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Psalm 2 and the Disinheritance of Earthly Rulers: New Light from the Ugaritic Legal Text RS 94.2168

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AbstractThis paper offers a fresh reading of Psalm 2 with special attention to the presence of legal motifs in the poem, including that of inheritance rights as a metaphor for YHWH’s delegation of earthly authority. A new impetus for such a reading comes from the recently published Ugaritic legal text RS 94.2168, which provides the first attestation in Ugaritic of a transitive verb BHL denoting the exclusion of a biological heir from the inheritance of his father’s estate. In light of this technical usage, it will be proposed that the Piel form יְבַהֲלֵמוֹ in Psa 2:5 is best understood, not as an act of terrifying the rulers of the earth, but as YHWH’s (metaphorical) disinheritance of them, a declaration that is naturally followed by the designation of his anointed one as the exclusive heir of the nations (2:8).

Affiliations: 1: University of North Carolina at Chapel


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