Blind Translation Comparisons 2 – Psalm 119:1

Psalm 119:1

1. Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD!

2. Happy are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord.

3. Happy are those who live pure lives,
who follow the Lord’s teachings.

4. Joyful are people of integrity,
who follow the instructions of the LORD.

Stream of thought:

I’m wondering if first word is similar in Hebrew as the word in Matthew 5:3.

I tend to favor teachings or instruction so as not to confuse the word law with Torah.

The word blameless as many of us understand it seems to be an impossibility if viewed from the time of the OT. We are blameless before God now because of what Christ has done for us but our conduct is not perfectly blameless. Then again we are not perfectly pure in conduct or always act with integrity but it seems to convey the idea in a more understandable way.

20 Responses to “Blind Translation Comparisons 2 – Psalm 119:1”


  1. 1 Iris

    In my copy of the LXX, it is the same word. However, in my Hebrew resources that word does not carry the same meaning as “happy” as “makarioi” does in the Greek. So I think you might have to look deeper. 

  2. 2 TC

    Jeff, this one is tough.  I say the NSRV, TNIV, NCV, NLT.

  3. 3 Scripture Zealot

    Thanks Iris. I forgot about looking at the LXX. I knew it would be a tough one.

    TC, you got the NCV and NLT correct. The NRSV is in there, but not the first one. I guess that narrows it down. I wish I had a prize to give you.

    The first one is a “standard” version.
    Jeff

  4. 4 brian

    I think ashare and makairoi do tend to have similar meanings with slight differences depending on the context.

  5. 5 Bob MacDonald

    I am surprised to hear that asheri does not carry the same happy syndrome as makarios. All recent translations are moving away from beatus or blessed (hebrew baruch) and towards something that is implied by asheri – joy, rejoicing, and happiness – at least according to my Hebrew coach.Personally I don’t think this one should be made gender-generic The ish is proleptic of the anointed in Psalm 2 and is specifically singular not plural. Later in the psalms the hasidim also become plural through the redemption wrought by the singular anointed king. The rashiim – wicked – are always plural of course.

  6. 6 David Ker

    OK I wrote a comment on this but must have forgot to hit Submit. (I hate Submission!) I’ll try again.I’m not in favor of the use of Happy in this circumstance. The meaning of blessing in this context and to a certain extent Matt 5 is one of “God showing favor to someone” or “God being pleased with someone.” There is certainly overlap between the Hebrew term and the Greek makarios but the cosmologies and theologies of the two cultures are so different that the perception of the terms would have been diverse to say the least.The Septuagint uses the same Greek term as is found in Matthew.This is a kettle of fish and I’d like to look at it more if I had time. My intuition is that the meaning of this is something like “God will bless richly those who walk in righteousness.” rather than “You will be happy if you live a blameless life.”I’ve stuck my neck out…

  7. 7 Scripture Zealot

    I was afraid to say anything in the original post, but now that you all have mentioned it, I don’t like happy either. And this is what HCSB and NRSV, two of my faves use.

    In studying the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3 ff) I became very convinced that blessed should be the word, not happy. People who suffer with chronic illnesses, pain etc. may never really be happy, especially with mental illness, but can be very blessed and certainly are blessed by God, and even joyful within those circumstances as an example to illustrate the point.

    So when I see happy here I am automatically biased against it, but I didn’t know if I had any grounds for it.

    If you comment you will submit.
    Jeff

  8. 8 Scripture Zealot

    1. ESV
    2. NRSV
    3. NCV
    4. NLTse

  9. 9 TC

    Jeff, I’m proud of myself.  I really did good.  I would have never guessed the ESV.

  10. 10 stuart

    Jeff and David,I agree with you both concerning your dislike of translating ashare and makairos as “happy.”  I think the “happiness” might be found in knowing one has God’s favor and grace, but “happiness” is not the main idea in the word per se.From my understanding of how these words are used in Scripture, it would seem the idea expressed is more of experiencing the favor, approval, or particular grace of God which results in a “well-being” beyond normal experience.   

  11. 11 Scripture Zealot

    TC should get a sticker.

    I think the “happiness” might be found in knowing one has God’s favor and grace

    In any case that may be a good thing to for me to keep in mind when coming across that word in these contexts.
    Jeff

  12. 12 Bob MacDonald

    “well-being” beyond normal experience – nice phrase. And true. Not freedom from trouble but freedom in trouble. (Oh that word ‘in’).Must ask the question – was / is Jesus happy? Was / is God well-pleased beyond normal experience?  E.g. pleasure in the Psalms (Psalm 16 for instance) and ask why is happy not a good translation of asheri when Blessed is BRK? What is the good will – pleasure – happiness of Christ as he himself put it in the NT?

  13. 13 Nathan Stitt

    The last two sound more like modern day English, however I prefer the more poetic timing of the first two. You can also add me to the list of those who prefer the rendering of blessed, both here and in matt 5.

  14. 14 Stan McCullars

    I like what R.T. France, in his commentary on Matthew (NICNT) says about “blessed”:  My favorite translation of “makarios” is the traditional Welsh rendering of the Beatitudes, “Gwyn eu byd,” literally “White is their world,” an evocative idiom for those for whom everything is good.

  15. 15 Bob MacDonald

    I forgot to mention my own translation – acrostic in itself. In part I, all words in this case beginning with the guttural A:All joy for those who are the complete of the waywho walk in the teaching of יְהוָה(Remember to be happy whatever you may read to the contrary – rejoice in the Lord alway!)

  16. 16 stuart

    Bob,

    was / is Jesus happy? Was / is God well-pleased beyond normal experience? 

    Good questions . . . but we also must ask the converse . . . was/is Jesus ever not happy?  Was/is God ever not well-pleased? (I didn’t add the “beyond normal experience’ phrase because my intention with that phrase was to speak of the fallen human condition as affecting the “normal experience”)

    Again, as I understand the concept, blessedness may certainly be connected to “happiness” . . . yet I don’t think “happiness” is the core concept of being blessed.  “Favor” and “approval” which is connected to “well-being” seem to be the better choices, in my opinion.  And I think this could possibly apply to BRK as well (“Bless YHWH, O my soul” as “Give favor to YHWH, i.e., praise him, adore him, etc.).

  17. 17 Bob MacDonald

    Thanks for the reply. Last night I experimented with exploring such happiness and its opposite in the psalms – just listing words – no thought yet. Why would I use the psalms – why not the Gospels? Because the epistle to the Hebrews explores the relationship between the Father and the Son by referencing the Psalms mostly – it is an astonishing dialogue and usage of the texts and it is why I began to study the psalms for real. Your usage of Bless HaShem O my soul proves it. It is God who is blessed when we recognize our happiness in him and Bless him – that is what fulfills his joy (now thinking John 17). (I agree of course that we get blessed too.)

  18. 18 David Ker

    You know, I think Bob is on to something regarding blessed/happy. This is a “happy” word as opposed to the “blessed” word. Although the Septuagint translates this with makarios it might be better to say this is “happy.” So, I’m flip-flopping on this until I understand better the word “ashray”

  19. 19 VALERIE

         I WAS DIGGING DEEP IN MY BIBLE STUDY AND I CAME ACROSS THIS WEBSITE IN MY SEARCH . I WAS WONDERING IN MY STUDY ; HOW CAN I DIG DEEP WHEN THE WORD BLESS AND/OR BLESSING WAS NOT A HEBREW OR ARAMAIC WORD . HOW CAN I CONTINUE MY STUDY WHEN I CANNOT FIND ITS ORIGIN ? YES IT IS IN MY ENGLISH BIBLE BUT IT DOES NOT GO BACK TO DAVID, ABRAHAM OR JESUS TIME WHAT THEN IS THS WORD BEING USED IN PLACE OF ? AND WHY ? THIS IS NOT THE ONLY SCRIPTURAL WORD I AM HAVING PROBLEMS DOING A COMPLETE BACKROUND STUDY ON ! I ENJOY DEEP REVELATION , KNOWING WHAT GOD HAS SAID AND WHY HE HAS SAID IT, BUT THIS IS MESSING ME UP AND KEEPING ME FROM MY STUDYING THE WORD THE WAY I WANT TO STUDY . SOMETIMES  IT KEEPS ME FROM STUDYING  AT ALL.

  20. 20 Scripture Zealot

    Hi Valerie,
    I would suggest not typing in all caps as it looks like you may be shouting, at as far as “netiquette” goes.

    Hopefully someone can answer your question about Hebrew and Aramaic.

    You may want to use Google to do some searching. I found this which may be helpful.
    Jeff

Comments are currently closed.



%d bloggers like this: