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תהלים קנ״א | Psalms 151a, according to the Nusaḥ of the Judean Desert Scrolls, Edited, Vocalized, Cantillated, and Translated into English by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Psalms 151 through 155 are not found in the Masoretic Text books of Psalms, or in rabbinic writings. A Psalms 151 was recorded in the Septuagint, whereas Psalms 152—155 were only found in some Syriac (or Christian Aramaic) Peshiṭṭa texts. For a long time, it was assumed that they were Greek compositions, either by Hellenized Jews or not by Jews at all. That all changed with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, specifically 11Q5, also known as the Great Psalms Scroll. This scroll not only included text from thirty-two psalms (in a non-standard order), but also passages from Apocryphal Psalms 154, 155, and 151, as well as sections of Ben Sira and several otherwise unknown psalmodic compositions. Here the editor has taken the Hebrew text from the Great Psalms Scroll, supplemented with Peshiṭṭa content for the worn passages, and attempted to create masoretic-style vocalization and cantillation for these three fascinating pieces of Hebrew apocrypha, along with a new English translation.

Psalm 151a is unlike any other psalm, because it is openly and clearly a description of David’s own life. He describes his childhood as the youngest of the family, and his anointing. It may have not been included as part of the Masoretic canon because this dissimilarity leads to just a whiff of pseudepigraphical overcompensation. [The psalm is designated Psalms 151a to destinguish it from the text of Psalms 151 found in the Septuagint. –ANV]

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

הַ֥לְלוּ יָ֨הּ ׀
לְ֭דָוִד בֶּן־יִשַֽׁי׃
קָטֹ֣ן הָ֭יִיתִי מֵאֶחַ֑י
וְ֝צָעִ֗יר מִבְּנֵ֣י אִמִּֽי׃
וַֽיְשִׂימֵ֣נִי ר֭וֹעֶה לְצֹאנֹ֑ו
וּמוֹשֵׁ֣ל בִּגְדִיּוֹתָֽיו׃
Praise Yah!
Of David, son of Jesse.
Smallest of my brothers was I;
youngest of my mother’s sons.
And I was placed to shepherd his flock;
a leader for his young goats.

יָדַ֤י עָשׂ֨וּ ׀ עוּגָ֗ב
וְ֭אֶצְבְּעוֹתַי כִּנ֑וֹר
וְ֝אָשִׂ֗ימָה לַיְהֹוָ֣ה כָּבֽוֹד׃
אָמַ֘רְתִּי֘ אֲנִ֢י בְּ֫נַפְשִׁ֥י
הֶהָרִ֣ים לֹא־יָעִידוּ־ל֑וֹ
וְ֝הַגְּבָע֗וֹת לֹא־יַגִּ֣דוּ עָלָֽיו׃
הָ֭עֵצִים אֶת־דְּבָר֑וֹ
וְ֝הַצֹּ֗אן אֶת־מַעֲשָֽׂיו׃
כִּ֤י ׀ מִ֬י יַגִּ֗יד וּמִ֣י יְדַבֵּ֑ר
וּמִ֣י יְ֝סַפֵּ֗ר אֶת־מַעֲשָֽׂיו׃
My hands worked the pipe,
my fingers the lute;
so I could place honor for YHWH.
I said to myself:
“The mountains cannot testify of Him,
nor can the hills tell of Him,
nor the trees His way,
nor the flock His acts.
For who could tell, and who could say,
and who could recount His acts?”

אֲד֘וֹן הַכְֹּ֢ל רָ֫אָ֥ה
אֱלֹ֣הַ הַ֭כֹּל ה֣וּא שָׁמַ֑ע וְה֖וּא הֶאֱזִֽין׃
שָׁלַ֣ח נְ֭בִיאוֹ לְמׇשְׁחֵ֑נִי
אֶת־שְׁ֝מוּאֵ֗ל לְגַדְּלֵֽנִי׃
יָצְא֣וּ אֶחַ֣י לִקְרָאת֑וֹ
יְפֵי־הַ֝תּ֗וֹר וִיפֵ֣י הַמַּרְאֶֽה׃
הַ֘גְּבֹהִ֤ים ׀ בְּקוֹמָתָ֗ם הַיָּפִ֣ים בִּשְׂעָרָ֑ם
לֹא־בָּחַ֤ר ׀ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱ֝לֹהִ֗ים בָּֽם׃
The Master of All saw;
the Sole-God of All heard and listened.
He sent His prophet to anoint me;
Samuel to magnify me.
My brothers went out to greet him;
handsome and beautiful to look at.
Tallest arose, handsomest in their gates —
the God YHWH did not choose them.

וַֽיִּשְׁלַ֣ח וַ֭יִּקָּחֵנִי
מֵאַחַ֣ר הַצֹּ֑אן
בְּשֶׁ֣מֶן הַקֹּֽדֶשׁ׃
נָגִ֣יד לְעַמּ֑וֹ
בִּבְנֵ֣י בְּרִיתֽוֹ׃
And they sent for and brought me
from following the sheep,
and he anointed me
with holy oil.
And he placed me
as a prince of His people,
and a leader
for the children of His covenant.

Psalms 151(a) — distinguishing it from Psalms 151(b) as found in the Septuagint.

Plate 974, B-285206 Taken March 1961
PAM Number: M43.792
Photographer: Najib Anton Albina
Image Type: Scanned Infrared Negative
Side: Recto
manuscripts in this image: 11Q5 –  11Q Psa





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