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July 26, 2006

Psalm 83

Psalm 83.jpg

It is difficult to calculate the odds of a thousand year old psalter surviving intact in an Irish bog. Trickier still to appreciate the luck involved in spotting the thing before the backhoe took another bite for the peat industry. Factor in the timing and the fact the page was turned to Psalm 83 and we might have to consider the universe to be slightly less subtle than it is often given credit.

For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from [being] a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.

Albert Einstein once observed, "God does not play dice" with the universe. But to paraphrase Niels Bohr: Who are we to tell God what to do?

Chazak Ve-ematz Update: “This is my home. And from here, I am not budging.”

Posted by Ghost of a flea at July 26, 2006 10:21 AM


Unfortunately, this angle on the story has now been repudiated by the National Museum of Ireland. Article taken from today's Irish Times:

In a week in which it secured one of its most remarkable artefacts, the National Museum yesterday found itself intervening in an unlikely international quarrel over global geopolitics and Biblical prophecy, writes Ruadhán Mac Cormaic.

As news of the discovery of a 1,000-year-old psalter in a bog in the midlands made its way briskly around the world this week, keen eyes fell on an ostensibly peripheral detail: while most pages had yet to be carefully studied, the museum had said, there was one that was legible. Psalm 83.

And with that, the news websites and blogs began to hum, each one honing in on Psalm 83 and its supposed reference to "the wiping of Israel from the map".

On Wednesday, under the title An Amazingly Timely Discovery, a writer with one Israeli news magazine devoted an entire column to the find, which he regarded as "nothing short of a phenomenon".

"I don't want to take it any further than I should, but time may show that the discovery of the Irish psalm book was a warning," he wrote.

However yesterday, before it all got out of hand, the director of the National Museum, Dr Patrick Wallace, issued a statement saying the text visible on the manuscript found in the bog does not refer to the wiping out of Israel but to the "vale of tears".

"This is part of Verse 7 of Psalm 83 in the old Latin translation of the Bible [the Vulgate] which....would have been the version used in the medieval period.

"In the much later King James version the number of the psalms is different, based on the Hebrew text and the 'vale of tears' occurs in Psalm 84.

"The text about wiping out Israel occurs in the Vulgate as Psalm 82" which equals Psalm 83 (King James version), he said.

"It is hoped that this clarification will serve comfort to anyone worried by earlier reports of the content of the text," Dr Wallace added.

Posted by: Dave [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 28, 2006 09:05 AM

Such is the power of the blogosphere. Thanks for steering me clear on this; though I confess the news is slightly disappointing.

Here is the National Museum of Ireland press released (largely quoted in your comment) and an interlineary version of the arguably less topical psalm in question.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 28, 2006 11:17 AM