Of Psalms, Seders, and the Crucifixion story

At the Passover Seder Friday evening, during the Hallel, my (Catholic) wife perked up when we got to the phrase “The stone which the builders rejected / Has become the chief cornerstone.”

That is, of course, from Psalm 118:22, and is quoted in Acts 4:11 and Matthew 21:42. Many of you have heard it recently during Easter services.

Elsewhere in the same Psalm: “Out of the depths, I called upon God! / Who answered me with great deliverance.” And later on, “Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will enter into them, I will give thanks to the Lord.” I know that last verse best from the Yom Kippur Neilah (closing) service.

As long as I’m thinking about Psalms, ups and downs, and the Crucifixion story, I have to think about “Eli, Eli lama Sabachthani,” which is the Aramaic translation of the beginning of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

Any Jew hearing this plaint would know and think about how Psalm 22 ends: after exploring the depths, the Psalmist concludes “A seed shall serve him; It shall be told of the Lord unto the next generation. They shall come and shall declare his righteousness / Unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done it.”

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