This study started with Psalms 88 + 89. The authors are Heman and Ethan the Ezrahites. I thought a quick look in Bible Gateway and Strong’s and it will be done quick-wrong. Please note that the names of Heman and Ethan are used many times in Scripture and they are not the same people. We normally associate those names with two descendants of Levi who led worship for David and probably Solomon in the First Temple. This took some time to sort out the Ezrahites appear to be from the tribe of Judah.
Ezrahite—This name appears to originate with Zerah, the second son of Tamar and Judah (Genesis 38:27-30). Perez, the first twin out, is the one in David and Jesus’ lineage (Matthew 1, 1 Chronicles 2:10-12). Reference Strong’s #250 Hebrew. They must have been very intelligent because King Solomon in 1 Kings 4:31 is said to be wiser than them. 1 Chronicles 2:6 list the same names and calls them the sons of Zerah. Mahol could be an “unnamed father” who was not important in the family tree, they did things like that in making these lists. 1 Kings could give the idea that they were contemporaries of Solomon, while 1 Chronicles 2 gives the impression that they are much older, like Moses or before. To add to the possibilities, Heman was a seer for King David and Psalm 89 (Ethan) mentions David (more on this later). I will hold on to the older idea and offer some ideas why.
Heman (Psalm 88) – The “title” to this Psalm is imposing. It is a song. It is a psalm. (Yes, those are slightly different according to Strong’s.) It is for the music director. No one is sure what mahalath leannoth really is, and Heman wrote it. To me, that just seems like it had been around a while by the time it got to David. There are no timestamps in this psalm, as far as I could tell. So, trying to place it in history by the association with events or names is hard.
I think it has a somber tone, but many of the entries in Book Three are “dark”. I have felt that way in my life. If Heman wrote it during a period of struggle when nothing seems to be happening in his life, the tone is understandable. Verses 8-18 are very Messianic and show what Jesus endured starting in the Garden and going through the statements He made on the cross.
On a different note-Heman means faithful, and Ezrahite is cherished. It is the only psalm identified as belonging to Heman the Ezrahite, so he must have been special to have had it included in Scripture.
Ethan – The meaning of Ethan is permanent, so is extended out to be the idea of a chieftain. According to Strong’s, the word is translated as strong or strength.
This Psalm seems to be in the time of David because it uses his name and the promises of God to David seem to be repeated in the psalm. Okay, I am stepping out on a limb here without a lot of proof. David, as a Hebrew word, is very special. If you convert the letters to numbers, it adds up to fourteen (see Matthew). It also means “beloved”. There are many websites, Jewish and Christian, that explore the meaning and etymology of this name. So, if you replace David with beloved and refer the passages to Israel/Judah, it still seems to make sense. Yes, that is weak at several levels, but it works.
This psalm also has some negative parts and a section 26-37 that are Messianic and refer to the time Jesus was on the cross.
Well, studies may not always answer questions, but I learned many things doing this. So, my time was well spent and I hope you got something from reading this post of Heman and Ethan the Ezrahite.
Fascinating post! Dark, indeed. And I recall hearing that Psalm 88 is the only one that doesn’t have even one word of hope!
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