Chapter 58

1For the leader; al tashcheth. Of David. A michtam.

אלַמְנַצֵּחַ אַל־תַּשְׁחֵת לְדָוִד מִכְתָּם׃

2O mighty ones, do you really decree what is just? Do you judge mankind with equity?

בהַאֻמְנָם אֵלֶם צֶדֶק תְּדַבֵּרוּן מֵישָׁרִים תִּשְׁפְּטוּ בְּנֵי אָדָם׃

3In your minds you devise wrongdoing in the land; with your hands you deal out lawlessness.

גאַף־בְּלֵב עוֹלֹת תִּפְעָלוּן בָּאָרֶץ חֲמַס יְדֵיכֶם תְּפַלֵּסוּן׃

4The wicked are defiant from birth; the liars go astray from the womb.

דזֹרוּ רְשָׁעִים מֵרָחֶם תָּעוּ מִבֶּטֶן דֹּבְרֵי כָזָב׃

5Their venom is like that of a snake, a deaf viper that stops its ears

החֲמַת־לָמוֹ כִּדְמוּת חֲמַת־נָחָשׁ כְּמוֹ־פֶתֶן חֵרֵשׁ יַאְטֵם אָזְנוֹ׃

6so as not to hear the voice of charmers or the expert mutterer of spells.

ואֲשֶׁר לֹא־יִשְׁמַע לְקוֹל מְלַחֲשִׁים חוֹבֵר חֲבָרִים מְחֻכָּם׃

7O Hashem, smash their teeth in their mouth; shatter the fangs of lions, Hashem;

זאֱ‍לֹהִים הֲרָס־שִׁנֵּימוֹ בְּפִימוֹ מַלְתְּעוֹת כְּפִירִים נְתֹץ יְהֹוָה׃

8let them melt, let them vanish like water; let Him aim His arrows that they be cut down;

חיִמָּאֲסוּ כְמוֹ־מַיִם יִתְהַלְּכוּ־לָמוֹ יִדְרֹךְ חצו [חִצָּיו] כְּמוֹ יִתְמֹלָלוּ׃

9like a snail that melts away as it moves; like a woman's stillbirth, may they never see the sun!

טכְּמוֹ שַׁבְּלוּל תֶּמֶס יַהֲלֹךְ נֵפֶל אֵשֶׁת בַּל־חָזוּ שָׁמֶשׁ׃

10Before the thorns grow into a bramble, may He whirl them away alive in fury.

b'-TE-rem ya-VEE-nu see-ro-tay-KHEM a-TAD k'-mo KHAI k'-MO kha-RON yis-a-RE-nu

יבְּטֶרֶם יָבִינוּ סִּירֹתֵיכֶם אָטָד כְּמוֹ־חַי כְּמוֹ־חָרוֹן יִשְׂעָרֶנּוּ׃

 58:10   Before the thorns grow into a bramble

A boxthron shrub by Nitzana stream

Throughout his psalms, David struggles with the reality that righteous people sometimes suffer while the wicked thrive. Psalm 58 is directed at the wicked, chastising them for their corruption and deceit. He warns that Hashem will bring retribution upon them for their sins, and he invokes several metaphors from nature to express his sentiment. The atad (אטד), ‘boxthorn tree,’ grows in the desert and is quite thorny. It seems to defy nature, as it is strong and durable despite growing in unfavorable conditions. The wicked might prick like the boxthorn and seem invincible, but David tells them that before they mature into a large, strong bramble, God will hurl them away and destroy them.

11The righteous man will rejoice when he sees revenge; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.

יאיִשְׂמַח צַדִּיק כִּי־חָזָה נָקָם פְּעָמָיו יִרְחַץ בְּדַם הָרָשָׁע׃

12Men will say, “There is, then, a reward for the righteous; there is, indeed, divine justice on earth.”

יבוְיֹאמַר אָדָם אַךְ־פְּרִי לַצַּדִּיק אַךְ יֵשׁ־אֱלֹהִים שֹׁפְטִים בָּאָרֶץ׃