Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Psalm 29:1 and the Sons of the Gods

The construct בְּנֵ֣י אֵלִ֑ים in Ps 29:1 is generally translated "Sons of the Gods," or simply, "The Gods." I tend to view אֵלִ֑ים, rather, as a singular with an enclitic mem, just as bn 'ilm is generally interpreted in the Ugaritic literature. Since Psalm 29 is an almost direct borrowing from Syro-Palestinian storm god imagery (and may allude to Baal's seven thunders and lightnings), it seems likely to me this very rare form (cf. Ps 89:7; Dan 11:36) is simply a borrowing of the form as it appears in other Northwest Semitic literature. Thoughts?


awilum said...

Is this an infamous Dahoodian enclitic mem? What is the mem doing there--by labeling it enclitic you haven't described it you have merely said that a mem is there because a mem is there.

maklelan said...

I believe the Dahoodian enclitic mem is found in the Nomen regens, and that's how it is explained in Waltke-O'Connor. Freedman and Cross both posit the enclitic mem in the phrase in question, and I'm not trying to insist it must be interpreted that way, but I don't think it's precluded. It seems to be so in the Ugaritic phr bn 'ilm. Wyatt interprets 'ilm as a singular, and Smith recognizes it as a possibility.

On the other hand, I haven't done a large amount of research in this area, so I may be completely mistaken. If you can point me in the direction of publications that are concerned with this reading I would be very grateful.

awilum said...

I guess I was trying to allude to the fact that people throw around the term "enclitic" and all it means is an unaccented mem on the end of the word. Traditionally, people have regarded it as meaningless, however, Akkadian has a ma that is not the conjunction but "moreover, too." I think sometimes a similar mem is added in Hebrew poetry when the poet wanted to make a longer form. I learned this from Stephen Kaufman but I don't think he has published it.

maklelan said...

I gotcha. I'm familiar with that principle to a small degree, but I haven't done more than glance at a few short blurbs. Thanks for the heads up. I'll dig a little deeper on the topic.

Thanks for the comments, also.