Psalm 8:4

Hebrew Bible

2 From the mouths of children and nursing babies you have ordained praise on account of your adversaries, so that you might put an end to the vindictive enemy. 3 When I look up at the heavens, which your fingers made, and see the moon and the stars, which you set in place, 4 Of what importance is the human race, that you should notice them? Of what importance is mankind, that you should pay attention to them? 5 You made them a little less than the heavenly beings. You crowned mankind with honor and majesty. 6 you appoint them to rule over your creation; you have placed everything under their authority,

Sirach 18:8

Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus

6 It is not possible to diminish or increase them, nor is it possible to fathom the wonders of the Lord. 7 When human beings have finished, they are just beginning, and when they stop, they are still perplexed. 8 What are human beings, and of what use are they? What is good in them, and what is evil? 9 The number of days in their life is great if they reach one hundred years. 10 Like a drop of water from the sea and a grain of sand, so are a few years among the days of eternity.

 Notes and References

"... The formula performs a consistent semantic function: “It poses a question in element a, then abases the noun or pronoun subject by an implied answer to the question. On the basis of the implied answer, the verb in element b is negated.” One could paraphrase, on the model of Psalm 8:4, which through Job, stands behind the 'Niedrigkeitsdoxologien': “What is a mortal that you should care for him? You should not, for he is insignificant.” This form is much better suited to the de-historicized and thoroughly anthropological nature of the Hodayot’s concerns. Perhaps we can call these statements in which the Doxologies of Lowliness take part the “anthropological interrogatives.” (Compare also 4Q301 4:3; 5:3; Sirach 18:8; 4 Ezra 8:34; 2 Baruch 48:14–17) ..."

Meyer, Nicholas A. Adam’s Dust and Adam’s Glory in the Hodayot and the Letters of Paul: Rethinking Anthropogony and Theology (p. 35) Brill, 2016

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