Bible Psalms with Jerusalem Commentary
Da'at Mikra Psalms (3 vols.)
By Amos Hakham
Mosad Harav Kook, 2003, 1429 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - February 16, 2010
This is a first-class comprehensive scholarly work that can be read and enjoyed by non-scholars. It contains a forty page introduction that explains such things as the name Psalms, its place in the biblical canon, its division, headings, order of presentation, purpose, content, how it was used in antiquity, and the names of the people that appear in the book. It also explains the unique poetry of the psalms and its use in Jewish liturgy, and it offers many examples. Since people read psalms frequently, this is useful information; it reveals the psalms' meaning.
Each psalm is introduced with an introductory explanation, an extensive commentary and notes, and a summary conclusion. Thus, the first and twenty-third psalms, for example, which comprise only six short verses each, takes up four and five pages, respectively.
The translation is simple and to the point. The twenty-third psalm, for instance, is very similar in wording to the well-known translations, except that the English is more colloquial.
A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd. I lack for nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake.
Even when I walk in a valley of darkness, I do not fear evil, for you are with me.
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies
You have anointed my head with oil. My cup runs over.
Only goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in tranquility in the house of the Lord forever.
The commentary explains such things as other biblical places where God is compared to a shepherd, what is the significance of "still waters" for a shepherd and other people, does "soul" mean something other than "life," what does "His name's sake" imply and is it important, as well as every other phrase in the psalm. As a result, readers begin to realize that they did not understand what they thought they understood.