Log24

Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday September 24, 2007

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:06 AM
Psalm from
the Underworld

I reserved the time slot of this entry, 1:06 (a reference to Epiphany), on Sept. 24 after encountering the following passages in

The New Yorker,
issue dated Oct. 1, 2007–

James Wood on Robert Alter’s new translation of the Psalms:

“At any time, God can cancel a life. ‘So teach us to number our days,’ as the King James Version has it, ‘that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.’….

The ancient Hebrew word for the shadowy underworld where the dead go, Sheol, was Christianized as ‘Hell,’ even though there is no such concept in the Hebrew Bible. Alter prefers the words ‘victory’ and ‘rescue’ as translations of yeshu’ah, and eschews the Christian version, which is the heavily loaded ‘salvation.’ And so on. Stripping his English of these artificial cleansers, Alter takes us back to the essence of the meaning. Suddenly, in a world without Heaven, Hell, the soul, and eternal salvation or redemption, the theological stakes seem more local and temporal: ‘So teach us to number our days.'”

The reference to “numbering our days” recalled Saturday morning’s Yom Kippur entry on the days numbered 8/09 and 9/12.  Here is another such entry, courtesy of the Pennsylvania Lottery:

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For a midrash,
see last year’s
7/07 and 2/10
as well as
this year’s
7/07 and 2/10.

For another psalm
from the underworld
see Toy Soldiers.

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