Psalm 147

Healer, Binder, Counter, Sustainer, Giver… are among the participles (verbs turned into nouns) that describe God in Psalm 147. This and Psalm 146 repeatedly use such Divine names to convey God’s active engagement with creation.

The two Psalms also share one word, “veoded,” that appears nowhere else in the Bible. The immediate context is an act of God in relationship to the humble (Psalm 147) and the orphan and widow (Psalm 146). In modern Hebrew the word means “encourages.” Robert Alter the influential translator of the Bible says that in the Biblical context it means “sustains.” As a word found nowhere else, I would venture to say that the meaning can be both, one translation offering a greater emphasis on the physical (sustain) and the other on the emotional (encourage). In either case, the message of these two Psalms is that the Creator actively cares, prompting praise and an invitation to partner with God in sustaining and encouraging all those in need.

Both Psalm 146 and 147 open and close with the word, Halleluyah. My teacher, Rabbi Simon Greenberg, said that the greatest religious challenge is to see that world and to say as God did in creation, “It is good.” The concluding Psalms call on us to see beyond the broken surface of daily life and bear witness to an underlying unity of Divine consciousness, which lures forward an arc of justice and human goodness. Halleluyah!

Please join me for the study of Psalm 147, today at 9:30am.

Our study is dedicated to Anna Spitz.

Benjamin Netanyahu joining the singing of Psalm 147: 12-13 Melody composed by Avihu Medina, contemporary Israeli with Yemenite family Background : click here to listen