Weeping in the Psalms

in Vetus Testamentum
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The motif of weeping in the Psalter has not been a subject of previous study. Scientific study of weeping indicates that crying is a behavior motivated by the need for relationship and care-giving and that tears generate powerful reactions in those who witness them. In the Psalms, speakers draw on the powerful non-verbal eloquence of weeping by mentioning their tears in the contexts of their prayers in order to motivate God to help. This article describes how the motif of weeping functions in the Psalms and analyzes its distribution in the Psalter.

Weeping in the Psalms

in Vetus Testamentum




Lee A. KirkpatrickAttachment Evolution and the Psychology of Religion (New York, NY: Guilford Press2005).


NelsonSeeing Through Tears17.


NelsonSeeing Through Tears23.


Wolfram von Soden“Ist im Alten Testament schon vom Schwimmen die Rede?,” ZAH 4 (1991) 165-70; Kuckhoff Psalm 6 33 80; Oswald Loretz “Psalm 6: Klagelied eines Einzeln: Totenklage im Keret-Epos und Weinen in Ps 67b-8 und Ps 554” in Psalmstudien: Kolometrie Strophik und Theologie ausgewählter Psalmen (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 2002) 75-102 (esp. 84).


Following the reading of Koowon KimIncubation as a Type Scene in the ‘Aqhatu Kirta and Hannah Stories: A Form-Critical and Narratological Study of KTU 1.14 I-1.15 III 1.17 I-II and 1 Samuel 1:1–2:11 (VTSup 145; Leiden: Brill2011) 176.


Lorenz“Psalm 6” 86.


Joseph Ziegler“Dir Hilfe Gottes ‘am Morgen,’” in Alttestamenliche Studien: Friedrich Nötscher zum 60. Geburtstg Gewidmet (Bonn: Peter Hanstein1950) 281-88; J. W. McKay “Psalms of Vigil” ZAW 91 (1979) 231-47; Bernd Janowski Rettungsgewissheit und Epiphanie des Heils: Das Motiv der Hilfe Gottes “am Morgen” im Alten Orient und im Alten Testament (WMANT 59; Neikirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag 1989).


Klaus SeyboldDas Gebet des Kranken im Alten Testament: Untersuchungen zur Bestimmung und Zuordnung der Krankheits- und Heilungspsalmen (BWANT 99; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer1973) esp. 138-42.


Carey Ellen WalshThe Fruit of the Vine: Viticulture in Ancient Israel (HSM 60; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns2000) 216-17.


Virginia R. Anderson-Stojanovic8“The Chronology and Function of Ceramic Unguentaria,” American Journal of Archeology 91 (1987) 105-122; Andrea M. Berlin “Archeological Sources of the History of Palestine: Between large Forces: Palestine in the Hellenistic Period” The Biblical Archeologist 60 (1997) 2-51 (here 32-33); Karen B. Stern “Keeping the Dead in Their Place: Mortuary Practices and Jewish Cultural Identity in Roman North Africa” in Cultural Identity on the Ancient Mediterranean (ed. Erich S. Gruen; Los Angeles CA: Getty Research Institute 2011) 307-34 (here 317).


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