On the Psalms

 Teaching Monk
 Monteolivetto, Italy, 1590

Didymus The Blind, Commentary on the Psalms Vol.4, Ps. 35-39, Didymos Der Blinde, Psalmenkommentar  (Tura-Papyrus)  Teil IV Kommentar zu Psalm 35-39; ed. & tr.Michael Gronewald, ser. Papyrologische Texte und Abhandlungen  herausgegeben von Ludwig Koenen und Reinhold Merkelbach  Band 6  (Bonn: Rudolf Habelt Verlag Gmbh 1969)





IN view of the [final] goal, by Idithoun.
I said, “I will keep watch over my ways so that I do not sin with my tongue.”

1-2  εἰς τὸ τέλος͵ τῷ Ἰδιθούμ. [εἶπα]· φυλάξω τὰς ὁδούς μου τοῦ μὴ ἁμαρτάνειν ἐν γλώσσῃ μου.



HE is one of the sacred psalmists.  In Esdras (cf. 2 Esdr 21,17) and Paralipomena (cf. 1 Par 25,; 2 Par 5,12) the memory of such writers’ names is preserved. This [person] is thus one of those; and he either composed the psalm himself for David, or he received it from David and transmitted it.  For the sacred psalmist’s task consists of both reciting psalms he composes and transmitting those of others.

εἷς τῶν ἱεροψαλτῶν ἐστιν.  ἐν τῷ Ἔσδρᾳ [κ]αὶ ἐν τῷ Ἀπολειπομένῳ μνήμη γίνεται ἑκάστου ὀνόματος τῶν  ὑποβαλλόντων. καὶ οὗτος οὖν εἷς ἐστιν αὐτῶν καὶ ἤτοι αὐτὸς πεποίηκεν τὸν ψαλμ[ὸ]ν εἰς τὸν Δαυίδ͵ ἢ γενάμενον παρὰ Δαυὶδ λαβὼν ἀπήγγειλεν. ἔργον δέ ἐστιν τῶν ἱεροψαλτῶν λέγειν τοὺ[ς ψα]λμοὺς καὶ οὓς αὐτοὶ  πεποιήκασιν καὶ οὓς ἄλλοι συνέθηκαν.

And this is also a song of victory.  For the most part it concerns the assaults of the sinner; but after [the singer] has victorious[ly fought the sinner], thrown down and subdued him beneath his hand, he offers up th[is] song.  For no one sings a song of victory while still fighting and being fought against, but only after attaining victory.  Thus it was, for example, that Moses and the whole Jewish people recited the victory-song, not while still dealing with Pharaoh, but after having seen him sink into the sea:

ᾠδὴ οὖν ἐστιν αὕτη ἐπινίκι[ος. πλ]ει[στά]κις [ἐνοχ]λοῦν 272 τα ἔχει τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν͵  ἀλλὰ μετὰ τὸ νικῆσαι καὶ πατῆσαι αὐτὸν καὶ ὑπὸ χεῖρα λαβεῖν ἀναπέμπει τὴν ᾠδήν· οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἔτι ἐν τῷ πολεμεῖν  καὶ πολεμεῖσθαι ἐπινίκιον ᾄδει͵ ἀλλ΄ ἐν τῷ νενικηκέναι. αὐτίκα γοῦν καὶ Μωυσῆς καὶ πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαι κὴ πληθὺς οὐχ ὅτε εἶχαν πρὸς τὸν Φαραώ͵ τὴν ἐπινίκιον εἶπον ᾠδήν͵ ἀλλ΄ ὅτε εἶδον αὐτὸν ὑποβρύχιον γεγενημένον·

Let us sing to the Lord: for he is gloriously magnified, horse and rider he has cast into the sea. (Ex 15:1)

ᾄσωμεν τῷ κυρίῳ͵ ἐνδόξως γὰρ δεδόξασται· ἵππον καὶ ἀναβά την ἔριψεν εἰς θάλασσαν.

When horse and rider had been cast into the sea, and after God had cast the chariots and mighty [men] of Pharaoh into the Red Sea – then the fitting time had arrived for sending up a song of victory.  And this is what David does in the Seventeenth Psalm: On the day the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul, he then said: “I love You, Lord, my strength” (Ps 17:1-2), and everything else contained in the psalm.

ὅτε ἐρίφη ὁ ἵππος καὶ  ὁ ἐπιβάτης αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν͵ καὶ ἅρματα Φαραὼθ καὶ τὴν δύναμιν ὁ θεὸς ἔριψεν εἰς θάλασσαν τὴν ἐρυθράν͵  τότε ἡ ἐπι νίκιος καιρίως ἀνεπέμφθη ᾠδή. καὶ Δαυὶδ ἐν τῷ δεκάτῳ ἑβδό μῳ ψαλμῷ· ἐν ἡμέρᾳ͵ ᾗ ἐρύσατο αὐτὸν ἐκ χειρὸς πάντων τῶν ἐχθρῶν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐκ χειρὸς Σαούλ͵ τότε εἶπεν· ἀγαπήσω σε͵ κύριε ἡ ἰσχύς μου͵ καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ὅσα περιέχει ἡ ᾠδή.

Prayer [is offered] both before the battle and during the battle; while a victory-hymn and [victory-]song [are sung] after the devastation of battle, after the enemy has been conquered.

προσευχὴ πρὸ τοῦ πολέμου καὶ ἐν τῷ πολέμῳ͵ ἐπινίκιος δὲ ὕμνος καὶ ᾠδὴ μετὰ τὴν καθαίρεσιν τοῦ πολέμου͵  μετὰ τὸ ἁλῶναι τοὺς πολεμίους.

I said, “I will keep watch over my ways, so that I do not sin with my tongue.”

εἶπα· φυλάξω τὰς ὁδούς μου τοῦ μὴ ἁμαρτάνειν ἐν γλώσσῃ μου.

Almost every sin of action [lit. praktike] has its origin in speech [logos]. In [the Book of] Proverbs the youth inclining towards the prostitute is seduced by a woman, or a false opinion, or disceit, is captured only after [the temptation] is initiated with words.

σχεδὸν  πάσης ἁμαρτίας πρακτικῆς ἐκ λόγου ἀρχὴ γί νεται. πρὸς τὸν ἁλόντα νεανίαν ἡ πόρνη ἡ ἐν ταῖς παροιμίαις  προσωποποιουμένη ἤτοι γυνὴ οὖσα ἢ δόξα ψευδὴς ἢ ἀπάτη τις ἀπὸ λόγων ἀρξαμένη ἑλεῖν αὐτὸν δεδύνηται.

Thus it is written, She leads him astray with her eager speech or “chatter”. With the snares of her lips she drives him aground (Prov. 7:21). So you see that the sin’s origin consists in a word. And so it was that the Elders filled with frenz[ied lust] for Susannah hurled words at her.

εἴρηται γοῦν· ἀπεπλάνησεν αὐτὸν πολλῇ ὁμιλίᾳ ἢ αἱμυλίᾳ. βρόχοις δὲ τοῖς διὰ χειλέων ἐξώκειλεν αὐτόν.  καὶ ὅρ[α γε͵ ὅτι] ἀρχὴ τῆς ἁμαρτίας γέγονε λόγος. καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι γοῦν οἱ κατὰ Σωσάννης μανέντες λόγον  ἐκίνησαν πρὸς αὐτήν.

Therefore, one who does not sin with the tongue completes the path well: for I say that the beginning of these ways consists in a word. And conversely, the beginning of all good works consists in a word.

ὅταν τις οὖν μὴ ἁμαρτήσῃ ἐν γλώσσῃ͵ καλῶς ἀνύει τὰς ὁδούς· εἶπον γὰρ ὅτι ἀρχὴ  τῶν ὁδῶν τούτων λόγος ἐστίν. καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ἐναντίου πάλιν πάντων τῶν καλῶν ἔργων ἀρχὴ λόγος  ἐστίν.

But this text is not concerned with these [good] paths. For he says, so that I do not sin with my tongue.  For to sin with the tongue is not the same as to say my tongue meditates on your justice. (Ps 34, 28)

ἀλλὰ οὐ περὶ ἐκείνων τῶν ὁδῶν τέως λέγει. προσέθηκεν δέ· τοῦ μὴ ἁμαρτάνειν ἐν γλώσσῃ μου.  οὐ ταὐτὸν δὲ τὸ ἁμαρτάνειν ἐν γλώττῃ καὶ τὸ λέγειν· ἡ γλῶττά μου μελετήσει τὴν δικαιοσύνην σου.

The beginning of your words is truth (Ps 118, 160). The reason I speak your words is your truth: this I can proclaim only after I recognize it.  Truth is also the beginning and reason (source) of the virtues and good paths.  And in regard to the forbidden paths before which one must protect himself so as not to incline towards them – of these a word is also the beginning, as has been said.

ἀρχὴ τῶν  λόγων σου ἀλήθεια. ἡ αἰτία τοῦ λέγειν με τοὺς λόγους σου ἡ ἀλήθειά σού ἐστιν. ταύτην φανερώσω ἐὰν  γνῶ αὐτήν. ἐπὶ τῶν ἀρετῶν οὖν καὶ τῶν εὖ ἐχουσῶν ὁδῶν ἡ ἀλήθεια ἀρχή ἐστιν͵ αἰτία. ἐπὶ δὲ  τῶν ἀπηγορευμένων ὁδῶν͵ ἀφ΄ ὧν δεῖ φυλάττεσθαι͵ ἀφ΄ ὧν ἐκκλίνειν προσήκει͵ λόγος ἀρχή ἐστιν͵ ὡς  ἤδη εἴ ρηται.



2. I placed a guard over my mouth.

2  ἐθέμην τῷ στόματί μου φυλακήν.



HE calls to mind why he said so as not to sin with the tongue I placed a guard over my mouth. Since by his own words one will be justified, and by his own words one will be condemned (cf. Mat 12:27), one must place a guard over the mouth, so as to say one thing and not the other; thus saying what is helpful and keeping silent when [words would prove] harmful. For it is not possible to simultaneously speak words that justify and words that condemn.

μνημονεύει͵ πῶς εἶπεν μὴ ἁμαρτάνειν ἐν γλώςσῃ· ἐθέ μην ἐν τῷ στόματί μου φυλακήν. ἐπεὶ γὰρ ἐκ τῶν λόγων τις ἑαυτοῦ δικαιοῦται καὶ ἐκ τῶν λόγων αὐτοῦ  κατακρίνεται͵ δεῖ τῷ στόματι περιθεῖναι φυλακήν͵ ἵν΄ οὕτω τὰ μὲν εἴπω͵ τὰ δὲ μή͵ τὰ ὠφέλιμα λέγωμεν͵  τὰ βλάπτοντα σιωπῶμεν· οὐ δὲ γὰρ ἅμα τις δύναται τοὺς λόγους προφέρειν τοὺς δικαιοῦν τας καὶ καταδικάζοντας.

This very thing is intimated in Proverbs where it says, death and life are in the hand of the tongue. (Prov. 18:21).  The hand of the tongue are word[s] – the tongue’s action (energeia).  Whoever says things that are helpful and that lead to Heaven has life in [his] tongue. But one who speaks in the opposite and forbidden way has death in those words of his that are called [his] “tongue”. 

τοιοῦτόν τι μετ΄ αἰνιγμοῦ ἐν ταῖς παροιμίαις εἴρη[τ]αι· θάνατος καὶ ζωὴ ἐν χειρὶ γλώσσης. χεὶρ δὲ  [γλώ]σσης ὁ λόγος ἐστίν͵ ἐνέργεια γλώσσης. ὁ λαλῶν τὰ ὠ[φ]ελοῦντα καὶ εἰς βασιλείαν εἰσάγοντα ζωὴν ἔχει  ἐν τῇ γλώσσῃ. ὁ δὲ τὰ ἐναντία καὶ ἀπηγορευμένα͵ θάν[ατ]ον ἔχει ἐν τῷ λόγῳ ἑαυτοῦ γλῶσσαν ὀνομαζομένῳ.

And another text reads, make balances and scales for your words (Sir 28, 25). Speech must be measured: the balance must be employed, and every one of your words must be laid on the scales. And if the proper words tip the balance, these ought to be selected and proclaimed while the trivial are rejected.

καὶ ἐν ἄλλῃ γραφῇ λέγει ὅτι· τοῖς λόγοις σου ποί[ησον ζυγὸ]ν καὶ σταθμόν. ἐσταθμισμένως δεῖ λέγειν͵  ζυγὸν δεῖ ἔχειν καὶ βάλλειν ἐφ΄ ἑκάστης τρυτάνης το[ὺς λόγου]ς. καὶ ἐὰν καταταλαντεύωσιν οἱ ὀρθοὶ  λόγοι͵ ἐκείνους αἱρεῖσθαι καὶ ἀπαγγέλλειν προσήκει͵ τοὺ[ς δὲ φαύ]λους ἀποστρέφεσθαι.

Still another [text] reads, the lips of the wise are bound by perception (Prov. 15:7).  If one speaks perceptively the lips are [indeed] bound, and not opened for [just] any word[s], but only for beneficial ones.

πάλιν λέγεται· χείλη  σοφῶν δέδεται αἰσθήσει. ὅταν ᾐσθημένως λέγ[ῃ τις͵ δ]έδεται τὰ χείλη͵ οὐ παντὶ λόγῳ αὐτὰ ἀνοίγει͵  ἀλλὰ τῷ ὠφελ[οῦ]ν τι.

I will open my lips and my mouth and my mouth will proclaim your praise. (Ps 50,17)  One whose lips are bound by perception may perceive that what he intends to say is beneficial; [and] so he opens them. But if there is harm in what he would proclaim, by closing and binding his lips by perception, he binds [his] word[s].  

τὰ χείλη μου ἀνοίξω καὶ τὸ στόμα μου ἀναγγελεῖ τὴν αἴ νεσίν σου. ὁ δεδεμένα τὰ χείλη ἔχων αἰσθήσει αἰσ[θη θ]εὶς ὅτι ὠφελοῦντά ἐστιν ἃ μέλλει λέγειν͵ ἤνοιξεν αὐτά. 273 ὅταν δὲ βλάπτωσιν τὰ προφερόμενα͵ κλείει καὶ δεσμεῖ τὰ χείλη τῇ αἰσθήσει͵ δεσμεῖ τὸν λόγον.






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