Searching for a Woman’s Voice in Psalms

Marc Zvi Brettler has published an interesting article in Biblical Archaeology Review dealing with a woman’s voice in the Psalms. His article is a study of Psalm 113. The following is the introduction to his article:

Feminist study often calls attention to what is absent, such as a female voice or point-of-view in a particular text. I am using this approach, among others, as I study the Book of Psalms. Upon first, second and even third reading, no psalm from Psalms was obviously recited by a woman. In contrast, tens of psalms deal with “male issues,” such as victory in war. Moreover, the Hebrew grammar does not suggest that any psalm was recited by or on behalf of a woman. Many that look gender-neutral in translation are not so in Hebrew; the Jewish Publication Society translation of the beginning of Psalm 1:1, “Happy is the man who has not followed the counsel of the wicked,” is more accurate than the New Revised Standard Version’s “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked.” The Hebrew word ’ish is masculine singular “man.”

His conclusion:

“The psalm’s conclusion suggest that Psalm 113 is a thanksgiving psalm recited by a woman who had finally given birth. Psalm 113 is the exception that proves the rule that the Psalter is male-oriented.”

To read the article in its entirety, visit the Biblical Archaeology Review online [Note: unfortunately the link is no longer available].

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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