The Elohistic Psalter is the modern designation for Psalms 42-83 based on its proclivity for using the name elohim. The use of the name elohim has caused some to regard these psalms as having a northern provenance similar to the E source. The fact that there are hymns to Zion, a clear indication of interests of southern Judah, complicates the picture. The book of Psalms is often divided into five books based on blesses that mark the end of each book, but the Elohistic Psalter spans book two and three, suggesting that this collection of Psalms may be older than the later designation of the psalms into books. Certain psalms are repeated in this collection in places outside of it, Psalm 14 is identical to Psalm 53 except for the change in the divine name. There is still debate on the formation and meaning of the Elohistic Psalter, whether this was a latter editing of certain psalms once incorporated into the book, or if this represents its own unity before inclusion in the Psalms. Laura Joffe has pointed to the number 42 as an important organization principle in the Elohistic psalter, being both the number of times the divine name Yahwhe is used, the number of Psalms included in the Elohistic Pslater and the number on which it starts. Burnett has shown that 42 is also an important number in both Egypt and Mesopotamia (it was the number of hymns compiled by Enheduanna). All of this lends evidence to it being a collection in its own right and not an incomplete redaction.


Coogan, Old Testament Burnett, Joel S. “Forty-Two Songs for Elohim: An Ancient Near Eastern Organizing Principle in the Shaping of the Elohistic Psalter.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 31, no. 1 (September 1, 2006): 81–101. doi:10.1177/0309089206068844.

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