An Analysis of Certain Terms in the Superscriptions of the Psalms

December 21, 2021

Of the 150 Psalms, 36 Psalms have 47 total occurrences of 18 different terms in their superscriptions:

Neginoth 4:1; 6:1; 54:1; 55:1; 67:1; 76:1 6
Nehiloth 5:1 1
Sheminith 6:1; 12:1 2
Shiggaion 7:1 1
Gittith 8:1; 81:1; 84:1 3
Muth-labben 9:1 1
Michtam 16:1; 56:1; 57:1; 58:1; 59:1; 60:1 6
Aijeleth Shahar 22:1 1
Maschil 32:1; 42:1; 44:1; 45:1; 52:1; 53:1; 54:1; 55:1; 74:1; 78:1; 88:1; 89:1; 142:1 13
Shoshannim 45:1; 69:1 2
Alamoth 46:1 1
Mahalath 53:1 1
Jonath-elem-rechokim 56:1 1
Al-taschith 57:1; 58:1; 59:1; 75:1 4
Shushan-eduth 60:1 1
Neginah 61:1 1
Shoshannim-Eduth 80:1 1
Mahalath Leannoth 88:1 1
47

Notes:

1. The terms are listed in the order that they first appear in the Psalms.

2. These terms occur in the following 36 Psalms: 4-9; 12; 16; 22; 32; 42; 44-46; 52-59; 60-61; 67; 69; 74-76; 78; 80-81; 84; 88-89; 142.

3. Book IV of the Psalms (90-106) does not have any occurrences of these terms.

4. Scripture itself does not provide the meanings of any of these terms in the Psalms themselves.

5. All but one of these terms (Shiggaion [7:1]) occur at least once in superscriptions that are directed to the Chief Musician, which indicates that the terms have some kind of musical significance. Occurrences of the terms that are not in a Psalm that is directed to the Chief Musician are noted in italics in the table.

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Copyright © 2011-2022 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.