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Psalm xviii: theophany, epiphany empowerment

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image of Vetus Testamentum

The theophany in Psalm xviii includes, together with the storm imagery, images of wings/flight and bows/arrows in a combination appearing nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible Hebrew (HB). On the other hand, in the iconography of the ancient Near East, these motifs are often part of a divine apparition, especially to a king in battle. One of the major examples is the winged disc, which in many cases contains the image of a god armed with a bow. We present a number of examples of the motifs of winged gods and bows from Egyptian and Neo-Assyrian sources, both iconographic and textual. In particular, the Neo-Assyrian parallels relate to the theme of the divine glory, kbd, Akk. melammu, and the divine empowerment of the king which assures his victory in battle. In the context of these examples, the theophany (vss. 8-18) and the battle scene (vss. 30, 33-43) can be understood as two perspectives on a single event involving God and the king. This approach leads us to suggest an emendation in the difficult verses, 35-36.


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