A song of ascents. 2
129:1 “Since my youth they have often attacked me,”
let Israel say.
129:2 “Since my youth they have often attacked me,
but they have not defeated me.
129:3 The plowers plowed my back;
they made their furrows long.
129:4 The Lord is just;
he cut the ropes of the wicked.” 3
129:5 May all who hate Zion
be humiliated and turned back!
129:6 May they be like the grass on the rooftops
which withers before one can even pull it up, 4
129:7 which cannot fill the reaper’s hand,
or the lap of the one who gathers the grain!
“May you experience the Lord’s blessing!
We pronounce a blessing on you in the name of the Lord.”
[129:1] 2 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.
[129:4] 3 tn The background of the metaphor is not entirely clear. Perhaps the “ropes” are those used to harness the ox for plowing (see Job 39:10). Verse 3 pictures the wicked plowing God’s people as if they were a field. But when God “cut the ropes” of their ox, as it were, they could no longer plow. The point of the metaphor seems to be that God took away the enemies’ ability to oppress his people. See L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 187.
[129:6] 4 tn The Hebrew verb שָׁלַף (shalaf) normally means “to draw [a sword]” or “to pull.” BDB 1025 s.v. suggests the meaning “to shoot up” here, but it is more likely that the verb here means “to pluck; to pull up,” a nuance attested for this word in later Hebrew and Aramaic (see Jastrow 1587 s.v. שָׁלַף).