New English Translation
15 The roof of my mouth[a] is as dry as a piece of pottery;
my tongue sticks to my gums.[b]
You[c] set me in the dust of death.[d]
16 Yes,[e] wild dogs surround me—
a gang of evil men crowd around me;
like a lion they pin my hands and feet.[f]
17 I can count[g] all my bones;
my enemies[h] are gloating over me in triumph.[i]
- Psalm 22:15 tc Heb “my strength” (כֹּחִי, kokhi), but many prefer to emend the text to חִכִּי (khiki, “my palate”; cf. NEB, NRSV “my mouth”) assuming that an error of transposition has occurred in the traditional Hebrew text.
- Psalm 22:15 tn Cf. NEB “my jaw”; NASB, NRSV “my jaws”; NIV “the roof of my mouth.”
- Psalm 22:15 sn Here the psalmist addresses God and suggests that God is ultimately responsible for what is happening because of his failure to intervene (see vv. 1-2, 11).
- Psalm 22:15 sn The imperfect verbal form draws attention to the progressive nature of the action. The psalmist is in the process of dying.
- Psalm 22:16 tn Or “for.”
- Psalm 22:16 tc The Masoretic text reads “like a lion, my hands and my feet.” The reading is difficult and the ancient versions vary, so the textual difficulty is probably very early. Without a verb, the syntax appears broken and the role of “hands and feet” unclear. One option is to understand the verb of the previous line to apply again, a poetic technique called ellipsis and double duty. But “my hands and feet” would be an odd object for a verb meaning “they encircled.” Otherwise, the broken syntax may represent the emotional outcry of the Psalmist, first mentioning the lion as part of the third person description, but suddenly shifting to the first person perspective and crying out as the lion attacks, pinning down his hands and feet (a scene depicted in ancient Near Eastern art). But this development seems late textually. All the other witnesses have a verb instead of “like a lion.” The LXX says “they dug my hands and feet; the verb ὀρύσσω (orussō) means “to burrow in the ground, to dig.” A Qumran witness seems to read similarly, “they dug.” Instead of the MT’s כארי (kᵉʾariy; like a lion”), the scroll from Nahal Hever has a verb form כארו (kaʾaru) ending with vav instead of yod. Supposing that the א (ʾaleph) is a superfluous spelling variant, the form would be understood as כרו (karu) from the root כרה (karah), meaning “they dug.” In that case, the Qumran scroll and the LXX agree because כרה is one of the two verbs translated in the LXX by ὀρύσσω. But as both these verbs mean “to dig [in the dirt]” this has not helped us understand the context. Assuming that the enemies are still the subject, we might expect “they dug a pit for my hands and feet.” In fact the Hebrew words behind “they dug a pit” look similar (כרו בור) so it is not hard to imagine that one of these two would be overlooked by a scribed and dropped from the text. Some suppose that “to dig [in the ground]” means “to pierce” in reference to hands and feet (possibly from the root כור). Other variants and suggestions include “they bound,” or “they picked clean” (from אָרָה, ʾarah, “to pluck”) my hands and feet. Or “my hands and feet are consumed,” or “worn out.” The latter two assume a copying error of resh for lamed, making the verb come from כלה. P. Craigie (Psalms [WBC], 1:196) opts for this last but also cites Syriac and Akkadian for additional root K-R-H meaning “to be shrunken, shriveled.” The Akkadian verb (karu) is said of body parts and can refer to paralysis, which is the kind of metaphor which occurs in battle contexts elsewhere (e.g. Ps 76:5). It would be very natural to read “my hands and my feet” as the subject of the verb because verb-subject is typical word order. There is no decisive answer to the problem and the NET translation includes the lion imagery (cf. v. 13) and supposes a verb that conveys an attack.
- Psalm 22:17 tn The imperfect verbal forms in vv. 17-18 draw attention to the progressive nature of the action.
- Psalm 22:17 tn Heb “they.” The masculine form indicates the enemies are in view. The referent (the psalmist’s enemies) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Psalm 22:17 tn Heb “they gaze, they look upon me.”