The Vocative Lamed and Shifting Address in the Psalms: Reevaluating Dahood’s Proposal

In: Vetus Testamentum
W. Derek Suderman Conrad Grebel University College University of Waterloo Waterloo Canada

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In light of recent attention to shifting address within the Psalms, Dahood’s proposal that lyhwh, l’lhym, and similar elements sometimes reflect a vocative lamed addressing God or gods directly rather than speaking about the divine in third person should be reconsidered. While Dahood’s proposal seeks to eliminate “jarring” shifts in address within these psalms based on Ugaritic parallels, a close reading of the examples Dahood provides within their broader literary contexts confirms that his proposal should be rejected. Thus, lyhwh and similar elements should not be understood as reflecting direct speech to God but rather speech about the divine, presumably to a social audience.

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