Another interpretation of  “a song of ascents,” favored by many scholars and commentators, concerns the immediate structure of the Temple itself. Surrounded by a large courtyard, the Courtyard of the Gentiles, to which anybody could come, the Temple itself was defined by a low wall or fence, inside which only Jews were permitted to go (see the discussion on the _Temple Warning_). Immediately inside this fence was a flight of steps up which one had to go to get to the Temple. The suggestion is that these 15 songs of ascents were commonly uttered by the pilgrims as they went up to the Temple from the courtyard.

Inside the temple, another flight of steps led from the Courtyard of the Women to the Courtyard of the Israelites. An alternative suggestion is that the Levites chanted these psalms while going up those steps to the holiest inner parts of the Temple itself where the altar of the sacrifices was located. Both explanations are acceptable.

An exquisite reproduction of ‘Song of Ascents’ is offered by

This scroll was discovered at the Dead Sea Scrolls excavations, and is reproduced by Biblical Reproductions, licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Walter Zanger