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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

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Commentary on Psalms

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Ps. 42 :

Pss. 42–43 are a single psalm, as indicated by their shared refrain ( 42.6, 12;43.5 ), and common theme of the desire to come to the Temple despite enemy persecution ( 42.3; 43.3–4; cf. Pss. 9–10 , also thought to have been one psalm). Ps. 42 begins a collection called the Elohistic Psalter. Comprised of Pss. 42–83 , this section much prefers the Heb “’elohim,” “God” (sometimes translated “god”) to LORD (Hebrew “YHVH”), in sharp contrast to the rest of the Psalter. Phrases like (Ps. 43.4 ) “O God, my God” are awkward in Heb, and may reflect a revision of the more common and expected, “O LORD, my God” (e.g., Jonah 2.7 ). Likewise, the use of “God” throughout Ps. 82 is confusing, and is likely secondary (see 82.1 n. ). Scholars suggest that most of the references to God in this grouping are secondary, and were originally LORD (“YHVH”); these were changed by an editor who preferred to call the deity “’elohim,” God. A parallel phenomenon is the use of “elohim” in the E source in the Torah. Ps. 42 also introduces the collection of Korahite psalms. These are found in Pss.42(–43); 44–49; 84–85; 87–88 , in other words in two collections, one in the Elohistic Psalter ( 42–49 ), one outside it ( 84–88 ). The separation of this collection in two sections of Psalms is one of many indications of the complexity of the editing of the Psalter. As indicated by 2 Chron. 20.19 , “Levites of the sons of Kohath and of the sons of Korah got up to extol the LORD God of Israel at the top of their voices,” the Korahites had a special role in Temple singing. (Contrast the negative depiction of the Korahites in Num. ch 16 .) There are some common phrases in the collection (e.g., Pss. 42.3 and 84.3 , “the living God”; 42.3 and 84.8 , “appear[ing] before God”), but attempts at finding strong thematic similarities between them are not compelling. Similarly unconvincing are attempts to read the Korahite collection as a whole, especially as stages of a ritual.

1 :

On maskil, see 32.1 n. ; a disproportionate number of psalms with this word appear in the Elohistic Psalter.

2–3 :

The imagery is very striking (see also63.2 ). God is the basic nourishment for the psalmist.

3 :

On the living God, see 18.47 n. Some ancient biblical translations render to appear before God as “to see God”; the consonantal Heb text allows this translation. This may reflect an idea that God could actually be seen at a temple, manifest through an image (see 11.7 n. ). Zion plays a disproportionately significant role in the Korah psalms; see esp. Ps. 48 .

4 :

Instead of divine nourishment, the psalmist's food and drink is his tears. The taunt of the enemies is that his God is powerless to relieve his current predicament.

5–6 :

This psalm is remarkable for the inner dialogues it relates. Soul reflects the inner being; the Bible does not partake in the (Greek) notion of a bipartite being, comprised of body and soul.

6 :

A refrain (see also v. 12 and 43.6 ). God's saving presence refers back to seeing God in v. 3 (the word “face” [Heb “panim”] is used in both verses).

7 :

The northern geographical locations (Mount Mizar is probably near Hermon) mentioned suggest that the psalmist is distant from Jerusalem; some have suggested that this psalm, and perhaps all of the Korahite psalms, are northern in origin.

8 :

A mythological reference, perhaps also alluding to the sources of the Jordan River in northern Israel.

9 :

The God of my life refers back to v. 3 ; this psalm has an unusual number of refrains and cross‐references.

10–11 :

Foes are finally revealed to be the main topic of this petition. Taunting me always with, “Where is your God?” serves as a refrain with v. 4.

12 :

See v.6 n.

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