Psalm 11 v4 Why eyelids?????

Discussion in 'OT Wisdom Literature' started by Eoghan, Mar 20, 2019.

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  1. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    I have consulted commentaries, sermons and John Gill - nobody comments or explains why the term eyelids is used?

    Any suggestions?
  2. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    Hebrew expression?
  3. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    CSB says gaze
    HCSB says "He examines everyone"
    NLT "examining every person on earth"
  4. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Sophomore

    It's an obscure Hebrew word that often occurs in parallel with "eyes", hence the traditional "eyelids". But here "his eyelids test the children of men" (ESV) is simply nonsense. Holladay (based on Kohler-Baumgartner) suggests plausibly that the word originally meant something like "the flashing glance of the eye" (see Job 3:9 where the "eyelids" of dawn are mentioned). So the idea was that seeing occurred not through the passive reception of light into the eye but the eye sending out a beam, rather like a radar. That fits perfectly in Ps 11:4, hence the CSB "his gaze examines everyone".
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  5. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    There has to be something in it that we are missing. There is the Hebrew parallelism "eyes" becomes "eyelids" but why not gaze or stare or countenance??
  6. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    I would say Dr. Duguid gave the answer you are searching for. He nailed it.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
  7. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Do the eyelids not express a "closer examination"? Think of how you and I squint (eyes partly closed) to really focus on the details of something.The Lord having a "distinct gaze" to mankind as compared to a general gaze towards all of creation. I like the eyelid language. Oh how the Lord's gaze can penetrate! :detective:
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
  8. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    Proverbs 4:25
    HEB: לְנֹ֣כַח יַבִּ֑יטוּ וְ֝עַפְעַפֶּ֗יךָ יַיְשִׁ֥רוּ נֶגְדֶּֽךָ׃
    NAS: directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight
    KJV: right on, and let thine eyelids look straight
    INT: directly look your gaze be fixed front

    I guess this happens quite a lot in poetic use of words.
  9. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    "Eyelids is parallel to eyes in the preceeding clause."—William S. Plumer
  10. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    This thread brought out my inner word nerd. I have nothing definitive to say, but did find that the etymology of "lid" includes the idea of "gate (you've probably read the old ways of speaking such as "eye-gate" and "ear-gate."):

    Lid: "movable or removable cover for a pot, etc.," mid-13c., from Old English hlid "covering, opening, gate".

    The use of "eyelid" goes back to at least the Wycliffe Bible.
  11. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Sophomore

    It goes back to the Septuagint. I just don't think it is meaningful in English to talk about eyelids testing people. I think the usage (all the way back to the Septuagint) comes from trying to find a parallel for a word that doesn't really have one in other languages.
  12. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    Per usual, Matthew Henry says it well:

    "That this God perfectly knows every man’s true character: His eyes behold, his eye-lids try, the children of men; he not only sees them, but he sees through them, not only knows all they say and do, but knows what they think, what they design, and how they really stand affected, whatever they pretend. We may know what men seem to be, but he knows what they are, as the refiner knows what the value of the gold is when he has tried it."
  13. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Sounds like an example of poetic parallelism: from eyes to eyelids: "His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men" (Psalm 11.4b, NKJV).

    It's a poetic way of describing the exactness of God's omniscience and sovereignty over men. The use of both "eyes" and "eyelids" stresses, it seems to me, the comprehensiveness of God's vision in a poetic way.
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