Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Epiphany ABC


Of Solomon.A

GiveB the kingC your justice,D O God,E

Notes on superscript - verse 1a

A “Solomon” = Shelomoh. From shalam (to be complete or sound; to have safety mentally, physically, or extending to one’s estate; so, if these things are safe and complete, the implication is that one would be friendly; and, if being friendly, one would make amends and that friendship would be reciprocated). This is Solomon or Shelomoh, meaning “peaceful.” It is the same word as the Hebrew word for peace – shalom.
B “give” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
C “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.
D “justice” = 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.
E “God” = Elohim.

    and your righteousnessF to a king’s son.G
May he judgeH your peopleI with righteousness,J
    and your poorK with justice.

Notes on verses 1b-2

F “righteousness” = tsedaqah. From the same as tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, vindication. It is everything that is just or ethical. That which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense. It also includes just weights (i.e. true weights). Figuratively, this is justice, righteousness, equity – even prosperity). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.
G “son” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
H “judge” = din. This is to judge, defend, dispute, govern, quarrel, plead.
I “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.
J “righteousness” = tsedeq. Related to “righteousness” in v1. See note F above.
K “poor” = 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.

May the mountainsL yieldM prosperityN for the people,
    and the hills,O in righteousness.P

Notes on verse 3

L “mountains” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
M “yield” = nasa. This is to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept.
N “prosperity” = shalom. Related to “Solomon” in superscript. From shalam (see note A above). This is completeness, soundness, welfare, favor, friend, good health. It is to be safe and figuratively well, happy, at peace, friendly. Abstractly, it includes the ideas of welfare and prosperity (not in excessive wealth, but in having enough).
O “hills” = gibah. From the same as Geba (Geba or Gibeah; hillock); from the same as gabia (cup, bowl, flower; root might mean being convex). This is hill or little hill.
P “righteousness” = tsedaqah. Same as “righteousness” in v1. See note F above.

4 May he defend the causeQ of the poor of the people,
    give deliveranceR to theS needy,T
    and crushU the oppressor.V

Notes on verse 4

Q “defend the cause” = shaphat. Related to “justice” in v1. See note D above.
R “give deliverance” = 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.
S {untranslated} = ben. Same as “son” in v1. See note G above.
T “needy” = ebyon. From abah (to consent, obey, want, yield, accept). This is needy, poor, beggar. Someone who is wanting.
U “crush” = daka. 18x in OT. This is to crush or break into pieces. It can also mean bruise, being contrite or oppressed, to destroy, or be humble.
V “oppressor” = ashaq. This is to wrong, deceive, violate, or use oppression.

5 May he liveW while the sunX endures,Y
    and as long as the moon,Z throughout all generations.AA

Notes on verse 5

W “live” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
X “sun” = shemesh. This is sun or toward the east. Its root may mean being brilliant. Figuratively, this could be a ray or an arch.
Y “endures” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
Z “moon” = yareach. Perhaps from the same as yerach (month). This is moon.
AA “all generations” = dor + dor. Literally, “generation of generations.” 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.

May he be like rain that fallsBB on the mown grass,CC
    like showersDD that waterEE the earth.FF

Notes on verse 6

BB “falls” = yarad. This is to go down, descend; going down in a literal or figurative sense. It can be going to the shore or a boundary, bringing down an enemy.
CC “mown grass” = gez. 4x in OT. From gazaz (to cut off, shave, shear sheep; figuratively, conquer an enemy). This is shearing, mowing, mown grace, or fleece.
DD “showers” = rebibim. 6x in OT. From rabab (to be or become much or many, multiply). This is showers – rainfall as comprised of many drops.
EE “water” = zarziph. 1x in OT. Root may refer to flowing. This is a dripping, water. It could mean pouring rain.
FF “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

7 In his daysGG may righteousnessHH flourishII
    and peaceJJ abound,KK until the moon is no more.LL

Notes on verse 7

GG “days” = yom. Root 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.
HH “righteousness” = tsaddiq. Related to “righteousness” in v1 & “righteousness” in v2. From the same as tsedeq (see note F above). This is just, innocent, righteous, righteous one, or lawful.
II “flourish” = parach. This is to sprout, blossom, bloom, spread, flourish.
JJ “peace” = shalom. Same as “prosperity” in v3. See note N above.
KK “abound” = rob. Related to “showers” in v6. From rabab (see note DD above). This is any kind of abundance.
LL “no more” = beli. From balah (to grow old, wear out, waste away, consume, spend). This is properly a failure. So, it could mean without, not yet, unawares, lacking, something that wears out, or because not.

10 May the kings of TarshishMM and of the islesNN
    renderOO him tribute,PP

Notes on verse 10a

MM “Tarshish” = Tarshish. Perhaps from the same as tarshish (a gemstone like yellow jasper, beryl, or topaz) OR from Persian Tarshata (his excellency) OR from tarsata (feared, revered) OR from rashash (to break down, shatter; perhaps subjection) OR tor (dove) + shayish (alabaster, white, crystal). This is Tarshish – a port city on the Mediterranean – exact whereabouts unknown today. See
NN “isles” = i. Perhaps from avah (to desire, crave, wish for, lust after). This is coastland, island, or region. It is a desirable place to live – dry land, coast.
OO “render” = 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.”
PP “tribute” = minchah. This is a gift or an offering, particularly a sacrificial one that is generally bloodless and given spontaneously (voluntarily).

may the kings of ShebaQQ and SebaRR
    bringSS gifts.TT

Notes on verse 10b

QQ “Sheba” = Sheba. From Ethiopic (man) OR from Hebrew saba (to imbibe) OR from shaba (to capture (like a captive) OR from sheba (seven – the number of perfection/sacred fullness); {from shaba (to swear, curse, vow, make a covenant; properly, to be complete; this is to seven oneself – as in affirming something so strongly it is as though it were said seven times)}. This is Sheba or Sabean. It is somewhere in Africa or southwest Arabia as well as a personal name. It may mean “man,” “drunk,” “captive,” “splinter,” “seven,” or “oath.” See
RR “Seba” = Seba. Perhaps related to “Sheba” in v10. 4x in OT. From saba (see note QQ above) OR of foreign origin. This is Seba, perhaps meaning “drunkard.” It is the person, their descendants, and their territory.
SS “bring” = qarab. This is to come near, offer, make ready, approach, take.
TT “gifts” = eshkar. 2x in OT. Perhaps from sakar (wages, payment, service, salary, worth, reward, or benefit); from sakar (to hire, reward, earn). This is a gift or payment. It shares a root of “Issachar.”

11 May allUU kings fall downVV before him,
    all nationsWW give him service.XX

Notes on verse 11

UU “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
VV “fall down” = shachah. This is to bow down, make a humble entreaty, to do homage to royalty or to God.
WW “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.
XX “give…service” = abad. This is to work, serve, or compel. It can describe any kind of work or service (including religious devotion).  Also, till or cultivate. Used causatively, it can mean to enslave or keep in bondage.

12 For he deliversYY the needy when they call,ZZ
    the poor and those who have no helper.AAA
13 He has pityBBB on the weakCCC and the needy,
    and savesDDD the livesEEE of the needy.

Notes on verses 12-13

YY “delivers” = natsal. This is to snatch someone or something away in a good sense – as rescue, defend, or deliver – or in a bad sense – as strip or plunder.
ZZ “call” = shava. This is crying or shouting aloud, generally seeking freedom from some kind of trouble.
AAA “helper” = azar. This is to surround, which implies encircling to protect someone or help them out. It can also be help, ally, or support.
BBB “has pity” = chus. This is properly to cover. In a figurative sense it means looking with compassion, pitying, regarding, or sparing someone.
CCC “weak” = dal. From dalal (to be low, hang, fade, be emptied, become poor, be oppressed). This is lean, weak, needy, poor. Properly, it is one who is dangling.
DDD “saves” = yasha. Same as “give deliverance” in v4. See note R above.
EEE “lives” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.

14 From oppressionFFF and violenceGGG he redeemsHHH their life;
    and precious isIII their bloodJJJ in his sight.KKK

Notes on verse 14

FFF “oppression” = tok. 3x in OT. Perhaps from tavek (among, middle, in the midst, center; perhaps properly to sever). This is injury, deceit, or oppression.
GGG “violence” = chamas. From chamas (to violate, do violence, to wrong; implies mistreatment). This is violence, cruelty, damage, wrong, injustice, or unrighteous. Violence implies a wrong done. The term is also used to describe unjust gain.
HHH “redeems” = gaal. This is to redeem someone or something according to kinship laws. So, it could be acting on a relative’s behalf to buy back their property, to marry one’s brother’s widow, etc. This could be more briefly translated as to redeem, acts as kinsman, or purchase. As a noun, it could be deliverer or avenger.
III “precious is” = yaqar. 11x in OT. This is to be precious, costly, rare, valued; properly, to be heavy; figuratively, valuable or inhibit.
JJJ “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.
KKK “sight” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).

Image credit: “crying” by Andrew Vargas, 2007.

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