Tehilim 9 begins like so:

לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל־מוּת לַבֵּן מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד׃

It contains the unfamiliar words עַל־מוּת לַבֵּן in the opening. What does this phrase mean?

  • Note too Psalms 48:15
    – Double AA
    Apr 14 at 19:49

2 Answers 2


According to Rabbi Ahron Marcus in his book on the evolution of Hebrew, Barzilai, pp. 269-270, "על-מות" refers to the soprano of a choir, i.e., the highest pitch. "בן" refers to the child soloist who joins the choir with a high-pitched voice (particularly useful for male-only choirs). So "למנצח על-מות לבן" refers to the child soloist leading the choir with a high pitch in this particular psalm. One such child soloist, Zecharyahu (the) "Ben" (possibly the same one originally referred to in this psalm), is mentioned in Divrei Hayamim 1:20:18. Rabbi Marcus also noted that this explanation seems to have been at least partly alluded to by the Radak.

  • superb and thorough answer, thank you so much. Could be worth a blog post on Tanach Thoughts :) Apr 14 at 17:24
  • 1
    @AviAvraham thanks, you're welcome. That's certainly an idea, although to be truthful, Rabbi Marcus did all of the work. I just happened to have read his book so many times that I remember a lot of his ideas. It can be found on Otzar Hachochmah, BTW.
    – Harel13
    Apr 14 at 17:40

The metzudos learns like the ibn ezra there who interprets it as "upon the death of Laben", who was an enemy of the Jews or of David.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .