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A Hebrew word of uncertain significance that appears in the headings of some thirteen psalms, (Ps 32, Ps 42, Ps 44, Ps 45, Ps 52, Ps 53, Ps 54, Ps 55, Ps 74, Ps 78, Ps 88, Ps 89, and Ps 142). Some current versions of the Bible leave the word untranslated, while others, in accordance with its apparent root meaning of “understand” or “ponder,” translate it as “instruction” or the like. Scholars have suggested that maskil is possibly a technical term relating to the manner of a psalm’s performance or a class of composition. The latter hypothesis is supported by the Psalter’s use of other apparent class names in parallel fashion as well as by the appearance of the word in (Amos 5:13), where it may designate such a class.

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.