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The Lord’s shout breaks[a] the cedars,
the Lord shatters[b] the cedars of Lebanon.[c]
He makes them skip like a calf,
Lebanon and Sirion[d] like a young ox.[e]
The Lord’s shout strikes[f] with flaming fire.[g]
The Lord’s shout shakes[h] the wilderness,
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.[i]
The Lord’s shout bends[j] the large trees[k]
and strips[l] the leaves from the forests.[m]
Everyone in his temple says, “Majestic!”[n]

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  1. Psalm 29:5 tn The Hebrew participial form draws attention to the durative nature of the action being described.
  2. Psalm 29:5 tn The prefixed verbal forms with vav (ו) consecutive here and in v. 6a carry on the descriptive function of the preceding participle (see GKC 329 §111.u). The verb שָׁבַר (shavar) appears in the Qal in the first line of the verse, and in the Piel in the second line. The verb, which means “break” in the Qal, appears thirty-six times in the Piel, always with multiple objects (the object is either a collective singular or grammatically plural or dual form). The Piel may highlight the repetition of the pluralative action, or it may suggest an intensification of action, indicating repeated action comprising a whole, perhaps with the nuance “break again and again, break in pieces.” Another option is to understand the form as resultative: “make broken” (see IBHS 404-7 §24.3).
  3. Psalm 29:5 sn The cedars of the Lebanon forest were well-known in ancient Israel for their immense size. Here they may symbolize the arrogant enemies of God (see Isa 2:12-13).
  4. Psalm 29:6 sn Sirion is another name for Mount Hermon (Deut 3:9).
  5. Psalm 29:6 sn Lebanon and Sirion are compared to frisky young animals (a calf…a young ox) who skip and jump. The thunderous shout of the Lord is so powerful, one can see the very mountains shake on the horizon.
  6. Psalm 29:7 tn The verb normally means “to hew [stone or wood],” or “to hew out.” In Hos 6:5 it seems to mean “cut in pieces,” “knock down,” or perhaps “hack” (see F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Hosea [AB], 428). The Ugaritic cognate can mean “assault.” In v. 7 the verb seems to have a similar meaning, perhaps “attack, strike.” The phrase “flames of fire” is an adverbial accusative; the Lord’s shout is accompanied by “flames of fire,” that is, lightning bolts.
  7. Psalm 29:7 sn The Lord’s shout strikes with flaming fire. The short line has invited textual emendation, but its distinct, brief form may highlight the statement, which serves as the axis of a chiastic structure encompassing vv. 5-9: (A) the Lord’s shout destroys the forest (v. 5); (B) the Lord’s shout shakes the terrain (v. 6); (C) the Lord’s shout is accompanied by destructive lightning (v. 7); (B´) the Lord’s shout shakes the terrain (v. 8); (A´) the Lord’s shout destroys the forest (v. 9).
  8. Psalm 29:8 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal forms are descriptive in function; the psalmist depicts the action as underway.
  9. Psalm 29:8 sn Kadesh. The references to Lebanon and Sirion in v. 6 suggest this is a reference to the northern Kadesh, located north of Damascus, not the southern Kadesh mentioned so often in the OT. See M. Dahood, Psalms (AB), 1:178.
  10. Psalm 29:9 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal form is descriptive in function; the psalmist depicts the action as underway.
  11. Psalm 29:9 tc Heb “the deer.” Preserving this reading, some translate the preceding verb, “causes [the deer] to give premature birth” (cf. NEB, NASB). But the Polel of חוּל/חִיל (khul/khil) means “give birth,” not “cause to give birth,” and the statement “the Lord’s shout gives birth to deer” is absurd. In light of the parallelism (note “forests” in the next line) and v. 5, it is preferable to emend אַיָּלוֹת (ʾayyalot, “deer”) to אֵילוֹת (ʾelot, “large trees”) understanding the latter as an alternate form of the usual plural form אַיָּלִים (ʾayyalim).
  12. Psalm 29:9 tn The verb is used in Joel 1:7 of locusts stripping the leaves from a tree. The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive here carries the descriptive function of the preceding imperfect. See GKC 329 §111.t.
  13. Psalm 29:9 tn The usual form of the plural of יַעַר (yaʿar, “forest”) is יְעָרִים (yeʿarim). For this reason some propose an emendation to יְעָלוֹת (ye’alot, “female mountain goats”) which would fit nicely in the parallelism with “deer” (cf. NEB “brings kids early to birth”). In this case one would have to understand the verb חָשַׂף (khasaf) to mean “cause premature birth,” an otherwise unattested homonym of the more common חָשַׂף (“strip bare”).sn The Lord’s thunderous shout is accompanied by high winds which damage the trees of the forest.
  14. Psalm 29:9 tn Heb “In his temple, all of it says, ‘Glory.’”