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Is the word magnified above the name? Psalm 138:2


A great question has arisen concerning the language of Tehilliym 138:2

Tehilliym (Psalms) 138:2
I will worship toward your holy Temple, and praise את eth-your name for your lovingkindness and for your Truth: for you have magnified your word above all your name.

So, do we have it laid out correctly? I don’t think so.

Psa 138:2  אשׁתחוה (e’shachath’oth I will rejoice) אל (al-over) היכל (haykal – temple) קדשׁך (qodesh’och – your holiness) ואודה (v’e’yada and I praise) את (eth) שׁמך (shem’och – your name) על (al-over) חסדך (chesed’och – your mercy) ועל (v’al – and upon) אמתך (emet’och – your truth) כי (kee – for) הגדלת (h’gadal’oth – the greatnesses) על (al-over) כל (kole - every) שׁמך (shem’och – your name) אמרתך׃ (emra’oth’och – your words)

A little discussion here is appropriate.  We see a number of words here which enjoy the suffix (ך) kaf sofit (final kaf). This prefix is given the meaning of your. So we see the word qodesh’och (your holy); shem’och (your name); chesed’och (your mercy); emet’och (your truth); shem’och (your name) emra’oth’och (the plural of emrah “the Word” meaning the words, with the suffix meaning your words.

One large question is the order of the final words, which in the Ivriyt are:

כִּי־הִגְדַּלְתָּ עַל־כָּל־שִׁמְךָ אִמְרָתֶךָ׃

This is transliterated as kee-ha’gadal’oth al-kole-shem’och emra’oth’och.

Literally, for the greatnesses over all your name your words.

Let’s go back and take a look at the original translation: and praise את eth-your name for your lovingkindness and for your Truth: for you have magnified your word above all your name.

So, we do not see the word kee (for) at these places in this verse, as it only appears once in this verse; neither do we have the phrase you have. So let’s repair:

I will worship toward your holy Temple, and praise את eth-your name for your lovingkindness and for your Truth: for you have magnified your word above all your name.

Yet, someone has left out the word the before the word magnified, which does not appear to be in past tense, but rather, plural. So if magnified is the word, it must be the magnifies. Doesn’t work, does it? But gadal doesn’t only mean to magnify, but also to make great or to grow.  Between those two, it is reasonable that the use should be greatnesses, because the word is plural.  Therefore, the better phrase is the greatnesses, not the magnified, or the growths.

I will worship toward your holy Temple, and praise את eth-your name, for your lovingkindness and for your Truth: for you have magnified the greatnesses of your word above all your name.

There is no of in the ancient Ivriyt, therefore it is added to make sense of the phrase in English. 

Now, the sixty-four-dollar question is: Is the word above all your name? Or does it say something else.  In the Ivriyt, we see the word shem’och (your name) appears before emrah’oth’och (your words).

The order is: for the greatnesses over all your name your words.

We see in this phrase the operative word over.  This word comes from Ivriyt word (עַל) al

Now this word is going to open up a world of issues.  While its common use is found as it is defined in (Strong’s H5921), meaning above, over, upon, or against; it is also the same word as (Strong’s H5920), meaning the Highest, to Yahuah, above, or most high.

This is not the root word, however.  The root is (H5927) the verb (עָלָה) ʻâlâh, which means to ascend, intransitively (be high) or actively (mount); used in a great variety of senses, primary and secondary, literal and figurative:—arise (up), (cause to) ascend up, at once, break (the day) (up), bring (up), (cause to) burn, carry up, cast up, shew, climb (up), (cause to, make to) come (up), cut off, dawn, depart, exalt, excel, fall, fetch up, get up, (make to) go (away, up); grow (over) increase, lay, leap, levy, lift (self) up, light, (make) up, × mention, mount up, offer, make to pay, perfect, prefer, put (on), raise, recover, restore, (make to) rise (up), scale, set (up), shoot forth (up), (begin to) spring (up), stir up, take away (up), work.

Interesting that this word is the word most often translated as burnt offering (עֹלָה) ʻôlâh

(Strong’s 5930) usually used as meaning a holocaust (as going up in smoke):—ascent, burnt offering (sacrifice), go up to. See Ge 8:20; Ge 22:2; Ge 22:3; Ge 22:6; Ge 22:7; Ge 22:8; Ge 22:13; Ex 10:25; Ex 18:12; Ex 20:24; Ex 24:5; Ex 29:18; Ex 29:25; Ex 29:42; Ex 30:9; Ex 30:28; Ex 31:9; Ex 32:6 ; Ex 35:16; Ex 38:1; Ex 40:6; Ex 40:10; Ex 40:29; Le 1:3; Le 1:4; Le 1:6; Le 1:9; Le 1:10; Le 1:13; Le 1:14; Le 1:17; Le 3:5; Le 4:7; Le 4:10; Le 4:18; Le 4:24; Le 4:25; Le 4:29; Le 4:30; Le 4:33; Le 4:34; Le 5:7; Le 5:10; Le 6:9; Le 6:10; Le 6:12; Le 6:25; Le 7:2; Le 7:8; Le 7:37; Le 8:18; Le 8:21; Le 8:28; Le 9:2; Le 9:3; Le 9:7; Le 9:12; Le 9:13; Le 9:14; Le 9:16; Le 9:17; Le 9:22; Le 9:24; Le 10:19; Le 12:6; Le 12:8; Le 14:13; Le 14:19; Le 14:20; Le 14:22; Le 14:31; Le 15:15; Le 15:30; Le 16:3; Le 16:5; Le 16:24; Le 17:8; Le 22:18; Le 23:12; Le 23:18; Le 23:37; Nu 6:11; Nu 6:14; Nu 6:16; Nu 7:15; Nu 7:21; Nu 7:27; Nu 7:33; Nu 7:39; Nu 7:45; Nu 7:51; Nu 7:57; Nu 7:63; Nu 7:69; Nu 7:75; Nu 7:81; Nu 7:87; Nu 8:12; Nu 10:10; Nu 15:3; Nu 15:5; Nu 15:8; Nu 15:24; Nu 23:3; Nu 23:6; Nu 23:15; Nu 23:17; Nu 28:3; Nu 28:6; Nu 28:10; Nu 28:11; Nu 28:13; Nu 28:14; Nu 28:15; Nu 28:19; Nu 28:23; Nu 28:24; Nu 28:27; Nu 28:31; Nu 29:2; Nu 29:6; Nu 29:8; Nu 29:11; Nu 29:13; Nu 29:16; Nu 29:19; Nu 29:22; Nu 29:25; Nu 29:28; Nu 29:31; Nu 29:34; Nu 29:36; Nu 29:38; Nu 29:39; De 12:6; De 12:11; De 12:13; De 12:14; De 12:27; De 27:6; Jos 8:31; Jos 22:23; Jos 22:26; Jos 22:27; Jos 22:28; Jos 22:29; Jg 6:26; Jg 11:31; Jg 13:16; Jg 13:23; Jg 20:26; Jg 21:4; 1Sa 6:14; 1Sa 6:15; 1Sa 7:9; 1Sa 7:10; 1Sa 10:8; 1Sa 13:9; 1Sa 13:10; 1Sa 13:12; 1Sa 15:22; 2Sa 6:17; 2Sa 6:18; 2Sa 24:22; 2Sa 24:24; 2Sa 24:25; 1Ki 3:4; 1Ki 3:15; 1Ki 8:64; 1Ki 9:25; 1Ki 10:5; 1Ki 18:33; 1Ki 18:38; 2Ki 3:27; 2Ki 5:17; 2Ki 10:24; 2Ki 10:25; 2Ki 16:13; 2Ki 16:15; 1Ch 6:49; 1Ch 16:1; 1Ch 16:2; 1Ch 16:40; 1Ch 21:23; 1Ch 21:24; 1Ch 21:26; 1Ch 21:29; 1Ch 22:1; 1Ch 23:31; 1Ch 29:21; 2Ch 1:6; 2Ch 2:4; 2Ch 4:6; 2Ch 7:1; 2Ch 7:7; 2Ch 8:12; 2Ch 13:11; 2Ch 23:18; 2Ch 24:14; 2Ch 29:7; 2Ch 29:18; 2Ch 29:24; 2Ch 29:27; 2Ch 29:28; 2Ch 29:31; 2Ch 29:32; 2Ch 29:34; 2Ch 29:35; 2Ch 30:15; 2Ch 31:2; 2Ch 31:3; 2Ch 35:12; 2Ch 35:14; 2Ch 35:16; Ezr 3:2; Ezr 3:3; Ezr 3:4; Ezr 3:5; Ezr 3:6; Ezr 8:35; Ne 10:33; Job 1:5; Job 42:8; Ps 20:3; Ps 40:6; Ps 50:8; Ps 51:16; Ps 51:19; Ps 66:13; Ps 66:15; Isa 1:11; Isa 40:16; Isa 43:23; Isa 56:7; Isa 61:8; Jer 6:20; Jer 7:21; Jer 7:22; Jer 14:12; Jer 17:26; Jer 19:5; Jer 33:18; Eze 40:26; Eze 40:38; Eze 40:39; Eze 40:42; Eze 43:18; Eze 43:24; Eze 43:27; Eze 44:11; Eze 45:15; Eze 45:17; Eze 45:23; Eze 45:25; Eze 46:2; Eze 46:4; Eze 46:13; Eze 46:15; Ho 6:6; Am 5:22; Mic 6:6.

Again, looking at this verse, it begins with:

I will worship toward your holy Temple, and praise את eth-your name . . .

Now let’s finish this verse with the options we find for the word al:

. . . according to your mercy, and according to your truth, for the greatness of your word according to your name.

The direct interpretation of the Ivriyt is:

I will bow down toward temple your holy, and I praise את-eth your name according to your mercy and according to your truth for the greatness according to all your name your words.

Correcting the semantic, we see I will bow down toward temple your holy, and I praise את-eth your name according to your mercy and according to your truth for the greatness of your name according to all your words.

Let’s take a look at the interpretation of the 1560 Geneva bible under John Calvin in respect of this verse:

Psalme 138:2 (1560 Geneva)
I will worship toward thine holie Temple and praise thy Name, because of thy loving kindness and for the trueth; for thou hast magnified thy Name above all things by thy worde.

I suggest to you the following is the more likely phrasing of this verse:

Tehilliym (Psalm) 138:2 
I will bow down toward your holy Temple, and I praise את-eth your name according to your mercy and according to your truth; for the greatness of your name according to all your words.

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