Multiply each letter of the Hebrew alphabet (22) by 8 and you have Psalm 119, the longest of the Psalms and the longest chapter of Hebrew Scripture. Acrostics are used to facilitate memorizing and to convey completeness. The 176 verses of Psalm 119 largely focus on how God’s teachings enhance a life of goodness and closeness to God. There are ten synonyms used for those teachings in this ode to Divine study and faithful practice.
There is a Jewish custom to honor the memory of a loved one by chanting verses of Holy text that start with a letter that spells out the person’s name. Traditionally, this practice uses verses from Psalm 119, probably because with eight verses per letter there is ample choice. As an aside in that regard, the Hebrew letter “vav” rarely begins a root of a word (only three times in the Bible), but the letter is widely used to signify “and.” The poet manages the eight verses of “vav” by beginning each verse as an “and.”
Due to the length of the Psalm, please consider listening to the reading of my recording or reading my translation in advance: Click here to listen.
Please join me for a 45-minute teaching and then 15-minutes of conversation on Psalm 119.
We dedicate the study of Psalm 119 to Diedra Robinson, as it is her favorite Psalm