New English Translation
A song of ascents;[b] by David.
133 Look! How good and how pleasant it is
when brothers truly live in unity.[c]
2 It is like fine oil poured on the head,
which flows down the beard[d]—
and then flows down his garments.[e]
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,[f]
which flows down upon the hills of Zion.[g]
Indeed,[h] that is where the Lord has decreed
a blessing will be available—eternal life.[i]
- Psalm 133:1 sn Psalm 133. The psalmist affirms the benefits of family unity.
- Psalm 133:1 sn The precise significance of this title, which appears in Pss 120-134, is unclear. Perhaps worshipers recited these psalms when they ascended the road to Jerusalem to celebrate annual religious festivals. For a discussion of their background see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 219-21.
- Psalm 133:1 sn This statement refers to the extended family structure of ancient Israel, where brothers would often live in proximity to one another (Deut 25:5), giving the family greater social prominence and security. However, in its later application in the nation of Israel it probably envisions unity within the covenant community. See L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 212-15.
- Psalm 133:2 tn Heb “[it is] like the good oil on the head, going down on the beard.”
- Psalm 133:2 tn Heb “which goes down in accordance with his measured things.” The Hebrew phrase מִדּוֹתָיו (middotayv, “his measured things”) refers here to the robes worn by Aaron. HALOT 546 s.v. *מַד derives the term from מַד (mad, “robe”) rather than מִדָּה (middah, “measured thing”). Ugaritic md means “robe” and is pluralized mdt.
- Psalm 133:3 sn Hermon refers to Mount Hermon, located north of Israel.
- Psalm 133:3 sn The hills of Zion are those surrounding Zion (see Pss 87:1; 125:2). The psalmist does not intend to suggest that the dew from Mt. Hermon in the distant north actually flows down upon Zion. His point is that the same kind of heavy dew that replenishes Hermon may also be seen on Zion’s hills. See A. Cohen, Psalms (SoBB), 439. “Dew” here symbolizes divine blessing, as the next line suggests.
- Psalm 133:3 tn Or “for.”
- Psalm 133:3 tn Heb “there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forever.”