Psalm 118 – Psalms Of Hallel By Rabbi Gail Diamond Psalm 118 Part 1 1. Reading exercise– Read through this whole Psalm in Hebrew or English as a poem. (Try to consider the Psalm as a whole despite how it is broken up in liturgy.) What themes, concepts or words hold the Psalm together? Can you imagine a context in which this Psalm was recited? 2. Structure – This Psalm contains a lot of repetitions especially repetitions of words within the same verse or in contiguous verses. How do you think repetition changes meaning in the Psalm? How do you think it gives structure to the Psalm? Choose one place in the Psalm where you find repetition meaningful. 3. Biblical Parallels (through verse 13) Verses 1-4: The ending of verses 1-4 is the refrain for Psalm 136. Can we learn anything about Psalm 118 by considering that Psalm? See also I Chronicles 16:34. Verse 5: מצר: Psalm 18:7; Psalm 120:1; Jonah 2:3; מרחב Psalms 18:20, 31:9 Verse 6: Psalm 56:10 Verse 7: Psalm 54:6-9 Verses 8-9: Psalm 113:8; Psalm 146:3. See also Psalm 115:8-11. Verse 10-12: I Samuel 7:45; Psalm 20:8 Verse 13: Psalm 116:8 4. Difficult words/phrases (through verse 13) Verse 1 is no doubt familiar to many students, so familiar that we do not pause to reflect on its meaning. What does it mean to say “ki tov” of Hashem? (In this context, we might consider Genesis 1:10 and the similar verses there.) Verses 10-12 אמילם from the root מיל (the same root as מילה – circumcision). This is the only use of the hif’il form of this verb in Tanach. See Psalm 90:6 for a different form of this root. The meaning seems to be destroy/cut down. The usage of the word סבבוני and סבוני in these verses parallels other verb forms such as found in Isaiah 29:9. Verse 13 contains another similar repetition of a verb for emphasis. Verse 12 דעכו this root appears nine times in Tanach – meaning seems to be extinguish. 5. Prayer and Liturgy – Part of verse 6 is found in a well known song/piyyut – can you identify it? Part 2 1. Reading exercise– Repeat this exercise or do it for the first time. Read through this whole Psalm in Hebrew or English as a poem. (Try to consider the Psalm as a whole despite how it is broken up in liturgy.) What themes, concepts or words hold the Psalm together? Can you imagine a context in which this Psalm was recited? 2. Structure Consider this question if you did not get to it last week. This Psalm contains a lot of repetitions especially repetitions of words within the same verse or in contiguous verses. How do you think repetition changes meaning in the Psalm? How do you think it gives structure to the Psalm? Choose one place in the Psalm where you find repetition meaningful. 3. Biblical Parallels (verses 10-29)– Verses 10-12 בשם ה’ I Samuel 17:45, Psalm 20:8 Verse 14 Exodus 15:2, Isaiah 12:2 Verse 15 Exodus 15:6, Psalm 20:7, Psalm 98:1, Psalm 48:11 Verse 17 Psalm 88:12, Psalm 115:17-18 Verse 19 Isaiah 1:26 Verse 20 Genesis 28:17, Ezekiel 44:2, Psalm 24:3 Verse 24 Psalm 9:3, 15. Verse 29 2 Chronicles 5:13, 7:6, Ezra 3:11 Many of the verses in this section parallel other verses of the Psalm. As with question 2 above, examine these repetitions. 4. Rabbinic interpretation see the Midrash from Pesachim 119a for a rabbinic interpretation of verses 21-28. The narrative background for this passage is I Samuel chapter 16. What do you think inspired or motivated Rabbi Yonatan to make this interpretation of Psalm 118? 5. Difficult words/phrases (verses 14-29) Verse 14 זמרת – Rashi explains in connection with Leviticus 25:3. Others relate to parallel words in Arabic and Ugaritic meaning aid, help, strength, guardian. Verse 27 יאיר seems possibly out of place here. May be related to Malachi 1:10 fire on the altar? Another possible connection – Psalm 27:1. עבותים – means cords – see Judges 15:13, 16:11-12. Is this verse out of place and if not, how do you explain the verse’s meaning? 6. Prayer and Liturgy Spend a few minutes checking how this Psalm is recited in Hallel as explained in a siddur. How does the liturgical use of the Psalm add to (or detract from) its meaning?
Toggle Reader Menu Display Settings
Loading...טוען מידע...