International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
tal (tokhen, mithkoneth, micpar; leros): In the King James Version of the Old Testament (with one exception, Psalm 90:9) "tale" (in the sing.) means number. "Tell" often has the same meaning, e.g. "I may tell (i.e. reckon) all my bones" (Psalm 22:17). When Moses requested permission to go three days' journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to Yahweh, Pharaoh replied by demanding the full "tale" of bricks from the Israelites although they were compelled to provide themselves with straw (Exodus 5:8, 18; see also 1 Samuel 18:27 1 Chronicles 9:28). In Psalm 90:9, "as a tale that is told" is a doubtful rendering (see GAMES). The Septuagint and the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) render "as a spider's web." The literal and perhaps accurate translation is "as a sigh" (Driver, in the Parallel Psalter, gives "as a murmur"). The word used in this psalm means "to whisper," or "speak sotto voce," as a devout believer repeats to himself the words of a favorite hymn or passage (Psalm 1:2).