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Psalms 48:2

Context

48:2 It is lofty and pleasing to look at, 1 

a source of joy to the whole earth. 2 

Mount Zion resembles the peaks of Zaphon; 3 

it is the city of the great king.

Psalms 50:2

Context

50:2 From Zion, the most beautiful of all places, 4 

God comes in splendor. 5 

1 tn Heb “beautiful of height.” The Hebrew term נוֹף (nof, “height”) is a genitive of specification after the qualitative noun “beautiful.” The idea seems to be that Mount Zion, because of its lofty appearance, is pleasing to the sight.

2 sn A source of joy to the whole earth. The language is hyperbolic. Zion, as the dwelling place of the universal king, is pictured as the world’s capital. The prophets anticipated this idealized picture becoming a reality in the eschaton (see Isa 2:1-4).

3 tn Heb “Mount Zion, the peaks of Zaphon.” Like all the preceding phrases in v. 2, both phrases are appositional to “city of our God, his holy hill” in v. 1, suggesting an identification in the poet’s mind between Mount Zion and Zaphon. “Zaphon” usually refers to the “north” in a general sense (see Pss 89:12; 107:3), but here, where it is collocated with “peaks,” it refers specifically to Mount Zaphon, located in the vicinity of ancient Ugarit and viewed as the mountain where the gods assembled (see Isa 14:13). By alluding to West Semitic mythology in this way, the psalm affirms that Mount Zion is the real divine mountain, for it is here that the Lord God of Israel lives and rules over the nations. See P. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC), 353, and T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God, 103.

4 tn Heb “the perfection of beauty.”

5 tn Or “shines forth.”

sn Comes in splendor. The psalmist may allude ironically to Deut 33:2, where God “shines forth” from Sinai and comes to superintend Moses’ blessing of the tribes.



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