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In Tehilim chapter 51 verse 7 King David writes that in sin did his mother conceive him. What does that mean?

I've read a few opinions about this. Does anybody have anything else?

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  • 7
    What opinions have you read? If you don't tell us, we cant know whether we are telling you "something else".
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 23, 2017 at 15:44
  • 2
    Please edit to flesh out the question body so that it clearly expresses what you're looking for.
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 23, 2017 at 16:00
  • The opinions that i've read i found out are not from reputable sources so i wont mention them Feb 28, 2017 at 5:19
  • Allthough in the talmud (nida)i found a source where it basically said that dovid's mother did not finish counting the full amount of menstra cycle days before conceiving him Feb 28, 2017 at 5:21

1 Answer 1

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Rav Sa'adya Gaon explains in his commentary to Psalms (51:7) that David was not making a statement about the state of Man. Rather, he was speaking personally; that he was so ashamed, that he felt as though he were conceived in sin. He writes (as translated into Hebrew by R. Qafih):

והרי אני מרוב כלימתי כאלו בעון חוללתי

For I, from my great embarrassment, am as though conceived in sin.

Rashi gives two explanations in his commentary to Psalms (51:7). Either that the carnal act that leads to conception is associated with numerous sins, or that Man is conceived by humans, all of whom are have committed sins:

הן בעוון חוללתי - ואיך לא אחטא ועיקר יצירתי ע"י תשמיש הוא שכמה עונות באים על ידו, ד"א עיקר יצירתי מזכר ונקבה שכלם מלאים עון

According to Rabbenu Avraham ben HaRambam (HaMaspik L'Ovdey Hashem, ed. Wincelberg p. 153) this refers to the limitations to what one can achieve given that he is physical:

He was referring to the deficiency of physicality which leads to much sin and is inborn in man.

Elsewhere (p. 165) he relates this to the verse in Genesis (8:21) that "Man's desire is evil from his youth".

Ibn Ezra (Job 5:5) and the Tol'dot Yitshak to Genesis (9:1) similarly relate the verse in Psalms to the verse in Genesis about Man's inclination to sin.

Seforno (Leviticus 18:6) understands that this refers to people solely pursuing their own pleasure in the procreative act, and nothing more:

אמנם מה שיקרה בכל המין האנושי או ברובו בזה הוא שיהיו מכונים לתענוג בלבד כאמרו הן בעון חוללתי ובחטא יחמתני אמי

This understanding is supported by Leviticus Rabba (ed. Margolis Tazria 14:5) which states:

בעון מלא, אפילו חסיד שבחסידים אי איפשר שלא יהיה בו צד אחד. אמ' דוד לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבון העולמים כלום נתכוון אבא ישי להעמידני והלא לא נתכוון אלא לצורך עצמו

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