Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Psalm 122

“I rejoiced
when they said unto me,
‘We are going to the House of the Lord.’

Our feet stood inside your gates, O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem built up, a city knit together,
to which the tribes would make pilgrimage,
the tribes of the Lord,
-- as was enjoined upon Israel –
to praise the name of the Lord.

There the thrones of judgment stood,
thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the well-being of Jerusalem;
‘May those who love you be at peace.
May there be well-being within your ramparts,
peace in your citadels.’

For the sake of my kin and friends,
I pray for your well-being;
for the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I seek your good.”

- Psalm 122

(photo from

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The celestial yeshiva

"Behold, my brethren, do ye suppose that such an one [a wicked soul] can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white?" Alma 5:24.

There is often so much more to scripture than the casual reader ever catches. The late LDS scholar Hugh Nibley cited this verse in Approaching Zion, p. 585, noting that "sitting down" is literally the meaning in English of the famous Hebrew yeshiva. A gathering together of holy men to contemplate and discuss the sacred word.

What Alma speaks of in this passage might be termed the celestial yeshiva. I wonder if, trained up at the feet of his father Alma the Elder, with stories of the latter's early life in the court of the loathsome King Noah, he thought as he wrote these words of Noah's counterfeit yeshiva. The priests of Noah "spent the greater part of their days studying and teaching iniquity" but convinced themselves somehow that they were great scholars of the Mosaic law. Even dared to think of themselves as fulfillment of the Isaiahic prophecy, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that publisheth peace."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Scripture study: Psalms 120: 5-7

Psalms 120:5-7:
"Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech
that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!
My soul hath long dwelt
with him that hateth peace.
I am for peace: but when I speak
they are for war."

Psalms 120 is the first so-called "Song of Degrees." I like the suggestion by one Bible scholar that the fifteen psalms thusly designated may have been chanted by the Jewish priests as the pilgrims ascended the fifteen steps to the temple, one psalm per step.

Christian scholar Stephen Kaung suggests that the Songs of Degrees also lay out the believer's journey of conversion.

In Psalms 120, the soul who is becoming spiritually reborn, becomes disturbed as he surveys his sinful environment. Old ways and sometimes even old friends, no longer appeal.

Mesech, believed to have been in Anatolia (cf. also Herodotus III:94, Moschi or Tibarenes), and Kedar, a people in Arabia descended from Ishmael,(Gen 25:13,) were proverbial as places beyond civilization; barbarous and savage.