Psalm 67 And The Cosmopolite Musical Worship Of YHWH -- By: Nissim Amzallag

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 025:2 (NA 2015)
Article: Psalm 67 And The Cosmopolite Musical Worship Of YHWH
Author: Nissim Amzallag

Psalm 67 And The Cosmopolite Musical Worship Of YHWH

Nissim Amzallag

Ben Gurion University In The Negev

The perfect concentric structure of Ps 67 and the many problems inherent to its linear reading together suggest that this song was designed to be performed in a cross-responsa fashion. In this mode of complex antiphony, the text is sung in an ascending ranking of verses by a first voice (sense voice), while a second voice responds, from verse to verse, by singing the same text in a descending ranking of verses (antisense voice). It is shown here that this sort of setting yields a coherent composite text with a meaning totally ignored in the linear reading: the revelation of YHWH through musical performance and its wide diffusion among the nations. The reality of these composite claims is confirmed by their echo in the text of other psalms. It is concluded that Ps 67 is a song devoted to the congregation of singersfor the remote diffusion of the YHWH cult. It expresses a cosmopolite musical theology distinct from the official theology that focused exclusively on the cult of YHWH at Jerusalem.

Key Words: theology of psalms, cosmopolitan yahwism, temple singers, musical theophany, complex antiphony

Author’s note: I would thank Shamir Yona and Mikhal Avriel for helpful comments and advice, and Susana Lezra for her improvement of the language and clarity of the text.


1. For the leader; with instrumental music. A psalm. A song.

2. May God be “gracious” to us and bless us; may He cause His face to shine toward us. Selah

3. May be known on earth Your way, among all nations Your deliverance.

4. Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all peoples praise You.

5. Nations will exult and intone for joy; for You rule the peoples with equity. You guide the nations of the earth. Selah.

6. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all peoples praise You.

7. The earth has yielded its produce; may God, our God, bless us.

8. May God bless us and be revered to the ends of the earth.

Psalm 67 is characterized by an outstanding concentric symmetry. This feature has been noticed for a long time by scholars1, and was identified even before by the traditional Jewish exegesis describing it as a “menorah-psalm.”2 These structural properties indicate that this song is not...

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