Psalm 115 – Psalms Of Hallel By Rabbi Gail Diamond Psalm 115

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Study Guide

1. Setting - To whom is the Psalm directed? Who is the speaker? Who is the audience? Note the references to different groups in verses 9-14. Compare these to Psalm 135:19-20.

2. Structure – This Psalm is divided and half of it (the first half, verses 1-11) is not recited on Rosh Hodesh and the last 6 days of Pesach. How do you relate to the incomplete Psalm? Do the two parts of this Psalm need each other?

Are there other divisions in this Psalm? How would you divide the Psalm into sections?

3. Biblical parallels –

Verse 2 Psalm 79:10, Joel 2:17, Exodus 32:12

Verse 3 Deuteronomy 10:14, Psalm 106:36, Jeremiah 16:20

Verses 3-8 Isaiah 46:6-7

Verse 4 Deuteronomy 4:28

Verses 9-11 Deuteronomy 33:28-29

Verse 17 Isaiah 38:18-20, Psalm 30:10-13

Whole Psalm Psalm 135:15-21

Some manuscripts including the manuscripts of the Septuagint and the translation of R. Saadia Gaon show Psalm 114 and 115 as one unit. Do you see the two connected? How?

How do these connections with other texts help you understand the Psalm better? Are there other Biblical texts you connect to this Psalm?

4. Difficult words/phrases

Verse 7 What is the root of יהגו? See Isaiah 8:19, 59:11, and Psalm 1:2. What do you think this word means?

Verse 12 – What does the first phrase of this verse mean? See Leviticus 9:22-23, Deuteronomy 16:16, Psalm 20:4.

5. Liturgy Where else in Liturgy does verse 18 appear? Do you feel it is more in place there or in its original context here?

6. Rabbinic commentary See the Midrash from Talmud Pesachim (PDF). What historical events does the Midrash link to this Psalm? Which links resonate with you?

7. Spiritual issues Consider the personal meaning to you of verse 2 or verse 17.

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