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Scroll of the Psalms
Scroll of the Psalms

Psalm 145 is the 145th psalm of the Book of Psalms, generally known in English by its first verse, in the King James Version, "I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever". The Book of Psalms is the third section of the Hebrew Bible, and a book of the Christian Old Testament. In the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and in its Latin translation Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 144 in a slightly different numbering system. In Latin, it is known as "Exaltabo te Deus meus rex".[1] The psalm is a hymn psalm.

The psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant liturgies. It has been set to music often, notably by Antonín Dvořák who set several verses in Czech in his Biblical Songs.

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Comments on the text

This is the only chapter of the Book of Psalms that identifies itself as a תְּהִלָה (tehillah) – as a psalm (namely, a hymn of praise). The version in the Dead Sea Scrolls instead describes itself as a "prayer" although it does not contain any request.[2] The Dead Sea Scrolls version also ends each verse with the recurring (non-canonical) refrain, "Blessed be YHVH and blessed be His name forever and ever" and adds at the end of the Psalm the tag, "This is for a memorial".[3] The Dead Sea Scrolls version also preserves a line beginning with the letter nun (discussed below).

The "missing verse"

Psalm 145 is an alphabetic acrostic, the initial letter of each verse being the Hebrew alphabet in sequence. (For this purpose, the usual Hebrew numbering of verse 1, which begins with the title, "A Psalm of David", is ignored in favor of the non-Hebrew numbering which treats verse 1 as beginning ארוממך (Aromimkha, "I will exalt You"). But there is no verse beginning with the letter nun (נ), which would come between verses 13 and 14. A very common supposition is that there had been such a verse but it was omitted by a copyist's error. If so, that error must have occurred very early. By the 3rd century of the Christian era, Rabbi Johanan Ha-Nappah is quoted in the Talmud (Berakhot 4b) as asking why is there no verse in Psalm 145 beginning with nun, and the explanation is given (presumably by the same Rabbi Johanan) that the word "fallen" (נפלה, nawfla) begins with nun, as in the verse of Amos 5:2 ("Fallen is the Maiden of Israel, she shall arise nevermore"), and thus it is incompatible with the uplifting and universal theme of the Psalm. The explanation may not satisfy modern readers (it did not satisfy Rabbi David Kimhi of the 13th century[4]), but it demonstrates that the absence of a verse beginning with that letter was noticed and was undisputed even in antiquity.

However, the Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate (which is largely based on the Septuagint), the Syriac Peshitta, and the Dead Sea Scrolls (11QPs-ɑ)(which shows some affinity with the Septuagint, e.g., the inclusion of a 151st Psalm) all provide a verse at this point which commences (in Hebrew) with nun—נֶאֱמָן "Faithful is God in all His ways, and loving-kind in all His works" (Hebrew: "נאמן אלוהים בדבריו וחסיד בכל מעשיו"). This verse is now inserted in the appropriate line (sometimes numbered "verse 13b") in several Christian versions of the Bible including the New Revised Standard, the New American, the Today's English Version, the Moffat, and others. However, not everyone is convinced that this nun verse is authentic.[5][6] It is, except for the first word, identical to verse 17 (צ) ("Righteous is YHVH in all His ways…"). These ancient versions all have other departures from the traditional Hebrew text which make them imperfect evidence of the original text; for example, the Dead Sea Scrolls version ends every verse in Psalm 145 with "Blessed be YHVH and blessed is His name forever and ever." And no such nun verse is found in other important ancient translations from the Hebrew — the Aramaic Targum, the Greek versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion — nor is such a verse quoted anywhere in the Talmud. Additionally, there are other alphabetic acrostics in the Book of Psalms — specifically Psalms 25 and 34 — that also imperfectly follow the alphabet. It is plausible that a nun verse was not part of the original text[7] or if it was then it was completely lost many centuries before any of these other sources originated, and that this nun verse was independently arrived at, by various copyists and translators, who, when they noticed the absence of such a verse in their Hebrew manuscript, assumed it was the result of an error by a previous copyist, and each set about to contrive a replacement verse in the simplest and least objectionable way, coincidentally arriving at the same result.



Musical settings

Czech composer Antonín Dvořák set verses 1-3, 5 and 6 (together with Psalm 144 verse 9) to music in No. 5 of his Biblical Songs (1894). Brian Shamash has recorded one of the most common traditional Jewish melodies for chanting Ashrei.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Parallel Latin/English Psalter / Psalmus 144 (145) Archived 7 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Abegg, Martin, et al., The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (1999, NY, HarperCollins) p. 570; Jacobson, Bernhard S., The Weekday Siddur (2nd Engl. ed., 1978, Tel-Aviv, Sinai) p. 93.
  3. ^ Abegg, Martin, et al., The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (1999, NY, HarperCollins) pp. 570–72.
  4. ^ Jacobson, Bernhard S., The Weekday Siddur (2nd Engl. ed., 1978, Tel-Aviv, Sinai) p 94. There was a late medieval bit of pseudepigrapha claiming to be the words of Gad the Seer, of no authority or authenticity, which included a version of this Psalm in which there was a nun verse that read, "נפלו – All Your enemies fell down, O LORD, and all their strength was swallowed up." Kimelman, Reuven, Psalm 145: Theme, Structure, and Impact, Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 113, nr. 1 (Spring 1994) p. 50; Lieberman, Abraham A., Again: The Words of Gad the Seer, Journal of Biblical Literature, vol 111, nr. 2 (Summer 1992) pp. 313–14.
  5. ^ Cohen, A, The Psalms (1945, London, Soncino Books of the Bible, Soncino Press) page 467; Freedman, David Noel, Psalm 119: The exaltation of the Torah (1999, San Diego, Biblical and Judaic Studies of the Univ. of California-S.D.) pages 20-24; Lindars, Barnabas, The Structure of Psalm CXLV, Vetus Testamentum, vol. 29, nr. 1 (Jan. 1989) page 24; Kimelman, Reuven, Psalm 145: Theme, structure, and impact, Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 113, nr. 1 (Spring 1994) pp 50–51.
  6. ^ See, e.g., On the main line, and Brand plucked, and Bible tools .
  7. ^ See, e.g., Benun, Ronald, Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, vol. 6, art. 5 "Evil and the Disruption of Order: A Structural Analysis of the Acrostics in the First Book of Psalms" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-05. Retrieved 2011-11-23.; Jacobson, Bernhard S., The Weekday Siddur (2nd Engl. ed., 1978, Tel-Aviv, Sinai) p. 94. The Dead Sea version also contains, in that one verse, a reference to God as Elohim, which is not used anywhere else in Psalm 145. Lieberman, Abraham A., Again: The Words of Gad the Seer, Journal of Biblical Literature, vol 111, nr. 2 (Summer 1992) p. 314.
  8. ^ The Complete Artscroll Machzor for Rosh Hashanah page 323
  9. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 195
  10. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 8
  11. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 183
  12. ^ Brian Shamash, Ashrei אשרי, YouTube, Jun 24, 2012.

External links

This page was last edited on 2 December 2018, at 21:41
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