tecum principium in die virtutis tuae, in splendoribus Sanctorum

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Senior Member
Shalom, everyone.

Sadly, I have no grasp of Hebrew beyond the alphabet and a few isolated words. But I do know Latin and Greek.

In another WR Forum a question has arisen about the origins of a Christian anthem, or canticle, which seems to owe its origins to the Psalms of David in the Old Testament, no. 109 or 110 (depending on which numbering is applicable), beginning 'The Lord said...'.

The words in Jerome's Latin Vulgate are: tecum principium in die virtutis tuae, in splendoribus Sanctorum—'With you, Lord, fount [of everything], in the day of your strength/virtue/prowess, amid the splendours of the Holy Ones/Saints...' Neither the Septuagint, nor any of the English translations—and Luther's German—which I have been able to consult have an accurate rendering of this Latin. It is perfectly possible that in translating the Hebrew scriptures Jerome (who, perhaps excessively, prided himself on his first-hand knowledge of Hebrew, especially in his dispute with the Bishop of Milan, Ambrose) imposed his own, erroneous, concepts on the primary text.

Can any nice Rabbi or other learned Hebraist here please shed any light on this?

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  • JoMe

    The Hebrew text is עַמְּךָ נְדָבֹת בְּיוֹם חֵילֶךָ בְּהַדְרֵי-קֹדֶשׁ.
    The Hieronymus translation is based on a different version of *one* word only.
    • The 1st word עמך is traditionally 3amkha (your people) but the translation is for 3imkha (tecum = with you). Both are spelled the same in Hebrew.
    • The 2nd word נדבות is translated correctly to principium in the sense of military front ranks, see also המלבי"ם (Hebrew) https://he.wikisource.org/wiki/מ"ג_תהלים_קי_ג who explains the Hebrew meaning.
    • 3rd and 4th words יום חילך are indeed in die virtutis tuae.
    • 5th word בהדרי is indeed in splendoribus.
    • 6th word קודש means (of) sanctity, so sanctorum is not terrible, yet in Hebrew it's a singular noun, in Latin a plural adjective.
    [Moderator note: fixed the broken link]
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