Psalm 122:3
Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together:
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(3) This verse is somewhat perplexing. It is explained to refer either to the rebuilding of the city and reuniting of the parts which had been disconnected in the destruction, or, which is far better (see Introduction), is taken as a rustic’s impression on first seeing a compact city after being accustomed to straggling villages. The astonishment of Virgil’s shepherd is aptly compared: “Urbem quam dicunt Romam, Melibæe putavi, Stultus ego, huic nostræ similem.” But a far more satisfactory meaning is suggested by the LXX. They (comp. Symmachus) take the word rendered compact as a noun, meaning union. The verse then may run: Jerusalem, the (one) built like a city, union is in it together, i.e., it is the rallying point of all the tribes. (See next verse.)

Psalm 122:3. Jerusalem is builded as a city, compact together — Hebrew, שׁחברה לה, shechubberah lah, quæ conjuncta est sibi, which is united, or, compacted to, or, in itself. The word signifies “the connection or joining of things aptly and closely to each other. Thus it is used of the coupling of the curtains of the tabernacle together, Exodus 36:18. Hence it is used to denote the connection and society of friendship, affection, and purpose, Genesis 14:3; Hosea 4:17. In the place before us, both senses seem to be united. Jerusalem was compact as to its buildings, and the inhabitants of it were firmly united by mutual harmony and friendship.” — Chandler. This clause is rendered by Mudge, As a city that is placed in the centre of union. “Jerusalem,” says Dr. Delaney, “the great seat and centre of religion and justice, was the centre of union to all the tribes; the palace, the centre of the city; and the tabernacle, of the palace. Blessed and happy is that nation whose prince is the centre of union to his people, and God (that is, true religion) the common centre and cement both of people and prince.” — Life of David, book 2., chapter 12., page 162.

122:1-5 The pleasure and profit from means of grace, should make us disregard trouble and fatigue in going to them; and we should quicken one another to what is good. We should desire our Christian friends, when they have any good work in hand, to call for us, and take us with them. With what readiness should we think of the heavenly Jerusalem! How cheerfully should we bear the cross and welcome death, in hopes of a crown of glory! Jerusalem is called the beautiful city. It was a type of the gospel church, which is compact together in holy love and Christian communion, so that it is all as one city. If all the disciples of Christ were of one mind, and kept the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, their enemies would be deprived of their chief advantages against them. But Satan's maxim always has been, to divide that he may conquer; and few Christians are sufficiently aware of his designs.Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together - literally, "joined to itself together;" that is, when one part is, as it were, bound closely to another part; not scattered or separate. The walls are all joined together; and the houses are all united to one another so as to make a compact place. The ground occupied by Jerusalem never could be large, as it was surrounded with valleys, except on the north, and hemmed in with hills, so that, from the necessity of the case, when it became the capital of the nation, it was densely crowded. This, moreover, was usual in ancient cities, when they were made compact for the sake of defense and protection. 3-5. compact together—all parts united, as in David's time. Partly in its buildings, which are not dispersed, as they are in villages, nor divided into two cities, as it was before, but united and enlarged, 1 Chronicles 11:7,8; and principally in its government and religion, which was distinct and opposite, before David took the fort of Zion from the Jebusites.

Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together. In David's time the upper and lower city were joined together, the streets regularly built, the houses contiguous, not straggling about, here and there one (c). So the church of God, like that, is built in a good situation, on a rock and hill, where it is firm and visible; like a city full of inhabitants, governed by wholesome laws, under proper officers; a free city, which enjoys many privileges and immunities; a well fortified one, having salvation for walls and bulwarks about it; a royal city, the city of the great King, the city of our God, the name of which is "Jehovahshammah", the Lord is there: and this is "compact together" when its citizens are united in affection to one another; agree in their religious sentiments; join in social worships, and live in subjection to one Head and King, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Jews often speak, and so some of their commentators on this passage, of a Jerusalem above and below, and of the one being made like unto the other: so the Targum,

"Jerusalem is built in the firmament as a city, as Jerusalem on earth;''

see Galatians 4:26.

(c) Hecataeus, an Heathen writer, describes Jerusalem as a strong fortified city, fifty furlongs in circumference; and inhabited by twelve myriads, or a hundred and twenty thousand men. Vid. Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 4.

Jerusalem is builded as a city that is {c} compact together:

(c) By the artificial joining and beauty of the houses, he means the peace and love that was between the citizens.

3. The exclamation of the pilgrims. Jerusalem that art built up as a city which is compacted together, lit. joined together for itself. This is generally understood to refer to the restoration of the city: the walls have been rebuilt, the ruined houses repaired, the gaps and vacant spaces filled up; the city once more presents an aspect of unity, continuity, solidity, widely different from the dilapidated condition in which Nehemiah found it (Nehemiah 2:17; Nehemiah 7:4). But the verb is used metaphorically as well as literally (e.g. Psalm 94:20), and it is possible that the sight of the restored city is to the poet’s eye an emblem of the mutual harmony of its inhabitants or of the unity of the nation. Such a sense is suggested by Coverdale’s beautiful rendering that is at unity with itself, which seems to be a paraphrase of the Vulg. cuius participatio eius in idipsum, LXX ἧς ἡ μετοχὴ αὐτῆς ἐπιτοαυτό, ‘whose fellowship is together.’ This rendering however presumes a slightly different reading of the text.

The Targ. interprets the words of the heavenly Jerusalem—‘Jerusalem which is built in the firmament like a city that is united together upon earth.’

Verse 3. - Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together; rather, Jerusalem that art builded. The primary reference is probably to the compact shape and look of the ancient city, which, as Josephus says, was "one and entire," with no straggling suburbs, shut in on the north by a wall, and on the three other sides both by walls and by deep, rocky valleys. But the material "compactness" was perhaps taken to symbolize the close internal union of the inhabitants one with another, whereby they were all knit together into one Church and people. Psalm 122:3The preterite שׂמחתי may signify: I rejoice (1 Samuel 2:1), just as much as: I rejoiced. Here in comparison with Psalm 122:2 it is a retrospect; for היה with the participle has for the most part a retrospective signification, Genesis 39:22; Deuteronomy 9:22, Deuteronomy 9:24; Judges 1:7; Job 1:14. True, עמדות היוּ might also signify: they have been standing and still stand (as in Psalm 10:14; Isaiah 59:2; Isaiah 30:20); but then why was it not more briefly expressed by עמדוּ (Psalm 26:12)? The lxx correctly renders: εὐφράνθην and ἑστῶτες ἦσαν. The poet, now again on the journey homewards, or having returned home, calls to mind the joy with which the cry for setting out, "Let us go up to the house of Jahve!" filled him. When he and the other visitors to the feast had reached the goal of their pilgrimage, their feet came to a stand-still, as if spell-bound by the overpowering, glorious sight.

(Note: So also Veith in his, in many points, beautiful Lectures on twelve gradual Psalms (Vienna 1863), S. 72, "They arrested their steps, in order to give time to the amazement with which the sight of the Temple, the citadel of the king, and the magnificent city filled them.")

Reviving this memory, he exclaims: Jerusalem, O thou who art built up again - true, בּנה in itself only signifies "to build," but here, where, if there is nothing to the contrary, a closed sense is to be assumed for the line of the verse, and in the midst of songs which reflect the joy and sorrow of the post-exilic restoration period, it obtains the same meaning as in Psalm 102:17; Psalm 147:2, and frequently (Gesenius: O Hierosolyma restituta). The parallel member, Psalm 122:3, does not indeed require this sense, but is at least favourable to it. Luther's earlier rendering, "as a city which is compacted together," was happier than his later rendering, "a city where they shall come together," which requires a Niph. or Hithpa. instead of the passive. חבּר signifies, as in Exodus 28:7, to be joined together, to be united into a whole; and יחדּו strengthens the idea of that which is harmoniously, perfectly, and snugly closed up (cf. Psalm 133:1). The Kaph of כּעיר is the so-called Kaph veritatis: Jerusalem has risen again out of its ruined and razed condition, the breaches and gaps are done away with (Isaiah 58:12), it stands there as a closely compacted city, in which house joins on to house. Thus has the poet seen it, and the recollection fills him with rapture.

(Note: In the synagogue and church it is become customary to interpret Psalm 122:3 of the parallelism of the heavenly and earthly Jerusalem.)

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