Psalm 133

Psalm 133
Eastertide B20


A Song of Ascents.A, B

CHow very goodD and pleasantE it is

Notes on superscript-verse 1a

A “Ascents” = ma’alah. From ma’aleh (ascent, platform, slope, stmairs, cliff, elevation, a rise; figuratively, a priority); from alah (to go up, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense). This is something that arises, elevation, a journey to a higher pane. This can be used figuratively to mean having a though or being of a superior status. It is often used in a specific sense for something the mounts to a climax. This is step, stair, or high degree.
B {untranslated} = David. From the same as dod (beloved, love, uncle); the root may mean to boil, which is used figuratively to describe love. So, this implies someone you love such as a friend, a lover, or a close family member like an uncle. David’s name likely means something like “beloved one.”
C {untranslated} = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
D “good” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.
E “pleasant” = na’iym. 13x in OT. From na’em (to be pleasant or lovely; to surpass in beauty; to be delightful in a literal or figurative sense). This is sweet, lovely, or delightful.

    when kindredF liveG together in unity!H

Notes on verse 1b

F “kindred” = ach. This is brother, kindred, another, other, like. It is literally brother, but it can also be someone who is similar, resembling, or related to.
G “live” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
H “together in unity” = gam + yachad. Gam is moreover, again, likewise. Yachad is from yachad (to join, be united). This is a unit, both, altogether, unitedness, alike.

It is like the preciousI oilJ on the head,K
    running downL upon the beard,M

Notes on verse 2a

I “precious” = tob. Same as “good” in v1. See note D above.
J “oil” = shemen. From shamen (to shine, which implies being oily, growing fat). This is fat, oil, grease, olive oil – often with perfume. Used figuratively for fertile, lavish, rich.
K “head” = rosh. This may come a word that means to shake. It is the head, captain, or chief. It can also be excellent or the forefront. It can be first in position or in statue or in time (i.e. the beginning).
L “running down” = yarad. This is to go down, descend; going down in a literal or figurative sense. It can be going to the shore or a boundary, bringing down an enemy.
M “beard” = zaqan. 19x in OT. Perhaps from zaqen (to grow old, an old person). This is beard, especially as referring to someone older.

on the beard of Aaron,N
    running down over the collarO of his robes.P

Notes on verse 2b

N “Aaron” = Aharon. Derivation uncertain. May mean “bearer of martyrs” OR be related to Ancient Egyptian ꜥḥꜣ rw (warrior lion) OR elevated, exalted, high mountain. This is Aaron. See
O “color” = peh. This is mouth in a literal or figurative sense. So, more literally, it can be beak or jaws. More figuratively, it refers to speech, commands, or promises.
P “robes” = middah. From mad (measure, cloth, cloak, armor, stature, height); from madad (to measure, stretch, be extended, continue). This is a measure, size, garment, height, width, or tribute.

It is like the dewQ of Hermon,R
    which fallsS on the mountains of Zion.T

Notes on verse 3a

Q “dew” = tal. Perhaps from talal (to cover, roof, strew). This is dew or mist as something that covers plants.
R “Hermon” = Chermon. 13x in OT. From charam (to ban, destroy, devote, seclude; to dedicate to a religious purpose, often for destruction). This is Hermon, meaning “sacred mountain” or “abrupt.” It is in southern Syria and northern Israel.
S “falls” = yarad. Same as “running down” in v2. See note L above.
T “Zion” = Tsiyyon. Related to tsyiyyun (signpost, monument); from tsavah (to charge someone, to command, order); from the same as tsiyyah (dryness drought); from a root meaning parched as desert, dry land. Zion can refer to a mountain in Jerusalem as well as another name for Jerusalem itself or the people.

For there the LordU ordainedV his blessing,W
    lifeX forevermore.Y

Notes on verse 3b

U “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
V “ordained” = tsavah. Related to “Zion” in v3. See note T above. It is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).
W “blessing” = barakah. From barak (to kneel, bless; blessing God as part of worship and adoration; blessing humans to help them; can be used as a euphemism to say curse God). This is blessing, which implies prosperity or peace.
X “life” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.
Y “forevermore” = ad + olam. Literally “as far as forever.” Olam is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).

Image credit: “Camera Toss 1.4” by Rob (AKA graffiti*is*your*friend), 2003.

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