What ailed you, O you sea, that you fled? you Jordan, that you were driven back?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? what is the meaning that thou didst not continue to flow as usual? what was it that stopped thy flowing tide? that cut off thy waters? that drove them back as fast or faster than they came?What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)5, 6. The past becomes present to the poet’s mind, and he challenges Nature to explain its behaviour.
The A.V. misses the vividness of the Hebrew tenses. Render:
What aileth thee, thou sea, that thou fleest?
Thou Jordan, that thou turnest back?
Ye mountains, that ye skip like rams?
Ye hills, like young sheep?Verses 5, 6. - What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou filledest thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back t. ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs? Most poetically, the psalmist apostrophizes the sea, the Jordan, the mountains, and the lesser hills, inquiring of them for what reason they had forsaken their nature and done such strange things; or rather, addressing them as present, and as if the scenes were being enacted before his eyes, and asking why they are so strangely employed - what is causing the commotion and disturbance (see the Revised Version, where the present tense is used throughout the two verses). Psalm 113:7 and Psalm 113:8 are transplanted from the song of Hannah. עפר, according to 1 Kings 16:2, cf. Psalm 14:7, is an emblem of lowly estate (Hitzig), and אשׁפּת (from שׁפת) an emblem of the deepest poverty and desertion; for in Syria and Palestine the man who is shut out from society lies upon the mezbele (the dunghill or heap of ashes), by day calling upon the passers-by for alms, and by night hiding himself in the ashes that have been warmed by the sun (Job, ii. 152). The movement of the thoughts in Psalm 113:8, as in Psalm 113:1, follows the model of the epizeuxis. Together with the song of Hannah the poet has before his eye Hannah's exaltation out of sorrow and reproach. He does not, however, repeat the words of her song which have reference to this (1 Samuel 2:5), but clothes his generalization of her experience in his own language. If he intended that עקרת should be understood out of the genitival relation after the form עטרת, why did he not write מושׁיבי הבּית עקרה? הבּית would then be equivalent to בּיתה, Psalm 68:7. עקרת הבּית is the expression for a woman who is a wife, and therefore housewife, הבּית (בּעלת) נות, but yet not a mother. Such an one has no settled position in the house of the husband, the firm bond is wanting in her relationship to her husband. If God gives her children, He thereby makes her then thoroughly at home and rooted-in in her position. In the predicate notion אם הבּנים שׂמחה the definiteness attaches to the second member of the string of words, as in Genesis 48:19; 2 Samuel 12:30 (cf. the reverse instance in Jeremiah 23:26, נבּאי השּׁקר, those prophesying that which is false), therefore: a mother of the children. The poet brings the matter so vividly before him, that he points as it were with his finger to the children with which God blesses her.
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