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Psalms 127:3-5

Context

127:3 Yes, 1  sons 2  are a gift from the Lord,

the fruit of the womb is a reward.

127:4 Sons born during one’s youth

are like arrows in a warrior’s hand. 3 

127:5 How blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!

They will not be put to shame 4  when they confront 5  enemies at the city gate.

1 tn or “look.”

2 tn Some prefer to translate this term with the gender neutral “children,” but “sons” are plainly in view here, as the following verses make clear. Daughters are certainly wonderful additions to a family, but in ancient Israelite culture sons were the “arrows” that gave a man security in his old age, for they could defend the family interests at the city gate, where the legal and economic issues of the community were settled.

3 tn Heb “like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so [are] sons of youth.” Arrows are used in combat to defend oneself against enemies; sons are viewed here as providing social security and protection (see v. 5). The phrase “sons of youth” is elliptical, meaning “sons [born during the father’s] youth.” Such sons will have grown up to be mature adults and will have children of their own by the time the father reaches old age and becomes vulnerable to enemies. Contrast the phrase “son of old age” in Gen 37:3 (see also 44:20), which refers to Jacob’s age when Joseph was born.

4 tn Being “put to shame” is here metonymic for being defeated, probably in a legal context, as the reference to the city gate suggests. One could be humiliated (Ps 69:12) or deprived of justice (Amos 5:12) at the gate, but with strong sons to defend the family interests this was less likely to happen.

5 tn Heb “speak with.”



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