THE INDIVIDUAL UNITS OF BOOK 1
WISDOM PSALM; PERSONAL EXHORTATION
The MT is well preserved and lucid throughout. Textual problems arise only in the wake of modem emendations that are made primarily for metrical or stylistic reasons (Bullough; Kunz; Willis; and the commentaries). I prefer to stay with the MT.
Psalm 1 begins with the congratulatory exclamation 'ašrê, “happiness, bliss, happy be,” which is so characteristic of biblical beatitudes and congratulations. Structural analysis will show, however, that the poem is not at all a beatitude. It belongs rather to the category of liturgical admonition.
The 'ašrê words of the OT (Janzen; Käser) are concentrated in the book of Psalms, where we have twenty-six out of forty-five occurrences (e.g., Pss 40:5 “RSV 4”; 41:2 “RSV I”; 128:1-2). Save for four instances (e.g., Ps 33:12), all these statements deal with individuals. Furthermore, they are rather concise phrases that can be easily isolated from their respective contexts on stylistic grounds. A psalmic BEATITUDE typically has the form “happy the one who acts/fares …”; see, e.g., Pss 2:12; 32:1-2; 34:9 (RSV 8); 84:6, 13 (RSV 5, 12); 94:12; 106:3; 112:1; 119:1-2; 128:1; 137:8,9; 146:5. The beatitude is compact, consisting only of the one-word exclamation and a description of the person worthy of such praise. Addition of a motive clause that reemphasizes the reward to be gained results in a slightly augmented basic form: “Happy the one who