Psalm 22

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Psalm 22
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Psalm 21 Initial D.jpg
Psalm 22:1-8 in the St. Albans Psalter. The first words of the Psalm in the Latin Vulgate are "Deus, Deus meus," abbreviated here as DS DS MS.
Other name
  • Psalm 21
  • "Deus, Deus meus"
LanguageHebrew (original)

Psalm 22 is the 22nd psalm of the Book of Psalms, generally known in English by its first verse, in the King James Version, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?". The Book of Psalms is the third section of the Hebrew Bible, and a book of the Christian Old Testament. In the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and in its Latin translation in the Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 21 in a slightly different numbering system. In Latin, it is known as "Deus, Deus meus".[1]

The psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant liturgies.

History and context[edit]

In the most general sense, Psalm 22 is about a person who is crying out to God to save him from the taunts and torments of his enemies, and (in the last ten verses) thanking God for rescuing him.

Jewish interpretations of Psalm 22 identify the individual in the psalm with a royal figure, usually King David or Queen Esther.[2]

The psalm is also interpreted as referring to the plight of the Jewish people and their distress and alienation in exile.[3] For instance, the phrase "But I am a worm" (Hebrew: ואנכי תולעת) refers to Israel, similarly to Isaiah 41 "Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I help thee, saith the LORD, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."[4]

Tractate Megillah of the Babylonian Talmud contains an extended collection of midrash expanding on the Book of Esther. Commenting on Esther 5:1, Rabbi Levi is quoted saying that, as Esther passed through the hall of idols on the way to the throne room to plead with the king, she felt the Shekhinah (divine presence) leaving her, at which point she quoted Psalm 22:1 saying "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me."[5]


Ayelet Hashachar (Hebrew: "hind of the dawn") is found in the title of the psalm. It is probably the name of some song or tune to the measure of which the psalm was to be chanted.[6] Some, however, understand by the name some instrument of music, or an allegorical allusion to the subject of the psalms.

Where English translations have "psalm," the underlying Hebrew word is מִזְמוֹר (mizmor), a song with instrumental accompaniment. This is part of the series of "Davidic Psalms" (mizmor le-david). Traditionally, their authorship was attributed to King David; however, in scholarly exegesis this attribution has been variously qualified or challenged since the late 19th century. The Hebrew particle le, can mean "for", "about", or "by", so that it remains open to interpretation whether these psalms originate with David, or whether the heading refers, rather, to the chief character of the poetry, as being concerned with Davidic kingship in the narrow sense, or even divine kingship more generally.[7]

The heading further assigns the psalm as "for the conductor." This is apparently a reference to the use of psalms in the (temple) liturgy. The exact meaning is unclear.[8]

The song is to be sung to the tune "Hind of Dawn", in a style apparently known to the original audience, according to the traditional interpretation. In the recent literature, however, it is argued that "Hind of Dawn" cultic role of the priest designated person acting as menatseach, as head of the ritual.


Hebrew Bible version[edit]

The Hebrew text and an English translation of Psalm 22 are as follows:[9]

Verse Hebrew English
1 לַֽמְנַצֵּחַ עַל־אַיֶּ֥לֶת הַ֜שַּׁ֗חַר מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִֽד For the conductor, on the ayeleth hashachar, a song of David.
2 אֵלִ֣י אֵ֖לִי לָמָ֣ה עֲזַבְתָּ֑נִי רָח֥וֹק מִ֜ישֽׁוּעָתִ֗י דִּבְרֵ֥י שַֽׁאֲגָתִֽי My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? [You are] far from my salvation [and] from the words of my moaning.
3 אֱלֹהַ֗י אֶקְרָ֣א י֖וֹמָם וְלֹ֣א תַֽעֲנֶ֑ה וְ֜לַ֗יְלָה וְֽלֹא־דֽוּמִיָּ֥ה לִֽי My God, I call out by day and You do not reply, and at night I do not keep silent.
4 וְאַתָּ֥ה קָד֑וֹשׁ י֜וֹשֵׁ֗ב תְּהִלּ֥וֹת יִשְׂרָאֵֽל But You are holy; You await the praises of Israel.
5 בְּךָ בָּֽטְח֣וּ אֲבֹתֵ֑ינוּ בָּֽ֜טְח֗וּ וַֽתְּפַלְּטֵֽמוֹ Our ancestors trusted in You; they trusted and You rescued them.
6 אֵלֶ֣יךָ זָֽעֲק֣וּ וְנִמְלָ֑טוּ בְּךָ֖ בָֽטְח֣וּ וְלֹא־בֽוֹשׁוּ They cried out to You and they escaped; they trusted in You and they were not shamed.
7 וְאָֽנֹכִ֣י תוֹלַ֣עַת וְלֹא־אִ֑ישׁ חֶרְפַּ֥ת אָ֜דָ֗ם וּבְז֥וּי עָֽם But I am a worm and not a man; a reproach of man, despised by peoples.
8 כָּל־רֹ֖אַי יַלְעִ֣גוּ לִ֑י יַפְטִ֥ירוּ בְ֜שָׂפָ֗ה יָנִ֥יעוּ רֹֽאשׁ All who see me will mock me; they will open their lips, they will shake their head.
9 גֹּ֣ל אֶל־יְהֹוָ֣ה יְפַלְּטֵ֑הוּ יַ֜צִּילֵ֗הוּ כִּ֘י חָ֥פֵץ בּֽוֹ One should cast his trust upon the Lord, and He will rescue him; He will save him because He delights in him.
10 כִּֽי־אַתָּ֣ה גֹחִ֣י מִבָּ֑טֶן מַ֜בְטִיחִ֗י עַל־שְׁדֵ֥י אִמִּֽי For You drew me from the womb; You made me secure on my mother's breasts.
11 עָלֶיךָ הָשְׁלַ֣כְתִּי מֵרָ֑חֶם מִבֶּ֥טֶן אִ֜מִּ֗י אֵ֥לִי אָֽתָּה Upon You, I was cast from birth; from my mother's womb You are my God.
12 אַל־תִּרְחַ֣ק מִ֖מֶּנִּי כִּֽי־צָרָ֣ה קְרוֹבָ֑ה כִּ֖י אֵ֥ין עוֹזֵֽר Do not distance Yourself from me, for distress is near; for there is none to help.
13 סְבָבוּנִי פָּרִ֣ים רַבִּ֑ים אַבִּירֵ֖י בָשָׁ֣ן כִּתְּרֽוּנִי Great bulls have surrounded me; the mighty ones of Bashan encompassed me.
14 פָּצ֣וּ עָלַ֣י פִּיהֶ֑ם אַ֜רְיֵ֗ה טֹרֵ֥ף וְשֹׁאֵֽג They opened their mouth against me [like] a tearing, roaring lion.
15 כַּמַּ֥יִם נִשְׁפַּכְתִּי֘ וְֽהִתְפָּֽרְד֗וּ כָּֽל־עַצְמ֫וֹתָ֥י הָיָ֣ה לִ֖בִּי כַּדּוֹנָ֑ג נָ֜מֵ֗ס בְּת֣וֹךְ מֵעָֽי I was spilled like water, and all my bones were separated; my heart was like wax, melting within my innards.
16 יָ֘בֵ֚שׁ כַּחֶ֨רֶשׂ | כֹּחִ֗י וּ֖לְשׁוֹנִי מֻדְבָּ֣ק מַלְקוֹחָ֑י וְלַֽעֲפַר־מָ֥וֶת תִּשְׁפְּתֵֽנִי My strength became dried out like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my palate; and You set me down in the dust of death.
17 כִּֽי־סְבָב֗וּנִי כְּלָ֫בִ֥ים עֲדַ֣ת מְ֖רֵעִים הִקִּיפ֑וּנִי כָּֽ֜אֲרִ֗י יָדַ֥י וְרַגְלָֽי For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me, like a lion, my hands and feet.
18 אֲסַפֵּ֥ר כָּל־עַצְמוֹתָ֑י הֵ֥מָּה יַ֜בִּ֗יטוּ יִרְאוּ־בִֽי I tell about all my bones. They look and gloat over me.
19 יְחַלְּק֣וּ בְגָדַ֣י לָהֶ֑ם וְעַל־לְ֜בוּשִׁ֗י יַפִּ֥ילוּ גוֹרָֽל They share my garments among themselves and cast lots for my raiment.
20 וְאַתָּ֣ה יְ֖הֹוָה אַל־תִּרְחָ֑ק אֱ֜יָֽלוּתִ֗י לְעֶזְרָ֥תִי חֽוּשָׁה But You, O Lord, do not distance Yourself; my strength, hasten to my assistance.
21 הַצִּ֣ילָה מֵחֶ֣רֶב נַפְשִׁ֑י מִיַּד־כֶּ֜֗לֶב יְחִֽידָתִֽי Save my soul from the sword, my only one from the grip of the dog.
22 הוֹשִׁיעֵֽנִי מִפִּ֣י אַרְיֵ֑ה וּמִקַּרְנֵ֖י רֵמִ֣ים עֲנִיתָֽנִי Save me from the lion's mouth, as from the horns of the wild oxen You answered me.
23 אֲסַפְּרָ֣ה שִׁמְךָ֣ לְאֶחָ֑י בְּת֖וֹךְ קָהָ֣ל אֲהַֽלְלֶֽךָּ I will tell Your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise You.
24 יִרְאֵ֚י יְהֹוָ֨ה | הַֽלְל֗וּהוּ כָּל־זֶ֣רַע יַֽעֲקֹ֣ב כַּבְּד֑וּהוּ וְג֥וּרוּ מִ֜מֶּ֗נוּ כָּל־זֶ֥רַע יִשְׂרָאֵֽל You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all the seed of Jacob, honor Him, and fear Him, all the seed of Israel.
25 כִּ֚י לֹא־בָזָ֨ה וְלֹ֪א שִׁקַּ֡ץ עֱנ֬וּת עָנִ֗י וְלֹֽא־הִסְתִּ֣יר פָּנָ֣יו מִמֶּ֑נּוּ וּֽבְשַׁוְּע֖וֹ אֵלָ֣יו שָׁמֵֽעַ For He has neither despised nor abhorred the cry of the poor, neither has He hidden His countenance from him; and when he cried out to Him, He hearkened.
26 מֵֽאִתְּךָ֣ תְֽהִלָּ֫תִ֥י בְּקָהָ֣ל רָ֑ב נְדָרַ֥י אֲשַׁלֵּ֗ם נֶ֣גֶד יְרֵאָֽיו Because of You is my praise in the great congregation; I pay my vows in the presence of those who fear Him.
27 יֹֽאכְל֚וּ עֲנָוִ֨ים | וְיִשְׂבָּ֗עוּ יְהַֽלְל֣וּ יְ֖הֹוָה דֹּֽרְשָׁ֑יו יְחִ֖י לְבַבְכֶ֣ם לָעַֽד The humble shall eat and be sated; they shall praise the Lord, those who seek him; your hearts shall live forever.
28 יִזְכְּר֚וּ | וְיָשֻׁ֣בוּ אֶל־יְ֖הֹוָה כָּל־אַפְסֵי־אָ֑רֶץ וְיִשְׁתַּֽחֲו֥וּ לְ֜פָנֶ֗יךָ כָּל־מִשְׁפְּח֥וֹת גּוֹיִֽם All the ends of the earth shall remember and return to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall prostrate themselves before You.
29 כִּ֣י לַֽ֖יהֹוָה הַמְּלוּכָ֑ה וּ֜מוֹשֵׁ֗ל בַּגּוֹיִֽם For the kingship is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations.
30 אָֽכְל֬וּ וַיִּֽשְׁתַּֽחֲו֨וּ | כָּל־דִּשְׁנֵי־אֶ֗רֶץ לְפָנָ֣יו יִ֖כְרְעוּ כָּל־יוֹרְדֵ֣י עָפָ֑ר וְ֜נַפְשׁ֗וֹ לֹ֣א חִיָּֽה They shall eat all the best of the earth and prostrate themselves; before Him shall all those who descend to the dust kneel, and He will not quicken his soul.
31 זֶ֥רַע יַֽעַבְדֶ֑נּוּ יְסֻפַּ֖ר לַֽאדֹנָ֣י לַדּֽוֹר The seed that worships Him; it shall be told to the generation concerning the Lord.
32 יָבֹאוּ וְיַגִּ֣ידוּ צִדְקָת֑וֹ לְעַ֥ם נ֜וֹלָ֗ד כִּ֣י עָשָֽׂה They shall come and tell His righteousness to the newborn people, that which He has done.

King James Version[edit]

To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.
  1. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
  2. O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
  3. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
  4. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
  5. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
  6. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
  7. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
  8. He trusted on the LORD[a] that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
  9. But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.
  10. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.
  11. Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
  12. Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
  13. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
  14. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
  15. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
  16. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
  17. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
  18. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
  19. But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
  20. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
  21. Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
  22. I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
  23. Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
  24. For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
  25. My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
  26. The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
  27. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
  28. For the kingdom is the LORD's: and he is the governor among the nations.
  29. All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
  30. A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the LORD for a generation.
  31. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.



Psalm 22 is traditionally recited on the Fast of Esther.[10]

This psalm is recited during synagogue services on Purim by various groups. Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews say Psalm 22 at the beginning of the evening service on Purim night. Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews, as well as Ashkenazi Jews who follow the nusach of the Vilna Gaon, recite Psalm 22 as the Song of the Day in the Purim morning service.[11][12]

Verse 4 is part of the opening paragraph of Uva letzion.[12][13]

Verse 12 is recited during Selichot.[12]

Verse 26 is found in the repetition of the Amidah in the Rosh Hashanah morning service.[14]

Verse 29 is a part of the Song of the Sea, which is recited during Pesukei dezimra in the morning prayer. This verse is also said during Mussaf on Rosh Hashanah.[12]


The New Testament makes numerous allusions to Psalm 22, mainly during the crucifixion of Jesus.

Christians also contend "They have pierced my hands and my feet" (Psalm 22:16), and "I can count all my bones" (Psalm 22:17) are prophecies indicating the manner of Jesus's crucifixion: that he would be nailed to a cross (John 20:25) and, per the Levitical requirement for a sacrifice, that none of his bones would be broken (Numbers 9:11-13). (Christians view Jesus as an atoning sacrifice.)


In the Roman Rite, prior to the implementation of the Mass of Paul VI, this psalm was sung at the Stripping of the Altar on Maundy Thursday to signify the stripping of Christ's garments before crucifixion. The psalm was preceded and followed by the antiphon "Diviserunt sibi vestimenta mea: et super vestem meam miserunt sortem" (They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment).[15] The chanting of this psalm was suppressed in the 1970 revisions to the Mass. It is still included in many parts of the Anglican Communion.

Since the Middle Ages, this psalm was traditionally performed during the celebration of the vigils dimanche,[16][17] according to the Rule of St. Benedict set to 530, as St. Benedict of Nursia simply attributed Psalms 21 (20) 109 (108) offices vigils, "all sitting with ordre."[18]

In the Divine Office, the psalm is said on Fridays at Prime. In the Liturgy of the Hours, with the suppression of Prime, it was reassigned the Office of the middle of the day (Terce, Sext, or None) on Friday of the third week.[19]

Historical-critical analysis[edit]

In exegetical scholarship, Psalm 22 is generally regarded as not being of a unified origin. It is understood to have originally consisted of the contents of verses 1-22/23, with verses 23/24-32 comprising a later addition.[20] Further analysis also recognizes verses 4–6 as part of the later addition, and finds a third layer of editorial development in verses 28-32.[21] The exact distinction between the two main parts of the psalm is also controversial, as verse 23 is sometimes counted as a part of the original psalm, but sometimes as part of the later addition.

The original psalm (v. 2-22/23) is thought to date from the pre-exilic period, that is, before the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. The second part, because of the significant rescue of Israel, was probably added only in the post-exilic period. The most recent portion of the composition (v. 28-32), on account of its universalist perspective, is considered to date from the Hellenistic period, likely the late 4th century.[21]


The reproachful, plaintive question "why" of suffering (verse 2) in the 22nd Psalm touches the deepest sense of godforsakenness in the face of suffering and multiple persecution by enemies.[22] Because of the vagueness of the plea being made by the first part of the psalm it has become a timeless testimony applicable to many situations of persecution. The complaints about the absence of God are punctuated by praise (v. 4), confidences (v. 5-6, 10-11) and petitions (v. 20-22) interrupted.[23]

The second part of the psalm is the gratitude of the petitioner in the light of his salvation (v. 22) in the context of Israel (v. 26-27) and expands in worship YHWH the perspective of the peoples of the world that impressed God's action should show.[23]

In the New Testament Jesus cites Psalm 22 shortly before his death on the cross, to make himself the psalm petitioner, and to own, according to Jewish tradition, the entire contents of the psalm.[24]

Christologically this in considered problematic, inasmuch as Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, can hardly say that God has forsaken him. However, as in the psalm, apparent abandonment by God is not the end. Rather, in both cases there is the sudden and abrupt rescue of the petitioner by God (in the New Testament through Jesus' resurrection.) The usual division of the psalm into an action part (v. 2-22) and a praise or thanksgiving part (v. 23-32), therefore, is interpreted by some (by Martin Luther, among others) to anticipate the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In the King James Version, the use of small caps for LORD indicates that the Hebrew original reads YHWH. The substitution of "Lord" for the name YHWH is part of an ancient liturgical tradition in both Judaism and Christianity.


  1. ^ Parallel Latin/English Psalter / Psalmus 21 (22) Archived May 7, 2017, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Talmud Bavli, Tractate Megillah, Schottenstein Ed., Mesorah Publications, New York, 1991; page 15b2, footnote 16 explains that Psalm 22 contains prophetic references to Esther.
  3. ^ Writing and Reading the Scroll of Isaiah: Studies of an Interpretative Tradition, p. 412-413
  4. ^ "Isaiah 41 / Hebrew - English Bible / Mechon-Mamre".
  5. ^ Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Megillah, page 15b (Vilna edition).
  6. ^ See for example Charles Augustus Briggs; Emilie Grace Briggs (1960) [1906]. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms. International Critical Commentary. 1. Edinburgh: T & T Clark. p. 190.
  7. ^ Hans-Joachim Kraus (1993). Psalmen 1–59: A Continental Commentary. Translated from the German by Hilton C. Oswald. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. p. 22–23.
  8. ^ John F. A. Sawyer. The Terminology of the Psalm Headings. In: Ders.: Sacred Texts and Sacred Meanings. Studies in Biblical Language and Literature. Sheffield, 2011.
  9. ^ "Tehillim - Psalms - Chapter 22". 2018. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  10. ^ The Artscroll Tehillim p. 329
  11. ^ Samet, Rabbi Elchanan. "Shiur #22: Psalm 22 - "My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me" Complaint, Supplication, and Thanksgiving Appendix: Psalm 22 and Purim". eshivat Har Etzion. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d Brauner, Reuven (2013). "Shimush Pesukim" (PDF) (2nd ed.). Eclectic Torah Compilations. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  13. ^ Scherman, Rabbi Nosson (2003). The Complete Artscroll Siddur (3rd ed.). Mesorah Publications, Ltd. p. 155. ISBN 9780899066509.
  14. ^ Scherman, Rabbi Nosson (1985). The Complete Artscroll Machzor – Rosh Hashanah (1st ed.). Mesorah Publications, Ltd. p. 353. ISBN 0-89906-676-3.
  15. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Stripping of an Altar" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  16. ^ Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique, p. 62, 1938/2003
  17. ^ "La distribution des Psaumes dans la Règle de Saint Benoît".
  18. ^ traduction de Prosper Guéranger, Règle de saint Benoît, (Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, réimpression 2007) p. 39.
  19. ^ Le cycle des prières liturgiques principales se déroule sur quatre semaines.
  20. ^ Hans-Joachim Kraus (1978). Psalmen 1–59 (in German). 5. Auflage. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag. ISBN 3-7887-0554-X. p. 232.
  21. ^ a b Frank-Lothar Hossfeld; Erich Zenger (1993). Die Psalmen I. Psalm 1–50 (in German). Würzburg: Echter Verlag. ISBN 3-429-01503-0. p. 145.
  22. ^ Dörte Bester (2007). Körperbilder in den Psalmen: Studien zu Psalm 22 und verwandten Texten. (= Band 24 von Forschungen zum Alten Testament). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007. ISBN 9783161493614.[page needed]
  23. ^ a b Bester (2007)[page needed]
  24. ^ Eberhard Bons (2007). In Dieter Sänger (ed.), Psalm 22 und die Passionsgeschichten der Evangelien (in German). Neukirchen: Neukirchener Verlag.[page needed]
  25. ^ Bons (2007).[page needed]

External links[edit]