Psalm 149

Psalm 149
Proper 18A


PraiseA the Lord!B
SingC to the LordD a newE song,F

Notes on verse 1a

A “praise” = halal. This is to be clear – it originally referred to a sound, then a color. It was to shine and then make a show or boast then to rave. In a causative sense it came to mean celebrate, give glory, sing praise, or be worth of praise. Because of the celebratory nature of the word, it could also mean to give in marriage. This is where Hallelujah comes from.
B “Lord” = Yah. From YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; God, Lord; the self-existent or eternal one); from havah (to become) or hayah (to be, become, happen)}. This is Lord or God – a shortened form of God’s most holy name.
C “sing” = shir. From shir (song, singer). This is to sing. It could also refer to one who is singing or leading others in song.
D “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “Lord” in v1. See note B above.
E “new” = chadash. From chadash (to renew or restore, to repair or rebuild). This is something fresh or new.
F “song” = shir. Related to “sing” in v1. See note C above.

    his praiseG in the assemblyH of the faithful.I

Notes on verse 1b

G “praise” = tehillah. Related to “praise” in v1. From halal (see note A above). 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.”
H “assembly” = qahal. This is an assembly, congregation, or multitude.
I “faithful” = chasid. 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 faithful, kind, pious, merciful, or gracious. It can also refer to godly or pious people. This is where Chasidic Jews take their name from.

Let IsraelJ be gladK in its Maker;L
    let the childrenM of ZionN rejoiceO in their King.P

Notes on verse 2

J “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
K “be glad” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
L “Maker” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
M “children” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
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.
O “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.
P “King” = melek. From malak (to be or become king or queen, to rise to the throne, to be crowned; by implication, to take counsel). This is king or royal.

Let them praise his nameQ with dancing,R
    making melodyS to him with tambourineT and lyre.U

Notes on verse 3

Q “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.
R “dancing” = machol. 6x in OT. From chul (whirling around so dancing as in a circle or writhing in pain; used particularly for the pain of childbirth or from writhing due to fear; can also be falling in pain or waiting). This is a round dance.
S “making melody” = 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.
T “tambourine” = toph. 17x in OT. Perhaps from taphaph (to play a drum, timbrel, or tambourine). This is a timbrel or tambourine.
U “lyre” = kinnor. Root may be to twang. This is a lyre or harp.

For the LordV takes pleasureW in his people;X

Notes on verse 4a

V “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note D above.
W “takes pleasure” = ratsah. This is to be pleased with, delight, take pleasure in, or accept with favor. It can mean to approve or consent regarding something. It can also be used specifically of satisfying debts or being pardoned.
X “people” = 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.

    he adornsY the humbleZ with victory.AA

Notes on verse 4b

Y “adorns” = paar. 14x in OT. This is to beautify or adorn, to gleam. Thus, it can refer to showing honor or glorifying someone. It can also mean to boast or to shake a tree for harvest.
Z “humble” = anav. From anah (to be bowed down; can refer to a sense of humility or to a sense of being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed; literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance). This is poor, needy, afflicted as well as humble or meek.
AA “victory” = 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.

Let the faithful exultBB in glory;CC
    let them sing for joyDD on their couches.EE

Notes on verse 5

BB “exult” = alaz. 16x in OT. This is to jump for joy, rejoice, triumph, or be jubilant.
CC “glory” = kabod. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is weighty. Figuratively, glorious, abundant, riches, honor, splendor – a reference to one’s reputation or character. This word is often used to describe God and God’s presence.
DD “sing for joy” = ranan. This is a cry of joy or a joyful song. Properly, it is emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy.
EE “couches” = mishkab. From shakab (to lie down, lodge; lying for sleep, sex, or other reasons). This is a place where one lies down i.e. a bed, couch, or bedchamber. It can also be used in an abstract sense to refer to sleep or euphemistically for sex.

Let the high praisesFF of GodGG be in their throatsHH

Notes on verse 6a

FF “high praises” = romemah. 1x in OT. From the same as romam (praise, exaltation); from rum (rise, bring up, being high, extol, exalt, haughty; to raise in a literal or figurative sense) or ramam (to rise in a literal or figurative sense; to get up or exalt). This is high or praise.
GG “God” = El. Related to “Israel” in v2. See note J above.
HH “throats” = garon. 7x in OT. Perhaps from garah (to contend, provoke conflict, stir up strife, meddle; properly, to grate – figuratively to cause anger) OR from garar (to drag or drag off in a rough fashion, chew, sweep, destroy; to chew the cud). This is mouth, throat, head, or neck.

    and two-edgedII swordsJJ in their hands,KK

Notes on verse 6b

II “two-edged” = piphiyyoth. 2x in OT. From peh (edge, two-edged); from the same as peh (mouth in a literal or figurative sense; literally, beak or jaws; figuratively, speech, commands, or promises); {perhaps from pa’ah (to puff, scatter, cut in pieces). This is tooth or two-edged.
JJ “swords” = chereb. From charab (to attack, slay). This is any sharp instrument like a sword, dagger, axe, or mattock.
KK “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.

to executeLL vengeanceMM on the nationsNN

Notes on verse 7a

LL “execute” = asah. Same as “Maker” in v2. See note L above.
MM “vengeance” = neqamah. From naqam (a quarrel or vengeance); from naqam (to avenge, punish, have a grudge, execute). This is vengeance, or revenge – whether the act of vengeance or the drive towards vengeance.
NN “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.

    and punishmentOO onPP the peoples,QQ

Notes on verse 7b

OO “punishment” = tokechah. From yakach (to decide, be right, argue, or convince; to decide, convict, reason together, or reprove). This is correction, rebuke, punishment. It can also be evidence used in court.
PP “on” = bal. From balah (to grow old, wear out, consume, waste, enjoy, fail, decay). This is not, lest, neither. Properly, it refers to a failure, so it implies nothing or not at all.
QQ “peoples” = leom. Root may refer to gathering. This is people, a community, or a nation.

to bindRR their kings with fettersSS
    and their noblesTT with chainsUU of iron,VV

Notes on verse 8

RR “bind” = asar. This is to tie, yoke, bind, or fasten. It can mean to harness an animal, to join in fighting a battle, or to imprison someone.
SS “fetters” = ziqah. 7x in OT. Perhaps from zanaq (to leap, pull together). This is a fetter, firebrand, chain, missile, fiery arrow.
TT “nobles” = kabad. Related to “glory” in v5. See note CC above.
UU “chains” = kebel. 2x in OT. This is fetter – something braided together.
VV “iron” = barzel. From the same as Birzoth (a name meaning holes). Root may mean to pierce. This is iron as something used as a cutting implement. It can also specifically mean ax head.

to execute on them the judgmentWW decreed.XX
    This is gloryYY for allZZ his faithful ones.
Praise the Lord!AAA

Notes on verse 9

WW “judgment” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
XX “decreed” = kathab. This is to inscribe, write, record, or decree.
YY “glory” = 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.
ZZ “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
AAA “Lord” = Yah. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note B above.

Image credit: “Serena” by Richmond Barthé at Fallingwater in Mill Run, PA, 1940.

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