Continuing on Psalm 149
As we begin this lesson, our method of introducing new words beginning from the end of the Biblical Psalms, continues, but today I will translate a few verses, even if there are no new words. The idea is for you to see how far you have come—how much progress made—in this learning endeavor.
In the last lesson we considered 149:4, with its great collection of words: “Because (kiy) Yahweh takes pleasure (ratsah) in his people (am); he makes beautiful (paar) the humble (anav) with salvation (yeshuah). We recalled that the noun form of paar, “beauty,” is tipharah, which we have previously discussed.
Verse 5 reads: “Let his saints (chasid) rejoice/exult (עָלַז, alaz) in glory (kabod) and shout for joy (ranan) upon (al) their beds (מִשְׁכָּב, mishkab). We are beginning to see several verbs for rejoicing or singing with joy (zamar, halal, gil, shir, ranan, samach); once you learn them all, and then have a few examples of how each is used fixed in your mind, you have “learned” a word thoroughly. Wonderful. Alaz only appears 16x. In Zeph. 3:14 it appears in tandem with samach: “Let Israel rejoice (samach) and exult (alaz) with all (kol) its heart (leb).” The final verses of Habakkuk give us the memorable 3:18: “And I (ani) will rejoice (alaz) in Yahweh; I will have joy (gil) in the God (elohiim) of my salvation (yesha).” Thus, we see we can mix and match verbs of rejoicing much like various changes of clothing. Buy two shirts and two pairs of pants and have four outfits.
In his most judgmental tone, Jeremiah intones (51:39), “In their heat/excitement (chom) I will put/plan/prepare (shith) their feasts (mishteh) and I will make them drunk (shakar) so that they might rejoice (alaz) and sleep (yashen) an eternal (olam) sleep (שֵׁנָה, shenah) and not awake (קוּץ, quts), a saying (neum) of Yahweh.” Sometimes you can read an entire narrative to get the “flow,” but sometimes it is good to go verse by verse, massaging every word, and within a time, slightly longer than the traditional method, the words become so deep etched in mind that they will never leave you. Also in Jeremiah is the plaintive and moving 15:17, “I did not (lo) sit (yashab) in the assembly or company or secret counsel (סוֹד, sod) of those who laugh/mock (sachaq); nor did I rejoice (alaz) from before (panim) your hand (yad) [because of your hand?]. I sat (yashab) alone (בָּדָד, badad) because (kiy) you have filled me (male) with indignation (זַעַם, zaam).” The last word is derived from the verb zaam (זָעַם, “to be indignant” though in the Balaam narrative it means “to denounce”).
Let’s return to Ps. 149:5 and pick up mishkab, one’s “bed.” We can see the shakab, “to lie down” behind it. The word appears 46x. Kings can bow (shachah—a word that usually means “to worship,” but this is a kind of bowing down leading to death, though the position may look fairly similar to worship) upon their mishkab (I Ki. 1:47), though one of the Patriarchs bowed on his “bed” but there it was mittah (Gen. 47:31). I love the appearance of mishkab in II Sam. 17:28. It has just followed verse 27, which is nothing but names—and we could get a lot of “freebies” that way (why not take a few? מַחֲניִם is Mahanaim, though it means “a pair of camps”; and we also have שׁבִי, shobi, the name of some guy, which name is derived from shabah, to take captive (who wouldn’t name their kid that way?) and בַּרְזִלַּי, Barzillay, “man of iron”). The word בַּרְזֶל, barzel, means “iron” (76x).
Twelve new words so far. But now we are ready for the “big” verse 28. They brought miskab, and “basins (סַף, saph) and vessels (keli) of earth (yatsar, though the verb means “to form/fashion,” but earth is an assumed ingredient) and wheat (חִטָּה, chittah) and barley (seorah) and flour/meal (קֶמַח, qemach) and roasted/parched grain (קָלִי, qali; this derives from קָלָה, qalah, “to roast,” though the same spelling yields another verb, which we have seen, meaning “to be lightly esteemed/dishonored) and beans (פוֹל, pol) and lentils (עָדָשׁ, adash) and parched grain (qali again, precisely the same as a few words ago—not sure of the reason). Though these words are a treasure trove for those studying ancient food, and for lovers of Hebrew words, I must move on—but let’s look at just one: pol (“beans”). The word only appears one other place, also in a list of foodstuffs. In Ezek. 4:9 we have, “And you, take for yourself wheat (chittah) and barley (seorah) and beans (pol) and lentils (adash) and millet (דֹּחַן, dochan, an OT hapax) and wheat/spelt (כֻּסֶּמֶת, kussemeth) and give/put (nathan) them into one (echad) vessel (keli) and make for yourself bread (lechem) . . . .”
Let’s return to Psalm 149:6. “May the lifted up praises (רוֹמְמָה, romemah, an OT hapax; it is the same word as רוֹמָם, romam, another hapax, which appears in Ps. 66:17; from rum, “to lift up/be exalted“) of God (el) be in their mouth (garon) and a two-edged (פִיפִיָּה, piphiyyoth) sword (chereb) in their hand (yad). I love the word piphiyyoth; we can see in the doubled “pi” sound two “mouths” (peh). Naturally, then, a “double-mouthed” sword. Verse 7 has, “To wreak (asah) vengeance (נְקָמָה, neqamah; we have seen naqam, which means the same thing, previously) in the nations (goy) and punishments/rebuke (תּוֹכֵחָה, tokechah) on the peoples (am). The word tokechah is a rich one, and appears in a list of “punishment-type” words in II Ki. 19:3, “And they said (amar) to (al) him, ‘Thus (koh) says (amar) Hezekiah (חִזְקִיָּה, chizkiyyah), a day of trouble (tsarah) and rebuke (towkechah) and blasphemy (נְאָצָה, n’atsah; this is derived from נָאַץ, na’ats, “to scorn/treat with contempt/reject,” 25x ). This (zeh) day (yom) has come (bo) on the sons (banim) for birth (מְשְׁבֵּר, mishbar) but there is no (ayin) strength (koach) to bring them forth (yalad).” The word rendered “birth” is really a “breach,” and the word is taken from the verb “to shatter,” which is probably pretty much what it feels like to give birth in such a situation.