) for the new month. (This translation was first published on Facebook by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer on August 11 2018.)

Notes

“The All-Cause” is used to translate the Divine Name, based on the philosophical idea of God as the Prime Mover and on the interpretation of the Name as a causative form of the copula – “causes to be.”

“They” and “Their” is used as a singular pronoun to refer to God. This is not just for anti-sexist reasons, but also because the standard word for “God” is אלהים, which looks like a plural. Just as a queen says “we” to refer to herself, the “plural of majesty” is appropriate when referring to the multitudes that stem from God. This is especially appropriate for Psalm 104, a rhapsodic celebration of the vastness and diversity of creation. (TBH it’s mostly for anti-sexist reasons, though.)

Psalms has a very specific grammatical form where each verse is divided into two or three versets. These divisions are marked with a semicolon. Verses are marked with a return. Enjoy, and ḥodesh tov!

[The Psalms is traditionally read near the end of shaḥarit (morning) services on Rosh Ḥodesh (New Moon festival days). Verses 1-2 are recited upon donning the tallit gadol. –Aharon Varady]

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