Chapter 39

1For the conductor, to Jeduthun, a song of David.   אלַֽמְנַצֵּ֥חַ לִֽידוּת֗וּן (כתיב לִֽ֜ידיּת֗וּן) מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִֽד:
to Jeduthun: The name of one of the singers, and there was also a musical instrument called Jeduthun. According to the Midrash Aggadah (Song Rabbah 4:1 [4]): concerning the edicts (דתות) and concerning the distressing laws and decrees that are decreed upon Israel.  
2I said, "I will guard my ways from sinning with my tongue; I will guard my mouth [as with] a muzzle while the wicked man is still before me.   באָמַ֗רְתִּי אֶשְׁמְרָ֣ה דְרָכַי֘ מֵֽחֲט֪וֹא בִלְשׁ֫וֹנִ֥י אֶשְׁמְרָ֣ה לְפִ֣י מַחְס֑וֹם בְּעֹ֖ד רָשָׁ֣ע לְנֶגְדִּֽי:
I said, “I will guard my ways, etc.”: As for uswe had in mind to watch ourselves with all the troubles that come upon us, neither to criticize nor speak harshly of the Divine Attribute of Justice although the wicked who oppress us are before us.  
a muzzle: Heb. מחסם, as (in Deut. 25:4): “You shall not muzzle (תחסם) an ox, amuzelment in Old French. And I made myself mute in silence many days. We also were silent from ” good, “ even from words of Torah, because of their fear of them, our pain was so intense and frightening. When we were silent, our heart was hot within us and in the thought of our heart it burns in us like fire. That causes us to speak with our tongue (in silencenot in all editions) before You, and this is what we say,” O Lord, let us know our end." How long will we be in distress, and let us know when we will be over it.  
3I made myself dumb in silence; I was silent from good although my pain was intense.   גנֶֽאֱלַ֣מְתִּי ד֖וּמִיָּה הֶֽחֱשֵׁ֣יתִי מִטּ֑וֹב וּכְאֵבִ֥י נֶעְכָּֽר:
4My heart is hot within me; in my thoughts fire burns; I spoke with my tongue,   דחַם־לִבִּ֨י | בְּקִרְבִּ֗י בַּֽהֲגִיגִ֥י תִבְעַר־אֵ֑שׁ דִּ֜בַּ֗רְתִּי בִּלְשֽׁוֹנִי:
5O Lord, let me know my end, and the measure of my days, what it is; I would know when I will cease.   ההֽוֹדִ֘יעֵ֚נִי יְהֹוָ֨ה | קִצִּ֗י וּמִדַּ֣ת יָמַ֣י מַה־הִ֑יא אֵֽדְעָ֗ה מֶה־חָדֵ֥ל אָֽנִי:
6Behold You made my days as handbreadths, and my old age is as nought before You; surely all vanity is in every man; this is his condition forever.   והִנֵּ֚ה טְפָח֨וֹת | נָ֘תַ֚תָּה יָמַ֗י וְחֶלְדִּ֣י כְאַ֣יִן נֶגְדֶּ֑ךָ אַךְ־כָּל־הֶ֥בֶל כָּל־אָ֜דָ֗ם נִצָּ֥ב סֶֽלָה:
Behold… handbreadths: The days of man are measured like a thing that is measured with handbreadths; so are man’s days limited.  
and my old age: Heb. וחלדי, and our old age is as nothing before you. חלד is an expression of rust (חלודה), rodijjl in Old French; rust, old age.  
every man: his life and his condition are a life of vanity.  
7Man walks but in darkness; all that they stir is but vanity; he gathers yet he knows not who will bring them in.   זאַךְ־בְּצֶ֚לֶם | יִתְהַלֶּךְ־אִ֗ישׁ אַךְ־הֶ֥בֶל יֶֽהֱמָי֑וּן יִ֜צְבֹּ֗ר וְֽלֹא־יֵדַ֥ע מִי־אֹֽסְפָֽם:
but in darkness: Heb. בצלם, in darkness. Dunash explained it as an expression of darkness (צלמות) (Teshuvoth Dunash p. 89), but Menachem (p. 150) explained it as an actual image, as (in Gen. 9:6) “for in the image of God He made man.” His view is impossible, however.  
all that they stir is but vanity: All their stirring and lust.  
he gathers: grain in the field all the days of the harvest.  
yet he knows not who will bring them in: He does not know who will gather them into the house; perhaps he will die before the ingathering.  
8And now, what have I hoped, O Lord? My hope to You is;   חוְעַתָּֽה מַה־קִּוִּ֣יתִי אֲדֹנָ֑י תּֽוֹחַלְתִּ֗י לְךָ֣ הִֽיא:
And now, what have I hoped: What is the request that I ask and hope from You? It is only that You save me from my transgressions.  
9Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the reproach of an ignoble man.   טמִכָּל־פְּשָׁעַ֥י הַצִּילֵ֑נִי חֶרְפַּ֥ת נָ֜בָ֗ל אַל־תְּשִׂימֵֽנִי:
do not make me the reproach of: the ignoble Esau. Bring afflictions and pains upon him too, so he will not be able to say to me, “You are suffering, and we are not suffering.” This prayer was instrumental in bringing about the pains of illnesses upon the nations.  
10I have become mute; I will not open my mouth because You have done it.   ינֶֽאֱלַמְתִּי לֹ֥א אֶפְתַּח־פִּ֑י כִּ֖י אַתָּ֣ה עָשִֽׂיתָ:
because You have done it: For You brought upon us trouble more than all nations.  
11Remove Your affliction from me; from the fear of Your hand I perish.   יאהָסֵ֣ר מֵֽעָלַ֣י נִגְעֶ֑ךָ מִתִּגְרַ֥ת יָ֜דְךָ֗ אֲנִ֣י כָלִֽיתִי:
from the fear of Your hand: Heb. מתגרת, from the fear of Your blows. תגרת is an expression of (Num. 22:3): “And Moab became terrified (וַיָגָר).” The “tav” is a defective radical in the word, like תנובה, produce; תלונה, complaint; תקומה, restoration; תכונה, characteristic. This is how Menachem explained it, but I maintain that תגרת is not an expression of מָגוֹר, fear, because he should have said תגוּרה as he says from: וישב (and he returned) תשוּבה, [from] ויקם, וירם and וילן : תקוּמה, תרוּמה and תלוּנה, so he should say from ויגר, תגוּלה, or מגוּרה as (above 31:14, Jer. 20:3): “terror (מגור) from all sides” ; (Isa. 66:4) “and their fears (ומגורתם) I will bring.” Thus you learn that מתגרת is nothing but as (II Chron. 25: 19), “Why should you provoke (תתגרה) disaster?” ; (Deut. 2: 5), “Do not provoke (תתגרו) them,” in which case the verb is גרה like קוה, to hope; אוה, to desire; צוה, to command, of which the noun is תקוה, תאוה, מצוה. So one says from גרה, תגרה, and this is its explanation: from the blows of Your hand, with which You fight me, I perish.  
12With rebukes for iniquity You have chastised man; You have caused his flesh to decay as by a moth. Surely all man is vanity forever.   יבבְּתֽוֹכָ֘ח֚וֹת עַל־עָו‍ֹ֨ן | יִסַּ֬רְתָּ אִ֗ישׁ וַתֶּ֣מֶס כָּעָ֣שׁ חֲמוּד֑וֹ אַ֚ךְ הֶ֖בֶל כָּל־אָדָ֣ם סֶֽלָה:
With rebukes: that are written in the Torah for our iniquities that we have sinned before You and for which You chastised us.  
You have caused his flesh to decay: You have caused our flesh to decay like a moth-eaten garment. Heb. חמודו means his flesh, which is his desire (חמדתו).  
13Hear my prayer, O Lord, and hearken to my cry. Be not silent to my tears, for I am a stranger with You, a dweller as all my forefathers.   יגשִֽׁמְעָ֥ה־תְפִלָּתִ֨י | יְהֹוָ֡ה וְשַׁוְעָתִ֨י | הַֽאֲזִינָה֘ אֶל־דִּמְעָתִ֗י אַל־תֶּֽ֫חֱרָ֥שׁ כִּ֚י גֵ֣ר אָֽנֹכִ֣י עִמָּ֑ךְ תּ֜וֹשָׁ֗ב כְּכָל־אֲבוֹתָֽי:
14Turn away from me that I may recover, before I go and am here no longer."   ידהָשַׁ֣ע מִמֶּ֣נִּי וְאַבְלִ֑יגָה בְּטֶ֖רֶם אֵלֵ֣ךְ וְאֵינֶֽנִּי:
Turn away from me: Loosen Your hand from smiting me.  
that I may recover: Heb. ואבלגה,that I regain my strength.