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Psalms: Chapter 126

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1A song of ascents. When the LORD restores the fortunes of Zion a‐ Lit. “we are veritable dreamers.” we see it as in a dream ‐a Lit. “we are veritable dreamers.” 2our mouths shall be filled with laughter, our tongues, with songs of joy. Then shall they say among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them!” 3The LORD will do great things for us and we shall rejoice. 4Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like watercourses in the Negeb. 5They who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy. 6Though he goes along weeping, carrying the seed‐bag, he shall come back with songs of joy, carrying his sheaves.

Notes:

a‐a Lit. “we are veritable dreamers.”

Text Commentary view alone

Ps. 126 :

Two problems make this psalm difficult to interpret: it is unclear how to reconcile vv. 1–3 , which speak in the past, and vv. 4–6 , which speak of hopes for the future; and it is uncertain how v. 1 , restores the fortunes, should be understood. This psalm is recited before grace after meals on Sabbath and festivals.

1 :

Restores the fortunes may be a specific reference to the return from Babylonian exile (so, e.g., Rashi), or may be a general term for improvement of one's lot (see 14.7 n. ). Perhaps the dream‐like nature of this vision explains how this restoration is both realized (vv. 1–3 ) and hoped for (vv. 4–6 ).

2–3 :

These vv. are framed by laughter and rejoicing, with the Lord doing great things doubled in the middle. That expression is otherwise only found in Joel (2.20, 21), which has other affinities to this psalm (see v. 1 and Joel 4.1 ).

4 :

V. 1 is recapitulated, but as an imperative. Negeb watercourses or wadis (seasonal streams) fill suddenly and completely after winter storms.

5–6 :

Perhaps ritual weeping is alluded to, which was meant to bring about rainfall through sympathetic magic. As here, agricultural imagery is entwined with and represents the restoration of the people to their land in Amos 9.11–15 .

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