This 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).
See inter alia B. Becking“‘Wie Töpfe Sollst Du Sie Zerschmeißen:’ Mesopotamische Parallelen zu Psalm 2,9b”ZAW102 (1990) pp. 59-79; K. Koch “Der König als Sohn Gottes in Ägypten und Israel” in E. Otto and E. Zenger (eds.) ‘Mein Sohn bist du’ (Ps 27): Studien zu den Königspsalmen (Stuttgarter Bibelstudien 192; Stuttgart 2002) pp. 1-32; E. Otto “Politische Theologie in den Königspsalmen zwischen Ägypten und Assyrien. Die Herrscherlegitimation in den Psalmen 2 und 18 in ihren altorientalischen Kontexten” in E. Otto and E. Zenger (eds.) ‘Mein Sohn bist du’ pp. 33-65; G. Granerød “A Forgotten Reference to Divine Procreation? Psalm 2:6 in Light of Egyptian Royal Ideology” VT 60 (2010) pp. 323-336.
As argued by G. von Rad“Das judäische Königsritual”Theologische Literaturzeitung72/4 (1947) pp. 211-216. On the origins of this interpretive line and its subsequent critique see J. J. M. Roberts “Whose Child is This? Reflections on the Speaking Voice in Isaiah 9:5” HTR 90 (1997) pp. 115-118.
See N. Habel“The Narrative Art of Job: Applying the Principles of Robert Alter”JSOT27 (1983) p. 105; idem The Book of Job: A Commentary (The Old Testament Library; Philadelphia 1985) pp. 32-33 56 461 571. Marvin Pope appears conflicted between the legal and military interpretations (i.e. a “battle array”) here ( Job [AB 15; New York 1965] p. 247).
Pardee“Firstborn” p. 96; cf. Tropper’s interpretation of the verb as denoting simply ‘dismissal’ with clearly negative connotations (“Zehn neue Texte aus Ugarit” UF 36  p. 517) as well as H. Gzella’s rather neutral assessment (“Some Penciled Notes on Ugaritic Lexicography” BiOr 64  p. 538).
Roberts“Whose Child is This?” pp. 115-129; see also Nicolas Wyatt’s assertion of the “divine birth” interpretation over against the “adoption” one (‘There’s Such Divinity Doth Hedge a King’: Selected Essays of Nicolas Wyatt on Royal Ideology in Ugaritic and Old Testament Literature [SOTS Monograph Series; Aldershot 2005] p. 212 n. 67). On adoption in the Hebrew Bible see J. H. Tigay “Adoption” in F. Skolnik and M. Berenbaum (eds.) Encyclopaedia Judaica 2nd edition (Detroit 2007) 1:415-417; S. Paul “Adoption Formulae: A Study of Cuneiform and Biblical Legal Clauses” MAARAV 2/2 (1979-1980) pp. 173-185.
Roberts“Whose Child is This?” p. 126. The importance of Egyptian motifs for the understanding of Psa 2:7 has also been emphasized recently by Koch (“Der König als Sohn Gottes” pp. 2-15) and Otto (“Politische Theologie in den Königspsalmen” pp. 34-38). For the recent argument that נָסַכְתִּי in 2:6 refers to the concept of divine procreation of the human king see Granerød “A Forgotten Reference to Divine Procreation?” pp. 323-336.