Psalm 22 includes this phrase, which both my daughter and I find curious because of the use of "super".

Here it is with a little more context:

Dominus regit me, et nihil mihi deerit: in loco pascuæ, ibi me collocavit. Super aquam refectionis educavit me; [...]

An English translation (Knox?):

The Lord is my shepherd; how can I lack anything? He gives me a resting-place where there is green pasture, leads me out to the cool water’s brink, refreshed and content. [...]

And here is the source of both: http://newadvent.org/bible/psa022.htm

The curiosity emerges from our understanding of "super" meaning "over", suggesting that "super aquam" means "over water". But it seems very unlikely that the psalmist means to say he was led "over" refreshing water... is it? Rather, "super" seems to be expressing the idea of nearness.

Is this a known function of the word "super"? Are there any other examples of "super" being used in this way outside of the Vulgate? Have I stumbled across yet another Hebraism?

  • 1
    It seems to correspond in this text to a Hebrew preposition ʿal whose primary meaning is along the lines of "over"/"on top of", so it looks like a Hebraism to me. (I notice the Greek text uses ἐπὶ, which may have something to do with it.)
    – varro
    Sep 9, 2017 at 17:54
  • 2
    Another reading is leads me to the waters... and beyond (see. L&S sv super, meaning II. A. b.)
    – Rafael
    Sep 11, 2017 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


Poetry translation is often about trying to keep metaphors alive.

[2] εἰς τόπον χλόης, ἐκεῖ με κατεσκήνωσεν, ἐπὶ ὕδατος ἀναπαύσεως ἐξέθρεψέ με,

In the LXX translation there is a reference to the Exodus, κατεσκήνωσεν, "he pitched my tent" and the crossing into the promised land "over the water" ἐπὶ ὕδατος (Jordan River).
There is also an echo of Genesis 1 the 'pausing/hovering,' ἀναπαύσεως, of the Spirit over the water, and the 'nurturing,' ἐξέθρεψέ, of all life.

Super aquam refectionis educavit me;

Jerome focuses on the the second of these references, Genesis 1, 'He led me out over the water of new-creation/ re-Creation;'
If you search on-line for 'super aqua_' Bible or ἐπὶ ὕδατος LXX there are other references.

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