Psalm 133

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2006-04-17 11:43.

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This “song of ascents” is attributed to David and may have been sung by those going up to the Jerusalem for worship.

The Israelites were “brothers” or members of the same family. They shared a common descent from Jacob. More importantly, by reason of the covenant concluded with their ancestors at Mount Sinai after having been liberated from Egyptian enslavement, YHWH was their Father. (Isaiah 44:2; 63:16; 64:8) This covenant also made it possible for other peoples to become part of the unique family of brothers, the only nation on the face of the earth whose God was YHWH. (Exodus 12:48, 49; Deuteronomy 23:7, 8; compare Ruth 1:16, 17.) It was indeed “good” and “pleasant” for this family of brothers to live in harmony, getting along well with one another. The opening word “look” focuses attention on just how highly desirable and delightful this would be.

Unlike the odious stench of hatreds, hostilities, fights, quarrels, and feuds that stem from disunity, concord, harmony or unity are like the pleasant aroma of the finest perfumed oil. Unity is compared to the anointing oil (consisting of olive oil and a blend of the finest aromatic substances) that was poured on the head of Aaron, Israel’s first high priest. (Exodus 30:22-30) This oil ran down the beard to the collar of the garment, which the long beard (anciently regarded as a sign of dignity) touched. Its pleasant aroma would linger. The perfumed oil also proved to be refreshing.

When coming to Jerusalem for the three annual festivals, members of all the tribes of Israel had the opportunity to be together in close proximity, reminding them that they were indeed one family of brothers. Like the anointing oil that descended from the top of Aaron’s head, their being together would have had a wholesome permeating effect, counteracting tendencies toward tribal jealousy, prejudice, and misunderstanding.

In its desirable effect on everyone, the enjoyment of harmony would also be like the refreshing dew of Hermon. During clear nights, the surface temperature of the heights and slopes of Hermon, a mountain with an elevation in excess of 9,200 feet above sea level, would be cooler than moisture in the air, accounting for the formation of copious dew. The psalmist referred to the dew of Hermon as descending upon the more distant and lower elevation of the mountains of Zion, the heights surrounding the city and those on which it was built. During the hot, dry months, the dew preserved the growing crops. Therefore, the comparison of living in concord with the dew of Hermon suggests a desirable, delightful, and refreshing effect or influence, one that spreads as if from a higher to a lower elevation.

As YHWH’s representative place of dwelling, the location of his sanctuary, Zion was the place where he commanded or decreed his blessing to be, indicating that it would emanate from him to the people as a whole. The “life” or well-being of the nation depended on YHWH. Therefore, the psalmist could speak of “life” as being from Zion (YHWH’s representative residence) for all time to come.


The psalmist would not have known just how dew formed and expressed himself according to what he could observe. He would see dew on the surfaces of plants, leaves, grasses and various objects, and so he perceived the dew as coming from the heights. Therefore, any attempt (in modern-day terms) to link dew in the hill country of Jerusalem with Hermon is wholly unnecessary.

Although the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text read “mountains of Zion,” the largest of the Dead Sea Psalms scrolls uses the singular “mountain.”

One of the Dead Sea Psalms scrolls omits the reference to “life,” indicating only that the blessing would be on Zion into the indefinite future.

Two Dead Sea Psalms scrolls conclude with the words, “peace upon Israel.”

See Psalm 1 regarding the divine name (YHWH).