New English Translation
17 May his fame endure.[a]
May his dynasty last as long as the sun remains in the sky.[b]
May they use his name when they formulate their blessings.[c]
May all nations consider him to be favored by God.[d]
18 The Lord God, the God of Israel, deserves praise.[e]
He alone accomplishes amazing things.[f]
19 His glorious name deserves praise[g] forevermore.
May his majestic splendor[h] fill the whole earth.
We agree! We agree![i]
- Psalm 72:17 tn Heb “may his name [be] permanent.” The prefixed verbal form is jussive, not imperfect.
- Psalm 72:17 tn Heb “before the sun may his name increase.” The Kethib (consonantal text) assumes יָנִין (yanin; a Hiphil of the verbal root נִין, nin) or יְנַיֵן (yenayen; a Piel form), while the Qere (marginal reading) assumes יִנּוֹן (yinnon; a Niphal form). The verb נִין occurs only here, though a derived noun, meaning “offspring,” appears elsewhere (see Isa 14:22). The verb appears to mean “propagate, increase” (BDB 630 s.v. נוּן, נִין) or “produce shoots, get descendants” (HALOT 696 s.v. נין). In this context this appears to be a prayer for a lasting dynasty that will keep the king’s name and memory alive.
- Psalm 72:17 tn Heb “may they bless one another by him,” that is, use the king’s name in their blessing formulae because he is a prime example of one blessed by God (for examples of such blessing formulae, see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11). There is some debate on whether the Hitpael form of בָּרַךְ (barakh, “bless”) is reflexive-reciprocal (as assumed in the present translation) or passive. The Hitpael of בָּרַךְ occurs in five other passages, including the hotly debated Gen 22:18 and 26:4. In these two texts one could understand the verb form as passive and translate, “all the nations of the earth will be blessed through your offspring,” or one could take the Hitpael as reflexive or reciprocal and translate, “all the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings [i.e., on themselves or one another] by your offspring.” In the first instance Abraham’s (or Isaac’s) offspring are viewed as a channel of divine blessing. In the second instance they are viewed as a prime example of blessing that will appear as part of the nations’ blessing formulae, but not necessarily as a channel of blessing to the nations. In Deut 29:18 one reads: “When one hears the words of this covenant [or “oath”] and invokes a blessing on himself (Hitpael of בָּרַךְ) in his heart, saying: ‘I will have peace, even though I walk with a rebellious heart.’” In this case the Hitpael is clearly reflexive, as the phrases “in his heart” and “I will have peace” indicate. The Hitpael of בָּרַךְ appears twice in Isaiah 65:16: “The one who invokes a blessing on himself (see Deut 9:18) in the land will invoke that blessing by the God of truth; and the one who makes an oath in the land will make that oath by the God of truth.” A passive nuance does not fit here. The parallel line, which mentions making an oath, suggests that the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ refers here to invoking a blessing. Both pronouncements of blessing and oaths will appeal to God as the one who rewards and judges, respectively. Jer 4:2 states: “If you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ with truth, integrity, and honesty, then the nations will pronounce blessings by him and boast in him.” A passive nuance might work (“the nations will be blessed”), but the context refers to verbal pronouncements (swearing an oath, boasting), suggesting that the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ refers here to invoking a blessing. The logic of the verse seems to be as follows: If Israel conducts its affairs with integrity, the nation will be favored by the Lord, which will in turn attract the surrounding nations to Israel’s God. To summarize, while the evidence might leave the door open for a passive interpretation, there is no clear cut passive use. Usage favors a reflexive or reciprocal understanding of the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ. In Ps 72:17 the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ is followed by the prepositional phrase בוֹ (vo, “by him”). The verb could theoretically be taken as passive, “may all the nations be blessed through him” (cf. NIV, NRSV), because the preceding context describes the positive effects of this king’s rule on the inhabitants of the earth. But the parallel line, which employs the Piel of אָשַׁר (ʾashar) in a factitive/declarative sense, “regard as happy, fortunate,” suggests a reflexive or reciprocal nuance for the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ here. If the nations regard the ideal king as a prime example of one who is fortunate or blessed, it is understandable that they would use his name in their pronouncements of blessing.
- Psalm 72:17 tn Heb “all the nations, may they regard him as happy.” The Piel is used here in a delocutive sense (“regard as”).
- Psalm 72:18 tn Heb “[be] blessed.” See Pss 18:46; 28:6; 31:21; 41:13.
- Psalm 72:18 tn Heb “[the] one who does amazing things by himself.”
- Psalm 72:19 tn Heb “[be] blessed.”
- Psalm 72:19 tn Or “glory.”
- Psalm 72:19 tn Heb “surely and surely” (אָמֵן וְאָמֵן [ʾamen veʾamen], i.e., “Amen and amen”). This is probably a congregational response of agreement to the immediately preceding statement about the propriety of praising God.