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Holman Bible Dictionary

Degrees, Song of

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The KJV phrase used in the titles of 15 Psalms (Psalm 120-134 ). Modern speech translations render the phrase, “Song of Ascents”. Though the origin of the phrase is obscure, the generally accepted view is that the Hebrew term ma aloth (goings up) is a reference to pilgrims' going up to Jerusalem for the 3 required festivals. ( Psalm 42:4 ; Psalm 122:4 ). Jerusalem was surrounded by mountains (Psalm 121:1 ; Psalm 125:2 ; Psalm 133:3 ), thus such trips involved a literal going up. It is conjectured that these psalms were sung on such occassions (Isaiah 30:29 ; Psalm 132:7 ). Others have suggested that “ascents” is a reference to the rising melody of the psalms, the step-like poetic form of some of the psalms, or to the steps upon which the Levites performed music in the Temple. Jewish tradition relates the title to the fifteen steps leading from the court of the women to the court of Israel in the Temple.

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Degrees, Song of'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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