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47Letter XXXIV. To Marcella.

In reply to a request from Marcella for information concerning two phrases in Ps. cxxvii. (“bread of sorrow,” v. 2, and “children of the shaken off,” A.V. “of the youth,” v. 4). Jerome, after lamenting that Origen’s notes on the psalm are no longer extant, gives the following explanations:

The Hebrew phrase “bread of sorrow” is rendered by the LXX. “bread of idols”; by Aquila, “bread of troubles”; by Symmachus, “bread of misery.” Theodotion follows the LXX. So does Origen’s Fifth Version. The Sixth renders “bread of error.” In support of the LXX. the word used here is in Ps. cxv. 4, translated “idols.” Either the troubles of life are meant or else the tenets of heresy.

With the second phrase he deals at greater length. After showing that Hilary of Poitiers’s view (viz. that the persons meant are the apostles, who were told to shake the dust off their feet, Matt. x. 14) is untenable and would require “shakers off” to be substituted for “shaken off,” Jerome reverts to the Hebrew as before and declares that the true rendering is that of Symmachus and Theodotion, viz. “children of youth.” He points out that the LXX. (by whom the Latin translators had been misled) fall into the same mistake at Neh. iv. 16. Finally he corrects a slip of Hilary as to Ps. cxxviii. 2, where, through a misunderstanding of the LXX., the latter had substituted “the labors of thy fruits” for “the labors of thy hands.” He speaks throughout with high respect of Hilary, and says that it was not the bishop’s fault that he was ignorant of Hebrew. The date of the letter is probably a.d. 384.

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