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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Degrees

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Psalms of Degrees is a name given, to fifteen psalms, from the 120, to the 134, inclusive. The Hebrew text calls them a song of ascents. Junius and Tremellius translate the Hebrew a song of excellences, or an excellent song, from the excellent matter they contain. Some call them psalms of elevation, because they were sung with an exalted voice, or because at every psalm the voice was raised; but the translation of psalms of degrees has more generally obtained. Some think that they were called psalms of degrees, because they were sung upon the fifteen steps of the temple; but they are not agreed where these steps were. Others are of opinion, that they were so denominated, because sung in a gallery, which was in the court of Israel, where the Levites sometimes read the law. Calmet thinks, that they were called songs of degrees, or of ascent, because they were composed on occasion of the deliverance of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon, either to implore this deliverance from God, or to return thanks for it after it had been obtained; and that the Hebrews used the term to go up, when they spoke of their journeying from Babylon to Jerusalem. Others are of opinion, that these psalms were sung during the time of service, while the flesh, &c, were consuming on the altar, and while the fume and smoke ascended toward heaven; and that the title Psalms of Ascent seems to favour this supposition. The point is involved in entire obscurity; and, after all, the title of these Psalms may be only a musical direction to the temple choir.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Degrees'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/d/degrees.html. 1831-2.

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