By reason of breakings they purify themselves - No version, either ancient or modern, appears to have understood this verse; nor is its true sense known. The Septuagint have, "When he turns himself, he terrifies all the quadrupeds on the earth." The original is short and obscure: יתחטאו משברים mishshebarim yithchattau . Mr. Good takes the plural termination ים im, from the first word, of which he makes the noun ים yam, the sea, and thus translates it, "They are confounded at the tumult of the sea." In this I can find no more light than in our own. Mr. Heath has, "For very terror they fall to the ground." The translations of it are as unsatisfactory as they are various. I shall give both the verses from Coverdale: -
His herte is as harde as a stone; and as fast as the stythye (anvil) that the hammer man smyteth upon: when he goeth the mightiest off all are afrayed, and the waives hevy. The dull swell in the waters proclaims his advance; and when this is perceived, the stout-hearted tremble.
When he raiseth up himself - When he rouses himself for an attack or in self-defense.
The mighty are afraid - The Vulgate renders this “anqels.” The meaning is, that he produces alarm on those who are unaccustomed to fear.
By reason of breakings they purify themselves - This, though a literal translation, conveys no very clear idea, and this rendering is not necessary. The word rendered “breakings” (שׁבר sheber ) means properly “a breaking, breach, puncture”; “a breaking down, destruction”; and then it may mean “a breaking down of the mind, that is, terror.” This is evidently the meaning here. “By reason of the prostration of their courage, or the crushing of the mind by alarm.” The word rendered “purify themselves” (חטא châṭâ' ) means in the Qal, “to miss,” as a mark; “to sin; to err.” In the form of Hithpael, which occurs here, it means to miss one‘s way; “to lose oneself;” and it may refer to the astonishment and terror by which one is led to miss his way in precipitate flight. “Gesenius.” The meaning then is, “They lose themselves from terror.” They know not where to turn themselves; they flee away with alarm; see Rosenmuller in loc.