About the Author(s)

Frank-Lothar Hossfeld Email
Research Associate, Department of Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Old Testament at the Catholic Faculty of Theology, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany


Hossfeld, F-L., 2019, ‘The connections of the Torah-Psalm 119 to the fifth Psalter of David (Ps 138–145)’, Verbum et Ecclesia 40(1), a1973. https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v40i1.1973

†, 1942–2015.

Original Research

The connections of the Torah-Psalm 119 to the fifth Psalter of David (Ps 138–145)

Frank-Lothar Hossfeld

Received: 15 Jan. 2019; Accepted: 20 Aug. 2019; Published: 06 Dec. 2019

Copyright: © 2019. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The following exposition goes back to my lecture, ‘The Ways of YHWH and the Ways of the supplicant in the fifth and last Psalter of David’, at the convention, ‘The Torah in the psalms and the prophecy’, held at Munich on 13–14 July 2007. The first part of the lecture, which dealt with the composition of the fifth Psalter of David, has appeared in an excursus (on the concept of the fifth Psalter of David) in the psalm commentary by Erich Zenger and me (Author). It was for this reason that the second part, which dealt with the Way-motif in Psalm 119 in the fifth Psalter of David, was extended to the current subject of the article.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The psalms and the Torah belong to two different parts of the Hebrew canon. This means that the intertextual relations between them rest on the interdisciplinary relationship between the two corpuses. The connections between Psalm 119 and David’s fifth Psalter relate with the autonomous theologies of the fifth Psalter of David (Ps 138–145) and the final Hallel (Ps 146–150). Psalm 119 had both groups of psalms in front of it, and it respected the graduated psalm endings or rather the final redactions in both instances. The implication for the redaction study of the psalms is that Psalm 119 was specifically placed in its present position within the Psalter in its totality.

Keywords: Psalm; Psalter; Psalm 119; Sapiential Theology; Book V of the Psalter; Torah.

The central concept ‘Torah’

In recent submissions on the significance of the ‘Torah of YHWH’ – in the so-called Torah psalms – homologous reference is made to the open content of this central concept, which is not restricted to canonical texts.

On Psalm 1 (Mosis 2009):

At the time that Ps 1 was written, the size and peripheries of a collection of holy scriptures are not only incomplete but flowing in dual directions, and the subsequent question as to what exactly is part of the ‘canon’ and what exactly constitutes the ‘canonical dignity’ of a scripture has no relevance. One does not read in existing and factually acknowledged scriptures with the intention to comment on scriptures and texts, but rather to be able to hold one’s own and understand oneself and one’s respective present-day reality from God’s perspective; it is not about elucidation of the scriptures, but rather about factual explanation, not about comprehending the texts, but rather about understanding reality, and by concerning oneself with holy scriptures about which one hopes to gain clarity. (p. 33)

On Psalm 19 (Grund Neukirchen-Vluyn 2004):

Ps 19 has a very comprehensive understanding of Torah. It should, however … not be considered as being a representative or successor of only Deuteronomistic traditions, but rather as belonging to a much later phase in which reference is made, in a kind of ‘hybrid language’, to several currents of tradition that had already passed on in written form (Deut., Priestly Sources and others) and in which these currents are brought together in a genuinely sapiential perspective. … The sapiential reception of the proto-canonical preceptive tradition discovers in it (in the Torah – F.-L.H.) a mediator for life and wisdom, even for YHWH’s righteousness itself. … It is therefore, in spite of the sapiential nature of the intellectual framework, not an ‘instruction’ in a true sapiential sense – it progresses, due to the integration of the preceptive tradition, far beyond this and, with an abundance of synonyms, is primarily to be understood as an aggregate of very concrete precepts and statutory requirements of YHWH. It is therefore neither a question of his ‘word’ in a general sense of a theology of revelation, nor of an abstract will of YHWH, but rather of his preceptive will, which has always been made concrete in the traditional commandments and which speaks through them time and again up to the present day. … Torah is rather the instruction for a life of righteousness and abundance, to be learnt with YHWH himself as teacher and also to be understood in this regard, and the meditation and quest of which should be conducted in and behind its scripted form. (p. 338f.)

On Psalm 119 (Hossfeld & Zenger 2008):

Ps 119 is deemed to be the Torah psalm per se. Its subject-matter is, however, neither the essence nor the content of the Torah. It cites none of the numerous commandments of the Torah of Moses, it does not conceptualise an ethical model, and even less a casuistry of law. … In this respect, the psalm is the document of a Torah-religiousness or even of a Torah-mysticism – albeit with an intent towards practical life. … Even though a reference to the Torah of Moses, existing in written form by now, may be present with Torah in Ps 119, this is not the only connotation. Here Torah also denotes the instruction, effected in each case by YHWH, on the purpose and the concrete meaning of his manifestation of will. Here, ‘Torah’ constitutes not a static, finalised factor, but rather a dynamic, open one. (pp. 350, 353)

All the three quotes mentioned above emphasise (1) the specific relationship of the central concept with the recorded preceptive tradition, which, in spite of being increased, is nevertheless not definable in an exact manner; (2) the open and yet comprehensive content; and (3) the emphasis on the meaning in practical life, which moves towards that which is referred to as ‘the Will of God’ in the New Testament.

All in all, the central concept ‘Torah’ is used a total of 25 times and is jointly bordered with seven synonyms: ‘statute’, ‘word’, ‘precept’, ‘commandment’, ‘judgement or ordinance’, ‘testimony’ and ‘decree’. Within the Psalter – when viewed in the reading direction – ‘Torah’ is used for a final time in Psalm 119.1 Of the eight fundamental preceptive concepts used in Psalm 119, only three are repeated in the fifth Psalter of David.

Psalm 138 takes up the speech-act-oriented concept of ‘word or words of YHWH’ in verses (vv) 2 and 4. Psalm 140:13 (YHWH secures justice for the poor) and Psalm 143:2 (YHWH must not enter into judgement with the supplicant) use the term ‘justice’ or ‘judgement’. Eventually, the secondary nun-verse of Psalm 145:13b, ‘YHWH is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works’2 (which is missing in the Masoretic Text) provides the term ‘word’, which is understood to be normative in nature.3 It is interesting to note that the final Hallel (Ps 146–150), which chronologically follows on the fifth Psalter of David, partially resumes the utilisation of the preceptive terms of the fifth Psalter of David: YHWH gives justice to the oppressed (Ps 146:7); he secures justice for the poor (Ps 140:13); the faithful execute judgement on the nations (Ps 149:9) all according to the documented will of YHWH.4 As in the nun-verse of Psalm 145:13b, Psalm 147:19 (YHWH announces his word to Jacob) takes up the ‘word’ as a standard term and expands it by parallelising it with the dual concepts, being familiar from Deuteronomy, of the ‘statutes and ordinances of YHWH’ (cf. also Ps 81:5). In the ensuing verse (Ps 147:20), the ‘judgements or ordinances of YHWH’ can subsequently stand alone, while covering the same preceptive content as the preceding dual concepts. Finally, the term ‘decree’ in Psalm 148:6, used in the singular form, experiences a transference from traditional civil law to the realm of creational order as a law of nature. One is under the impression that the broadening of the factual content (the proclaimed and the documented will of God in the realm of human coexistence and within the cosmic order) results in a gradient from the fifth Psalter of David, over the final Hallel, up to Psalm 119 in which there is also mention of the laws of nature (cf. vv. 89–91 and v. 152; as well as the reference to the creation of the supplicant in v. 73).

The Way-motif in Psalm 119 and in the fifth Psalter of David

As a point of departure, the opinion of Zenger (2008) on the Way-motif in Psalm 119 is to be taken:

It is repeatedly being said, to be sure …, that the poet does not use eight, but ten Torah concepts, that is to say, apart from the eight mentioned, the additional Way-concepts ‘way’ and ‘path’, however the following should be observed against this: (1) Both fall, in respect to their appearance in Ps 119, numerically far behind the others (with a suffix referring to YHWH, ‘way’ only appears in vv. 3 and 37, ‘path’ only in v. 15). (2) Their semantics is of a more open and indeterminate nature.5

The Way-motif can be implemented implicitly by verbs (go, walk, etc.) and concepts (steps, feet, etc.) or explicitly by the concept ‘way’ and its synonyms. The very flexible use of way-metaphors covers about three semantic realms: (1) spatial movement; (2) the actions and behaviour of living creatures and their fate; and (3) having as its subject God as the ways of God, the realm of instructions and declaration of his will, the receiver of which is mankind, where man adopts the norm of the divine ways as a rule of life. This spectrum finds its manifold application in the fifth Psalter of David and connects it to Psalm 119.

The ways of YHWH

The ways of YHWH are mentioned three times in the fifth Psalter of David

In Psalm 138:4–5, the word combination ‘words of your mouth’ appears. This can denote prophetic words regardless of what nature, or instructions of YHWH (see, e.g., the ‘ten words’ or the significant verse Dt 8:3). Psalm 119:13, 73, 88 shares the same word combination with the fifth Psalter of David. In Psalm 138:4, the preceptive combination seems to be applicable as in Psalm 119. Of which ‘ways of YHWH’ are the kings of the earth singing in Psalm 138:5? Are they singing ‘on’ or ‘about’ the ways? Are the ways real ways, that is, are the kings on their way or even on pilgrim paths to Jerusalem, or is one to understand the ways metaphorically? A singing about the ways as textual definition is not syntactically indicated; this would presuppose a construction with the preposition l ͤ or the accusative. Therefore, a metaphorical understanding presents itself, in the sense that the kings walk on the preceptive ways of JHWH and praise his glory. By and large, Psalm 138 presupposes that the kings of the earth are convinced of the universal quality of YHWH’s precepts and, through this, are led to the praise of YHWH, as it becomes possible according to Deuteronomy 4,5–86 and is made concrete in the pilgrimage of the nations (Is 2:1–5; Mi 4:1–5). Psalm 138:5 has its parallels in Psalm 119, Verses 3 and 37.

In Psalm 143:8, the supplicant asks YHWH, ‘[m]ake me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul!’ The supplication is similar to the supplication of Psalm 143:10 to ‘[t]each me to do your will, for you are my God!’ In both cases, the supplicant’s concern is that his conduct in life should conform to the preceptive path laid down by YHWH. The proximity of the two supplications to those in Psalm 119:12, 27 is obvious.

Psalm 145 is the final psalm of an antecedent of the entire Psalter, namely, the five-part ‘Torah of David’.7 In Verse 17, the supplicant formulates, in accordance with Verse 13, a second confessional proposition: ‘YHWH is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works’. From the perspective of the secondary nun-verse in Psalm 145:13b (see above), which runs parallel to the testimony in Verse 17, the ‘ways of YHWH’ of Verse 17 correspond to the ‘words of YHWH’ of Verse 13b (nun-verse). This means that the ways of YHWH are not indeterminately aimed at his divine conduct and planning, but rather have ethical connotations and thus imply preceptive ways.

These ‘ways of YHWH’ also correspond to the ‘way everlasting’ from the final supplication of Psalm 139:24, ‘[a]nd see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’ Here it is about the conduct in life according to tried and trusted precepts. In this sense, the final supplication of Psalm 139 approximates the supplication of Psalm 119:35 to ‘[l]ead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it!’

The way of the supplicant

In Psalm 139:3, the Way-motif encompasses both the spatial movement of the supplicant and his conduct, which are observed and understood by YHWH. This is approximated by Psalm 119:168, ‘for all my ways are before you’.

In the conclusion of Psalm 139 (vv. 23–24) – which corresponds to the opening in Verses 2–6 – YHWH is to probe the supplicant inside himself (in his heart and innermost thoughts) according to two criteria: whether there exists a ‘way of the idols’ or a ‘way everlasting’. In the Psalter, the idols are the subjects of Psalm 97:7; 106:36, 38; 115:4; and 135:15. The veneration of images, which is the way of the idols, is the pagan counter-religion. With this, it is diametrically opposed to the ‘way everlasting’. This programmatic verse approaches the tenet of the Two Ways of Psalm 1. This corresponds to Psalm 119:101, ‘I have refused to walk on any evil path, so that I may remain obedient to your word’, Verse 104, ‘Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way’, or also Verse 128, ‘Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way’ (see also v. 163).

In Psalm 142:4, the supplicant laments the weakness of his own spirit, that is, his own willpower. However, as in Psalm 139:3, YHWH knows his conduct. The enemies obstruct or endanger the path that he is to take. Only with the help of YHWH is he capable to cope with his life according to God’s norms. The instructed path to be taken is the path of the law of Psalm 119. Psalm 143:8, too (see above) understands the way of the supplicant in this sense. The supplicant requires divine guidance for the way of YHWH, which he intends to adopt as a rule of life.

Implicit use of the Way-metaphor is moreover found in the fifth Psalter of David most notably within the portrayal of the practices of the enemy. In Psalm 140:5–6, they attempt to deviate him from his course of following the right way of life. The enemy is depicted as being wicked men, as conceited men who commit violent deeds, who beset the poor supplicant. If one connotes the religious apostasy from YHWH in the metaphor of the snares, under the influence of the snares of Exodus 34:12 and Psalm 106:36, the use of the Way-metaphor approaches the ‘grievous or wicked way’ of Psalm 139:24. In Psalm 141:9–10 again, it is the use of the hunt-metaphor that leads to the Way-metaphor. The supplicant will walk past the snares and traps of his enemies (the evildoers and wicked men); that is, he will face their temptations steadfastly and will resist their practices. Simultaneously, the twofold reprisal of the two ways indicates itself. As in Psalm 1:6, the evildoers come to a fall through their own fault (the ‘auto-destruction of the evildoers’), while the supplicant escapes the fate of the evildoers under YHWH’s protection.

The use of the Way-metaphor characterises the fifth Psalter of David throughout. The ways of YHWH are preceptively connoted and constitute his instructions. The use of hunt-metaphors in depicting the enemy serves to assist the Way-metaphor and is in keeping with the sapiential interest in the tenet of the Two Ways of the fifth Psalter of David, as is the case in Psalm 140:5–6, 10–12 and Psalm 141:9–10 (cf. also Ps 143:11–12).

Psalm 119 knows the way to be a preceptive concept in Verses 3, 5, 15 and 37, and, analogously, the constructional combinations of Way and one of the eight preceptive concepts like ‘way of your testimonies’ (v. 14), ‘way of your precepts’ (v. 27), ‘way or path of your commandments’ and ‘way of your statutes’ (v. 33). Likewise, Psalm 119 preludes the comparison of the two ways in the ‘way of the blameless’ (v. 1), as well as notably in the ‘way of lying’ as opposed to the ‘straight way of your precepts’ (v. 29, 104, 128). Similarly, the implicit use of the Way-metaphor is present in Psalm 119.

Overall, just as with the contemplation on the central concept ‘Torah’, the impression concerning the Way-motif is created that Psalm 119 also assumes this sapiential context and transforms it into its individual Torah meditation.

The social position of the supplicant in the fifth Psalter of David and in Psalm 119

The speaker of each psalm in question supplicates in a universal horizon: in Psalm 138:4–6, he has all the kings of the earth before him. This corresponds to the statement of Psalm 144:10 that YHWH bestows victory on the kings (assumedly of the earth). In Psalm 119:46, too, the supplicant speaks of YHWH’s testimonies in front of kings without being put to shame.

The princes as members of the upper class are not mentioned in the fifth Psalter of David. In Psalm 119, they are counted among the enemies of the supplicant. In Verse 23, they are holding proceedings against the poor supplicant, while he is meditating on the statutes of YHWH. In Verse 161, they have persecuted the supplicant gratuitously, whereas he was only frightened by the word of YHWH.

The changes in the enemy stereotype are significant: while in Psalm 140,2, the ‘evil man’ and the ‘violent man’ were in the singular, Psalm 119 designates a plural number, as in Verse 114, or when the supplicant speaks of the ‘oppression of men’ in Verse 134; consequently, Verse 119 states that all the ‘wicked of the earth’ are removed by YHWH like trash. The enemies’ repertoire of behaviour towards the poor supplicant remains constant: they show themselves to be proud (Ps 140:6) or arrogant (Ps 119:21, 51, 69, 78, 85, 122). They persecute the supplicant (Ps 119:150; 142:7; 143:3); they set traps (Ps 119:110; 140:6) and ensnare the supplicant with ropes (Ps 119:61; 140:6). The ‘auto-destruction of the enemy’ is expressed in different ways in Psalm 141:10, ‘fall into their own nets’, and in Psalm 119:85, ‘dig pitfalls’. What is still denounced in a relatively concrete way as the behaviour of foreigners and their henchmen in Psalm 144:7f., 11 (cf. Ps 129:20), namely verbal, untruthful attacks and perjury in dealing with the supplicant, turns in Psalm 119 into a continuous abstract accusation against the enemies: they torture the supplicant with the lie, Verses 69, 78, 86 and 118.

At this point, it has to be considered that the fifth Psalter of David, as well as Psalm 119, is characterised by the so-called devoutness of the poor. The supplicant counts himself to be among the poor people (cf. Ps 140:13), as he prays in Psalm 119 to be delivered from affliction (v. 153) and from oppression of the enemy (v. 121:134). A typical feature is the ‘servant of YHWH’, a title imbued with the theology of the poor (Armentheologie). It belongs to the Hofstil (courtly style) of submission and implies both the humility and the mandatory affiliation because of the patron or king. The title appears in Psalm 143:1,2 as well as in Psalm 144:10; it, however, assumes the role of a guiding theme in Psalm 119:17, with numerous other appearances in this psalm (14 times in total). In this situation, the supplicant vehemently expresses his dissociation from his enemies: they must depart from him (Ps 139:19; 119:115); he feels disgust towards them (Ps 139,21; 119,158) and above all hatred (Ps 139:21f.; 119:104); in Psalm 119:21, this escalates to a curse on the enemy, ‘You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments’. Torah-loyalty and confrontation and/or a sharp distinction from enemies are now mutually dependent.

Now the supplicant is not alone, he relies on his in-group, his fellow sufferers and like-minded friends. The fifth Psalter of David describes them as ‘the righteous people’ (Ps 140:14; 141:5; 142:8; cf. also Ps 146:8). Psalm 119 avoids this description and only allocates the term ‘righteous’ to YHWH and his precepts (cf. Ps 143:2; 145:17 and Ps 119:7, 139, 142, as well as Ps 119:62, 75, 106, 123, 138, 144, 160, 164, 174).

Psalm 119 compensates for this deficiency with three characterisations: those that fear YHWH (Ps 119:63, 79), those that love his name (Ps 119:132) and those that love his Torah (Ps 119:165).

In concluding this section, a cursory glance at the final Hallel Psalm 146–150 in the light of the preceding points of interest is of benefit.

In Psalm 145:10–11, it is the task of the devout people of YHWH – here the Israelites are probably envisaged together with the proselytes – to universally convey the message of the kingship of YHWH to all mankind. The same universal opening-up can be found in Psalm 148:11–12, in which the kings of the earth, nations, princes, judges, people of both sexes and all ages, thus a structured humanity, are called up to praise the creator and his ordered cosmos. This universalism is in contrast with the sectionalism, the national religious perspective in Verse 14, which, dating from the redaction of the Psalter, emphasises the position of power of the chosen people who are denoted as being both the devout or faithful ones and the children of Israel.

The sectionalism of Psalm 148:14 corresponds to the attitude of the relevant verses from the remaining Hallel-psalms, in which the role of Jacob or Israel is addressed (cf. Ps 146:5; 147:2, 19; 149:2). What is salient is the anti-authoritarian tendency while retaining the focus on all of creation. At the beginning of Psalm 146:3 is the distrust towards the princes or nobles; here, Psalm 146 affiliates itself to Psalm 118:9, opposing the respect shown to the princes and nobles in the psalm of the poor (Ps 113:8) (Armenpsalm). In Psalm 147, there is, apart from the focus on Israel and the poor (vv. 2, 6), the definite privileging of Jacob and Israel by YHWH’s commandments, with three preceptive concepts (word, commandments and statutes) that are being employed and which belong to the eight preceptive concepts of Psalm 119. The other nations do not know YHWH’s precepts (v. 20). Here, the Torah is an exclusive privilege, where no mention of its universal conveyance is made. Psalm 149:5–9 is on an analogous level: the saved nation of Israel is the nation of the poor (v. 4) and simultaneously identical with the devout and faithful (v. 1, 5, 9), as in Psalm 148:14. Without any force, by the ‘sword of his praise’, it must enforce the written divine law upon the nations, including their kings and magnificent dignitaries. In the paradox of this exclusive mandate (enforcing the law without any force), the ‘intensification of the enemy stereotype’, which forms a specific characteristic of the Hallel-psalms, becomes clearly apparent.8

If one compares the position of the supplicant of Psalm 119 with that of Israel in the Hallel-psalms, then Psalm 119 is closer to the Hallel-psalms than it is to the fifth Psalter of David.

In Psalm 119:46, the supplicant gives testimony of the Torah in front of kings of nations without being put to shame. In Verses 23 and 161, the upper class of princes belongs to the opposite party and the enemy. The antagonism exists in the irreconcilable differences of existential life designs or rather life concepts: a life with a lie that negates the Torah versus a life with the Torah of YHWH. The enmity between the supplicant and the enemies has deepened or rather intensified, compared with the individual arguments of the fifth Psalter of David. The supplicant of Psalm 119 feels hatred towards his enemies (v. 104), and rage (v. 53) and he curses them (v. 21). Just as the supplicant of Psalm 119 praises YHWH and his Torah (vv. 164, 273, 275), and lives according to the Torah, notwithstanding the ‘wicked of the earth’ worldwide (v. 119), so does Israel. Its responsibility lies in praising YHWH (Ps 147 and Ps 149:5f.) and its worldwide obligation towards the nations and their governments (kings, princes, dignitaries, cf. Ps 146:2; 149:7–9) in the enforcement of the divine law.


According to Hossfeld and Zenger (2008):

The long Torah-psalm, which has no temple perspective and lacks the historical-theological, liturgical, communitarian as well as the familial dimension of the Pesach Hallel and the pilgrimage Psalter, comes across as an erratic block in its context. … If one observes, however, that Ps 119 has many common features with the similarly Torah-sapientially imbued twin couple Ps 111 + 112, and that Ps 111 + 112 and Ps 119 wrap themselves around the Pesach Hallel Ps 113–118 like a frame, then Ps 119 loses its isolated position. … In the redactional composition Ps 107–136, the goal of which is the restitution and regeneration of Israel, Ps 119 introduces the important subject of ‘living from and with the Torah’, which is, with regard to its historical origins in the 4th century BC and therefore after the completion of the Torah of Moses (Gen-Deut), hardly surprising.9 (pp. 101–150)

The above observations made on the connections of Psalm 119 with the fifth Psalter of David and the final Hallel, which above all pertain to the preceptive terminology and the position of the supplicant amongst the people of Israel as well as the universal horizon of the world of nations, show the relationship with the autonomous theologies of the fifth Psalter of David and the final Hallel. Indeed, they give rise to the supposition that Psalm 119 had both groups of psalms in front of it, that it respected the graduated psalm endings or rather the final redactions in both instances, and that it was specifically placed in its present position within the psalter in its totality. This would be consistent with the approach of the much later sapiential theology of the two other Torah-Psalms 1 and 19.


Competing interests

The author declares that they have no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

Author’s contributions

F.-L.H. is the sole author of this research article.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for carrying out research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the author.


Grund, A., 2004, ‘“Die Himmel erzählen die Herrlichkeit Gottes”. Ps 19 im Kontext der nachexilischen Toraweisheit’, Wissenschaftliche Monographien zum Alten und Neuen Testament, p. 103, Neukirchener, Neukirchen-Vluyn.

Hossfeld, F.-L. & Zenger, E., 2008, Die Psalmen 101-150, Echter, Würzburg.

Mathys, H.-P., 2009, ‘Israel und die Völker in der Achämenidenzeit: Bekanntes und weniger Bekanntes’, in H. Irsigler (ed.), Die Identität Israels. Entwicklungen und Kontoversen in alttestamentlicher Zeit, pp. 145–156, Herders Blische Studien, Freiburg.

Mosis, R., 2009, ‘Rat von Frevlern und Weisung des Herrn. Beobachtungen zu Ps 1,1–2’, TrTHZ 118(2009), 16–35.

Zenger, E., 2007, ‘“Er hat geboten in Ewigkeit seinen Bund”. Weisheitliche Bundestheologie in Ps 111’, in C. Dohmen & C. Frevel (eds), Für immer verbündet. Studien zur Bundestheologie der Bibel, Stuttgarter Bibel-Studien, Vol. 211, pp. 271–280, Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk, Stuttgart.


1. See E. Zenger on Psalm 119 in Hossfeld and Zenger (2008:352) and Zenger (2007:271–280, here 277).

2. Throughout the article, the quoted Biblical verses are taken from the Bible translation known as the English Standard Version.

3. On textual criticism, see Hossfeld and Zenger (2008:791f.).

4. See Hossfeld and Zenger (2008:868f.).

5. Hossfeld and Zenger (2008:352). However, the Way-motifs are indeed represented more frequently if one takes into account the constructional combinations like: ‘way of your precepts’, ‘way of faithfulness’, ‘way of your commandments’, for example, in the Daleth-verse (vv. 27, 30 and 32) or in the He-verse, ‘way of your statutes’, ‘path of your commandments’ in Verses 33 and 35. Likewise, the antonym combinations, for example, ‘evil path’ or ‘false path’ in Verses 101, 104 and 128 are to be considered, in which the lawless or rather unlawful behaviour of humans is being depicted. Consequently, the Way-motifs force themselves upon the supplicant when he describes his law-abiding way of life, as in Verse 157, ‘I have not swerved from your testimonies’, or in Verse 168, ‘I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you’, or when he finally, in Verse 176, addresses the subject of the error of his ways, ‘I have gone astray like a lost sheep’.

6. The author of Deuteronomy 4:6 embarked on a search of Israel’s special place in the immense ethnic empire of the Achaemenids, and, while doing so, found the Torah – and thereby reinvented it: as the positive distinguishing characteristic to all nations … With this, the testimony of the incomparability (uniqueness) of Israel attains timeless validity. No Joseph or Solomon is needed any longer to gain recognition amongst the nations: ‘The Torah secures this’ (Mathys 2009:145–156, here, 154), (HBS 56).

7. See in this respect, Hossfeld and Zenger (2008:24f.).

8. See in this regard the overview in Hossfeld and Zenger (2008:808f.).

9. Hossfeld and Zenger (2008:388f.); see also in the Introduction, p. 21.

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