Hebrew In Israel | Peace of Jerusalem – Learn Torah

peace of jerusalem, pray for the peace of jerusalem, psalm 122,

Hebrew In Israel | Peace of Jerusalem – Learn Torah

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One of the most common verses on FB is the following from Psalms 122:6:

שאלו שלום ירושלם, ישליו אהביך
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, those who love you shall be at peace”
Like many of the discussions I have about verses, there are several questions about the correct translation of individual words.  Besides the questionable translations I see for the second part of the verse, we also have a case of contextual translation in the first word of the verse.

The word שאלו is an imperative verb from the root שאל with a pronominal suffix for the 3rd person plural.  The root usually means “to request, ask”, but in truth should be translated as “pray” as the translations do.  The reason for this is the context.  The psalmist is not just saying “ask for Jerusalem’s peace”, rather his intent is to say “ask of God for peace” which is clearly prayer.

Secondary meaning of words is not an unusual thing in Hebrew, and interpretation needs to take into consideration the context of the speaker.  Because this is a psalm, and most psalms are prayers, it seems reasonable to say that the root is being employed as “pray” instead of the usual “request”.

The second half is a very short statement which has a lot being said.  This is one of the unique features of Hebrew where a verb can contain a full sentence.  The first word is the word שלו which is close to the word שלום- Shalom, Peace.  It is possible that these are brother roots which differ only on one consonant, but one must be careful when saying this.  Only when roots share a meaning can this claim be made.  The verb is an imperfect form being used as 3rd person wish (Jussive), hoping that those who love Jerusalem will be at peace.

The word אהביך is the word Love.  However, the word love in Hebrew folds in it also the idea of loyalty and not just the emotion.  The word אהב is implied in ANE text to indicate the loyalty of covenant holders to their king, or to one another.  Hebrew, being a verb-first language, places the verb in the beginning of the second sentence, making the direct translation into English require the reversal of words.  The psalmist is saying that as a result of the prayer of peace for Jerusalem, those who pray are its loyal ones who, in return, shall see peace themselves.
Originally Published:  5 June 2016

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