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Psalms 84:4-7

Context

84:4 How blessed 1  are those who live in your temple

and praise you continually! (Selah)

84:5 How blessed are those who 2  find their strength in you,

and long to travel the roads that lead to your temple! 3 

84:6 As they pass through the Baca Valley, 4 

he provides a spring for them. 5 

The rain 6  even covers it with pools of water. 7 

84:7 They are sustained as they travel along; 8 

each one appears 9  before God in Zion.

1 tn The Hebrew noun is an abstract plural. The word often refers metonymically to the happiness that God-given security and prosperity produce (see v. 12 and Pss 1:1; 2:12; 34:9; 41:1; 65:4; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 127:5; 128:1; 144:15).

2 tn Heb “[Oh] the happiness [of] the man.” Hebrew literature often assumes and reflects the male-oriented perspective of ancient Israelite society. The principle stated here was certainly applicable to all people, regardless of their gender or age. To facilitate modern application, we translate the gender and age specific “man” with the plural “those.” The individual referred to in v. 5a is representative of followers of God, as the use of plural forms in vv. 5b-7 indicates.

3 tn Heb “roads [are] in their heart[s].” The roads are here those that lead to Zion (see v. 7).

4 tn The translation assumes that the Hebrew phrase עֵמֶק הַבָּכָא (’emeq habbakha’) is the name of an otherwise unknown arid valley through which pilgrims to Jerusalem passed. The term בָּכָא (bakha’) may be the name of a particular type of plant or shrub that grew in this valley. O. Borowski (Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 130) suggests it is the black mulberry. Some take the phrase as purely metaphorical and relate בָּכָא to the root בָּכָה (bakhah, “to weep”). In this case one might translate, “the valley of weeping” or “the valley of affliction.”

5 tc The MT reads “a spring they make it,” but this makes little sense. Many medieval Hebrew mss, as well as the LXX, understand God to be the subject and the valley to be the object, “he [God] makes it [the valley] [into] a spring.”

6 tn This rare word may refer to the early (or autumn) rains (see Joel 2:23).

7 tc The MT reads בְּרָכוֹת (bÿrakhot, “blessings”) but the preceding reference to a “spring” favors an emendation to בְּרֵכוֹת (bÿrekhot, “pools”).

sn Pools of water. Because water is so necessary for life, it makes an apt symbol for divine favor and blessing. As the pilgrims traveled to Jerusalem, God provided for their physical needs and gave them a token of his favor and of the blessings awaiting them at the temple.

8 tn Heb “they go from strength to strength.” The phrase “from strength to strength” occurs only here in the OT. With a verb of motion, the expression “from [common noun] to [same common noun]” normally suggests movement from one point to another or through successive points (see Num 36:7; 1 Chr 16:20; 17:5; Ps 105:13; Jer 25:32). Ps 84:7 may be emphasizing that the pilgrims move successively from one “place of strength” to another as they travel toward Jerusalem. All along the way they find adequate provisions and renewed energy for the trip.

9 tn The psalmist returns to the singular (see v. 5a), which he uses in either a representative or distributive (“each one” ) sense.



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