Eighty pilgrim worshippers arrive at Mizpah (Jer 41:4-41:5)

“On the day after

The murder of Governor Gedaliah,

Before anyone knew of it,

Eighty men arrived

From Shechem,

From Shiloh,

From Samaria.

Their beards were shaved.

Their clothes were torn.

Their bodies were gashed.

They were bringing

Grain offerings

With incense

To present

At the temple of Yahweh.”

The day after the death of Judean governor, 80 pilgrims from the northern areas of Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria came by. As Mizpah was near Jerusalem, they would want to stop there. Obviously, they knew nothing about the death of Governor Gedaliah the day before, but they might have heard about the good times at Mizpah. These pilgrims had shaved beards, torn clothes, and gashes on their bodies, typical signs of mourning. They may have been on their way to mourn the passing of the Temple in Jerusalem with their grain offerings and incense. However, they might also be on the way to celebrate the feast of Tents.

Cry of distress (Ps 120:1-120:2)

A song of ascents

“In my distress

I cry to Yahweh!

Thus he may answer me.

‘Yahweh!

Deliver me

From lying lips!

Deliver me

From a deceitful tongue!’”

Psalm 120 is the first short psalm that begins the psalms that were sung on the way to Jerusalem. There are now 15 songs or psalms of ascent in a row. Thus they use repetitive verses like many of the psalms, so that the processing people could remember them as they went in pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This one is about someone in distress. He cried to Yahweh to answer him. He wanted to be delivered from lying lips and a deceitful tongue.