Psalm 2

Psalm 2


Why do the nationsA conspire,B
    and the peoplesC plotD in vain?E

Notes on verse 1

A “nations” = goy.From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.
B “conspire” = ragash. 1x in OT. This is uproar or rage. It refers to a commotion.
C “peoples” = leom. Root may refer to gathering. This is people, a community, or a nation.
D “plot” = hagah. This is to speak, declare, make a sound, imagine, or mutter. It could be a murmur, moan, or growl, whether from delight or anger. It can also mean to study, ponder, or meditate.
E “vain” = riq. 12x in OT. From ruq (to pour out in a literal or figurative sense, hence, to be or make empty). This is to be empty or to make empty; also vanity, emptiness, something worthless, in vain.

2 The kings of the earth set themselves,F
    and the rulersG take counselH together,
    against the LordI and his anointed,J saying,

Notes on verse 2

F “set themselves” = yatsab. This is to set oneself, take a stand, remain, continue, to station or set something in place.
G “rulers” = razan. 6x in OT. This is to be heavy or weighty. Figuratively, it is to be honorable or commanding and thus can mean a ruler or prince.
H “take counsel” = yasad. This is to establish, appoint, instruct. It is to set in a literal or figurative sense. Also means to sit down together and so to consult or take counsel.
I “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.
J “anointed” = mashiach. From mashach (to smear or anoint; to run oil on, to consecrate). This is the anointed or consecrated one. So, it could refer to a king, priest, or saint. It is also the root of the word “messiah.”

“Let us burstK their bondsL asunder,
    and castM their cordsN from us.”

Notes on verse 3

K “burst” = nathaq. This is to pull, tear off, drag, separate, lift, burst, root out, or snap.
L “bonds” = moser. 11x in OT. From asar (to tie, yoke, bind, or fasten; can mean to harness an animal, to join in fighting a battle, or to imprison someone) OR from yasar (to discipline, correct, train, teach, punish; literally with blows, but figuratively using words). This is a band, bond, chain, or shackle. It is some kind of restraint or figuratively a chastisement.
M “cast” = shalak. To throw, fling, hurl, or pluck.
N “cords” = aboth. From abath (to weave, wind, or interlace). This is a cord, string, band, wreath, branch, or foliage.

He who sitsO in the heavensP laughs;Q
    the LordR has them in derision.S

Notes on verse 4

O “sits” = 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.
P “heavens” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.
Q “laughs” = sachaq. This is to laugh, celebrate, joke, mock, scorn. This is laughing, whether for joy or scorn. It can imply plays or holding a contest.
R “Lord” = Adonai. From adon (lord, master, owner); root means to rule or be sovereign. This is the actual Hebrew word for Lord used (in a different form) of humans and (in the present form) of God. It means someone who is in control.
S “has…in derision” = laag. 19x in OT. This is to mock, deride, or laugh. It can also mean to stammer or speak incomprehensibly as though one were imitating a foreigner. So, it can be scorn or mock.

5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,T
    and terrifyU them in his fury,V saying,

6 “I have setW my king on Zion,X my holyY hill.”

Notes on verses 5-6

T “wrath” = aph. From anaph (to be angry; properly, breathing hard as a signifier of being enraged). This properly refers to the nose or nostril and by extension the face. It can specifically refer to anger or wrath as one breathes hard and nostrils flare in times of great anger.
U “terrify” = bahal. To be afraid or dismayed or amazed. This is deep trembling within. So, figuratively, it refers to being suddenly agitated. This implies moving or acting quickly/anxiously.
V “fury” = charon. From charah (to be displeased, burn with anger, glow, become warn; figuratively a blaze of anger, zeal, or jealousy). This is burning anger, fierceness, or wrathfulness.
W “set” = nasak. This is to cover, pour out, offer like a libation, or to cast like one casts metal. By analogy, it can mean anointing a king
X “Zion” = tsiyyon. The word is 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.
Y “holy” = qodesh. This is set apart and so sacred. God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart. Things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy, etc.

7 I will tell of the decreeZ of the Lord:
He said to me, “You are my son;
    today I have begottenAA you.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,BB
    and the ends of the earth your possession.CC

Notes on verses 7-8

Z “decree” = choq. From chaqaq (to inscribe, carve, or decree; a lawmaker; literally, this is engraving, but it implies enacting a law because laws were carved into stone or metal). This is statute, boundary, condition, custom, limit, ordinance It is something that is prescribed or something that is owed.
AA “begotten” = yalad. This is to bear or bring forth. It can mean to act as midwife or to show one’s lineage. This is often used for birth or begetting.
BB “heritage” = nachalah. Related to nachal (to inherit, occupy, distribute, take as heritage). This is properly something that was inherited. It can mean occupancy generally or, more particularly, an heirloom or an estate. This can be an inheritance, gift, possession, or portion.
CC “possession” = achuzzah. From achaz (to grasp, catch, seize, take and hold in possession). This is a possession, particularly used of land.

You shall breakDD them with a rodEE of iron,
    and dash them in piecesFF like a potter’sGG vessel.”HH

Notes on verse 9

DD “break” = ra’a’. This is to be evil, bad, afflict. Properly, it means to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces. Figuratively, it is to cause something to be worthless. It is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense – something that displeases, does harm or mischief, punishes or vexes.
EE “rod” = shebet. This is a rod, staff, club, scepter, dart, or tribe. Literally a stick that can be used for punishing, writing, fighting, walking, ruling; thus, used figuratively for a clan.
FF “dash them in pieces” = naphats. This is to shatter, break, scatter, dash in pieces.
GG “potter’s” = yatsar. Perhaps related to yatsar (to be narrow, distressed, or vexed); perhaps related to tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). This is to fashion or form, perhaps by squeezing something into a shape or form. Particularly, it is to create as a potter does. Figuratively, it is to determine.
HH “vessel” = keli. From kalah (to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed). This is something that was prepared – any implement, utensil, article, vessel, weapon, or instrument. Also includes jewels, weapons, bags, carriages, and furniture.

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;II
    be warned,JJ O rulersKK of the earth.

Notes on verse 10

II “be wise” = sakal. This is to consider or be prudent and so it can mean to instruct or be an expert. It can also mean dealing prudently, which implies success and prospering. This verb presumes intelligence of the subject. In one form of the verb, it can mean laying cross-wise.
JJ “be warned” = yasar. Perhaps related to “bonds” in v3. See note L above.
KK “rulers” = shaphat. This is to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, or govern. It can refer to God judging or to human judges. This is pronouncing a verdict in favor or against so it implies consequences or punishment. It can also mean to litigate or govern as one with authority.

11 ServeLL the Lord with fear,MM, NN
    with tremblingOO 

Notes on verse 11

LL “serve” = abad. This is to work, serve, or compel. It can describe any kind of work or service (including religious devotion).  Also, till or cultivate. Used causatively, it can mean to enslave or keep in bondage
MM “fear” = yirah. From yare (to fear, be afraid, dreadful; also fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect). This is fear or reverence.
NN {untranslated} = gil. Properly, this is twirling around because of a strong feeling whether of rejoicing or from fear. This can be rejoice, be glad or joyful, or to cry.
OO “trembling” = ra’ad. 5x in OT. From ra’ad (to tremble or shudder with more or less force). This is trembling or quaking.

12 kissPP his feet,QQ
or he will be angry,RR and you will perishSS in the way;TT
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.

HappyUU are all who take refugeVV in him.

Notes on verse 12

PP “kiss” = nashaq. This is to kiss or touch. It could also mean to rule, equip, or armed men.
QQ “feet” = bar. Literally son or heir.
RR “be angry” = anaph. Related to “wrath” in v5. 14x in NT. (see note T above). This is to be angry. Properly, it is breathing hard as a signifier of being enraged.
SS “perish” = abad. To wander off, lose self. This implies to perish, destroy, die, vanish, or be broken or corrupt.
TT “way” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
UU “happy” = esher. From ashar (to go straight, lead, guide; to be level and so to be right, blessed, honest, happy). This is happy or blessedness.
VV “take refuge” = chasah. This is to take refuge or flee for protection. Figuratively, it means to hope or trust in someone or something.

Image credit: “The Battle at Ebenezer” by Gerrit Claesz Bleker, 1640.

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