A Women’s Lectionary – Fourth Sunday of Easter
9 The LordA isB a strongholdC for the oppressed,D
a stronghold in timesE of trouble.F
A “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “is” in v9. From havah (see note B above) 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.
B “is” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
C “stronghold” = misgab. 17x in OT. From sagab (raise, lifted, high, secure on high, excellent, strong; literal and figurative). This is a high or inaccessible location. Abstractly, it can be altitude. Concretely it is a cliff or height. Figuratively, it is a refuge or stronghold – a high fort or tower. There is also a place called Misgab in Moab.
D “oppressed” = dak. 4x in OT. This is crushed so figuratively it refers to the injured or afflicted.
E “times” = et. Probably from anah (to answer, sing, announce); from ad (forever, all, old); from adah (to pass on, advance, decorate oneself). This is a period or season. It can also mean whenever or continually.
F “trouble” = tsarah. From tsar (properly, a narrow or constricted place; figuratively, trouble, a pebble, an enemy, anguish, or distress); from tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). This is tightness, distress, affliction, trouble, or adversary.
10 And those who knowG your nameH put their trustI in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsakenJ those who seekK you.
G “know” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
H “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
I “put…trust” = batach. This is to hide for refuge, be secure or sure. Figuratively, it refers to trust, being confident, or hoping.
J “forsaken” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.
K “seek” = darash. This is seek, ask, inquire, care for. Generally it means following in pursuit or following as part of a search, which implies seeking or asking. Also used specially to mean worship.
11 Sing praisesL to the Lord, who dwellsM in Zion.N
L “sing praises” = zamar. Perhaps from zamar (to trim or prune). This is making music. It is used specially of music to worship God. So, music with singing, singing praise, or singing psalms.
M “dwells” = 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.
N “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.
DeclareO his deedsP among the peoples.Q
O “declare” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
P “deeds” = alilah. From alal (to affect, do, practice, mock, overdo, glean, abuse, pain). This is a deed or action – something that causes an effect. It could be a wanton or shameful deed or an opportunity.
Q “peoples” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
12 For he who avengesR bloodS is mindfulT of them;
he does not forgetU the cryV of the afflicted.W
R “avenges” = darash. Same as “seek” in v10. See note K above.
S “blood” = dam. Perhaps from damam (to cease, be or become mute, silent, still, cut off, hold peace, be astonished, die). This is blood, bloodshed, bloodguilt, lifeblood, and death. It is used for people and animals. More often blood from a wound or the blood of the innocent. Used figuratively for violence or for wine. Closely tied to life and death.
T “is mindful” = zakar. This is to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention.
U “forget” = shakach. This is to forget because of not remembering something or not paying attention to it. It can also mean to mislay.
V “cry” = tseaqah. From tsaaq (to cry out or call together, to shriek; by implication, calling for an assembly). This is a cry for help, shriek or outcry.
W “afflicted” = ani. From anah (to be bowed down; humility or being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed; literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance). This is humble, lowly, poor, or afflicted.
13 Be graciousX to me, O Lord.
SeeY what I sufferZ from those who hateAA me;
you are the one who lifts me upBB from the gatesCC of death,DD
X “be gracious” = chanan. This is to beseech, show favor, be gracious. Properly, it is to bend in kindness to someone with less status.
Y “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
Z “suffer” = oniy. Related to “afflicted” in v12. From anah (see note W above). This is misery, poverty, or affliction.
AA “hate” = sane. This is an enemy or foe. It is one that is hated with a personal hatred.
BB “lifts…up” = rum. This is to rise or raise, to be high literally or figuratively. So it can also mean to exalt or extol.
CC “gates” = shaar. May be related to sha’ar (to calculate or reckon; may come from a root that means to open up or split). This is a gate, door, or other opening like a port.
DD “death” = mavet. From muth (to die in a literal or figurative sense). This can be death, deadliness, the dead, or the place where the dead go. It can be used figuratively for pestilence or ruin.
14 so that I may recountEE allFF your praises,GG
EE “recount” = saphar. From sepher (writing, document, book, evidence). This is properly to tally or record something. It can be enumerate, recount, number, celebrate, or declare.
FF “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
GG “praises” = tehillah. From halal (to praise, be boastful). This is praise or a song of praise. It is to offer God a hymn, to boast in God. This shares a root with “hallelujah.”
and, in the gates of daughterHH Zion,
rejoiceII in your deliverance.JJ
HH “daughter” = bat. From ben (son literal or figurative; also, grandson, subject, nation); from banah (to build or obtain children). This is daughter in a literal or figurative sense.
II “rejoice” = 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.
JJ “deliverance” = yeshuah. From yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue, be safe. Properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. Used causatively, it means to free). This is salvation, deliverance, health, victory, prosperity.
Image credit: “Cry for Justice” by Fenwick Lawson, 1972. Photo by Alejandro Erickson, 2013.