Psalm 2:12

Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

What did it mean to "Kiss the Son"?

How is this phrase to be understood based on the context of the times in which this Psalm was written?

  • Septuagint has δράξασθε παιδείας ("embrace [ye] discipline") where the Hebrew has (נַשְּׁקוּ בַ֡ר), translated "kiss the son." (one Jewish translation: "Arm yourselves with purity"). I wasn't aware that בר was used in Hebrew to mean 'son.' I thought it was just an Aramaic word.. wouldn't know either way. Dec 6, 2017 at 17:08
  • @SolaGratia It appears rarely in Hebrew, I would guess as a loan (בר בטני in Proverbs 31:2)
    – b a
    Dec 10, 2017 at 10:17
  • I wonder what the significance is in opting for an 'Aramaism' rather than the native/standard Hebrew word. I'm assuming it isn't altogether arbitrary and pointless. Perhaps to give a more 'colloquial' feel? Dec 10, 2017 at 13:37
  • See also [hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/22983/…
    – Jeschu
    Jun 25, 2023 at 19:19

4 Answers 4


According to the Jewish Encyclopedia there were many different types of kissing with various meanings. The kiss of the son seems to imply great reverence and may have involved kissing his hand or his foot:

"...Kissing the feet is mentioned in the New Testament (Luke vii. 45), and, probably, is referred to in the Old Testament by the metaphorical expression to "lick the dust" (Ps. lxxii. 9; Isa. xlix. 23; Micah vii. 17; Isa. xlix. 23 seems to imply actual contact between feet and lips).

The same reverence shown toward a king or conqueror was displayed toward gods as represented by their idols or symbols. Schwally ("Das Leben Nach dem Tode," p. 8) suggests that the kiss given by Joseph to Jacob when he saw that his father was dead was of the nature of worship of a divine being, as in Hosea xiii. 2, where reference is made to those who, when sacrificing, kissed the golden calf. According to I Kings xix. 18, Elijah could find only 7,000 men in all Israel that had not kissed Baal. A similar custom was found among the Arabs (see Wellhausen, "Reste," p. 109), and is retained to the present day in the Mohammedan ceremony of kissing the Kaaba at Mecca. When Job denies that his mouth has kissed his hand (Job xxxi. 27) he refers to an idolatrous practise in which the hand was kissed toward the object of worship, as the rising sun was greeted in ancient Greece. The idea appears to have been that in some way thebreath was the life of man, and that giving a part of the breath to the object adored was in the nature of a sacrifice (comp. Adoration, Forms of)...


  • 1
    Yours is the best answer so far.
    – user20490
    Dec 10, 2017 at 14:12

Kiss is a sign of honour, adoration, love acknowledgement. It is a sign of acceptance and appreciation. Kiss is also a symbol of worship:

1 Kings 19:18

18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

Hosea 13:1,2

1 When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. 2 And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.

Kiss is honour given to a righteous judge:

Proverbs 24:23-26

23 These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.

24 He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: 25 But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them. 26 Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.

  • 1
    I do not see how quoting these texts answers the question,
    – Nigel J
    Dec 6, 2017 at 15:57
  • @NigelJ He gave scriptural references to explain how kisses were used in ancient Israel. To kiss the son (Lamb) makes sense. After all they "kissed the calves" of bethel in Hosea
    – user20490
    Dec 6, 2017 at 18:15
  • 2
    @user20490 Yes, but the 'answer' was basically the two lines at the top which is not sufficient on a site like this. We are all aware of the scriptures, we need considered and supported comment (in my own view).
    – Nigel J
    Dec 6, 2017 at 19:50
  • @NigelJ I agree with you. This is not an answer according to the site's guidelines. Dec 9, 2017 at 0:57

Psalm 2:12. "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him".

The second part of this verse explains what the first part means. Thus "To kiss the son", means 'to put ones trust in him".

This verse is a prophetic verse, pointing to the importance of putting ones trust in Jesus.

Prophetic verses does not need to have contemporary context, although this verse could have derived from some pagan worship, with the promised future messiah, the "Son", replacing the name of a contemporary pagan deity.

Christmas and Easter have been claimed to be Christenized pagan holidays. The former substituting worship of the Roman sun-God 'Sol Invictus', and the latter worship of the old English deity Ēostre.

  • The latter verse, in this case, doesn't seem to define the former though often it seems to work out that way.
    – Ruminator
    Dec 9, 2017 at 1:03
  • "Prophetic verses do not need to have a contemporary context" - that's a sentence worth discussing in its own right! Dec 11, 2017 at 5:19
  • That is a good point. Dec 11, 2017 at 6:35

See the translator's note of the NET Bible for this verse:

Traditionally, “kiss the son” (KJV). But בַּר (bar) is the Aramaic word for “son,” not the Hebrew. For this reason many regard the reading as suspect. Some propose emendations of vv. 11b–12a. One of the more popular proposals is to read ‏בִּרְעָדָה נַשְּׁקוּ לְרַגְלָיו (birʾadah nashéqu léraslayv, “in trembling kiss his feet”). It makes better sense to understand ‏בַּר (bar) as an adjective meaning “pure” (see Pss 24:4; 73:1 and BDB 141 s.v. ‏בַּר 3) functioning here in an adverbial sense. If read this way, then the syntactical structure of exhortation (imperative followed by adverbial modifier) corresponds to the two preceding lines (see v. 11). The verb נָשַׁק (nashaq, “kiss”) refers metonymically to showing homage (see 1 Sam 10:1; Hos 13:2). The exhortation in v. 12a advocates a genuine expression of allegiance and warns against insincerity. When swearing allegiance, vassal kings would sometimes do so insincerely, with the intent of rebelling when the time was right. The so-called “Vassal Treaties of Esarhaddon” also warn against such an attitude. In this treaty the vassal is told: “If you, as you stand on the soil where this oath [is sworn], swear the oath with your words and lips [only], do not swear with your entire heart, do not transmit it to your sons who will live after this treaty, if you take this curse upon yourselves but do not plan to keep the treaty of Esarhaddon…may your sons and grandsons because of this fear in the future” (see J. B. Pritchard, ed., The Ancient Near East, 2:62).

I will add this:

There are no Aramaisms in Psalm 2 except for the word in question, בַּר (bar). Also, notice that in v. 7 the Hebrew word בֵּן (ben) is used for "son" not the Aramaic word בַּר (bar). I agree with this note that נַשְּׁקוּ־בַר (nashshequ-var) means "kiss purely" and refers to sincere homage that should be given to the Davidic king. Although this expression refers to a literal kiss to a king that would occur in certain circumstances (cf. 1 Sam 10:1 regarding Saul's anointing), I agree with the note that "kiss purely" is probably a metonym or idiom for "give sincere homage" more broadly.

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