Written by the Korahites; a psalm, a song.
87:1 The Lord’s city is in the holy hills. 2
87:2 The Lord loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
87:3 People say wonderful things about you, 3
O city of God. (Selah)
87:4 I mention Rahab 4 and Babylon to my followers. 5
Here are 6 Philistia and Tyre, 7 along with Ethiopia. 8
It is said of them, “This one was born there.” 9
87:5 But it is said of Zion’s residents, 10
“Each one of these 11 was born in her,
and the sovereign One 12 makes her secure.” 13
87:6 The Lord writes in the census book of the nations, 14
“This one was born there.” 15 (Selah)
87:7 As for the singers, as well as the pipers –
all of them sing within your walls. 16
1 sn Psalm 87. The psalmist celebrates the Lord’s presence in Zion and the special status of its citizens.
2 tn Heb “his foundation [is] in the hills of holiness.” The expression “his foundation” refers here by metonymy to the
3 tn Heb “glorious things are spoken about you.” The translation assumes this is a general reference to compliments paid to Zion by those who live within her walls and by those who live in the surrounding areas and lands. Another option is that this refers to a prophetic oracle about the city’s glorious future. In this case one could translate, “wonderful things are announced concerning you.”
4 sn “Rahab,” which means “proud one,” is used here as a title for Egypt (see Isa 30:7).
5 tn Heb “to those who know me” (see Ps 36:10). Apparently the
6 tn Heb “Look.”
7 map For location see Map1-A2; Map2-G2; Map4-A1; JP3-F3; JP4-F3.
8 tn Heb “Cush.”
9 tn Heb “and this one was born there.” The words “It is said of them” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied for clarification and stylistic purposes (see v. 5). Those advocating the universalistic interpretation understand “there” as referring to Zion, but it seems more likely that the adverb refers to the nations just mentioned. The foreigners are identified by their native lands.
10 tn Heb “and of Zion it is said.” Another option is to translate, “and to Zion it is said.” In collocation with the Niphal of אָמַר (’amar), the preposition lamed (-לְ) can introduce the recipient of the statement (see Josh 2:2; Jer 4:11; Hos 1:10; Zeph 3:16), carry the nuance “concerning, of” (see Num 23:23), or mean “be named” (see Isa 4:3; 62:4).
11 tn Heb “a man and a man.” The idiom also appears in Esth 1:8. The translation assumes that the phrase refers to each of Zion’s residents, in contrast to the foreigners mentioned in v. 4. Those advocating the universalistic interpretation understand this as a reference to each of the nations, including those mentioned in v. 4.
12 tn Traditionally “Most High.”
13 tn Heb “and he makes her secure, the Most High.”
14 tn Heb “the
15 tn As noted in v. 4, the translation assumes a contrast between “there” (the various foreign lands) and “in her” (Zion). In contrast to foreigners, the citizens of Zion have special status because of their birthplace (v. 5). In this case vv. 4 and 6 form a structural frame around v. 5.
16 tc Heb “and singers, like pipers, all my springs [are] in you.” The participial form חֹלְלִים (kholÿlim) appears to be from a denominative verb meaning “play the pipe,” though some derive the form from חוּל (khul, “dance”). In this case the duplicated lamed (ל) requires an emendation to מְחֹלְלִים (mÿkholÿlim, “a Polel form). The words are addressed to Zion. As it stands, the Hebrew text makes little, if any, sense. “Springs” are often taken here as a symbol of divine blessing and life”), but this reading does not relate to the preceding line in any apparent way. The present translation assumes an emendation of כָּל־מַעְיָנַי (kol-ma’yanay, “all my springs”) to כֻּלָּם עָנוּ (kullam ’anu, “all of them sing,” with the form עָנוּ being derived from עָנָה, ’anah, “sing”).