The books of „Tehillim,“ also known as „Psalms,“ represent a fascinating, central collection of poetic texts within a wide variety of religions, but especially within Judaism. They are a total of five small booklets containing a diverse range of human experience as well as ecstatic praise. In addition to liturgical texts, the „Tehillim“ also contain deeply felt laments and open up an overall view into the human soul.
The „Tehillim“ deal, for example, with gratitude, suffering and hope and provide a deep understanding of cultural and religious realities. They are thus considered important works within Judaism. But what exactly are the „Tehillim“ about, where do they come from and what message do they convey? The following article is intended to provide a comprehensive explanation of this. Furthermore, the meaning of the „Tehillim“ for Judaism and the everyday life of Jewish believers shall be worked out.
Definition of „Tehillim“
The term „Tehillim“ comes from the Hebrew language and means something like „praise songs“ or „songs of praise“. Tehillim“ itself is derived from „tehillah“, which means praise, but also price. This refers to various songs, texts and psalms that are intended to convey a multifaceted literary landscape full of emotion and spirituality. The 150 or so poems and songs contained in each of the five „Tehillim“ are about human relationships, but also about emotions, happiness and unhappiness.
From the sublime praises of creation to the desperate cries for help, the „Tehillim“ offer a unique insight into human traits and thus serve as an important source of inspiration, experience, and and spiritual reflection. The „Tehillim“ are thus altogether very valuable and important books, all of which believing Jews must have read at some point in the course of their lives.
Origin and History of „Tehillim“
The origins of today’s „Tehillim“ go back to ancient Israel. Here it is said: „Moses gave the Israelites the five books of the Torah, and David, on the other hand, gave them the five books of the Psalms (the „Tehillim“)“. – reads a rabbinic commentary in the „Midrash Tehillim“, dated to the 3rd to 9th century AD. According to historians, the „Tehillim“ thus emerged over several centuries. Around this time, David’s extensive wealth of experience was divided among the five books of the „tehillim.“
Combined with local hymns and poems, this created a unique collective that represents the cultural treasure of the Israeli people. Throughout history, the „tehillim“ were then used in a variety of religious contexts, from temple ceremonies to individual prayers. The history of the „Tehillim“ thus reflects the extraordinary development of Jewish spirituality and is still very significant today.
What are the contents of the „Tehillim“? Explanation
The „Tehillim“ have a number of poems, songs, psalms as well as praises, which were collected in the course of the centuries from Jewish deities as well as from the Jewish people. The following subsections will be used to explain the following points in connection with the „Tehillim“:
- Structure of the books
- Structure of the Psalms
- Division into five books
Structure of the books
The structure of the „Tehillim“ books is initially different from what one would expect, since they are quite diverse. Each book has a unique thematic composition. The aim is to cover a wide range of human emotions with the help of the five books – for example, for training or educational purposes. In this way, psalms (i.e., a poetic, religious text), hymns, and poems and songs alternate again and again. This impressive arrangement reflects not only artistic sophistication, but also a deep structuring that provides for a comprehensive representation of the human experience. The „Tehillim“ thus appear to be readable and varied, while at the same time extremely instructive.
Structure of the Psalms
The psalms themselves are also characterized by great variety. Individual psalms, however, vary considerably in their form and content. Thus, among others, the following types of psalms are found in the „Tehillim“:
- wisdom teachings
- emotional stories
Many of the psalms contained in the „Tehillim“ are written in poetic language that not only emphasizes their emotional depth, but also highlights their artistic beauty.
Division into five books
The division into the five books „Tehillim“ has not only a thematic and an organizational relevance – rather, this division also allows an insight into the spiritual development that the Jewish people went through between the 3rd and 9th century AD. Each book reflects the different stages of history. The five books „Tehillim“ are divided into the following:
1. first book (with the Psalms 1 to 41)
2. second book (with the psalms 42 to 72)
3. third book (with the Psalms 73 to 89)
4th Book (with Psalms 90 to 106)
5. fifth book (with psalms 107 to 150)
What are the „Tehillim“ used for?
The „Tehillim“ are of great importance in Jewish everyday life. They serve as the basis for various religious practices, such as prayers, songs of praise, lamentations and expressions of gratitude. Thus the „Tehillim“ represent a central element of the Jewish, religious life. The „Tehillim“ are thus not only prayers, but also a source of spiritual reflection and inspiration that penetrates deeply into the individual and collective soul. Jewish believers therefore carry individual or even all five „Tehillim“ with them in everyday life and use the ride on the train or the short walk in the park for a short reading within them. In this way, mental recreation can take place.
How important are the „Tehillim“ for Judaism?
The bottom line is that the „Tehillim“ serve as a rich source full of religious inspiration and are often read in Judaism in everyday life. They represent a smorgasbord consisting of various psalms, hymns, laments, as well as poems and parables compiled by Jewish clergy as well as the Israeli people over the course of centuries.
Related to the term „Tehillim“ are, among others, the terms „Tefillin“ as well as „Kippa“, which are also Hebrew words. While a „tefillin“ is the typical Jewish prayer strap, an e represents Jewish headgear worn by men in Judaism to express their divine attachment.