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Psalms: Chapter 29

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Text view alone

A psalm of David.

1Ascribe to the LORD, O divine beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 2Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name; bow down to the LORD, majestic in holiness. 3The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over the mighty waters. 4The voice of the LORD is power; the voice of the LORD is majesty; 5the voice of the LORD breaks cedars; the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon. 6 a‐ Lit. “He makes them skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion, etc.” He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, ‐a Lit. “He makes them skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion, etc.” Sirion, like a young wild ox. 7The voice of the LORD kindles flames of fire; 8the voice of the LORD convulses the wilderness; the LORD convulses the wilderness of Kadesh; 9the voice of the LORD causes hinds to calve, b‐ Or “brings ewes to early birth.” and strips forests bare; ‐b Or “brings ewes to early birth.” while in His temple all say “Glory!” 10The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood; the LORD sits enthroned, king forever. 11May the LORD grant strength to His people; may the LORD bestow on His people wellbeing.

Notes:

a‐a Lit. “He makes them skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion, etc.”

b‐b Or “brings ewes to early birth.”

Text Commentary view alone

Ps. 29 :

A hymn celebrating God's awesome power over nature. Cf. Pss. 46–48; 96–99 . God is portrayed as a storm, an earthquake—a theme associated with theophany (cf. b. Zevaḥ. 116a where a link is made with the giving of the Torah at Sinai). More commonly, the psalm is considered a prayer for rain. According to the Talmud, b. Sukkah 55a, the psalm was recited in the Temple on the first of the intermediate days of Sukkot; LXX associates it with the end of Sukkot (“Shemini ‘Atzeret”), the time for the prayer for rain; b. Rosh Hash. 32a and b. Meg. 17b link it with the paragraph about rain in the “Shemoneh ‘Esrei” prayer. A number of themes and linguistic usages that are also found in Uga‐ritic literature, as well as the mention of northern locations (Lebanon and Sirion, v. 6 ), have led mod‐ ern scholars to see this psalm as an adaptation of a Ugaritic hymn to Baal (or to Hadad, the storm‐god). Others see the psalm as part of a more generally shared ancient Near Eastern tradition rather than as a direct borrowing. Either way, the basic theme is built on the “combat‐myth,” known in Ugarit and Mesopotamia and reflected in other biblical passages, in which the hero‐god defeats the forces of chaos and is then acclaimed by the other gods as their leader. The psalm shares with Ps. 24 the themes of God's triumph over the forces of chaos (primeval waters) and God enthroned as king in His Temple. Ps. 29 is used liturgically on the Sabbath when the Torah is returned to the Ark.

1–2 :

Cf. 96.7–9; 1 Chron. 16.28–30 .

1 :

Divine beings, lit. “sons of God,” or “sons of gods,” subordinate deities in the heavenly assembly. In Israelite thought these divine beings are part of God's retinue, his heavenly court (Exod. 15.11; Pss. 82.1; 89.6–8; Job chs 1–2 ). Probably because of its pagan overtones, Ps. 96.7 substitutes “families of the peoples” for this term. Glory and strength, cf. Ps. 63.3 . Glory, Heb “kavod,” may refer to the divine radiance, the visual manifestation of God.

2 :

Majestic in holiness, “behadrat kodesh,” an odd phrase but cf. 110.3 , “behadrei kodesh.” LXX and Peshitta (Syriac) render “in His holy court.” Cf. b. Ber. 30b.

3–9 :

The voice of the Lord (claps of thunder), signifying God's power over the natural world, occurs seven times in these vv.

3 :

The LORD battles the mighty waters, the primeval forces of chaos (cf. 24.2 ).

5 :

The cedars of Lebanon were famous for their height and strength.

6–8 :

Earthquake is a traditional accompaniment of a theophany or divine manifestation ( 18.8; 114.7 ).

6 :

Sirion, Mount Hermon (see Deut. 3.9 ), at the southern border of Lebanon. For mountains skipping, see also 114.4 .

8 :

The wilderness of Kadesh, in western Syria; or, the wilderness of Zin at Qadesh, to the south of Israel, where the Israelites encamped during their wanderings (Num. 20.1; 33.36 ).

9 :

Reading with translators' note b‐b makes a closer parallelism. An alternate emendation of causes hinds (“’ayalot”) to calve yields “causes ‘’elot' (oak trees) to tremble.” In His temple, praise from the subordinate deities in the heavenly temple.

10 :

The LORD's enthronement as king at the Flood (see Ps. 93 ) may be a double entendre, signifying that God defeated the waters (forces of chaos) and that He reigned since the time of the flood, and will reign forever.

11 :

A prayer that God, supremely powerful and enthroned forever, will grant well‐being to Israel.

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