Monday, April 23, 2012

Sacred Writ & Kameot: Psalms.....Psalms.....Everywhere! - Part 4

As far as “amuletic uses” are concerned, not many Psalms are listed in this regard in the Sefer Shimmush Tehillim. As it is, this text paid very scant attention to Psalm 67, referring only to its magical uses for prisoners and the mitigation of unrelenting fevers, whereas this Psalm is extensively employed in Hebrew amulets. This beautiful Psalm reads:
(Verse 1) Lamnatze’ah binginot mizmor shir
(Verse 2 [1]) Elohim yechoneinu vivar’cheinu ya’eir panav itanu selah
(Verse 3 [2]) lada’at ba’aretz darkecha b’chol goyim y’shu’atecha
(Verse 4 [3]) yoducha amim Elohim yoducha amim kulam
(Verse 5 [4]) yishm’chu viran’nu l’umim ki tishpot amim mishpor ul’umim ba’aretz tanchem selah
(Verse 6 [5]) yoducha amim Elohim yoducha amim kulam
(Verse 7 [6]) eretz nat’na y’vulah y’var’cheinu Elohim eloheinu
(Verse 8 [7]) y’var’cheinu Elohim v’yir’u oto kol afsei aretz
(Verse 1) For the Leader; with string-music. A Psalm, a Song.
(Verse 2 [1]) God be gracious unto us, and bless us; may He cause His face to shine toward us; Selah
(Verse 3 [2]) That Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy salvation among all nations.
(Verse 4 [3]) Let the peoples give thanks unto Thee, O God; let the peoples give thanks unto Thee, all of them.
(Verse 5 [4]) O let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for Thou wilt judge the peoples with equity, and lead the nations upon earth. Selah
(Verse 6 [5]) Let the peoples give thanks unto Thee, O God; let the peoples give thanks unto Thee, all of them.
(Verse 7 [6]) The earth hath yielded her increase; may God, our own God, bless us.
(Verse 8 [7]) May God bless us; and let all the ends of the earth fear Him.
It has been suggested that this Psalm is based on the Priestly Blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 reading:
Y’varech’cha YHVH v’yishm’recha
Ya’eir YHVH panav eilecha vichuneka
Yisa YHVH panav eilecha v’yasem l’cha shalom
YHVH bless thee, and keep thee,
YHVH make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee,
YHVH lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
We are reminded that the “word” of the Almighty “often took the shape of light. So frequent was the writing of Psalm 67 in candelabrum design it was called the menorah psalm. Letters of the words shaped the branches of the light holders: ‘God bless us, be merciful to us, and cause the light of his face to shine upon us’” [Cosman, Madeline P. & Jones, Linda G.: Handbook to Life in the Medieval World, Vol. 2]. As it is, the 15th century kabbalist Isaac Arama maintained in his “Akedat Yitzchak” that this Psalm was engraved in the image of the Menorah (seven branched candlelabrum) on the shield of the biblical King David as shown below:
The superscript of the Menorah Psalm comprises the twenty letters of the introductory verse divided into six groups of three letters each, i.e. three to the right and three to the left, with the centre column headed by the two middle letters of the verse. In turn, the seven branches of the construct comprise the remaining seven verses, with verse 5 [4] forming both the central branch and the base of the menorah.
In terms of the conjecture that Psalm 67, rather than the standard hexagram, was the original “Magen David,” there is a statement in a tractate titled “The Golden Menorah,” published around 1580 in Prague, that “this psalm together with the menorah alludes to great things.....When King David went out to war, he used to carry on his shield this psalm in the form of a menorah engraved on a golden tablet and he used to meditate on its secret. Thus he was victorious” [Zion, Noam & Spectre, Barbara: A Different Light: The Big Book of Hanukkah]. It is thus no wonder that the psalm in question has been accredited enormous powers of healing and protection, and it is mainly in terms of the latter magical quality that Psalm 67 is employed in a variety of Hebrew amulets.
(More to follow)

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