Psalm 143:3 my life or my living thing?

Classical Hebrew morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics
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Kenneth Greifer
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Psalm 143:3 my life or my living thing?

Postby Kenneth Greifer » Fri Jul 03, 2020 11:24 am

Psalm 143:3
כִּ֥י רָ֘דַ֤ף אוֹיֵ֨ב ׀ נַפְשִׁ֗י דִּכָּ֣א לָ֭אָרֶץ חַיָּתִ֑י הוֹשִׁיבַ֥נִי בְ֝מַחֲשַׁכִּ֗ים כְּמֵתֵ֥י עוֹלָֽם׃
Does the word חיתי mean "my life" or "my living thing" about the psalm writer's soul? Also, when is the word חיים used for life? I see a lot of translations and dictionaries that say חיה means "life" or "living thing."

Mitchell Powell
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Re: Psalm 143:3 my life or my living thing?

Postby Mitchell Powell » Fri Jul 03, 2020 1:05 pm

Perhaps it is a wrong turn here to read נַפְשִׁי as "my soul". I think the most natural thing is to read נַפְשִׁי and חַיָּתִי as two different ways of saying "my life".

When חַיָּה is used for "living thing", I think that's a meaning more along the lines of "animal" or "living creature" than a usage like "my soul is my living thing", which seems foreign to the way biblical Hebrew uses both the word נֶפֶשׁ and the word חַיָּה.

I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying it looks less likely to me than the simpler reading.

ducky
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Re: Psalm 143:3 my life or my living thing?

Postby ducky » Fri Jul 03, 2020 6:55 pm

חיה can mean soul and can mean life, which basically, I don't see any difference.

Psalms 7:6 has a parallel verse which there it is written חיי
so you can compare these two.
David Hunter

Kenneth Greifer
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Re: Psalm 143:3 my life or my living thing?

Postby Kenneth Greifer » Sat Jul 04, 2020 9:22 pm

I tried to post a response on Friday, but it didn't show up for some reason. I wanted to ask when is the word חיים used for "life"? What is the difference between חיה and חיים?

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SteveMiller
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Re: Psalm 143:3 my life or my living thing?

Postby SteveMiller » Mon Jul 06, 2020 9:47 pm

It can mean either "my life" as in Job 33:18,20,22,28 or "my animal (living thing)" as in Num 35:3;Psa 50:10.
The context in Ps 143:3 would seem to demand "my life".

חיים is masculine plural and חיה is feminine singular.
The masculine noun form is used 270 times: 169 times in the plural and 101 times in singular.
Looking briefly at them, the masculine plural means "life" while the singular seems to be used more as a verb "live". The masculine form is not used for animals.

The feminine form is used 112 times: 100 times singular and 12 times plural. It usually refers to animals, but often refers to human life. The 12 plural uses all refer to animals.

From the above, I would say that חיה as used in Ps 143:3 refers to my physical life, the life of my body, which is the highest form of animal life.
חיים refers to the human soul or spirit life or God's life.
Sincerely yours,
Steve Miller
Detroit
http://www.voiceInWilderness.info
Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)

ducky
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Re: Psalm 143:3 my life or my living thing?

Postby ducky » Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:22 pm

Hi,

חיה is a feminine participle, therefore, it usually refers to the soul, as the source of life itself (the power of life).
(by the way, just a note, in the Jewish way, the soul has five levels/layers, and the חיה is one of them).
David Hunter


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