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    Psalm 23 – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. What does the final verse of Psalm 23 say – “I shall dwell in the House of the Lord” or “I shall turn to the House of the Lord”?

    A. The problem is the verb, v’shavti. Does it mean “dwell” (from yashav) or “turn” (from shuv)? Either interpretation could fit.

    On the one hand, it could be telling us that the psalmist is cared for by the Divine Shepherd. On the other hand it could be saying that though the psalmist has enemies that seek to harm him, he will find safety in the hands of God.

    In the first version the Hebrew should be a simple verb – veyashavti (“And I shall dwell”) or a verbal noun, shivti, (“My dwelling”) as in Psalm 27:4. In the second version v’shavti – I shall turn – accords with grammar. Most translators follow the first version and say that the verb has been abbreviated.

    The second version, indicating that the psalmist’s enemies will be overcome by goodness and love, is not impossible. If translated into English it could be saying,

    Surely goodness and love will follow me
    All the days of my life.

    And I shall turn to God’s presence
    As long as I live.

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