Psalm 128

11QPs-a Col VA song of the ascent

 

Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,

who walks according to his ways.

It is by the work of your hands that you eat,

and are happy and prosper.[i]

Your wife is like a vine,

producing her fruit[ii] in the privacy[iii] of your home.

Your children are like shoots around an olive tree,

they will gather around your table.

Certainly he will bless the man who fears the Lord

 

The Lord[iv] has blessed[v] you from Zion,

See how Jerusalem has prospered all of the days of your life.

Look at your grandchildren[vi].

Peace on Israel.

 

 


[i] Psalm 127 drives home the point that prosperity and security come from God alone and now the psalmist reminds us that we are to enjoy the fruit of our labor while never forgetting that it is ultimately God who provides.  Knowing that it is God who ultimately provides does not excuse us from our obligation to work for our reward.

[ii] Psalm 127 declares that “the fruit of the belly is his reward” and this imagery is continued here in this verse where the reference to fruit is meant to invoke the image of children.

[iii] The phrase “בירכתי בביתך”   lit. “in the innermost places of your house” carries subtle sexual overtones that are lost in most English translations. The word ‘ירכה’ refers to the innermost recesses when in reference to places and to the loins (or groin) when referring to people. In Ex. 1:5 this is the word used for ‘loins’ in the phrase “these are all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob.”

[iv] The MT reads ‘YHWH’ (יהוה) but 11QPsa reads ‘Adonai’ (אדוני). The MT is likely the original reading and 11QPsa likely reflects the Jewish practice of verbally substituting ‘Adonai’ when reading ‘YHWH.’

[v] The tense is imperfect, but there is a sense of past blessing that continues into the future. This is punctuated by the command that follows “to see” God’s blessing that is already taken place.

[vi] Lit. ‘children of your children’

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