Rashi's Commentary on Psalms

By Mayer I. Gruber | Go to book overview

RASH'S INTRODUCTION TO THE PSALTER
IN ENGLISH WITH NOTES1

And may He who dwells among Proverbs prosper me in the Book of Psalms.2

(HAPPY IS THE MAN).3

'ašrê hā'îš THE LAUDATIONS OF A MAN'.4 This book is composed of ten poetic genres "each identifiable by a characteristic introductory expression": leading,5 instrumental music,6psalm,7 song,8 hallel "i.e., 'praise'",9 prayer,10berakah "i.e., 'blessing'",11 thanksgiving,12 laudations,13 Hallelujah.14 These correspond numerically to the ten people who composed "the 150 compositions contained in" it: Adam,15 Melchizedek,16 Abraham,17 Moses,18 David,19 Solomon,20 Asaph,21 and three sons of Korah.22 Opinion is divided concerning Jeduthun.23 Some say that he Qeduthun in the tides of Ps. 39:1; 62:1; 72:1" was a person such as was written about in "1" Chronicles "16:38"24 while others explain thatjeduthun in this book is only "an acronym" referring to the judgments "haddatôt wěhaddînîn",25 i.e., the tribulations,26 which overtook him "King David" and Israel.


RASHI'S INTRODUCTION, NOTES

1 Both the mss. and the printed editions of Rashi's commentary preface Rashi's introduction to the psalter with the first two words of Ps. 1. In fact, these two words serve in the Hebrew Bible as the title of the Book of Psalms just as Běrē'šît 'IN THE BEGINNING' serves in the Hebrew Bible as the title of the Book of Genesis and just as Wě'ēlleh hadděbārîm 'THESE ARE THE WORDS' serve in the Hebrew Bible as the title of the Book of Deuteronomy. A number of biblical books do begin with actual titles. These include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Proverbs. Because Rashi's introduction is traditionally placed after the first two words of Ps. 1, it is not surprising that Jacob b. Zvi Hirsch of Mir in his supercommentary 'Ateret Zvi (Vilna & Grodno: Jewish Community of Vilna Press, 1834) would attempt to prove that this introduction is simply a gloss on the word 'ašrê. In a number of mss. (e.g., Oxford Bodleian ms. 295; Corpus Christi ms. 165) the scribe sets Rashi's introduction to the psalter apart from Rashi's commentary on Ps. 1 by prefacing each of these with the first two words of Ps. 1:1 in bold letters. In Ms. Firkovich 1/15 what we call RASHI'S INTRODUCTION TO THE PSALTER appears in expanded form following Rashi's commentary on Ps. 1:6. It should be noted, however, that the introduction in question is prefaced by HAPPY IS THE MAN WHO HAS

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