Psalms 87
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Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:

1  Of the Korachites. A psalm. A song. His foundation is on the holy mountains.

א  לִבְנֵי־קֹרַח מִזְמוֹר שִׁיר יְסוּדָתוֹ בְּהַרְרֵי־קֹדֶשׁ׃

2  Hashem loves the gates of Tzion, more than all the dwellings of Yaakov.

o-HAYV a-do-NAI sha-a-RAY tzi-YON mi-KOL mish-k’-NOT ya-a-KOV

ב  אֹהֵב יְהוָה שַׁעֲרֵי צִיּוֹן מִכֹּל מִשְׁכְּנוֹת יַעֲקֹב׃

87:2   The gates of Tzion

This short psalm praises Hashem’s connection to Tzion. In order to express God’s love for Yerushalayim, the psalmist writes: “Hashem loves the gates of Tzion, more than all the dwellings of Yaakov.” The wall currently surrounding Jerusalem’s Old City, built in 1538 by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, has several gates around its perimeter, each of which is known by a different name. The gate at the southwestern corner of the wall is called “Zion Gate,” or Shaar Tzion in Hebrew, from this verse, thus giving it the oldest biblical name of any of the gates. However, the Arabic name for this gate is David’s Gate, referring to the traditional location of David’s tomb. The Zion Gate is also quite significant in modern Israeli history; it was through this gate that the Palmach Brigade of the Israeli army broke into the Old City during the 1948 War of Independence, releasing the Jewish quarter from its isolation. The Jordanians, however, re-conquered the Old City shortly afterwards, and Jews were forced to leave the walls of Jerusalem for the next nineteen years. Only after it was recaptured during the 1967 Six Day War were Jews again able to enter the Old City of Yerushalayim.1 comment

3  Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of Hashem. Selah.

ג  נִכְבָּדוֹת מְדֻבָּר בָּךְ עִיר הָאֱלֹהִים סֶלָה׃

4  I mention Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge Me; Philistia, and Tyre, and Cush—each was born there.

ד  אַזְכִּיר רַהַב וּבָבֶל לְיֹדְעָי הִנֵּה פְלֶשֶׁת וְצוֹר עִם־כּוּשׁ זֶה יֻלַּד־שָׁם׃

5  Indeed, it shall be said of Tzion, “Every man was born there.” He, the Most High, will preserve it.

ה  וּלֲצִיּוֹן יֵאָמַר אִישׁ וְאִישׁ יֻלַּד־בָּהּ וְהוּא יְכוֹנְנֶהָ עֶלְיוֹן׃

Psalms 87:5 Indeed it shall be said of Tzion, “Every man was born there.”

What does this verse mean when it says that “every man” will be considered to have been born in Tzion? Rabbi Meisha, quoted in the Talmud (Ketubot 75a), explains thatnot only those who are physically born in the land of Israel are considered her children.  Rather, those who yearn for the land of Israel and long to see it are also considered b’nei Tzion, ‘Children of Zion.’  This idea is reflected in the words of the famous Israeli writer and Nobel Prize laureate S.Y. Agnon, who said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “Through a historical catastrophe — the destruction of Jerusalem by the emperor of Rome — I was born in one of the cities in the diaspora. But I always deemed myself a child of Jerusalem, one who is in reality a native of Jerusalem.”Comment

6  Hashem will inscribe in the register of peoples that each was born there. Selah.

ו  יְהוָה יִסְפֹּר בִּכְתוֹב עַמִּים זֶה יֻלַּד־שָׁם סֶלָה׃

7  Singers and dancers alike [will say]: “All my roots are in You.”

 

ז  וְשָׁרִים כְּחֹלְלִים כָּל־מַעְיָנַי בָּךְ׃

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Psalms 86
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Psalms 87

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