Psalms 12

1For the leader; on the sheminith. A psalm of David.

אלַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל־הַשְּׁמִינִית מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד׃

2Help, Hashem! For the faithful are no more; the loyal have vanished from among men.

בהוֹשִׁיעָה יְהֹוָה כִּי־גָמַר חָסִיד כִּי־פַסּוּ אֱמוּנִים מִבְּנֵי אָדָם׃

3Men speak lies to one another; their speech is smooth; they talk with duplicity.

גשָׁוְא יְדַבְּרוּ אִישׁ אֶת־רֵעֵהוּ שְׂפַת חֲלָקוֹת בְּלֵב וָלֵב יְדַבֵּרוּ׃

4May Hashem cut off all flattering lips, every tongue that speaks arrogance.

דיַכְרֵת יְהֹוָה כָּל־שִׂפְתֵי חֲלָקוֹת לָשׁוֹן מְדַבֶּרֶת גְּדֹלוֹת׃

5They say, “By our tongues we shall prevail; with lips such as ours, who can be our master?”

האֲשֶׁר אָמְרוּ לִלְשֹׁנֵנוּ נַגְבִּיר שְׂפָתֵינוּ אִתָּנוּ מִי אָדוֹן לָנוּ׃

6“Because of the groans of the plundered poor and needy, I will now act,” says Hashem. “I will give help,” He affirms to him.

ומִשֹּׁד עֲנִיִּים מֵאַנְקַת אֶבְיוֹנִים עַתָּה אָקוּם יֹאמַר יְהֹוָה אָשִׁית בְּיֵשַׁע יָפִיחַ לוֹ׃

7The words of Hashem are pure words, silver purged in an earthen crucible, refined sevenfold.

im-ROT a-do-NAI a-ma-ROT t'-ho-ROT KE-sef tza-RUF ba-a-LEEL la-A-retz m'-zu-KAK shiv-a-TA-yim

זאִמֲרוֹת יְהֹוָה אֲמָרוֹת טְהֹרוֹת כֶּסֶף צָרוּף בַּעֲלִיל לָאָרֶץ מְזֻקָּק שִׁבְעָתָיִם׃

 12:7   Silver purged in an earthen crucible, refined sevenfold

Copper mines in Timna Valley

This psalm contrasts the language of the wicked, who speak duplicitously with a forked tongue, with the pure unadulterated words of God. To express the level of purity of Hashem’s words, the verse uses the metaphor of metal mined from the earth, which goes through seven stages of refinement in order to arrive at a level of purity worthy of a precious metal. It is not surprising that the psalmist would be aware of the process of metallurgy. Archaeology at Timna Park in southern Israel reveals evidence of copper mining going back thousands of years. In 1959, an archeo-metallurgical expedition under the leadership of Dr. Beno Othenberg began, and ultimately revealed over 10,000 copper mines in the southern Arava region of Israel. More contemporary discoveries date some of the mines to the eleventh to ninth centuries BCE, which coincides with the period of the Israelite kingdom.

8You, Hashem, will keep them, guarding each from this age evermore.

חאַתָּה־יְהֹוָה תִּשְׁמְרֵם תִּצְּרֶנּוּ מִן־הַדּוֹר זוּ לְעוֹלָם׃

9On every side the wicked roam when baseness is exalted among men.

טסָבִיב רְשָׁעִים יִתְהַלָּכוּן כְּרֻם זֻלּוּת לִבְנֵי אָדָם׃