Th. Booij, «Psalm 127,2b: a Return to Martin Luther», Vol. 81 (2000) 262-268
In Ps 127,2b )n# (s\e4na4)) tells about the manner of giving (H. Irsigler); it does so by denoting the state of the dydy when he is receiving Gods gift. The particle Nk, as related to Ntn, means according to that, referring to the notion of toil. The tenor of v. 2b is to underscore that it is God who builds the house, keeps the city. What humans receive is not the outcome of toil, not a divine reward for it, but an expression of favour, a gift just like that. Translation: To his beloved one He gives it in sleep.
Ps 127,2b1 is a much-discussed piece of text. Its first word, Nk, is often considered problematic; even more the fourth and last, )n#, which is found only here in the Old Testament and whose function is controversial. There is a long tradition identifying )n# with hnF#$' and taking it as an object; it is found in the Septuagint version: o#tan dw=| toi=j a)gaphtoi=j au)tou= u!pnon, when He gives sleep to his beloved ones. Luther seems to have been the first to take )n# as a modifier, in sleep, translating seinen freunden gibt ers schlaffend2. Luthers interpretation in which Nk may refer to the yield of toiling3 has become quite common. It was accepted by the authoritative grammar of Gesenius Kautzsch, mentioning in §118i )n# of Ps 127,2 as one of the nouns that, without a preposition, may be used to denote the time of an action4. In recent times it has been pointed out, however, that nouns used in this way are generally time designations themselves5; in fact )n# would be the only exception. As to hnF#e, it is never used adverbially to indicate time. This state of affairs seems to unsettle a long-standing interpretation.
There are, however, two difficulties. The first of them is Nk. Since it is unclear in what respect sleep, or God giving it, would correspond to peoples