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1A song of ascents. Of David. Were it not for Hashem, who was on our side, let Yisrael now declare,
אשִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד לוּלֵי יְהֹוָה שֶׁהָיָה לָנוּ יֹאמַר־נָא יִשְׂרָאֵל׃
2were it not for Hashem, who was on our side when men assailed us,
בלוּלֵי יְהֹוָה שֶׁהָיָה לָנוּ בְּקוּם עָלֵינוּ אָדָם׃
3they would have swallowed us alive in their burning rage against us;
גאֲזַי חַיִּים בְּלָעוּנוּ בַּחֲרוֹת אַפָּם בָּנוּ׃
4the waters would have carried us off, the torrent would have swept over us;
דאֲזַי הַמַּיִם שְׁטָפוּנוּ נַחְלָה עָבַר עַל־נַפְשֵׁנוּ׃
5over us would have swept the seething waters.
האֲזַי עָבַר עַל־נַפְשֵׁנוּ הַמַּיִם הַזֵּידוֹנִים׃
6Blessed is Hashem, who did not let us be ripped apart by their teeth.
ובָּרוּךְ יְהֹוָה שֶׁלֹּא נְתָנָנוּ טֶרֶף לְשִׁנֵּיהֶם׃
7We are like a bird escaped from the fowler's trap; the trap broke and we escaped.
naf-SHAY-nu k'-tzi-POR nim-l'-TAH mi-PAKH yo-k'-SHEEM ha-PAKH nish-BAR va-a-NAKH-nu nim-LAT-nu
זנַפְשֵׁנוּ כְּצִפּוֹר נִמְלְטָה מִפַּח יוֹקְשִׁים הַפַּח נִשְׁבָּר וַאֲנַחְנוּ נִמְלָטְנוּ׃
124:7 We are like a bird escaped from the fowler’s trap
In Psalm 124, the psalmist thanks God for saving him from imminent destruction: “Were it not for Hashem, who was on our side when men assailed us” (verse 2). The metaphor of a bird escaping a trap is interesting in light of an archaeological discovery called the Jerusalem Prism, housed today in the Israel Museum. It contains the annals of the Assyrian king Sennacherib. In it, he makes reference to the conquest of northern Israel and the exile of its inhabitants, and describes his conquest of many of the cities in the southern kingdom of Yehuda. When depicting the siege of Yerushalayim in the time of Chizkiyahu, he says that he confined Chizkiyahu “as a caged bird,” employing language similar to this verse. Ultimately, though, a miracle took place and the Assyrian army mysteriously died, allowing King Chizkiyahu and Yerushalayim to be freed from the Assyrian snare (II Kings 18-19).
8Our help is the name of Hashem, maker of heaven and earth.
חעֶזְרֵנוּ בְּשֵׁם יְהֹוָה עֹשֵׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ׃