Psalm 1

Psalm 1

1. Happy is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,[1] nor stands in the way of sinners, nor dwells in the session of scoffers.

2. For it is in the Torah of Yhwh that he rejoices;[2] and with his Torah[3] he meditates[4] day and night.[5]

3. And he will be as a tree planted by streams of water,[6] which gives its fruit in its time, and whose leaves do not whither [and all the he does is made to prosper].[7]

4. Not so the wicked—not at all[8]—for they are as the chaff which is blown by the wind.

5. For this reason the wicked cannot stand in judgment, nor the sinners in the congregation[9] of the righteous.

6. For Yhwh knows the path of the righteous,[10] but the way of the wicked is lost.[11]


[1] The verb עמד with דרך is peculiar given the fact that הלך is far more commonly associated with דרך in the sense of comportment. The Syriac, in fact, transposes the two nouns.

[2] The front loading emphasizes the object, which is more fully expressed with this English construction.

[3] Some question the repetition of “Torah” in the second cola and prefer to read “statues,” or something similar, but the repetition serves to emphasize even more the primacy of the Torah in the Psalmist’s mind.

[4] The verb actually denotes murmuring, which evokes the image of the individual reading meditatively to himself under his breath.

[5] “Day and night” here operates as a merism. Put another way, he is perpetually meditating on the Torah.

[6] This is almost identical to Jer 17:8. Verse 7 in Jeremiah, however, begins with “blessed” rather than the less liturgical “happy.” Jeremiah is likely earlier.

[7] The phrase is brackets is metrically peculiar and seems to be an explanatory gloss based on Joshua 1:8

[8] This emphatic interjection is found in the Greek, and it balances out the meter of the verse quite nicely.

[9] The Greek has “council,” reading בעצת.

[10] צדיקים appears twice in succession, as does דרך, supporting MT’s repetition of תורה above.

[11] This is generally translated “leads to destruction,” but the contrast with Yhwh’s awareness of the path of the righteous is more fully realized by translating the verb as a reference to the path of the wicked being lost.


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