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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Degrees, Songs of

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Fifteen: Psalm 120-134: four by David, one by Solomon, ten anonymous. Pilgrim songs: shir hama'alot , "a song for the ascendings," i.e. for the going up (Jerusalem and its temple being regarded as on a moral elevation above other places, as it was in fact on the most elevated tableland of the country, requiring a going up from all sides) to the three great feasts (Exodus 34:24; 1 Kings 12:27-28); Psalms 122:1; Psalms 122:4, which is the oldest, being composed by David to supply the northern Israelites with a pilgrim song in their journeys to Zion, where Asaph had warned them to repair now that the ark was transferred from Shiloh there (Psalms 78:67-69). Solomon wrote Psalm 127, round which as a center a third poet, on the return from Babylon, grouped, with David's four psalms, ten others, seven on one side and seven on the other.

The simple style, brevity, and transitions formed by retaining a word from the previous verse (e.g. Psalms 121:1-2, "from whence cometh my help; my help cometh," etc.), are suitable to pilgrim-song poetry. They all have a general, not an individual, character, referring to the literal and the spiritual Israel, whom God's providence always and in all places guards (Psalm 121; Psalm 124; Psalms 125:5; Psalms 128:6; Psalms 130:8; Psalms 131:3). The posture of affairs contemplated in most of these psalms is that after the Babylonian captivity, when the building of the temple was interrupted by the Samaritans. The sanctuary in Psalms 134:2 is the altar erected at the return, 536 B.C., for the daily sacrifice (Ezra 3:2-4; Ezra 3:8). The temple was completed under Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest, with the help of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra 5:1-2; Ezra 6:14).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Degrees, Songs of'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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