This short psalm is considered by most if not all scholars to be a pitifully sad song of disappointment by the returned exiles over their poor state.  Once again I will put my credibility and reputation on the line and say this psalm has been totally misunderstood.  The reason for the misunderstanding?  The tenses of most of the seven Hebrew verbs in these six verses have been ignored.  As I’ve said before, this has been a common practice by those who believed they knew better than the authors what they meant. 

All the verbs in this psalm have been almost universally translated in the perfect tense, when in actuality four of the seven are imperfect, one is imperative, and only two are perfect.  With the tenses translated appropriately, the true intent and meaning of the psalm become clear:  Exiles (or one exile speaking for himself and his exiled companions) are dreaming of and praying for the day of their return to Jerusalem.

שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלֹות בְּשׁוּב יְהוָה אֶת־שִׁיבַת צִיֹּון הָיִינוּ כְּחֹלְמִים׃   126:1

Psal. 126:1   A song of the ascendance:

                     With the Lord bringing back the restoration of Zion,

                               we become like dreamers.

אָז יִמָּלֵא שְׂחוֹק פִּינוּ וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה אָז יֹאמְרוּ בַגּוֹיִם הִגְדִּיל יְהוָה לַעֲשׂוֹת עִם־אֵלֶּה׃   126:2

Psal. 126:2   Then our mouth would be full of laughter,

                              and our tongue, of song.

                      Then they would say in the nations,

                              “The Lord is doing great things with these.”

הִגְדִּיל יְהוָה לַעֲשֹׂות עִמָּנוּ הָיִינוּ שְׂמֵחִים׃   126:3

Psal. 126:3   The Lord is doing great things with us;

                              We are rejoicing.

שׁוּבָה יְהוָה אֶת־(שְׁבוּתֵנוּ) [שְׁבִיתֵנוּ] כַּאֲפִיקִים בַּנֶּגֶב׃   126:4

Psal. 126:4   Lord, turn back our captivity,

                              like streams in the desert.

Another non-error in the parentheses!  In reality, either spelling, the so-called error or the alleged correction in the brackets, is correctly spelled.  The one is a variant of the other, and neither is inappropriate.

הַזֹּרְעִים בְּדִמְעָה בְּרִנָּה יִקְצֹרוּ׃   126:5

Psal. 126:5   Those sowing in tears,

                              let reap in joy.

הָלֹוךְ יֵלֵךְ וּבָכֹה נֹשֵׂא מֶשֶׁךְ־הַזָּרַע בֹּא־יָבֹוא בְרִנָּה נֹשֵׂא אֲלֻמֹּתָיו׃   126:6

Psal. 126:6   One may go walking and wailing,

                              carrying the amount of seed;

                      let him come entering,

                              bearing his sheaves in joy.


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Psalms 126