The Structure, Genre, and Meaning of Psalm 129

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Psalm 129 depicts the distress of the people in exile. It contains no appeal to God for salvation or thanksgiving for an ameliorated situation. The anticipation of retribution against the adversaries is very limited in scope; it appears in verse 5 not as a petition to God but as a heartfelt desire. In this manner the psalmist contrasts the harsh present with an auspicious future. Verses 6-8 depict the transience of the people’s exilic existence. The psalmist likens the people to the rooftop grass that withers rapidly. In the psalmist’s mind, the rooftop grass evokes the poverty and the landlessness of the people that compel them to utilize their rooftops to grow crops that yield so little that there is almost nothing to harvest. This situation stands in contrast to God’s copious blessing of the agriculture in the Land of Israel that is alluded to at the psalm’s conclusion. The psalmist’s objective is to convey the harsh reality of the exile. He juxtaposes this situation against the much awaited future and against the abundant Divine blessing of the past.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2013
EventSBL , 2013 - Baltimore, Baltimore, United States
Duration: 23 Nov 201326 Nov 2013


ConferenceSBL , 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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