Thursday, January 05, 2006

Things to think about.

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Apart vo' SoH jIH ghaj ghobe' QaQ Doch.

Apart from you I have no good thing. Psalm 16:2b

"Doch" - is a great Klingon word. As a noun, it is the word for "thing," and joined with the all-purpose question word "nuq" (what?) you can use it to get by among Klingons. Simply point at things and say

"Dochvam nuq"

To find out what they are. It means "thing" (Doch) plus "this-one" (-vam), "what is it?" (nuq). That phrase - Dochvam nuq? - and a winning personality will get you far among Klingons. Oh, and if you don't manage it well, they'll use the word to describe you - as a verb, "Doch" means "be rude".

Apart vo' SoH jIH ghaj ghobe' QaQ Doch.

Apart from you I have no good thing.

It's a great word - but I have to mention.. it isn't exactly in this part of Psalm 16:2. And this is a good time to think about the problem of translating and how fluid language can be. For example, the Hebrew Psalm 23 starts with is a very terse "Adonai ro-ee, lo ecksahr" Only four words, which expand into the familiar nine of the King James version's

"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want"

In this passage, the eight words:
Apart vo' SoH jIH ghaj ghobe' QaQ Doch.
"Apart from you I have no good thing."

Come from three Hebrew words: tovthi bel al-eyka. The KJV expands this to 6, perhaps not very clear words:

my goodness extendeth not to thee

We get a better idea of what, uh, things this verse communicates from some moder translations:

  • New Living: All the good things I have are from you.
  • Amplified: I have no good beside {or} beyond You.
  • NASB: I have no good besides You.

The important word - in every translation is the word "good." It translates the common Hebrew word towb, which is seen over 500 times in the Bible. It's the same word in the expression "Mazel tov," and is translated with many different English words: glad, good, graciously, joyful, kindly, kindness, loving, merry, pleasant, precious, prosperity, sweet, wealth, and welfare, to name a few.

Apart vo' SoH jIH ghaj ghobe' QaQ Doch.

Apart from you I have no good thing.

What matters here is really not Dochmey, things, but QaQ - what is GOOD.

And, Jesus points out to us how to find the GOOD things we need:

He said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, don't be anxious for
your life, what you will eat, nor yet for your body, what you will
wear. ... Life is more than food, and the body is more than
clothing. Don't seek what you will eat or what you will drink;
neither be anxious. For the nations of the world seek after all of
these things, but your Father knows that you need these things. But
seek God's Kingdom, and all these things will be added to you. (Luke 12)

Dochmeyvam nuq? What are these things we should seek? God only knows - and when we seek after him... we will too.

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