Thijs Booij, «Psalm 132: Zion’s Well-Being», Vol. 90 (2009) 75-83
Psalm 132, a text from the later pre-exilic time, is about the well-being of Zion and its faithful. This well-being, essentially David’s, is grounded on the presence of YHWH in Zion. It is realized when YHWH looks friendly upon the Davidic king. The first part of the psalm (vv. 1-10) asks for this favour on the strength of David’s hardships to find for his God a place to dwell. The second part (vv. 11- 18) is an answer to the first. The psalm is an introit-song, composed for the festival of Sukkoth. Expressing notions that remained important to the religious community, it was reintroduced after the exile to be used at the same festival.
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Psalm 132: Zionâ€™s Well-Being 79
connection between the durability of the Davidic rule and the election,
forever, of Zion (13).
In Psalm 132 the community of Zion seeks the favour of YHWH on behalf
of Zionâ€™s welfare; it does so by acts and by words. One has the impression
that the words are highly important. Yet, obviously, the psalm has been
composed for a ritual event.
The shape of this event can be deduced from the temporal structure of the
first part of the text. In v. 10 David is distinguished from the â€˜anointed oneâ€™,
the present king. So, evidently, the prayer â€˜in favour of Davidâ€™ (v. 1) was
spoken after Davidâ€™s reign (14). Words of David are quoted in vv. 3-5. This
quotation is followed by a statement which is clearly not its continuation and
is not announced as a new quotation either. Since elsewhere in the psalm all
quotative statements have some form of introduction (vv. 2.11a.13), the
statement in v. 6 is apparently, from a temporal point of view, on one level
with the prayers in vv. 1 and 8-10. So, for the audience of the psalm, this
statement concerned a present situation and YHWHâ€™s â€˜dwelling placeâ€™, in v. 7,
must be Zion indeed. After the quotation in vv. 3-5, however, â€˜Fields of Jaarâ€™,
as a designation of Kiriath-Jearim or its vicinity, is apt to suggest Davidâ€™s
time as well. From Kiriath-Jearim (1 Chr 13,6; cf. 1 Sam 7,1) (15), on Davidâ€™s
initiative, the ark was â€˜brought upâ€™ to Jerusalem. The assumption that in our
text it is the ark which was â€˜foundâ€™ in the â€˜Fields of Jaarâ€™ is confirmed by
v. 8. â€˜Ephrathahâ€™ is a variant form of Ephrath (16). It is likely here to refer to
the area in which the village of Ephrathah was situated as well as Bethlehem
Ephrathah (17). It is quite plausible that in this neighbourhood one might have
learned that the ark was in Kiriath-Jearim. The place was part of the same
region (cf. 1 Chr 2,50).
Now how could, to the audience of the psalm, the statement of v. 6 be
present and past at the same time? I think the answer can only be that the
words belong to an act presenting a past event, which act must have been then
a dramatic ritual. This also answers the question why in v. 6 the ark is not
mentioned: it is the centre of the ritual and so all eyes are upon it (18). The
(13) In Ps 132 YHWHâ€™s favour to David presupposes the election of Zion. In the
Deuteronomistic history, however, it is an election in itself (see 1 Sam 16,3.10.12; 2 Sam
6,21; 1 Kgs 11,34), which even precedes the choice of Jerusalem (1 Kgs 8,16). The mention
of Jerusalem in 1 Kgs 11,13.32 seems to originate from the idea, represented by the psalm,
that YHWHâ€™s favour to David and Jerusalemâ€™s election belong together essentially.
(14) The prayers in Ps 132 may have been recited by the king himself; see esp. Ps 2,7;
84,9-10. Cf. Th. BOOIJ, â€œPsalm lxxxiv, a Prayer of the Anointedâ€, VT 44 (1994) 433-441.
(15) The text handed down in 1 Chr 13,6 is to be preferred to that of 2 Sam 6,2. See
S.R. DRIVER, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel
(Oxford 21913) 265-266.
(16) Cf. H. BAUER â€“ P. LEANDER, Historische Grammatik der hebrÃ¤ischen Sprache des
Alten Testamentes (Halle 1922) 528s.t.
(17) See Gen 35,16.19 (in v. 19 the concluding words are clearly a gloss); 1 Sam 10,2;
17,12; Jer 31,15; Mic 5,1; 1 Chr 2,19.50-51; 4,4. Cf. DELITZSCH, Psalmen, 812; J.
BLENKINSOPP, â€œKiriath-Jearim and the Arkâ€, JBL 88 (1969) 153-156.
(18) A similar phenomenon may occur where no ritual is to be supposed; see Ps