Thursday, August 26, 2010

Psalm 148

Psalm 148
Translation and Notes last updated on 2011.09.22-03:15

The third of the final Hallels - the praise of all creation

הַלְלוּ יָהּ
הַלְלוּ אֶת יְהוָה מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם
הַלְלוּהוּ בַּמְּרוֹמִים
1Hallelu Yah
Praise יְהוָה from the heavens
Praise him in the heights
הַלְלוּהוּ כָל מַלְאָכָיו
הַלְלוּהוּ כָּל צְבָאָו
2Praise him all his angels
Praise him all his hosts
הַלְלוּהוּ שֶׁמֶשׁ וְיָרֵחַ
הַלְלוּהוּ כָּל כּוֹכְבֵי אוֹר
3Praise him sun and moon
Praise him all stars of light
הַלְלוּהוּ שְׁמֵי הַשָּׁמָיִם
וְהַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר מֵעַל הַשָּׁמָיִם
4Praise him the heaven of heavens
and the waters which are above the heavens

יְהַלְלוּ אֶת שֵׁם יְהוָה
כִּי הוּא צִוָּה וְנִבְרָאוּ
5Let them praise the name of יְהוָה
for he gave the commission and they were created
וַיַּעֲמִידֵם לָעַד לְעוֹלָם
חָק נָתַן וְלֹא יַעֲבוֹר
6and he makes them stand now and forever
he gave a decree and it will not pass away

הַלְלוּ אֶת יְהוָה מִן הָאָרֶץ
תַּנִּינִים וְכָל תְּהֹמוֹת
7Praise יְהוָה from the earth
dragons and all abysses
אֵשׁ וּבָרָד שֶׁלֶג וְקִיטוֹר
רוּחַ סְעָרָה עֹשָׂה דְבָרוֹ
8Fire and hail snow and vapour
tempestuous wind doing its thing
הֶהָרִים וְכָל גְּבָעוֹת
עֵץ פְּרִי וְכָל אֲרָזִים
9Mountains and all hillocks
fruit trees and all cedars

הַחַיָּה וְכָל בְּהֵמָה
רֶמֶשׂ וְצִפּוֹר כָּנָף
10the animal and all cattle
creepy-crawly and winged bird
מַלְכֵי אֶרֶץ וְכָל לְאֻמִּים
שָׂרִים וְכָל שֹׁפְטֵי אָרֶץ
11sovereigns of the earth and all tribes
nobility and all who make earthly judgements
בַּחוּרִים וְגַם בְּתוּלוֹת
זְקֵנִים עִם נְעָרִים
12youths in their prime and also maidens
the aged with youngsters

יְהַלְלוּ אֶת שֵׁם יְהוָה
כִּי נִשְׂגָּב שְׁמוֹ לְבַדּוֹ
הוֹדוֹ עַל אֶרֶץ וְשָׁמָיִם
13let them praise the name of יְהוָה
for a retreat is his name, his alone,
his splendour over earth and heaven
וַיָּרֶם קֶרֶן לְעַמּוֹ
תְּהִלָּה לְכָל חֲסִידָיו
לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
עַם קְרֹבוֹ
הַלְלוּ יָהּ
14and he will exalt the horn of his people
a praise of all those of his mercy
of the children of Israel
a people near him
Hallelu Yah

1[Mark 11:10]

Hebrew words: 111 Percentage of Hebrew words that recur in this psalm: 49% Average keywords per verse: 3.9

Selected recurring words in relative order
Word and gloss * first usage12345678VsRoot
הללו Hallelu
1הלל
יה Yah
1יה
הללו praise
1הלל
השׁמים the heavens
1שׁמים
הללוהו praise him
1הלל
במרומים in the heights
1רום
הללוהו praise him
2הלל
כל all
2כל
הללוהו praise him
2הלל
כל all
2כל
הללוהו praise him
3הלל
הללוהו praise him
3הלל
כל all
3כל
הללוהו praise him
4הלל
שׁמי the heaven of
4שׁמים
השׁמים heavens
4שׁמים
השׁמים the heavens
4שׁמים
יהללו let them praise
5הלל
שׁם the name of
5שׁם
הללו praise
7הלל
הארץ the earth
7ארץ
וכל and all
7כל
וכל and all
9כל
וכל and all
9כל
וכל and all
10כל
ארץ the earth
11ארץ
וכל and all
11כל
וכל and all
11כל
ארץ the earth
11ארץ
עם with
12עם
יהללו let them praise
13הלל
שׁם the name of
13שׁם
שׁמו his name
13שׁם
ארץ earth
13ארץ
ושׁמים and heaven
13שׁמים
וירם and he will exalt
14רום
לעמו of his people
14עם
תהלה a praise
14הלל
לכל of all
14כל
עם a people
14עם
הללו Hallelu
14הלל
יה Yah
14יה
Four verses invite praise from all the created order echoing the poems to creation (103, 104) at the end of Book 4. Verses 5 and 6 give the reason: the commandment, the given commission, from יהוה and his ongoing underlying support through his decree. Verses 7 to 12 then detail in two sections the praise of all parts of the earth and all its creatures. Verse 13, repeating verse 5 gives the special local earthbound reason, that the name of יהוה is a retreat. The repetition of the verse gives a natural subdivision of the poem, 1 to 4, 5 to 14. The pivotal role of Israel is marked in verse 14.

Note that the words of verse 8 do not recur in the rest of the poem. Natural disasters are given a central position in the second half of the poem.

Every created thing and being is to praise. Every created being has a retreat.

This poem is primal: the fight or flight impulse in every created thing from dragon to creepy crawly and the merciful nature of יהוה illustrated to humanity through his dealings with Israel.

The bootstrap for sentience is not known to humanity, but the fight or flight instinct has been noted by us. Had I ever thought that even the spider gets its refuge in יהוה? I did not use the word soul in this translation, but one could write about the soul of the beast, for the gift to the animals is clear to anyone who looks closely at the marvel of their actions and brains.

Even the dragon and the abyss are invited to praise. These words draw in all the potential confusion and fear in the magnificence of creation. The abyss is a treasury (33:7) and a metaphor for the judgment (36:7). Psalm 42:8 identifies abyss as the depth of the call from the human in exile to God. Psalm 71:20 knows hope even in these depths. The water from the rock is like an abyss (78:15). The earth is clothed with the abyss (104:6). The people are led through it (106:9) and the mariners are terrified of it on the sea (107:26). It is part of God’s delight (135:6). This is the creation that we find ourselves in: the unfathomable, time, gravity, and the inscrutable human heart, animal consciousness and the power of the natural order. This is the abyss along with its fearsome creatures. The place of the dragon is where we were crushed (44:20), but its heads are broken (74:13), and over it we will trample (91:13). Leviathan splintered (74:14) is God’s companion in laughter (104:26). Rahab, the defiant (40:5) is remembered in the city of God (87:4) and was pierced through (89:11). She becomes the metaphor for our boldness (90:10 and 138:3). Here we might invoke Christopher Smart again, for the devils themselves are at peace. The psalms weave creation, redemption, and deliverance into poetry reflecting these primal and critical themes from the Torah and the Prophets. See also Rendtorff (2005 p. 418 ff).