Moderated Forums => Faith Issues => Topic started by: rakovsky on September 13, 2010, 10:26:06 AM

Title: Should Psalm 22 be played on the "Morning Star" or to the "Doe of the Morning?"
Post by: rakovsky on September 13, 2010, 10:26:06 AM
The Ayeleth Hashachar

Some Christians find a prefigurement of Christ in Psalm 22's instruction to play the Psalm on "the morning star," or the alternate meaning, "the doe of the morning."

Which does Psalm 22:1 mean?

Psalm 22:1 reads: "For the conductor, on the ayeleth hashachar, a song of David."

Literally, "ayeleth hashachar" can mean both "the star of the morning" and "the doe/gazelle of the morning."

Both Christian and Judaic scholars disagree among themselves which meaning the Psalms' phrase refers to. Generally they say that it could be an instrument called the "Star of the Morning" or a melody called "the doe of the morning."

But why can't it be a melody called the "Star of the Morning" or an instrument called "the doe of the morning"? How do they know there was an instrument called the "Star of the Morning"? Maybe they are just assuming that "the doe of the morning" could have been a melody.

The Doe of the Morning?

In favor of the view that Psalm 22 is to be played on the "doe of the morning" is that the Psalms speak of gazelles/does several times:

"Like a (male) gazelle as she moans for streams of water, so my soul moans for You, God" {Psalm 42:2}.

"The voice of YHVH makes the gazelles give birth; it uncovers honeycombs; and in his palace all says 'Glory'" {Psalm 29:9. The Hebrew is obscure; some translations, instead of "makes the gazelles give birth", have "makes the oaks whirl" (NRSV); instead of "uncovers honeycombs": "strips forests bare", or "brings ewes to early birth" (NRSV, JPS).}

"[God] has made my feet like gazelles and made me stand on my high places" {II Samuel 22:34 and Psalm 19:34}

Furthermore, the Old Testament talks about does several times:
A beloved gazelle, a graceful mountain-goat; let her breasts satisfy you at all times, be infatuated with love of her always {Proverbs 5:19}

I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, by ts'va'ot or by the gazelles of the field, lest you wake up or arouse love before its pleases {Song of Songs 2:7}

"Do you guard the birthing of gazelles?" {Job 39:1}

Perhaps there are other places that talk about does/gazelles.

Rashi cites one rabbinical interpretation:
Another explanation: Concerning the nation of Israel, which is a beloved hind (אילת אהבים), who looks forth like the dawn (שחר) (Song 6:10).

The Puritan John Calvin derides the Church Fathers for finding in the "doe of the morning" a prefigurement of Christ:

As it is evident, from the testimony of the apostles, that this psalm is a prophecy concerning Christ, the ancient interpreters thought that Christ would not be sufficiently dignified and honored unless, putting a mystical or allegorical sense upon the word hind, they viewed it as pointing out the various things which are included in a sacrifice. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom08.xxviii.html

Solomon was David's son, and wrote in the Song of Songs:

7 I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.
 8 The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.

9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.

 10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

17 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe [female deer] or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.

There is a connection between does and dawn here. This seems very similar to the resurrection theme of Psalm 22.

The Strength of the Morning?

Rabbi Rashi and John Calvin described the views of the tenth century poet Menahem ben Saruq that Psalm 22 was to be played on "the strength of the morning." I assume Menahem had in mind a figure of speech that it should be played at that time, or on an instrument by that name, or to a melody by that name.

Calvin's commentary:
Those who render it strength derive the word from איל, eyl, strength, and observe, that the cognate word in verse 20, אילותי, eyaluthi, is rendered by the Septuagint פחם גןחטויבם לןץ, my aid or strength. By the strength of the morning they understand the dawning of the day. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom08.xxviii.html

Rashi's commentary:
Menachem (p. 22) interprets אילת as an expression of strength, as (verse 20): “My strength (אילותי), hasten to my assistance.” השחר is an expression of dawn, but Menachem (p. 172) interprets it as an expression of seeking, as (in Prov. 11: 27): “He who desires (שֹׁחֵר) good etc.” and as (ibid. 7:15) “to look (לשחר) for you.”
Title: Re: Should Psalm 22 be played on the "Morning Star" or to the "Doe of the Morning?"
Post by: rakovsky on September 13, 2010, 11:23:54 AM
Christ as the Star of the Morning

From Numbers 24, we know that the "star out of Jacob" is Christ. But can we find in the Old Testament that the "morning star" is Christ?

In Job:3, Job curses the day of his birth:
May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn,

In Job 38:4, God answers Job, saying along the way that the morning stars existed before creation.
Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone - while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

This can be understood to mean that the morning stars are entities, distinct from the angels, that existed before the world. That could include the Messiah.

Isaiah 14 applies a parable about Lucifer, sometimes translated as light-bringer or morning star, to the King of Babylon:

4That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!

 5The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.

 6He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.

 7The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.

 8Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.

 9Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.

 10All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?

 11Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.

12How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

 13For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

 15Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

 16They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;

 17That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

 18All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.

 19But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.

 20Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned.

From A.D. 231, in Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book I, chapter 13: "But the angels also wonder at the peace which is to be brought about on account of Jesus on the earth, that seat of war, on which Lucifer, star of the morning, fell from heaven, to be warred against and destroyed by Jesus."

I guess where I am going with this is that while Christ might rightly be compared to a morning star, and the New Testament does say this, the connection in the Old Testament seems rather weak for David to have understood the Messiah as a "morning star" and then chosen an alleged "morning star" instrument to represent the Messiah.

We would have to say that the Bible portrays, either literally or allegorically, that:
1. before the earth was created there were "morning star" beings distinct from the angels, based on Job.
2. the Messiah would be a star, based on Numbers 24
3. therefore the Messiah must be one of these allegorical beings.
4. therefore David must have had the Messiah, as opposed to other morning stars, in mind when he said to play Psalm 22 on a "morning star."

One problem is that Job might have meant the morning stars literally as beings, but Numbers only meant them allegorically, or vice verse. Another problem- why couldn't in purely logical terms the Messiah have been another kind of star besides a morning star?

I see the logic in connecting the Old Testament words about the Messiah to a morning star in the Old Testament, but it seems like a weak connection.

The Ayeleth Hashachar: a Musical Instrument

Favoring the theologians' proposal that Psalm 22:1 refers to an instrument called the Star of the Morning are the Psalms' frequent use of the opening phrase "on the __________" to apparently refer to an instrument.

Psalm 5:1: "To the conductor, on nehiloth, a song of David."
The 12th century Rabbi Rashi comments:
on nehiloth: Menachem interpreted all of them: nehiloth, alamoth, gittith, jeduthun, that they are all names of musical instruments, and the melody of the psalm was according to the melody fit for that instrument.

Psalm 8:1 : To the conductor, on the gittith, a song of David. 
Psalm 81:1 : For the conductor, on the gittith, of Asaph.
(These are two different verses.) Rashi comments: the gittith: A musical instrument that came from Gath   

Psalm 39:1. For the conductor, to Jeduthun, a song of David.
Rashi writes: to Jeduthun: The name of one of the singers, and there was also a musical instrument called Jeduthun.

But maybe the Rabbis were just assuming that there were musical instruments by those names?

The lyrics of at least two of the Psalms begin by singing with instructions to sing with musical accompaniment.

Psalm 33:2. Give thanks to the Lord with a harp; with a lyre of ten melodies make music to Him

Psalm 108: 3. Awaken, you psaltery and harp; I shall awaken the dawn.

Further, in at least two instances, it's clear that the Psalms do use the phrase "on the ____" to refer to musical instruments, because they are described elsewhere in the Old Testament as instruments.


Psalm 6:1 To the conductor with melodies on the sheminith, a song of David.
Rashi: on the sheminith: A harp of eight strings, known as sheminith, and so we find (in I Chron. 15:21): “So-and-so and his sons on the sheminith to conduct.”

Psalm 12:1 For the conductor on the sheminith, a song of David.
Rashi: on the sheminith: The eight stringed harp.

Psalm 46:1 For the conductor, a song of the sons of Korah, on alamoth.
Rashi: on alamoth: The name of a musical instrument in Chronicles (I Chron. 15:20).

Rashi comments on Psalm 22:1 that the Ayeleth Hashachar/Morning Star/Doe of the Morning is a musical instrument. But how does he know? Maybe he is just assuming that some Psalms begin with musical instruments, so the Ayeleth Hashachar must be one too.

The problem with making such an assumption is that often Psalms start with phrases like "on the roses" and "on the lilies." Instead of calling these musical instruments, Rashi says that these are just words with a poetic meaning.

So maybe a Psalm's opening phrase "on the ________," is not enough to mean a musical instrument, and scholars shouldn't just assume it.

But maybe the rabbis knew from someplace else that the Ayeleth Hashachar referred to a musical instrument?

Since the phrase "on the _____" certainly refers to musical instruments in at least two instances, and David sings to sing Psalms on musical stringed instruments in two instances, but I don't know if the phrase "on the _____" ever refers to a melody in the Psalms, the "Ayeleth Hashachar" most likely refers to a musical instrument.

On a sidenote: Were harps used in Judaic Temple services before the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD?
Synagogues and Orthodox churches generally don't use them, even when singing the Psalms.

We still have the question: How do we know that the Star of the Morning was an instrument, but that the Doe fo the Morning was a melody?

The Song of Solomon, David's son, has a song with a night-morning/winter-spring theme where a doe is behind lattice and her lover looks in and gets her to leave. Lattice on a window is like prison bars, so we could propose that the "Doe of the Morning" is a song with a resurrection theme.

But how do we know that the "Doe of the Morning" is not be the name for a musical instrument?

Therefore, Psalm 22:1 says to use an instrument, and scholars have asserted that there was an instrument called the star of the morning. But does "doe of the morning" being the name for a song mean that it cannot be the name of an instrument too?
Title: Re: Should Psalm 22 be played on the "Morning Star" or to the "Doe of the Morning?"
Post by: rakovsky on September 13, 2010, 12:36:16 PM
The Star of the Morning

The Psalms use the word "star" in at least four places:

Psalm 8:3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

Psalm 136:9 The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 147:4 He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.

Psalm 148:3 Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.

David might even be naming the morning star in Psalm 110.

The King James Version of the Judaic Masoretic scribes' transcript of the Old Testament says:

1The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

 2The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.

 3Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.

 4The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

The Greek Septuagint transcript of Psalm 110, says:
“With you [is] the power in [the] day of your might, in the splendors of the holy ones [or, holy things]; from the womb, before the morning star, I begot you.”

Unlike other Christian translations, the Douay-Rheims Bible says:
With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength: in the brightness of the saints: from the womb before the day star I begot thee.

One problem with using the Septuagint version of Psalm 110 is that Christ explained that here, David said God told Christ that His enemies would be His footstool. The Psalm continues to record God's words to Him who God is addressing, and in Psalm 110:3 the Septuagint says God describes the person He is addressing as born "before the morning star."

This would make Christ different from the Morning Star, But Christ called Himself the morning star. On the other hand, maybe Psalm 110 means that Christ was born before the physical morning star in the sky, Venus.

By the way, one claimed objection to calling Christ the morning star is that Isaiah 14 might be calling Babylon's king the day star or the morning star. But Job 3, 38 say that there is more than one morning star, and likewise, Ezekiel 34 and Zechariah 11 distinguish shepherds from "The Shepherd".

Anyway, we don't know whether the Masoretic or the Septuagint(which seems to distinguish Christ from the morning star) is the correct translation, and scholars generally prefer the Masoretic.

So while the Psalms mention does/gazelles two or three times, they mention stars three or four times. And in one instance, the Psalms might mention "the morning star."

The Judaic oral tradition

The Rabbi Rashi comments that ayeleth hashachar has two words. One means dawn, and the other means doe/gazelle or star. He also points to an old Judaic oral tradition that it referred to Esther:

ayeleth hashachar: The name of a musical instrument. Our Sages, however, interpreted it as referring to Esther (Mid. Ps. 22:1, Meg. 15b)... השחר is an expression of dawn,

The Targum, or Rabbinical interpretation of the Old Testament explains why:
The Targum connects the name with the Persian word for "star", ستاره setareh, explaining that Esther was so named for being as beautiful as the Morning Star. In the Talmud (Tractate Yoma 29a), Esther is compared to the "morning star", and is considered the subject of Psalm 22 because its introduction is a "song for the morning star." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther

One Judaic scholar asserts the rabbinical viewpoint of the Babylonian Talmud (5th century AD, I think):

Psalm 22 is dedicated to Ayelet HaShachar, the morning star, which is the meaning of the Persian word "Esther." She was compared to the morning star because when it is first seen at dawn, it appears gradually. First it is a slender ray, growing bigger and brighter until it is seen in all its radiance. So too, the redemption of Israel in the days of Esther and Mordechai started with a small beginning...  http://www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/38454/

This is important because it means that the old rabbinical tradition was that the Ayelet HaShachar meant the "morning star."

Christ called himself the morning star. But do the church fathers say that the words "Ayelet HaShachar" in Psalm 22:1 mean "morning star"?
Title: Re: Should Psalm 22 be played on the "Morning Star" or to the "Doe of the Morning?"
Post by: rakovsky on September 13, 2010, 01:01:22 PM
The Challenge of Connecting the Ayelet HaShachar to the Old Testament Messiah

To show that David had in mind the Messiah when he spoke of the Ayelet HaShachar, we must show:

1. People in Old Testament times understood the Messiah to be a morning star.

Job 3 & 38 refer to "morning stars" as beings that existed before the world was made, and as stars that come before people's births.
Numbers 24 refers to the Messiah as "the star out of Jacob."
Does this mean that the Star out of Jacob would be one of the morning stars?

2. The term "Ayelet HaShachar" referred to a musical instrument or melody called "the Morning Star"

The phrase "on the Ayelet HaShachar" probably refers to a musical instrument.
What is the basis for scholars' assertion that the musical instrument was named with a/the "morning star" in mind?

What does the Ayelet HaShachar mean in Psalm 22:1?

The Star of the Morning

The Doe of the Morning

The Strength of the Dawn

Title: Re: Should Psalm 22 be played on the "Morning Star" or to the "Doe of the Morning?"
Post by: Romaios on September 06, 2013, 04:19:13 PM
There is this mystical poem called Ayelet chen (http://www.imninalu.net/50GatesOfWisdom.htm) ("Graceful Gazelle") by the famous Yemenite Rabbi Shalom Shabbazi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shalom_Shabazi). Ofrah Haza used to sing it.

Oh, Star of the Morning/Graceful Gazelle
In exile, You will be my guiding light,
And at night,
Holding me close to Your bosom,
You bid me drink of Your wine.
Mingling nectars,
Drink, dear grooms! Pleasure in your drunkenness
And rouse your senses,
In the palace of the honourable Daughter of Angels.
The table is always set for the many.
Cruel fate separated friends and lovers,
But my Beloved draws me by Her love.
Uniting beauty and grace,
Shall I be remembered.
Although foreboding clouds may line the sky,
My love will fill my desire,
When passing through the fifty fixed gates of wisdom,
Discerning Leah will push me onward
And with the love of Rachel for her sons,
I will not sway.
By Your sovereign secrets
I will reach the tenth sphere;
Oh Almighty,
Hurry with the salvation
For Your nation
Wrapped in the tranquility of inner peace,
Our throats are raw
For we the Children of Yakov,
The Treasures of Avraham.

Translation (http://www.imninalu.net/YemeniteSongs.htm)

Transliteration (http://hebrewsongs.com/?song=ayeletchen)

Title: Re: Should Psalm 22 be played on the "Morning Star" or to the "Doe of the Morning?"
Post by: rakovsky on September 06, 2013, 10:44:29 PM
That's very pretty.
Title: Re: Should Psalm 22 be played on the "Morning Star" or to the "Doe of the Morning?"
Post by: WPM on September 07, 2013, 01:40:54 AM
The symbol of Christ's victory?...
Title: Re: Should Psalm 22 be played on the "Morning Star" or to the "Doe of the Morning?"
Post by: Mockingbird on September 07, 2013, 02:20:14 PM
On a sidenote: Were harps used in Judaic Temple services before the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD?
Synagogues and Orthodox churches generally don't use them, even when singing the Psalms.
Lyres were used in the Herodian temple, according to Josephus. 

All the words translated "harp" or "lyre" in English versions of the Hebrew scriptures were possibly lyres according to modern terminology, though the possibility that some might refer to the bow-shaped Egyptian harp can't be ruled out.  The three-sided European pillar harp did not exist in antiquity, so pictures showing king David with such a harp are of course anachronistic.