Two instances of Mundus inversus in Psalm 113

Basson, A. (2009-07)

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The psalms often praise Yahweh for his transformative and restorative interventions both in the past and in all times. They portray the deity as the one who offers protection to the weak and defenceless members of society. He uplifts the downtrodden and affords them a place in structure where they gain a new status. In Psalm 113:7-9, Yahweh changes the circumstances of the poor and needy and the childless woman. Social outcasts have their dignity and honour restored. This article explicates these divine acts in terms of the topos of mundus inversus (world-upside down). This cultural phenomenon, which finds expression in artistic, socio-political and religious spheres, accentuates the possibility of another reality by inverting the status quo. Psalm 113 praises Yahweh as the incomparable God who inverts the situation of those condemned to a life of suffering. His incomparability is linked with his power to create a mundus inversus in which the poor and needy have a banquet with nobles and a barren woman takes pleasure in motherhood.

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