Saturday, November 08, 2008

The next cluster

Do psalms 103-106 constitute a cluster? How are they related? They complete Book IV and they rehearse the whole creating-redeeming history. Why include Psalm 103 - it is really an individual psalm. Yes - but it anticipates 104-106 by the reference to Moses and the children of Israel in verse 7 and by the reference to the heavens in verse 11. Moses begins and ends Book 4 and is mentioned only once outside of Book 4 (psalm 77).

So let's follow this hunch and see where it leads. For some reason I begin with 105. It recounts the history from Joseph through the Exodus to the land. It begins with a ninefold exhortation followed by the 10th imperative - to remember - very appropriate for this season. There is no superscription for this Psalm. Possibly, as John suggests following the Septuagint, and for the sake of inclusio I like the idea, the Hallelujah at the end of Psalm 104 belongs at the beginning of Psalm 105.

Update: John Anderson points out here that there is a covenant envelope for psalms 105-106

Hallelu Yah
Give thanks to יְהוָה
Call on his name
Make known his deeds among the peoples
Sing to him
Make music to him
Speak of all his wonders
Praise the reputation of his holiness
The heart of those seeking יְהוָה will rejoice
Enquire of יְהוָה and his strength
Seek his face continually

Remember his wonders which he did
his portents and the judgments of his mouth
O seed of Abraham his servant
children of Jacob his chosen

He is יְהוָה our God
His judgments are over all the earth
He remembers his covenant for ever
the word he commanded to a thousand generations
which he cut with Abraham and his oath to Isaac
and stood by it to Jacob as a statute
for Israel a covenant for ever
to you I will give the land of Canaan
the pledge of your inheritance
when they themselves were mortals few in number
and strangers in it
and they were going from nation to nation
from a kingdom to a foreign people

He did not allow any human to oppress them
and he rebuked kings for their sake
do not touch my anointed
and to my prophets do no evil
and he called famine over the land
the whole branch of bread he broke
he sent one such before their faces, Joseph

as a servant he was sold
they afflicted with bindings his feet
iron ruled his life
until the time his word came
the promise of יְהוָה tested him

a king sent and set him free
a ruler of peoples opened the way for him
he made him lord of his house
and ruler over all his possessions
to correct his princes by his life
and to teach his elders wisdom

and Israel came to Egypt
and Jacob continued in the land of Ham
and he made his people abundantly fruitful
and they became stronger than their oppressors
he changed their heart to hate his people
to be crafty with his servants

he sent Moses his servant
Aaron whom he chose with him
they demonstrated among them the words of his signs
and wonders in the land of Ham

he sent darkness and made it dark
and they did not rebel his word
he changed their waters to blood and killed their fish
teemed their land with frogs in the rooms of their kings

he spoke and gad-flies came forth
gnats in all their borders
he gave their rain of hail
fire of flames in their land

he struck their vine and their fig trees
and broke the trees of their borders
he spoke and there came locust and caterpillar and that beyond numbering
and they ate all the herbs in their land
and they ate the fruit of their ground

he struck all the firstborn of their land
the head of all their strength
and he brought them out with silver and gold
and there was none in their tribes who stumbled
Egypt was glad at their going out
for their fear fell on them

he spread a cloud as screen
and fire to light the night
asked and he brought quail
and with the bread of heaven he satisfied them
he opened a rock and waters gushed out
they ran in the desert as a river
for he remembered his holy word to Abraham his servant

and he brought forth his people with joy
in shouting his chosen
and he gave to them the lands of the nations
and the toil of the peoples they possessed
so they will keep his statutes
and his instruction they will observe
Hallelu Yah

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