Psalm 127 and the polemic of the rebuilding of the temple in the post exilic period

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Abstract

Ps 127 is divided into two parts: The first deals with man's dependence on God, while the second deals with the benefits afforded to a man who has many children in his youth. These two themes are in conflict, as the first part deals with the futility of man without God, the second emphasises the way man can achieve power. The contradiction can be resolved in light of its proposed historical setting, following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 587 BCE. The »house« spoken of in the first part refers to the Temple. Ps 127 then reflects one of the ways in which the inhabitants of Yehud grappled with their failure to build the Temple. The psalmist tried to calm the people and suggest that the impossibility of building the Temple was due to God's decision. This explanation allows the people to accept that their inability to build the Temple reflects God's plan. However, they should not remain distressed and passive. Instead, the second part of the psalm suggests that meanwhile the people should concentrate on developing and building the family unit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-272
Number of pages17
JournalZeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
Volume121
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2009

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