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date: 15 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

On the basis of the Hebrew title sēper tĕhillîm, the Psalter is considered a “Book of Praises.” In reality, however, the Psalter is comprised of more complaint than praise. Some scholars suggest that the compilers of the Psalms were sages and scribes with an attachment to the wisdom and legal tradition in post-exilic Israel. They claim that the Psalter was originally a reflective prayer book, rather than a hymnal of public praise and lament, while others insist that the compilers intended the Psalms as prophecies. The most common type of psalm is mizmôr, which in Greek means psalmos—a song to music—and implies that even personal psalms were used in Temple liturgy. Examples of singing and music within the psalms may well suggest the work of Levitical singers. This article explores the role of the Levites in the editorial composition of the Psalms. It looks at evidence for the significance of “singing Levites,” citing Philo’s reference to the role of the Levitical singers in psalmody.

Keywords: Psalter, compilers, Psalms, mizmôr, music, liturgy, singing, Levitical singers, Levites, Philo

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