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What was the common interpretation among the Jews Psalm 2:7, before the birth of Jesus?

I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.

How would this verse have been interpreted by those who lived before Jesus? What was the meaning of the whole chapter before Jesus?

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Ps 2 has always been regarded as a messianic psalm - rather obviously due to the direct and explicit reference to the LORD's "anointed" (= messiah) in v2.

The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together, against the LORD and against His Anointed One

Further, it is also stated that this messiah would be the king on Mt Zion: in V6

“I have installed My King on Zion, upon My holy mountain.”

Finally, we have the declaration that this anointed messiah, who is king, is the Son of God in V7

I will proclaim the decree spoken to Me by the LORD: “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father.

Thus, Ps 2 is very obviously a messianic psalm. Now, who this messiah is, is a completely different question. The fact that the NT spends a lot of time explaining that Jesus fulfilled these (and many other) messianic prophecies (eg, Acts 4:25, 26, 13:33, Heb 1:5, 5:5, Rev 2:27, 12:5, 19:5) is another matter.

However, the point remains that Ps 2 is, and always has been regarded as messianic.

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    Anointed could also refer to the king. King David was anointed. So putting anointed (=messiah) is a bit confusing.
    – Kapandaria
    Oct 19, 2022 at 8:27
  • @Kapandaria - see the final verses of Ps 2. It is only confusing if you want it to be.
    – Dottard
    Oct 19, 2022 at 9:53
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    You say "Ps 2 always been regarded as a messianic psalm" without providing any pre-Christian sources. Do you have anything in mind? Oct 19, 2022 at 14:29
  • @K.J.Eastvold - se for example thetorah.com/article/psalm-2-is-the-messiah-the-son-of-god regarding the second temple period.
    – Dottard
    Oct 19, 2022 at 18:16
  • Dottard, thanks! They cite 4Q174 (a messianic testimonia collection), which cites Ps 2:1, and Pss Sol 17, which does not cite Ps 2 at all. 4Q174 is relevant for sure, but it does not directly cite verse 7. Oct 19, 2022 at 18:32
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Psalm 2 is a messianic psalm or a psalm that speaks of a messiah who will rule the nations from Zion. Jews who do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah still see this verse as speaking of a coming Messiah. The Old Testament portrays both the Jewish people and the Messiah as Gods son. In Exodus 4:22 God declares that Israel is His first-born son. In 1 Chronicles 17:13 God speaks of an eternal ruler who will come from the line of David saying, “I will be to him a father, and he will be to me a son”. This passage is speaking of the future messiah because God says that this particular son of David will reign forever. Christians see Jesus in these passages because he claimed to be the Messiah. Jews see a coming Messiah in these passages.

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  • Does Psalm 2:7 also speak of David being chosen by God to be king? Is this verse purely messianic? does it not apply to David? Oct 19, 2022 at 1:18
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In Acts 4, the psalm is attributed to David. So this is who the Jewish people understood as the author. Yes it has a prophetic meaning about the Messiah, but before Jesus, you can also read this as David speaking.

It is not too hard to imagine that the Lord spoke to David and said these very words: "You are my son; today I have become your father." Perhaps he needed to hear these comforting words from the eternal Father himself, considering that he probably suffered from some rejection issues by his own father who consigned him to tend to the sheep.

While not explicit, this psalm could have been written around the time that David received his throne as king, having received a promise from God that it would be a strong and powerful kingdom.

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I just posted this on a similar thread earlier. The question you should be asking is not how someone else may interpret this verse but how does scripture interpret this verse.

“Today” is considered by some scholars and commentators to be a reference to what is called “the eternal generation of the Son.”

The assertion behind this opinion is that “Today I have begotten you,” does not reflect upon Jesus’ humanity but upon his eternal existence. Origen (184–253), believed that “today” refers to

"that timeless ever-present, eternal day which Christ inhabits;"

He argues that since time has no boundaries with God, it is thus always “today.” Origen was correct in his assertion of the eternal nature of the Son. However, he completely missed the point the Hebrew writer is making in verse five. This is not at all how the word “today” is used in the context of “begotten.” While Jesus is indeed the eternal self-existing One, without beginning and without end, this is not the point being made by the Hebrew writer. The context of verse five is not to establish the eternal existence of Jesus, but to declare through the psalmist, the enthronement of Zion's King. The writer is not talking about Jesus' timeless, eternal existence, he is defining a specific point in linear time. Verse five is not presenting Jesus as God in eternity, but as man in time, in his mediatorial role.

A.W. Pink in his Exposition of Hebrews pp. 50-51 properly regards “today” as a fixed point in linear time, but then he completely misapplies the point of time by pointing to the virgin birth as the “today” in which Jesus was called begotten. He then appeals to Luke 2:11 which reads

“Unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior which is Christ the Lord.”

As in all cases, if we want to know the revealed meaning of “today” in this context, it behooves us to avoid speculation and allow scripture to interpret its own use of language.

In Acts 13:31-38, we have a record from a very prominent Jew of that time of a revealed interpretation of this verse. Here, Paul addressed the Jewish officials in the synagogue of Antioch of Pisidia demonstrating that Jesus is the divinely appointed King who is David's heir to the throne. Paul confirmed the fact that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead fulfilled the words of Psalms 2:7, “Today I have begotten you.” So, according to Paul's inspired interpretation, “today” refers not to Jesus' eternal sonship as Origen suggested, nor to his incarnation as suggested by Pink. Paul explains that “today” refers to Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Notice what Paul says,

“God has fulfilled this...IN THAT (This stresses the mode of fulfillment) he RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD"

Not in that Jesus inhabits that “ever-present, eternal day,” and not in that Jesus was “born this day in the city of David,” but

“IN THAT HE RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD as it also says in the second Psalm ‘Today, I have begotten you.’”

Since Paul confirms the resurrection as the “today” referred to by the psalmist, this renders mute all other arguments, interpretations, explanations, and speculations. Scripture has spoken.

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    Scripture is nothing but "someone's" interpretation and writing like anything else.
    – Michael16
    Oct 19, 2022 at 8:16
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What is the meaning of Psalms 2:7 before Jesus?

The meaning of Psalms 2:7 before Jesus is, God annointed David to be king as 1 Samuel 16:12-13 show. Jesus' declaration of his own annointment is shown in Luke 4:18. Isaiah 61:1

1 Samuel 16:12-13 ASV

And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look upon. And Jehovah said, Arise, anoint him; for this is he Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

Luke 4:18 Aramaic Bible in Plain English

“The Spirit of THE LORD JEHOVAH is upon me, and because of this he has anointed me to preach The Good News to the poor; he has sent me to heal broken hearts and to proclaim liberty to captives, vision to the blind, and to restore the crushed with forgiveness,”

Isaiah 61:1 ASV

The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me; because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

This was also confirmed in Acts 4:24:26 shows. God selected David to be king. God did the same with David's son Solomon.2 Samuel 7:12-14.

Acts 4:24-26 ASV

And they, when they heard it, lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, O Lord, thou that didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: who by the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David thy servant, didst say, Why did the Gentiles rage, And the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth set themselves in array, And the rulers were gathered together, Against the Lord, and against his Anointed:

2 Samuel 7:12-14 ASV

When thy days are fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, that shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: if he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men;

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  • 2 Samuel 7:12-14 speaks about king Solomon. He built the Temple. And I guess you cannot say "if he commit iniquity" about the Messiach. And forever here means for a long period. One thing is sure that this prophecy is not about Jesus, because he did not build a Temple.
    – Kapandaria
    Oct 19, 2022 at 17:14
  • @Kapandaria. I know that it is about Solomon. The question is about the meaning of Psalm 2:7 before Jesus. Do you think that the verse in question was not initially applied to David when God anointed him to be king, and then later to his son Solomon. Did God not say that He will be a Father to Solomon too. Is Psalm 2:7 exclusively messianic or was it applied to somebody before Jesus? Oct 19, 2022 at 18:58
  • Yes, this is the question. I did not understamd your answer. you brought many verses without describing your intentions.
    – Kapandaria
    Oct 19, 2022 at 20:14
  • @Kapandaria. My answer to this question is, God annointed David to be king as 1 Samuel 16:12-13 show. God did the same thing to Solomon. My question to you is, Was Psalm 2:7 applied to somebody else other than Jesus (David, Solomon) or anybody? Oct 19, 2022 at 22:17
  • There is also a way to interpret some of these verses on the children of Israel, as one united nation. In psalms 105, there is reference to the Israelites as Messaich in plural form. In Exodus there is a reference for calling Israel as firstborn. But this interpretation does not match Psalm 2:6. And besides, I do not see Jesus fit in into these verses. Because he didn't rule, rather he got crucified.
    – Kapandaria
    Oct 20, 2022 at 7:07
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The only pre-Christian allusion to Ps 2:7 I could find comes from 1QSa (Community Rule) 2:11-12: "At [a ses]sion of the men of renown, [those summoned to] the gathering of the community council, when [God] begets [יוליד] the Messiah with them" This is the "Messiah of Israel" i.e. the royal messiah as apposed to the priestly "Messiah of Aaron." This is the only evidence of pre-Christian use of Ps 2:7 in reference to a royal messiah. I would not consider this a widespread belief. But you do have Psalms of Solomon 17, which is about the expected Davidic messiah. This poem nowhere alludes to Ps 2 though. Translation is from Martinez and Tigchelar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 103.

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If you duckduckgo this question you find the relevant answers in the results.

You can also search the verse keywords on Sefaria to find some. Here is a relevant quote showing its default interpretation.

"The rabbis have taught, the Holy One, blessed by He, will say to Messiah ben David, may he be revealed soon in our days. ‘Ask of Me anything and I shall give it to you.’ For it is written, Adonai said to me, ‘Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of Me and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance (Psalm 2:7-8).’ And when he will see that Messiah ben Joseph will be slain, he will say before Him, ‘Master of the World! I ask nothing of you except life.’ G~d will say to him, ‘Even before you said, "life," your father David prophesied about you, as it is written, ‘He asked life of thee, Thou gavest it to him. (Psalm 21:5)’ " [Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 52a]

Source in Sefaria

Read more quotes on JewsforJesus:

Midrash on Psalms (11th c.)
This day have I begotten thee []. R. Huna said: Suffering is divided into three portions: one, the Patriarchs and all the generations of men took; one, the generation that lived in the time of [Hadrian's] persecution took; and one, the generation of the lord Messiah will take. When the time comes, the Holy One, blessed be He, will say: "I must create the Messiah -- a new creation." As Scripture says, This day have I begotten thee -- that is, on the very day of redemption, God will create the Messiah.

Ask of Me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession (). God, speaking to the Messiah, says: If thou dost ask for dominion over the nations, already they are thine inheritance; if for the ends of the earth, already they are thy possession.

R. Johanan taught: To three men -- Solomon, Ahaz, and the lord Messiah -- the Holy One, blessed be He, said, "Ask of me." To Solomon, as is written In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said: "Ask what I shall give thee" (). To Ahaz, as is written "Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God: ask it either in the depth, or in the height above" ()....To the lord Messiah, as is written Ask of Me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession.

Williams G. Braude, translator, The Midrash on Psalms (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987, © 1959; Yale Judaica Series), vol. 1, pp. 41-44.

Source in Sefaria (Hebrew only)

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  • Can you find the link in Sefaria for the midrash?
    – Kapandaria
    Oct 19, 2022 at 9:45
  • I edited the link of sefaria with search results. Try different keywords about that chapter or use "Messiah" with the keywords for better results. Study the Talmud or whatever midrashic books to learn the real biblical hermeneutics.
    – Michael16
    Oct 20, 2022 at 2:51
  • Midrash is a personal exposition. The sages say every word of scripture is about the Messiah. So you can yourself apply any other passage to him which has not been applied by other. "All the prophets prophesied only of the days of the Messiah." [Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 99a]
    – Michael16
    Oct 20, 2022 at 3:07
  • Funny thing, in Midrash of psalms, one passage before J4J cite, it goes "דבר אחר בני אתה. מכאן תשובה לאומרים יש לו בן. ואת מותיב להון בן לי אתה אינו אומר אלא בני אתה כעבד שעושה לו רבו קורת רוח ואומר לו אנא מחבב לך כברי."
    – Kapandaria
    Oct 20, 2022 at 12:35
  • “You are my son”—from here a rejoinder can be derived against those who say God has a son. You can confront them with “it does not say ‘you are a son to me’ but ‘you are my son.’ This is like a slave, whose master wishes to give him peace of mind, says to him, ‘I love you like my own son.’”
    – Kapandaria
    Oct 20, 2022 at 12:38

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