[Note: The following article is an excerpt from a commentary on Psalm 1 that I am preparing.]

Psalm 1:1. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

Blessed

The Hebrew word introducing this Psalm is אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי asherey “blessed” which is the same word that the name Asher אָשֵֽׁר is derived from. “And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.” (Genesis 30:13) Here “happy,” “blessed,” and the name Asher all derive from the same root to function as a wordplay. Asher is also the root for the name Ashera אֲשֵׁרָה “a Canaanite goddess of fortune & happiness”,1)Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Claredon Press: Oxford, 1980, p. 81 which is translated as “grove” (2 Kings 17:16). According to the Ugaritic text from Ras Shamra, she was the mother of Baal,2)Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke) Moody Press (Chicago, IL 1980), Vol. 1, p. 81  “represented by a carved wooden image implanted into the ground, usually adjacent to an altar dedicated to the god Baal and located on a hilltop under a leafy tree (patai).”3)Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke) Moody Press (Chicago, IL 1980), Vol. 1, p. 81 The idolatrous worship of prosperity is why the reforms of king Asa (1 Kings 15:13) and Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4) could not abolish this cult from their kingdoms. This cult remains as a plague to Christians in the form of the Word-Faith Prosperity Gospel heresy.4)see Heath Henning, “The Word of Faith Heresy,” Sept. 29, 2018; http://truthwatchers.com/the-word-of-faith-heresy/ Ashera is related to “Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians” (1 Kings 11:5). The Mishna relates: “What is an Asherah? Any tree under which is an idol.” (Abodah Zarah 3.7)5)The Mishna (Trans. Herbert Danby), Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA: 1933, 2016), p. 441 It follows shortly after with the question, “How is an Asherah desecrated? If it is trimmed or pruned, or if a branch or a twig or even a leaf is taken from it, then it is desecrated; if it was trimmed for the good of the tree it remains forbidden, but if not for the good of the tree, it is permitted.” (Abodah Zarah 3.10)6)The Mishna (Trans. Herbert Danby), Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA: 1933, 2016), p. 442 To brake any foliage of the idolatrous tree to cause harm to it was to oppose its alleged purpose of blessing and prosperity. In Psalm 1 the blessed man is likened to a tree that withstands any opposition and prospers at all times.

We can see from this that the “blessedness” in view of Psalms 1 is more than just a spiritual blessing but does contain material blessings as well; though these blessings are not to be consumed upon lusts (James 4:3). The name Assyria is also derived from this word אַשּׁ֤וּר and was used commonly from names of Assyrians. For example: “Puzur-Ashur,” “Ashur-dugul,” “Ashur-aple-idi,” Ashur-nirari,” “Ashur-shaduni,” “Ashur-rabi,” “Ashur-nadin-ahhe,” “Ashur-bel-nisheshu,” “Ashur-rim-nisheshu,” “Ashur-dan,” “Ninurta-turulti-Ashur,” “Ahur-resh-ishi,” “Ashur-bel-kala,” “Ashu-nasir-apli,” all being listed in the Assyrian King List.7)The Ancient Near East: A New Anthology of Texts and Pictures (ed. James B. Pritchard), Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1975), Vol. 2, pp. 114-118

This word is generally translated as “happiness, blessedness”8)Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Claredon Press: Oxford, 1980, p.  80 though it has been suggested: “Perhaps ‘bliss’ would be a better translation.”9)Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke) Moody Press (Chicago, IL 1980), Vol. 1, p. 80 The other common word for “to bless” is בָרַךְ barak as a verb meaning to “kneel, bless”10)Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Claredon Press: Oxford, 1980, p. 138 indicating “there may have been a felt association between kneeling and receiving the blessing…”11)Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke) Moody Press (Chicago, IL 1980), Vol. 1, p. 132 Barak is contrasted to curse (Deuteronomy 28) with its root occurring 415 times, much more often the asherey which occurs only 44 times: 26 times in the Psalms, 8 in Proverbs, and only once in the Pentateuch (Torah) in Deuteronomy 33:29. The historical books use asherey in 1 Kings 10:8; 2 Chronicles 9:7; and the prophets in Isaiah 30:18; 32:20; 56:2.

Why did the psalmist choose asherey over barak? Seventeen times the word barak appears in the book of Psalm as a passive participle—”blessed”—it is in reference to God with the one exception of Psalm 115:15. Even Psalm 118:26 is a prophecy of Christ (cf. Matthew 21:9). Four times it is used in the Pual, but only once in reference to God (Psalm 113:2) and the other three times men being blessed by God. Once is it used in the Hithpael form expressing men being blessed by God (Psalm 72:17). Leopold Sabourin suggests, “Ps 1 begins with a beatitude (asre). This literary and religious category expressing a praise, a salutation, or a wish was adopted by the wisdom literature. It differs from the priestly blessing (berkah), the counterpart of the curse.”12)Leopold Sabourin, S.J., The Psalms: The Origin and Meaning, Alba House (Staten Island, NY: 1969), Vol. 2, p. 260 The emphasis of this word being used to praise God in the Psalms is evident in the common use of the Jewish culture.

Blessings, whether said over food or anything else, generally start with the same formula, “blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe,” before becoming specific…. The word for blessing in Hebrew is brakha, which comes from the word berekh, meaning “knee”; thus, the word suggests. Bended knee, the proper posture for one who is approaching God.13)Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy, William Morrow and Company, Inc (New York, NY: 1991), p. 669-670

Rabbi Morris N. Kertzer indicated:

During the reading of the Torah in synagogue services, for example, it is customary to call people to stand beside the Torah and recite blessings that thank God for giving the Torah to Israel…. Also, on certain occasions, in traditional synagogues, the Kohanim [priests] all together bless the congregation, in the formula taken from the Book of Numbers. The blessing is intoned with much solemnity, the Kohen raising his two hands over the heads of the congregants with thumbs and forefingers touching and the forefingers of each hand divided to form the letter “V.”14)Rabbi Morris N. Kertzer, What isa Jew (Revised by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman), Touchstone (New York, NY: 1953, 1996), p. 82

Numbers 6:22-27 contains this traditional Jewish blessing, and it is commonly believed to have been the blessing Christ gave to His disciples in Luke 24:50 due to the correlation of how “he lifted up his hands,” being common motif of blessing (Leviticus 9:22). This is also found in The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach identifying that the practice extends before Christ’s time. “Then he went down, and lifted up his hands over the whole congregation of the children of Israel, to give the blessing of the Lord with his lips, and to rejoice in his name. And they bowed themselves down to worship the second time, that they might receive a blessing from the most High.” (Ecclesiasticus 50:20-21)15)The Apocrypha (Ed. Manuel Komroff), Barnes and Noble Books (New York, NY: 1992), p. 226 Such blessing are commonly found in Ancient Near Eastern literature:

Blessing Daniel the Rapha-man,

Beatifying Ghazir the Harnamiyy-man:

“With life-breath shall be quickened Daniel the Rapha-man,

With spirit Ghazir the Harnamiyy-man.”16)“The Tale of Aqhat” in The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures (Ed. James B. Pritchard), Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1958), Vol. 1, p. 119

Do thou bless me, so I’ll go blessed;

Beatify me, so I’ll go beatified.17)“The Tale of Aqhat” in The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures 9Ed. James B. Pritchard), Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1958), Vol. 1, p. 131

Asherey is used 21 times in Psalm and is always in reference to men. It predominates usages over barak in poetry texts. “There is a measure of semantic overlap between אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי and בָּר֥וּךְ, but there is a key difference. אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי focuses on an individual’s observed state of happiness and typically includes comments regarding the conduct and character of persons who enjoy it. On the other hand, בָּר֥וּךְ stresses God’s agency in bringing about such a state. The idea of invocation is often implicit.”18)Brian Russell, “Psalm 1 as an Interpreter of Scripture,” Irish Biblical Studies, 26/4 (2005), p. 180 Raymond Apple, emeritus rabbi of the Great Synagogue in Sydney, Australia suggested other reasons why Asherey was chosen over barak.

There may have been a feeling that the Book of Psalms should begin with an aleph—the first letter of the alphabet. The Midrash (Gen. R. 1:10; cf. TB Hag. 11b) states that the Torah itself would have begun with an aleph had a bet not been preferred for theological reasons. Later, the Decalogue (Ex. 20:2, Deut. 5:6) does open with the aleph of anohki “I.” Retelling the history of mankind from the beginning, Chronicles starts with a large aleph.19)Raymond Apple, “The Happy Man of Psalm 1,” Jewish Bible Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 3, 2012, p. 179

Rabbi Apple further relates, “According to Yalkut Shimoi on the first verse of the psalm, David, the traditional author of Psalms, wanted to begin his book where Moses had left off in the Torah. Moses said, ashrekha Yisra’el (Fortunate are you, O Israel; Deut. 32:29); here David begins with the words asherei ha-ish.”20)Raymond Apple, “The Happy Man of Psalm 1,” Jewish Bible Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 3, 2012, p. 179 He continues, “The root of asherei is aleph-shin-resh, which opens up an array of possible connections with words featuring the same root. Roshi supports the linking of aleph-shin-resh with Ashur, meaning a step. He notes that Psalm 1:1 uses a series of verbs connected with stepping or moving: walk, stand, sit.”21)Raymond Apple, “The Happy Man of Psalm 1,” Jewish Bible Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 3, 2012, p. 179 Sampson Raphael Hirsch translated Psalm 1:1 with the phrase “forward strides the man”22)Samson Raphael Hirsch, The Psalms, English Trans. Gertrudes Hirschler (Jerusalem/New York: Feldheim, 1978), p. 1 which suggests continual action, perhaps looking forward to verse 6 where “The LORD knoweth the way of the righteous…” This “way” is the active course of life. However, the error presented in this line of interpretation is the root fallacy. “One of the most enduring of errors, the root fallacy presupposes that every word actually has a meaning bound up with its shape or its components.”23)D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI: 1984, 1988), p.26 Carson accurately expresses, “The search for hidden meanings bound up with etymologies becomes even more ludicrous when two words with entirely different meanings share the same etymology.”24)D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI: 1984, 1988), p.28 James Barr also states, “It must be regarded as doubtful whether the influence of their common root is of any importance semantically in classical Hebrew in the normal usage of the words.”25)James Barr, The Semantic of Biblical Language, Oxford University Press, Oxford: 1961), p. 102

The Aramaic of the Targum paraphrase utilized the word טוּבֵיהּ which would carry from the root “good, or pleasing” as used in Ezra 5:17 or describing the gold of Nebuchadnezzar’s image in his dream as “fine” gold (Daniel 2:32). The Septuagint (LXX) translated this root into the Greek μακάριος which means “blessed, fortunate, happy, usu. in the sense privileged recipient of divine favor.”26)A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (ed. Walter Bauer and trans. Wm. Arndt, F. W. Gingrich, and F. Danker, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL: 1979), p. 486 So ancient translations indicate that “step forward” would not be the accurate interpretation. This fact would further refute the root fallacy expressed by Jewish exegetes.

 Blessed is the man…

The Hebrew phrase אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי־הָאִ֗ישׁ “blessed is the man” appears here in Psalm 1:1 and 112:1, “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.” It is again joined to delight in God’s word. When the word is in conjunction with the form אֱנוֹשׁ carrying the collective sense “men” or more generally “mankind”27)Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Claredon Press: Oxford, 1980, p.  60 it presents blessings of Solomon’s men hearing his wisdom (1 Kings 10:8; 2 Chronicles 9:7), the man being corrected and chastised by God (Job 5:17), and the man keeping just judgements and obeying God (Isaiah 56:1-2). These blessing followed by another general word אָדָם meaning “man, mankind”28)Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Claredon Press: Oxford, 1980, p.  9 in which the man is blessed who has no iniquity imputed upon him (Psalm 32:2), who is strengthened in the LORD (Psalm 84:5), and who trust in Him (Psalm 84:12). The man that finds wisdom and understanding is happy (Proverbs 3:13), and wisdom personified in Proverb 8 declares “blessed is the man that heareth me…”(Proverbs 8:34). The man that “feareth always” (Proverbs 28:14) is said to be “happy” being obviously a reference to the fear of God. The word גֶּבֶר meaning “man,”29)Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Claredon Press: Oxford, 1980, p.  149 often in the sense of a strong or valiant man of war, is blessed to trust in the LORD (Psalm 34:8; 40:4). To be chastened by and taught from the law by the LORD Himself is to be blessed (Psalm 94:12). Of course, the man of war would understand the analogy of being blessed with a “full quiver” of children (Psalm 127:5).

Ray Stedman and so many others speak of the word “blessed” as “It simply means to be happy.”30)Ray C. Stedman, Psalms: Folk songs of Faith, Discovery House Publishers (Grand Rapids, MI: 2006), p. 21 He then states, “the Lord Jesus began His great discourse, the Sermon on the Mount, in much the same way—that is, with the word ‘blessed.’”31)Ray C. Stedman, Psalms: Folk songs of Faith, Discovery House Publishers (Grand Rapids, MI: 2006), p. 21 But in the Beatitudes, Christ states “blessed are they that mourn” (Matthew 5:4); how could this mean happy? No person is happy when they are reviled and persecuted (Matthew 5:11) when viewed in the present circumstances which define the word happy. David Wells mocked Robert Schuller’s style of false preaching along these lines, sarcastically says, “Christ was not drawing a profound moral compass in the Sermon on the Mount; he was just giving us a set of ‘be (happy) attitudes.’” The word “blessed” implies one who looks past the present circumstances to the future retribution of which we can “rejoice and be exceedingly glad” (Matthew 5:12) even in the midst of suffering. Murphey states, “Happiness is here not an occasional outward condition, but an inward perpetuity of bliss, involving peace with God, my neighbor, and myself.”32)James G. Murphy, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms with a New Translation, James Family Publishing (Minneapolis, MN: 1977 [originally published by Warren Draper, Andover:1876]), p. 51-52

Keathley correctly asserts

It is not, however, unconditional pronouncement, nor a pronouncement of bliss or a life without problems. It is conditional and this is strongly stressed. Note, “how blessed is the man who…” The article specifies a certain kind of man, “the man who obeys the actions of this passage.”33)J. Hampton Keathley, III, Psalm 1: Two Ways of Life—A Psalm of Wisdom, July 1, 2004; https://bible.org/article/psalm-1-two-ways-life-psalm-wisdom

When Perowne says of this phrase, “blessed is the man”: “Not an exclamation, but the recognition of a fact.”34)J.J. Stewart Perowne, The Book of Psalms, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI: 1966), Vol. 1, p. 108 He errs in applying a universal fact which faults in the point that Wisdom genre deals primarily with generalizations. Keathley argues, “by position and context, the Hebrew is exclamatory.”35)J. Hampton Keathley, III, Psalm 1: Two Ways of Life—A Psalm of Wisdom, July 1, 2004; https://bible.org/article/psalm-1-two-ways-life-psalm-wisdom Lee Roy Martin says, “The language is that of affirmation (‘Blessed in the man’), …”36)Lee Roy Martin, “Delighting in the Torah: The Affective Dimension of Psalm 1,” Old Testament Essays, 23/3 (2010), p. 713 Gesenius considers it as “the force of an interjection”37)Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament Scriptures, Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. (Grand Rapids, MI: 1957), p. 90 which is followed by Albert Barnes who expresses:

It is found, however, only in the plural form and in the construct state, and takes the nature and force of an interjection – “O the happiness of the man!” or “O happy man!” Deuteronomy 33:29: “happy art thou, O Israel!” 1 Kings 10:8: “happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants!” Job 5:17: “happy is the man whom God correcteth!” Psalm 2:12: “blessed are all they that put their trust in him!” See also Psalm 32:1-2; Psalm 33:12; Psalm 34:8; Psalm 40:4; Psalm 41:1; Psalm 65:4; Psalm 84:4-5, Psalm 84:12, et al., where it is rendered “blessed.”38)Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible, Psalm 1:1; https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-1.html

The blessedness is exclaimed upon the certain man who achieves the conditions demanded—mainly separation from the wicked persons and delighting in God’s law. To find an exclamation of the blessedness interjected reveals that this man’s blessedness, is a constant state of rejoicing that all can see self-evident in his life no matter what temporal circumstances arise (Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonian 5:16; 1 Peter 4:13).

The fact that it is exclamatory caused Lioy to opine, “Perhaps the noun [ashre] is not found in the singular in the Hebrew text due to the fact that there is no such thing as a single blessing; instead, wherever there is one blessing from God there is another from him too.”39)Dan Lioy, “A Comparative Analysis of Psalm 1 and the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12,” Conspectus, (2016) Vol. 22, p. 152 Indeed this seems most appropriate when considering the people blessed of the Lord lack not a single good thing (Psalms 34:9; 84:11-12; 14413-15); being delivered by the Lord implies preservation of life, not just a one time event (Psalm 41:1-2); the joyful noise of God’s name brings rejoicing “all the day” (Psalm 89:15-16); and  “at all times” (Psalm 106:3); blessedness lasts for many generations (Psalms 112:1-2; 127:5; 128:1-4). The eternal blessings are presented to them that trust in the Lord (Psalm 2:12), and David speaking of the Temple implies a heavenly existence (Psalm 65:4), which the earthly Temple would after David’s death be patterned after (Psalm 11:4; Revelation 11:19). The temporal and eternal are conjoined to express that our eternal destiny should affect our temporal state. Someone who knows their saved can rejoice through any temporal circumstance.

the man who

The esthetic quality of these first three Hebrew words beginning the Psalter is lost in the English translation but contains unparalleled grammatical beauty:

“Blessed in the man who…” אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי־הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר

Notice how the first word אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי has each consonant that the following two words are made up of. All three words begin with an aleph (א), the second letter shin (ש) is also in all three words. The resh (ר) is the very last letter of the phrase and the yod (י) is only in the second word. John Hobbins pointed out that “אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי־הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר is a sound unit whose thrice repeated sounds (a, še, r, ē/ī/e) are tantamount to a musical flourish at the beginning of a symphony. The harmonic sound unit is at one and the same time a syntactic unit that introduces the entire composition. It is “the odd man out” in that it does not stand in parallelism with subsequent text units.”40)John Hobbins, “Psalm 1: Text, Translation, and Interpretation,” (PDF) p. 9; accessible at https://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/files/psalm-1-bilingual-and-commentary.pdf The article (“the”) prefixed by the הָ is the only oddity disrupting the esthetic appeal. It could have been easily dropped to make the phrase indefinite “blessed is a man”; but the author was inspired to disrupt the esthetic integrity because the definite article obviously pertains to the specific exegesis of this Psalm

Though we can all marvel at this majestic diction, it is more important to determine who this “man” is that is so blessed. The word הָאִ֗ישׁ “the man,” is a masculine singular noun prefixed by an article and followed by a relative pronoun, making him a specific individual meeting the conditions which follow to receive the blessings. “The righteous man is here described in his character, course, and end…”41)James G. Murphy, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms with a New Translation, James Family Publishing (Minneapolis, MN: 1977 [originally published by Warren Draper, Andover:1876]), p. 51 This man described to delight in the law of the Lord is thus submitted to God’s Lordship and has made himself a willful servant. “But the great theme of the Psalms is man himself, the subject of God.”42)James G. Murphy, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms with a New Translation, James Family Publishing (Minneapolis, MN: 1977 [originally published by Warren Draper, Andover:1876]), p. 27

The word אִישׁ is gender exclusive identifying the male sex, defined as:

man , opp. woman Gn 2:23 , 24 Lv 20:27 Nu 5:6 Dt 17:2f Jos 6:2 1; 8:25 Je 40: 7, emph. on sexual distinction & relation Gn 19:8 ; 24:16 ; 38:25 Ex 22:15 Lv 15:16 ( שִׁכְבַת זָרַע ) v 18 ( אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב אִישׁ אֹתָהּ שׁ׳־ז׳ וְאִשָּׁה ) 20:10f Nu 5:13f Dt 22:22f Is 4:1 +; thence = husband , especially c. sf. Gn 3: 6, 16 ; 16:3 ; 29:32 , 34 Lv 21:7 Nu 30:7f Dt 28:56 Ju 13:6f Ru 1:3f 1 S 25:19 Je 29:6 Ez 16:45 +; fig. of י׳ as husb. of Isr. אִישִׁי Ho 2:18 ( opp. בַּעְלִי ); man as procreator, father Ec 6:3 ; of male child Gn 4:1 cf. זֶרַע אֲנָשִׁים 1 S 1:1 1, man43)rancis Brown, S.R. Driver, C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Claredon Press: Oxford, 1980, p.  35

The word could include women if preceded by the word “each, every”;44)Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Claredon Press: Oxford, 1980, p.  36 being a patriarchal culture, a group of men and women together would still be addressed in a masculine form. Here, however, אִישׁ is singular, and could only be a male since the context will deal with one who can teach (see comments on “sitteth”). A woman was not permitted to teach (1 Timothy 2:12). In public setting, men would only address other men even in mix crowds, though women may be welcomed to listen but were expected to remain silent (1 Corinthians 14:34). Men were discouraged to discourse privately with any woman that was not his wife as Jesus the son of Sirach states: “Sit not at all with another man’s wife…” (Ecclesiasticus 9:9),45)The Apocrypha (Ed. Manuel Komroff), Barnes and Noble Books (New York, NY: 1992), p. 169 and “sit not in the midst of women.” (Ecclesiasticus 42:12)46)The Apocrypha (Ed. Manuel Komroff), Barnes and Noble Books (New York, NY: 1992), p. 215 This is why the disciples were shocked to find Jesus Christ braking from this normal cultural trend (John 4:27).

The LXX renders the word ἀνήρ (nominative singular masculine) which again is “in contrast to woman”47)A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (ed. Walter Bauer and trans. Wm. Arndt, F. W. Gingrich, and F. Danker, University of Chicago Press  (Chicago, IL: 1979), p. 66 and is used to emphasizes the manliness. Clement of Rome uses the word with such an emphasis, “To these men who spent their lives in the practice of holiness, there is to be added a great multitude of the elect, who, having through envy endured many indignities and tortures, furnished us with a most excellent example.”48)Clement of Rome, “The First Epistle of Clement,” chapt. 6; The Ante-Nicene Fathers (ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson), Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, Massachusettes:1886, fifth printing 2012), Vol. 1, p. 6 When used with an adjective, it is “to emphasize the dominant characteristic of a man”49)A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (ed. Walter Bauer and trans. Wm. Arndt, F. W. Gingrich, and F. Danker, University of Chicago Press  (Chicago, IL: 1979), p. 66 such as Clement’s uses of “approved men” and “eminent men” to describe the apostle.50)Clement of Rome, “The First Epistle of Clement,” chapt. 6; The Ante-Nicene Fathers (ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson), Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, Massachusettes:1886, fifth printing 2012), Vol. 1, p.17 Aνήρ could include women in the same way discussed above, but again, the context is singular which limits that possibility out.

This individual man of Psalm 1 is described as “blessed” for his dominant characteristic is expressed in the clause following the relative pronoun אֲשֶׁ֤ר “who”. Thomas Lambdin explains “אֲשֶׁ֤ר ‘aser indicates that a following phrase modifies as a unit the preceding word.”51)Thomas O. Lambdin, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd (London: 1973), p. 48 Thus “the man” is defined characteristically by separating from the ungodly people around him and finding great pleasure from God’s word (Psalm 1:1-2). The blessedness of this man is an intensive plural, perhaps to indicate the contrast of blessings that surround him routinely in comparison to the multitudes of wicked people surrounding him which he willfully chooses to remain separated from. Isaiah 30:18 expresses the single man to be blessed for waiting upon the Lord with likely eschatological implications. Psalm 144:11-15 offers deliverance from the foreigners who speak vanity against God’s blessed man with much material blessings. This passage begins with the single pronoun “me” receiving such a blessing, but ends by merging into a corporate sense of “that people”—”Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.” Psalm 1 also ends by merging into a plural identity of the “righteous [ones]” which likely indicates a corporal sense of saints, or as the original readers would have understood it—Israelites.

If this “man” is to be viewed as the national corporate identity of Jacob/Israel, the blessings are interpolated upon the land and its inhabitants for their faithfulness and separation from the pagan neighbors. These blessing would include increased yields of the land (Psalm 85:12); protection as with a shield to compass the land (Psalm 5:12); deliverance from times of trouble and the enemies for remembering the poor (Psalm 41:1-2); and blessing strength and bestowing peace (Psalm 29:11). The point of merging from the singular to the corporate sense would be to recognize each individual is responsible for keeping the covenant with the Lord to assure the nation receives these blessings.

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