Psalm 96:5 – Word Play

Today’s responsorial Psalm is Psalm 96.  In verse 5, there is a word play between the words translated “gods of the peoples” and the word translated “idols” (or “worthless idols” or “worthless” dependent on which translation you are reading).  I wanted to see if you can hear it.

Psalm 96:5

For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.

See here for the Hebrew text of Psalm 96.  The phrase in question for “gods of the peoples” are the third and fourth words; the additional word in question is the fifth word with a variety of translations, one of which is “idols.”

Hebrew Audio of Psalm 96:5

Okay, see if you can hear it.  The Hebrew is ‘elohey ha’ammim‘eliyliym

The word play creates a stark contrast between what the peoples believe their gods to be and what they really are.  ‘eliyliym is often translated as “idols,” but the root meaning of the word likely has something to do with being weak, feeble, worthless.  This contrast is taken even further in the second half of the verse where these “gods/idols” are compared to YHWH, namely in the statement that “YHWH has created the heavens/sky.”

Related Posts:

Psalm 98 and Assonance

Psalm 1.4 – A Video Illustration of Chaff

Psalm 1.1 – Translation Comparison