Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17

Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
Proper 25A


A PrayerA of Moses,B the manC of God.D

Notes on Superscription

A “Prayer” = tephillah. From palal (to judge for oneself or in an official capacity; to pray or make supplication, to entreat). This is prayer or intercession. It can also be a hymn.
B “Moses” = Mosheh. From mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose.
C “man” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
D “God” = Elohim.

Lord,E you have beenF our dwelling placeG
    in all generations.H

Notes on verse 1

E “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.
F “been” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
G “dwelling place” = maon. 17x in OT. From anah (to answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify; to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk; singing, shouting, testifying, etc.) OR from the same as onah (marriage, living together, marital duty). This is dwelling, den, haunt, retreat. It can refer to the Tabernacle or Temple. It can also be used for homes or animal lairs.
H “in all generations” = dor + dor. Literally, “in generation and generation.” From dur (to move in a circle, which implies living somewhere or remaining there; it can also be the sense of piling or heaping up). This is a revolution of time, which is to say, an age or generation. It can also be a dwelling or one’s posterity.

BeforeI the mountainsJ were brought forthK
    or ever you had formedL the earthM and the world,N

Notes on verse 2a

I “before” = terem. May come from a word that means to interrupt. This is not yet or before.
J “mountains” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
K “brought forth” = 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.
L “formed” = chul. This is whirling around so dancing as in a circle or writhing in pain. It is used particularly for the pain of childbirth or from writhing due to fear. It can also be falling in pain or waiting.
M “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
N “world” = tebel. From yabal (to lead, bring, carry, conduct; properly, to flow; to bring or lead with fanfare). This is world, confusion, inhabited part of the earth, but also used for the whole world.

    from everlastingO to everlasting you are God.P

You turn usQ backR to dustS

Notes on verses 2b-3a

O “everlasting” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
P “God” = El. Related to “God” in Superscription. See note D above.
Q “us” = enosh. Related to “man” in Superscription. See note C above.
R “turn…back” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
S “dust” = dakka. 3x in OT. From daka’ (to crush or break into pieces; to bruise, be contrite or oppressed, to destroy, be humble). This is crushed, powder, contrite, destruction.

    and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”T

For a thousandU yearsV in your sightW

Notes on verses 3b-4a

T “mortals” = ben + adam. Literally, “children of humanity.” Ben is from banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Adam is perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
U “thousand” = eleph. Perhaps from the same as eleph (herd, cattle); from alaph (to learn, speak, associate with). This is thousand.
V “years” = shanah. From shana (to change, alter). This is a year, age, old. It can also mean yearly.
W “sight” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).

    are like yesterdayX when it is pastY
    or like a watchZ in the night.AA

Notes on verse 4b

X “yesterday” = yom + ethmol. Yom is a root that may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time. Ethmol is 8x in OT. From et (with, among, beside, including, toward, near); {from anah (to meet, happen, approach)} + mul (front, opposite, toward); {from mul (to cut short, circumcise, blunt, destroy)}. This is formerly, before, yesterday, time.
Y “is past” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
Z “watch” = ashmoreth. 7x in OT. From shamar (to keep, watch, or preserve; to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something). This is a watch.
AA “night” = layil. Properly, this refers to light twisting away. It is used for night or midnight. Figuratively, this can mean adversity.

You sweep them away;BB they are like a dream,CC
    like grassDD that is renewedEE in the morning;FF

Notes on verse 5

BB “sweep…away” = zaram. 2x in OT. This is to flood, pour. It is to carry something off as a flood does.
CC “dream” = shenah. From yashen (to be languid or go slack; it can mean to sleep, become old or stale, or die). This is asleep.
DD “grass” = chatsir. Perhaps from the same as chatsir (village, settlement); from chatser (enclosure or court – a yard that is fenced in. It could also be a village or hamlet that is walled in); from chatsar (to blow a trumpet, trumpeter, to surround); from chatsotsrah (trumpet). This is grass, plant, hay, leeks.
EE “renewed” = chalaph. This is to slide by or rush like a flood. It can mean to pass through, change, sprout, renew, break a promise, pierce, or violate.
FF “morning” = boqer. From baqar (to seek, plow, break forth, admire, care for). This refers to the break of day. So it is dawn, early, morning, or morrow.

in the morning it flourishesGG and is renewed;
    in the eveningHH it fadesII and withers.JJ

Notes on verse 6

GG “flourishes” = tsuwts. 9x in OT. This is to twinkle, shine, blossom. Figuratively, it is to flourish.
HH “evening” = ereb. This is evening, night, or dusk.
II “fades” = mul. Related to “yesterday” in v4. See note X above.
JJ “withers” = yabesh. This is to be dry, withered, confused, or ashamed. It can also be to fail.

13 Turn,KK O Lord!LL How long?
    Have compassionMM on your servants!NN

Notes on verse 13

KK “turn” = shub. Same as “turn…back” in v3. See note R above.
LL “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “been” in v1. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note F above). 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.
MM “have compassion” = nacham. Properly, this is a strong breath or a sigh. This can be to be sorry, to pity, console. Comfort, or repent. But, one can also comfort oneself with less righteous thoughts, so this can also mean to avenge oneself.
NN “servants” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.

14 SatisfyOO us in the morning with your steadfast love,PP
    so that we may rejoiceQQ and be gladRR allSS our days.TT

Notes on verse 14

OO “satisfy” = saba. To be satisfied or full in a literal or figurative sense. Also, to have plenty of.
PP “steadfast love” = chesed. From chasad (being good, kind, merciful; may mean bowing one’s neck as is done in the presence of an equal for courtesy’s sake; so, if one in a superior position is treating you like an equal, that is what is captured here). This is favor, goodness, kindness, loving kindness, pity, reproach, or a good deed. When done by God to humanity, this is mercy/loving kindness. When done by humanity to God, it is piety.
QQ “rejoice” = ranan. This is a cry of joy or a joyful song. Properly, it is emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy.
RR “be glad” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
SS “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
TT “days” = yom. Same as “yesterday” in v4. See note X above.

15 Make us glad as many days as you have afflictedUU us
    and as many years as we have seenVV evil.WW

Notes on verse 15

UU “afflicted” = anah. This is to be occupied with. It can also be bowed down. It can refer to a sense of humility or to a sense of being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed. This can be literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance.
VV “seen” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
WW “evil” = ra’. From ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is bad, disagreeable, that which causes pain, misery, something having little or no value, something that is ethically bad, wicked, injury, calamity. This refers to anything that is not what it ought to be – a natural disaster, a disfigurement, an injury, a sin.

16 Let your workXX be manifestYY to your servants
    and your glorious powerZZ to their children.AAA

Notes on verse 16

XX “work” = poal. From paal (to do, make, work, or accomplish; generally refers to regularly repeated or systematic action – to practice). This is an action or deed, conduct. It is the act of working or the work itself. It can also be wages or maker.
YY “be manifest” = raah. Same as “seen” in v15. See note VV above.
ZZ “glorious power” = hadar. From hadar (to honor or adorn; majestic, respected, glorious; to favor or honor; to be proud). This is ornament, splendor, beauty, dignity, majesty, magnificence, and glory.
AAA “children” = ben. Same as “mortals” in v3. See note T above.

17 Let the favorBBB of the LordCCC our GodDDD be upon us

Notes on verse 17a

BBB “favor” = noam. 7x in OT. From naem (to be pleasant, beautiful, sweet, or agreeable in a literal or figurative sense) This is pleasantness, beauty, favor, agreeableness, delight, splendor, or grace.
CCC “Lord” = Adonai. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note E above.
DDD “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in Superscription. See note D above.

    and prosperEEE for us the workFFF of our handsGGG
    O prosper the workHHH of our hands!

Notes on verse 17b

EEE “prosper” = kun. Properly, this means in a perpendicular position. So, it is set up in a literal sense – establish, fix, fasten, prepare. In a figurative sense, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous.
FFF “work” = maaseh. From asah (to do, make, accomplish, become). This is a work – any action whether positive or negative. It can also be a transaction, construction, activity, property, or something that is produced.
GGG “hands” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
HHH “work” = maaseh. Same as “work” in v17. See note FFF above.

Image credit: “Big Bang” by Cédric sorel, 2008.

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