Apocryphal Psalms of David
Paraphrase and comments by Martha S. McCabe & Michael D. Hall
The following sections of the Dead Sea Scrolls are commonly
referred to as the Apocryphal Psalms or the Apocryphal Psalms of
David. The scrolls were found in the caves at Qumran, along with many
others. These specific scrolls were discovered in caves 4 and 11.
These scrolls tell of the great deeds of God and of David, as they
praise the works and actions of both. Included in the scrolls
containing the Apocryphal Psalms of David are Psalms 151 and 154,
which are not normally found in the Bible, in which the book of Psalms
ends with Psalm 150. The scrolls can be found in books containing
translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls, in Bibles which include the
Apocrypha, and in some books containing songs and prayers which are
not usually found in a conventional Bible. Much of the contents of
the caves were discovered by bedouins or nomadic people. However, the
majority of the excavation of those same caves was handled by
professionals, trained to take special care of the precious contents
of these ancient caverns. Many of the scrolls which will be explained
herein are only partial, due to the deterioration caused by time and
neglect. As a result of this, the reader is left with fragments of
the original texts. But, luckily, much of what remained of the
scrolls was still readable for a small group of highly trained
The contents of cave 4 were discovered in 1952. This cave is
commonly regarded to be the central library of the Qumran community.
The find included 15,000 fragments which came from roughly 550
different manuscripts. Cave 11 was found to
contain manuscripts in January 1956. The contents of both of these
caves proved to be quite lucrative for the people who found these
scrolls and cared for them before their eventual sales to both museums
and private collectors.
A scroll, found in Cave 11, commonly known as 11Q6 Column 19, was
one of the longer pieces which was found at Qumran. Its surface was
the thickest of any of the scrolls because it is possible that it was
written on calfskin, rather than on sheepskin as were the majority of
other scrolls. While the script of this particular scroll was of very
fine quality, several of the lines of the bottom of the scroll were
Praise God in a loud voice. Testify to his glory in the assembly.
Lift up His name with the righteous and speak of His greatness with
Become one with the perfect and the good to praise the Lord.
Join and worship together to tell of His salvation. And be swift in
making known His fortitude and His righteousness to all the
Knowledge is granted so that we may praise the Lord and tell of his
She is made known to mankind, to speak of His
strength and tell of his greatness to the ignorant,
who have strayed from her gates and have sinned.
For God is the Lord of Jacob and his grace is seen in all his
A person who praises God is recognized by Him
because the worshiper brings and offering and sacrifice of
because the worshiper fills the altar with
Her voice and her songs are heard and sung by the righteous.
When they feast together, she is mentioned.
Their thoughts are on the Law of God and they speak to testify of His
The evil and the rebellious are far from her grace.
See how God has mercy on the good,
and it is great for those who praise Him; He is their soul's
salvation from wickedness.
Praise the Lord who saves the meek from the grasp of the unknown and
delivers the righteous from evil,
Who lifts up a horn from Jacob and a moderator from Israel.
He wants his gathering place to be in Zion, and He picks Jerusalem for
[ . . . ]
will worship God because He has come to judge everything
and to rid the earth of evil,
so that sinners shall find no repose,
the heavens shall give their due,
and there will be no wrong doings there.
The earth will produce crops in its season
and they shall not fail.
The fruit trees shall [ . . . ] of their vineyards
and their springs will not dry up.
The poor will eat for those who follow YHWH shall not go hungry.
[ . . . ]
[ . . . ] meanwhile the heavens and earth will praise together
And all the evening starts will then adore.
Rejoice, Judah, be happy!
Be glad and let your joy shine forth!
Keep your feasts and your oaths
because within you there is no Belial.
Raise your hand, make your right hand strong. See, your foes shall be
And all evil doers shall fell.
But you, YHWH, shall remain forever.
Your glory is everlasting.
Hallelujah. Of David, son of Jesse.
My brothers were bigger than me and I was the youngest of my father's
He made me the master of His flocks, and shepherd of his goats. My
hands created a flute, my fingers a lyre,
and I praised God. I told myself that neither the mountains nor
the hills tell me of the glory of God, nor the trees His words,
nor the flocks His actions.
Who, then will tell of God's deeds? God saw all
He heard all and listened. He sent his prophet to anoint me,
Samuel, to sift me up. My brothers went out to meet him, well built,
beautifully presented. They were very tall
and had lovely hair, but the Lord did not pick them, He sent for me
from tending the flock
and anointed me with holy oil and made me a ruler of His people and of
the sons of His covenant.
[ . . . ]
First of David's exploits after the Lord's prophet had anointed him
Then I saw a Philistine threatening from enemy lines [ . . . ]
Impoverished and feeble am I for
[ . . . ]
For not even a worm can praise You nor insects recount Your grace
The living can thank You and those who fall shall praise You
You show them the ways of Your holiness and grace for You care for the
souls of every living thing;
You provide for all living things. Judge us, O God, with Your kind
ways, Your grace, and Your
Justice. The Lord hears the please of his followers.
He has not shunned them. Praise be to God who does good things
and rewards his followers with His kindness. May my spirit lift up
to recount with joy Your righteous deeds, and proclaim Your eternal
And in Your grace, I have sought sanctuary. The images of Your might
life up my heart. I find peace in Your righteousness.
Forgive me, Lord, and free me from my sins.
Give to me a sense of honor and knowledge. May I not be shamed in
Protect me from unclean spirits, save me from pain and temptation.
For You, O Lord, are my salvation, and I praise You everyday.
My people rejoice with me and are awestruck by Your power.
I will adore You and worship You for all eternity.
 Martínez, xlii.
 Psalms Scroll, 12-06-98.
 This was the first instance in this scroll
that spawned a great deal of debate. There does not appear to be a
direct antecedent for the feminine pronouns in this section. It was
hypothesized that the pronouns would be referring to the wisdom or
knowledge of or about God. It could also be a reference to divine
androgyny, although this is unlikely because of the time period in
which this scroll was written. Also, the feminine pronouns could mean
the "Law of the Most High" as it appeared in the original text. In
addition to all of these options, it could have been a result of
translations from the original texts, and the words in the original
scrolls were feminine, such as nouns are in many romance languages of
today. Because of this, previous translators may have left the
feminine pronouns in the text as was done in this case.
 In this case, the author wrote, "Celebrate
your feasts and pay your vows." (Vermes, 309)
The use of the word 'feasts' led to speculation
about the intent of the definition of the word once again. While
'feasts' could simply mean food, it could also be referring to
celebrations or traditions of a religious or even secular nature.
Because of uncertainty, the word was left intact in the text.
 A biblical name of the devil or one of the
 This psalm can be found in a Bible
containing the Apocrypha.
 There are
two conflicting punctuation techniques on this phrase. Martinez translates,
My hands made a flute.
However, Vermes wrote,
my fingers a lyre,
and I gave glory to YHWH.
I said to myself:
the mountains do not witness in his favour . . . (p. 310.)
My hands have made a pipe and my fingers a lyre.
In the first version, the author writes as if the speaker talks about the
mountains to himself. In the second version, it seems as if he
glorified God to himself. While these differences may seem
insignificant, they can lead to debate-causing confusion.
I have rendered glory to the Lord; I have said so in my soul.
The mountains do not testify to him, and the hills do not . . .(p. 302.)
 Because of the uncertainty about the
original author's intent for the definition of the word anointed,
whether it was meant to be construed as meaning to baptize or to
christen, to elect as a chosen one, or to literally rub something on
the individual. As a result of this enigma, the original word
"anoint" was left in this translation. This occurred a couple of
times in this text.
Martínez, Florentino García. The Dead Sea Scrolls
Translated. Trans. Wilfred G. E. Watson. Leiden, the
Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1996.
Vermes, Geza. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English.
Middlesex, England: The Penguin Press, 1997.
Wise, Michael, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, The Dead Sea
Scrolls: A New Translation. New York: Harper Collins
Intro. to the Hebrew Bible
by Martha S. McCabe and Michael D. Hall