Psalm of Praise for the Rescue of the Throat

Concatenation and lectio continua of Pss 33–34–35

by Edwin Rodrigues (Author)
©2022 Thesis 464 Pages


«Psalmenexegese und Psalterexegese» has become the new trend in the exegesis of the psalms. In its broad scope, this trend includes a method of combining a detailed exegesis of the selected individual psalms with the research to discover the rationale for their particular placement in the book of the Psalter. Following this method and doing the synchronic analysis, this research work first carries out the in-depth exegesis of Pss 33, 34, and 35. Then it applies the principles of concatenation and lectio continua to the results derived from the exegesis. This study establishes that there are sufficient thematic, structural, and lexical connections between these psalms to call them a «Psalm-Triad». This triad narrates a lucid story of תהלה in the context of the first book of the Psalter.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • Sigla and Abbreviations
  • 1 General Introduction:: Concatenation of Pss 33, 34, and 35
  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Research Project: Can Pss 33–35 Be Considered a “Psalm-Triad”?
  • 1.3 Delimitation of Pss 33–35 as a Unit Distinct from Pss 32 and 36
  • 1.4 Objective and Scope of the Study
  • 1.5 Methodological Considerations
  • 1.6 Possible Pitfalls and Dangers Engendered in Such a Study
  • 1.7 Delineation of the Study
  • 2 Psalm 33:: Righteous Rejoice and Hope in the Creation and Governance of the Lord
  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.1.1 The Subject Matter
  • 2.1.2 Alphabetical Psalm
  • 2.1.3 Anthological Psalm
  • 2.1.4 Form Criticism
  • 2.1.5 Dating
  • 2.1.6 Purpose and Thrust
  • 2.2 Translation and Notes
  • 2.2.1 Translation
  • 2.2.2 Text-Critical and Other Notes
  • 2.3 Structure of the Psalm
  • 2.4 Exegesis of the Psalm
  • 2.4.1 Superscription: … (Orphan Psalm)
  • 2.4.2 A : Introduction (vv. 1–3)
  • 2.4.3 Main Part
  • B: Link: The Theme: Cosmic Order (vv. 4–5)
  • Section I: Creation (vv. 6–12)
  • Unit 1: C: Word303: The Lord as the Creator (vv. 6–9)
  • Unit 2: D: Counsel: The Lord as the Planner (vv. 10–12)
  • D1: Negative Counsel: Frustrated Plans of Nations and Peoples (v. 10)
  • D2: Positive Counsel: Lord’s Eternal Plans and Chosen People (vv. 11–12)
  • Section II: Governance (vv. 13–19)
  • Unit 3: C’: Seeing: The Lord as the Discerning Seer (vv. 13–15)
  • Unit 4: D’: Eye: The Lord as the Saviour (vv. 16–19)
  • D1’: Negative Salvation: Wisdom Sayings (vv. 16–17)
  • D2’: Link: Positive Salvation: Loyal Love (vv. 18–19)
  • 2.4.4 Conclusion (vv. 20–22)
  • 2.5 Summary Observations
  • 3 Psalm 34:: Humble and Grateful Righteous’ Instruction Regarding the Salvation Experienced in the Lord
  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.1.1 The Subject Matter
  • 3.1.2 The Agents in the Psalm
  • The Lord
  • The Psalmist
  • The Two Parties: Good and Evil
  • 3.1.3 Acrostic Psalm and the Alphabetical Order
  • Extra פ-verse (v. 23)
  • Missing ו-verse and the Extra פ-verse (v. 23)
  • 3.1.4 Form Criticism
  • 3.1.5 Dating
  • 3.1.6 Purpose and Thrust
  • 3.2 Translation and Notes
  • 3.2.1 Translation
  • 3.2.2 Text-Critical and Other Notes
  • 3.3 Structure of the Psalm
  • 3.4 Exegesis of the Psalm
  • 3.4.1 Historical and Exegetical Superscription (v. 1)
  • 3.4.2 A: Introduction: Call to Praise (vv. 2–4)
  • 3.4.3 Main Part
  • B: Narrative of Salvation (vv. 5–8)
  • B1: Testimonies of Salvation (vv. 5–7)
  • B2: Presence of the Lord (v. 8)
  • C: Call to Experience and Fear the Lord (vv. 9–11)
  • D: Call to Learn the Faith (v. 12)
  • C’: Teaching about Good and Ethical Life (vv. 13–15)
  • B’: Teaching on Salvation (vv. 16–22)
  • B2’: Presence of the Lord (vv. 16–17)
  • B1’: Statements of Salvation (vv. 18–20)
  • B3’: Assurance of Salvation (vv. 21–22)
  • 3.4.4 E: Summary Saying (v. 23)
  • 3.5 Summary Observations
  • 4 Psalm 35:: The Poor Righteous Appeals to the Lord to Fight for His Protection and Victory
  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.1.1 The Subject Matter
  • 4.1.2 The Agents in the Psalm
  • The Lord
  • The Psalmist
  • The Enemies
  • The Quiet in the Land
  • 4.1.3 Psychological Interpretation, Direct Speech, and Jussives
  • 4.1.4 Form Criticism
  • 4.1.5 Problem of Imprecation in the Psalms of Lament
  • 4.1.6 Dating
  • 4.1.7 Purpose and Thrust
  • 4.2 Translation and Notes
  • 4.2.1 Translation
  • 4.2.2 Text-Critical Notes
  • 4.3 Structure of the Psalm
  • 4.4 Exegesis of the Psalm
  • 4.4.1 Superscription (v. 1a)
  • 4.4.2 A: Urgent Need of an Intervention (vv. 1–10)
  • A1: Call to Intervene (vv. 1–3)
  • A2: Defeat to the Enemies and Victory to the Lord (vv. 4–10)
  • 4.4.3 B: Ingratitude (vv. 11–16)
  • B1: Repaying Evil for Good (vv. 11–12)
  • B2: Aggression for Compassion (vv. 13–16)
  • 4.4.4 C: Seeing, Speaking, and Community (vv. 17–22)
  • C1: Call to Protect Life (vv. 17–18)
  • C2: Enemies’ Actions against the Peaceful Order (vv. 19–22)
  • 4.4.5 D: Desired Outcome of the Intervention (vv. 23–28)
  • D1: Call to Act According to Righteousness (vv. 23–24a)
  • D2: Re-establishment of Righteousness (vv. 24b–28)
  • 4.5 Summary Observations
  • 5 Psalm of Praise for the Rescue of the Throat:: Concatenation and Lectio Continua of Pss 33–34–35
  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 Concatenation of Pss 33 and 34
  • 5.2.1 Structural and Thematic Connections
  • 5.2.2 Lexical Connections
  • Praise of the Lord
  • Trust and Hope, Poor and Piety
  • Communitarian and Universal Aspects
  • Enemy and Rescue1411, Death and Life
  • Cosmic Order, Conflict between Good and Evil
  • Body Parts and Their Functions
  • 5.3 Concatenation of Pss 34 and 35
  • 5.3.1 Structural and Thematic Connections
  • 5.3.2 Lexical Connections
  • Praise of the Lord Challenged and Re-established
  • Trust and Hope, Poor and Piety
  • Communitarian Aspects
  • Enemy and Rescue, Death and Life
  • Cosmic Order, Conflict between Good and Evil
  • Body Parts and Their Functions
  • 5.4 Connections between Pss 33 and 35
  • 5.4.1 Structural and Thematic Connections
  • 5.4.2 Lexical Connections
  • Praise of the Lord
  • Trust and Hope in the Lord Challenged and Re-established
  • Communitarian Aspects
  • Death and Life, Enemy and Rescue
  • Cosmic Order, Conflict between Good and Evil
  • Body Parts and Their Functions
  • 5.5 Concatenation of Pss 33, 34, and 35
  • 5.5.1 Structural and Thematic Connections1485
  • 5.5.2 Lexical Connections between Pss 33, 34, and 35
  • Praise and Anti-praise1494
  • Death and Life, Enemy and Rescue
  • Cosmic Order, Conflict between Good and Evil
  • Body Parts and Their Functions
  • 5.5.3 Narrative Story of Pss 33, 34, and 35
  • 5.6 Summary Observations
  • 6 General Conclusion:: Pss 33–35: A “Psalm-Triad”
  • 6.1 Introduction
  • 6.2 Pss 33–35: A “Psalm-Triad” in the First Book of the Psalter
  • 6.2.1 Purposeful Organization of the Psalter
  • 6.2.2 Distinctive Stamp of Wisdom Editing in This Psalm-Triad
  • 6.2.3 Psalter, the Book of Praises
  • 6.3 Possible Topics Related to Pss 33–35 for Further Exploration
  • 6.4 Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Biblical References
  • Index of Selected Hebrew Words
  • Index of Authors
  • Series Index

←14 | 15→

Sigla and Abbreviations

ATAltes Testament
d. i.das ist
d. h.das heißt
DVDei Verbum
e.g.exempli gratia (for example)
ed.edited by
et al.et alii (and others)
EÜ 1980Einheitsübersetzung 1980
FSFestschrift für
HHebrew Text
evPsNahal ever Psalms
i.e.id est (that is)
L45Luther 1545 German Bibel
MTMasoretic Text
n.Footnote number(s)
NASNew American Standard Bible
NEÜNeue Einheitsübersetzung 2016←15 | 16→
NIVNew International Version [2011] [US]
NJBNew Jerusalem Bible
NKJNew King James Version [1982] with Codes
NLBNeue Luther Bibel
NRSVNew Revised Standard Version [1989]
OTOld Testament
QPsQumaran Psalm Scroll
trans.translated by
u. a.unter anderen
u. ö.und öfter
usw.und so weiter
VEVerbum et Ecclesia
vgl.vergleich (compare)
z. B.zum Beispiel
ZURZürcher Bibel 2007, 2008.

For other sigla and abbreviations, please refer the following three standard works1:

B.J. Collins, The SBL Handbook of Style. For Biblical Studies and Related Disciplines (SBL; Atlanta, GE 22014)

S.M. Schwertner, Internationales Abkürzungsverzeichnis für Theologie und Grenzgebiet (=IATG) (Berlin – New York 32014).

S. Bazyliński, A Guide to Biblical Research (Rome 32016).

←16 | 17→

1 General Introduction:

Concatenation of Pss 33, 34, and 35

1.1 Introduction

The shift from the exegesis of an individual psalm to the exegesis of one or more psalms in the context of the canonical book of the Psalter is now an established phenomenon. This trend is expressed by Millard as: “Von der Psalmenexegese zur Psalterexegese”2. Lohfink, one of the pioneers and major proponents of this trend in Germany, makes an emphatic statement: “Wir haben es eigentlich gar nicht mit einzelnen Psalmen, sondern mit dem Psalter zu tun, mit einem Buch also”3. Although we understand the logic behind this statement, which is to show the Psalter as “ein einziger Meditationstext”4 of the Jewish-Christian tradition, we would not agree with Lohfink’s assertion because we consider that we do have a lot to do with the individual psalms. The more balanced way, according to us, would be to say: “We now engage not only with the individual psalms, but also with the Psalter”. Therefore, the shift is not from one aspect to the other, but rather one aspect and/in the other. Hence, we consider Zenger’s expression “Psalmenexegese und Psalterexegese”5 to be more appropriate in explaining the present trend.

Among modern scholars, Franz Delitzsch was one of the first to point out interconnections between the neighbouring psalms significantly. Following the rabbinic idea of “concatenation”6 – the catch-word connections between the neighbouring psalms – along with scholars like Hupfeld and Hitzig, Delitzsch advocated the idea of the purposeful organization of the Psalter in ←17 | 18→the nineteenth century itself7. However, the standard-bearers of the modern exegesis of the psalms: Gunkel and Mowinckel placed a strong emphasis on the form-critical study of the psalms with special emphasis on their Sitz im Leben8. Most of the twentieth century exegetes followed the direction shown by these two great scholars. Since the path-breaking work of Gerald Wilson: The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter (1985)9, with renewed enthusiasm exegetes have started studying the Psalter as a book with their focus on Sitz in der Literatur. This new exegetical research asserts that the psalms are placed in a particular order to convey a message which as a whole is greater than the sum of the parts10. There has been a concerted effort going on in the last three decades to study the individual psalms in their Sitz in der Literatur.

In the beginning of his commentary, Delitzsch states: “Nichtsdestoweniger trägt die Sammlung wie sich zeigen wird, den Stempel Eines ordnenden Geistes”11. Many older and newer Old Testament scholars have attempted ←18 | 19→to discover this ordering spirit (רוח צדקה). Westermann made a substantial contribution to this idea with his insightful article: “Zur Sammlung des Psalters” (1962)12. Taking inspiration from each other’s insights, several OT scholars in the last thirty years have managed to reveal several aspects of the planned organization of the Psalter13. The ideas of some scholars have gained wider acceptance, while those of the others have been received with scepticism. One thing, however, is certain: except for a handful of scholars who vehemently oppose this research trend14, by and large this trend has been widely accepted, and it seems to be the future of all exegetical research ←19 | 20→on the Psalter. Although a lot of work has already been done both at the macro- and micro-level15, as well as at the synchronic and diachronic level16, a lot still needs to be done. This new exegetical project has myriad possibilities. The direction for this kind of Psalter research is clearly seen in the following statement of Schreiner:

Verkettung und Verknüpfung von Psalmen miteinander dürften sicherlich nicht ohne Absicht geschehen sein. Welche Ziele den Redaktor, der die Lieder so zusammenstellte, leiteten und was er mit der Komposition aussagen wollte, ist nicht leicht zu sagen. Seine Absichten sind sicherlich nicht ohne eine ausführliche und eindringende Exegese jedes einzelnen Psalms, […] zu erkennen17.

Indeed the editor(s) who put together the psalms in a particular order must have been deeply familiar with the individual psalms. His/their logic behind the organization of the psalms in a particular order will not be clear to us ←20 | 21→without a detailed exegesis of individual psalms. The research project based on clear and lucid synchronic canonical interpretation18 is more appealing to us than one based on the hypothetical and somewhat unreliable findings of the diachronic research19. In line with this new trend of “Psalmenexegese und Psalterexegese”, we wish to present our research project.

1.2 Research Project: Can Pss 33–35 Be Considered a “Psalm-Triad”?

Our research project is a humble micro-level project concentrating only on the three psalms in the first book of the Psalter: Pss 33, 34, and 35. Although it is not an ambitious macro-level project claiming to show the organization of the Psalter as a whole, this micro-project, nevertheless, can invariably contribute to the bigger project of the purposeful organization of the Psalter. The general hypothesis of the new trend is simple: “Each of the psalms from Ps 1 to Ps 150 is placed by the final editor(s) one after the other keeping in mind a certain logic”. As mentioned above, in order to discover the underlying logic, a detailed exegesis of individual psalms is a prerequisite. Hence, instead of having a deductive approach, i.e. from the Psalter to the individual psalms, it is necessary to adopt an inductive approach, i.e. from the individual psalms to the Psalter. So far Hossfeld – Zenger are the only ones who have attempted this ambitious project in two extensive commentaries on Pss 51–100 and Pss 101–15020. Following in the footsteps of Delitzsch and ←21 | 22→mostly doing a synchronic analysis, several scholars have contributed significantly to this project and have shown interrelationships between two or more neighbouring psalms. Some have concentrated on two psalms21; some have focused on three22, four or more psalms23; some others have attempted to show the interrelationship between a group of psalms with similar author designations (David, Asaph, Korahites)24; some others have concentrated ←22 | 23→their attention on specific groups of psalms designated as “יהוה מלך psalms”25 or “Hallel psalms”26, or according to the distinct superscriptions given in MT like “שׁיר המעלות psalms”27 or the entire Elohistic Psalter28. The literature cited in the footnotes is only a tip of the iceberg. It is only a small attempt to show that an enormous amount of scholarly work has been done – and is also being done – in this direction.

In the first book of the Psalter, which is almost exclusively a Davidic collection except for the orphan psalms: Pss 10 and 33, Hossfeld – Zenger have proposed an interesting hypothesis about four distinct compositional ←23 | 24→units of psalms, which they call “Teilgruppen” or “Teilsammlungen”29 (Barbiero calls these compositional units “Struktureinheiten”30). Taking inspiration from Auffret’s approach to Pss 3–1431, Hossfeld – Zenger consider Pss 3–14; 15–24; 25–34; 35–41 to be close-knit groups of psalms, and the first three groups form chiastically around the hymns: Pss 8, 19, and 29. According to them, each group is organised with its distinct theology32. Millard presents a different theory of three “Kompositionsbögen” (Pss 1–10; 11–31; 32–41) in the first book of the Psalter33. Although there are not many takers for Millard’s composition theory, Hossfeld – Zenger’s theory has received a favourable scholarly reception34. On the first two compositional units, some articles have been written in the recent past35, but on ←24 | 25→the latter two compositional units, one does not find any literature except that of Hossfeld – Zenger and Barbiero36. The three psalms of our research (Pss 33, 34, and 35) are situated exactly on the margins of the third and the fourth compositional units.

On a casual observation of these three psalms, one does not seem to notice a lot of commonality in these three psalms. On the other hand, the diversity in these three psalms can be seen from the following three points: (i) they do not seem to have a strong common theme. (ii) They occur on the margins of the “supposed” third and fourth compositional units. (iii) They do not form a “cluster” of psalms with a similar form37. From a pure form-critical consideration, these three psalms are completely different. Ps 33 is an “orphan or loose psalm” of communal praise. Ps 34 is an acrostic wisdom psalm of thanksgiving with historical superscription, and Ps 35 is a Davidic psalm of individual lament. It is also evident that these psalms do not follow form-critical elements strictly. Although form-criticism has its limitations, we cannot easily part from such a solid tradition of research and analysis.

Gunkel – Begrich, the champions of form-criticism of the Psalter, were not only against the general idea of the organization of the Psalter according to the principle of concatenation, they also specifically considered that in Pss 31–37, no inner relationship can be discovered. Their famous quote denying the purposeful organization of the Psalter is as follows:

Und nun zum Schluß die wichtigste Beobachtung, nämlich diese, daß uns eine innere Ordnung unter den einzelnen Psalmen im ganzen nicht überliefert ist: in der Sammlung des Psalters stehen zwar manchmal verwandte zusammen, so “Klagelieder des Einzelnen” Ps 5–7; 54–57; 61–64; 69–71; 140–143; […]. Viel ←25 | 26→häufiger aber ist zwischen nächststehenden keine innere Beziehung zu entdecken, so besonders in folgenden Gruppen: 15–20; 22–24; 28–30; 3137; 41–46; 48–51; 71–75; 76–79; 80–82; 83–87; 88–95; 100–102; 108–110; in diesen Gruppen stimmt kein einziger Psalm mit dem andern der Gattung nach überein; auch in den sogenannten “Wallfahrtsliedern” 120–134 sind fast lauter verschiedene Gattungen vereinigt. Im fraglichen Falle ist also irgendeine Sicherheit, daß ein Psalm nach den ihm benachbarten zu verstehen sei, nicht vorhanden38.

Like most of the representatives of the Psalter Exegesis, we disagree with the above statement39. For our research, we wish to do the exegesis of the three selected psalms and see if there is a common story narrated in these three psalms, which in turn is a part of the bigger story of the first book of the Psalter. The proponents of the principle of concatenation believe that the Psalter is constructed as a chainlike structure. Each psalm is like a link connecting with the other. However, these psalms – unlike links in an ornamental chain – are not uniform. In this ornament, each link is unique in its dimensions: form, colour, size, and shape. Very often two-three links are more intimately connected with each other in some of their dimensions; hence, these links stand out from their neighbouring links. Such intimate links with their common features have been noticed by scholars, and these common links have been named: (i) “Zwillingspsalmen”40 for two psalms, (ii) “Psalmen-Trias”41 for three psalms, (iii) “clusters” for psalms with similar forms, and (iv) “compositional units” for psalms with other similar features like author designation, common theme, etc.

Form-criticism cannot be the sole criterion in discerning these common links. That would be a unidimensional analysis of the Psalter. Only from the form-critical perspective, one cannot be able to explain the purposeful organization of the Psalter. Fortunately, a variety of other criteria can also be considered, such as: (i) superscriptions42, (ii) acrostic ←26 | 27→forms43, (iii) beatitudes44, (iv) common themes, and more importantly (v) concatenation or catch-word connections, to do a multi-dimensional analysis of the Psalter. Such a multi-dimensional analysis of the Psalter at a synchronic level shows that a group of two, three, or more psalms are capable of narrating a common story within the Psalter, which in turn contributes to the bigger story of the Psalter.

For our analysis, we choose the above-mentioned three psalms because of the presence of a very important and yet not-so-often occurring substantive 45תהלה in all these three psalms at the “seams” of these psalms46. תהלה occurs at the end of the first verse in Ps 33 and at the end of the last verse in Ps 35; thus, it forms an inclusion to these three psalms. Besides, it also appears right at the start of Ps 3447. Our attempt will be to bring to the fore ←27 | 28→a trajectory, a movement (if at all operative), in these three psalms. It is interesting to notice that this triple-תהלה also suggests a transition from תהלה (Ps 33,1) to תהלתו (Ps 34,2) to תהלתך (Ps 35,28): a gradual personalization of תהלה. In order to justify the choice of these three psalms, we wish to briefly show how the theme and vocabulary in Pss 33–35 is different and distinct from their neighbouring psalms, i.e. Pss 32 and 36.

1.3 Delimitation of Pss 33–35 as a Unit Distinct from Pss 32 and 36

Ps 32 has been traditionally considered as one of the seven penitential psalms (Pss 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143) because of its focus on sin and forgiveness. Words like transgression, iniquity, sin, and forgiveness abound in this psalm48. Along with Ps 32, the idea of sin is also present in its neighbouring Ps 31, and it is found throughout in Pss 36–41 as shown in the following table49.

Table 1


Terminology(ies) related to sin

Ps 31

עון (v. 11)

Ps 32

פשׁע (vv. 1, 5); עון (vv. 2, 5[2x]); חטאה (v. 1); חטאת (v. 5[2x])

Pss 33–35


Ps 36


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (March)
Old Testament Psalter-exegesis Psalm-Triad Pss 1–41 Body Images
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 464 pp., 95 tables.

Biographical notes

Edwin Rodrigues (Author)

Edwin Rodrigues is a Jesuit priest from Mumbai, India. He has done his Masters in Biblical Studies from Jnanadeepa Institute of Philosophy and Theology (Pontifical Athenaeum), Pune, India. He completed his doctoral studies in Saint George College of Philosophy and Theology, Frankfurt, Germany. He is presently teaching theology in Vidyajyoti College of Theology, Delhi, India.


Title: Psalm of Praise for the Rescue of the Throat
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