Psalms of Solomon, Psalm 2 – Analysis

Psalm 2 – A Psalm, Pertaining to Salomon, Concerning Ierousalem

Psalm 2 is the verdict of the judicial reviewing of Psalm 1, in which the ‘sinner[1]’ ransacks Jerusalem and profanes the Holy of Holies. While the author(s) of the Psalms mention various parts of the Temple, but only the extreme cultic uses, they fail to mention the Temple as something vital to the Jewish life. The importance of the Temple that we find in Tobit and Revelation, as well as the Gospel accounts, cannot be found in this collection, and this Psalm explains why. In verses 1-2, we find that the Holy of Holies had been violated by Pompey. Josephus[2], and the later Roman Historian Tacitus[3], recounted that when Pompey had defeated Aristobolus and his supporters, he took with him several men and entered into room where only the High Priest could go. This Psalm is a direct result of watching the myth that no one but a pure High Priest could enter the קֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים without being slain by God[4], yet the Gentile sinner had done so, and nothing happened.

Verse 18 contains the phrase θαυμάσει πρόσωπον, which is also found in Deuteronomy 28.50 lxx. In Deuteronomy 28.45-57 speaks of a foreign nation, ‘like the swoop of an Eagle’ (Deut 28.49 NETS), which will descend upon Israel to take away her sovereignty for failure to obey God’s covenant. While this is the limit of written connection to Deuteronomy, the connection between disobedience and punishment from God by an outside force remain. By the end of the Psalm, Pompey has met his own defeat (through Caesar) learning Jerusalem to await a time in which God will remember her. This literature is neither prophetic, since the events have already happened, nor is it eschatological, because here, the community is still waiting on God Himself to end the punishment, and is only praying for understanding (2.33). Here, it is not the world system out of control which threatens God’s people, but God himself as a result of the failure to obey the Covenant.


[1] ‘Sinner’ may either mean the opposing faction (4.8; 13.6-12) or Gentile, which it does in this case. See James Dunn’s Echoes of Intra-Jewish Polemic in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2008 227-246, and Luke T. Johnson’s The New Testament’s Anti-Jewish Slander and the Conventions of Ancient Polemic, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 108, No. 3 (Autumn, 1989), pp. 419-441 Published by: The Society of Biblical Literature

[2] Josephus Ant. xiv 14.71-72

[3] The first Roman to subdue the Jews and set foot into their Temple by right of conquest was Gnaeus Pompey: thereafter it was a matter of common knowledge that there were no representations of the gods within, but that the place was empty and the secret shrine contained nothing” (Hist. 5.9)

[4] See Exodus 28.31-35; Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9.7

Post By Joel Watts (10,058 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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