The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 48


1 2 A psalm of the Korahites. A song.


Great is the LORD and highly praised in the city of our God: The holy mountain,


3 fairest of heights, the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, the heights of Zaphon, the city of the great king.


God is its citadel, renowned as a stronghold.


See! The kings assembled, together they invaded.


4 When they looked they were astounded; terrified, they were put to flight!


Trembling seized them there, anguish, like a woman's labor,


5 As when the east wind wrecks the ships of Tarshish!


6 What we had heard we now see in the city of the LORD of hosts, In the city of our God, founded to last forever. Selah


O God, within your temple we ponder your steadfast love.


Like your name, O God, your praise reaches the ends of the earth. Your right hand is fully victorious.


Mount Zion is glad! The cities of Judah rejoice because of your saving deeds!


Go about Zion, walk all around it, note the number of its towers.


Consider the ramparts, examine its citadels, that you may tell future generations:


7 "Yes, so mighty is God, our God who leads us always!"



1 [Psalm 48] A Zion hymn, praising the holy city as the invincible dwelling place of God. Unconquerable, it is an apt symbol of God who has defeated all enemies. After seven epithets describing the city ( Psalm 48:2-3), the psalm describes the victory by the Divine Warrior over hostile kings ( Psalm 48:4-8). The second half proclaims the dominion of the God of Zion over all the earth ( Psalm 48:9-12) and invites pilgrims to announce that God is eternally invincible like Zion itself (13-14).

2 [1] Korahites: Psalm 48: see note on Psalm 42:1.

3 [3] The heights of Zaphon: the mountain abode of the Canaanite storm-god Baal in comparable texts. To speak of Zion as if it were Zaphon was to claim for Israel's God what Canaanites claimed for Baal. Though topographically speaking Zion is only a hill, viewed religiously it towers over other mountains as the home of the supreme God (cf Psalm 68:16-17).

4 [6] When they looked: the kings are stunned by the sight of Zion, touched by divine splendor. The language is that of holy war, in which the enemy panics and flees at the sight of divine glory.

5 [8] The ships of Tarshish: large ships, named after the distant land or port of Tarshish, probably ancient Tartessus in southern Spain, although other identifications have been proposed. Cf Isaiah 2:16; 60:9; Jonah 1:3.

6 [9] What we had heard we now see: the glorious things that new pilgrims had heard about the holy city - its beauty and awesomeness - - they now see with their own eyes. The seeing here contrasts with the seeing of the hostile kings in Psalm 48:6.

7 [15] So mighty is God: Israel's God is like Zion in being eternal and invincible. The holy city is therefore a kind of "sacrament" of God.

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