Thijs Booij, «Psalms 120–136: Songs for a Great Festival.», Vol. 91 (2010) 241-255
Psalms 120–134, the 'Songs of Ascents', are a functional unity. In early rabbinical tradition concerning the Great Hallel, they seem to be linked with Psalms 135 and 136; in the texts themselves this connection is quite clear. The Songs, as a collection, and the two psalms of praise apparently stem from the later post-exilic period, when they were used during the festival of Sukkoth. The Songs were recited in processions to the sanctuary; the psalms of praise were part of the liturgy proper.
See more by the same author
242 TH. BOOIJ
have no words or forms representative of psalm language 3, while
nine of them have two such elements at most 4.
By their style and their poetic form, too, the texts differ from
traditional psalms in several respects 5. Poetic parallelism is
relatively rare in them. The verse rhythm of 3+3 accents is not
nearly as common as it is elsewhere in the psalms, while the
so-called Qina metre is well represented 6. Several words and forms
are not in accordance with usual literary idiom; they may reflect
colloquial language 7. Word repetition is uncommonly frequent,
especially as applied in anadiplosis 8 and anaphora 9. The use of the
tenses is noteworthy as well. In the psalms the tenses are generally
used, to a great extent, in an archaic, non-temporal manner 10. In
Psalms 120-134 the usage largely agrees with that of prose texts.
A datum relating to the foregoing is the absence of traditional
textual types. Songs of Prayer, individual and collective, Hymns,
and Songs of Thanksgivings are the most characteristic psalm
texts. Among Psalms 120â€“134 these types are missing 11. Elements
Thus Pss 129 and 133.
Thus in Ps 121 fwm, â€œbe moved, slipâ€ (v. 3) ; in Ps 122 Hy (v. 4) ; in
Ps 123 â€“nj, â€œshow favour, have mercyâ€ (vv. 2, 3); in Ps 124 rb[ as â€œgo over,
overpower â€ (vv. 4, 5); in Ps 126 hnr as â€œjubilationâ€ (vv. 2, 5, 6); in Ps 127
yrva, â€œhappy who ...â€ (v. 5) ; in Ps 128 yrva (vv. 1, 2) and Ãˆrb pi., â€œblessâ€
(v. 5) ; in Ps 131 Ãˆlh pi., â€œgoâ€ (v. 1), and ljy pi., â€œhopeâ€ (v. 3) ; in Ps 134 Ãˆrb
pi. (vv. 1, 2, 3).
For an elaborate survey of the use of words, syntactical forms,
phrasings, modes of expression and figures of speech in Pss 120â€“134 see
H. VIVIERS, â€œThe Coherence of the maâ€˜alÃ´t Psalms â€, ZAW 106 (1994)
275-289, esp. 278-283.
See especially Pss 122; 126; 128; 129.
This applies to the circumscription of genitival relationship in
Ps 123,4b ; the construction v . . .ylwl (â€œ if not... thatâ€) in Ps 124,1.2 ; the
element al â€“[ml (â€œ so that notâ€, instead of â€“p, â€œlestâ€) in Ps 125,3 ; the plural
Î¼hydy (â€œ their handsâ€, not Î¼dy, â€œtheir handâ€) with jlv (â€œ stretch outâ€) in
Ps 125,3 ; the construction Î¼twblb Î¼yrvy (â€œ those upright in their heartsâ€, instead
of blAyrvy, â€œthe upright of heartâ€) in Ps 125,4 ; the form â€“wah yl[p (instead of
â€“wa yl[p, â€œthose working mischiefâ€) in Ps 125,5 ; the word bg for â€œbackâ€ in
Ps 120,6-7 ; 121,1-2.3-4.4-5; 122,2-3.4a.5; 123,2-3.3-4; 124,4-5.
Ps 121,3.5.7-8; 122,5.8-9; 123,2; 124,3-5; 126,2-3; 127,1-2; 128,5-6; 131,2.
See Th. BOOIJ, â€œPsalm cxxxix: Text, Syntax, Meaningâ€, VT 55 (2005) 1-2.
Cf. M. MANNATI, â€œLes Psaumes Graduels constituent-ils un genre
littÃ©raire distinct Ã lâ€™intÃ©rieur du psautier biblique?â€, Sem 29 (1979) 86-87.