Psalm 22:16
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
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(16) Dogs.—Literally, barkers. (For the wild scavenger dogs of the East, comp. 1Kings 12:19, &c) Symmachus and Theodotion render, “hunting dogs.”

The assembly of the wicked denotes the factious nature of the attacks on the sufferer. His enemies have combined, as savage animals, to hunt in packs. Comp. Virgil, Æn. ii. 351:—

——“lupi ceu

Raptores atra in nebula.”

They pierced.—The word thus rendered has formed a battle-ground for controversy. As the Hebrew text at present stands the word reads kāarî (like a lion). (Comp. Isaiah 38:13.) But no intelligible meaning can be got out of “like a lion my hands and my feet.” Nor does the plan commend itself of dividing the verses differently, and reading, “The congregation of wicked men have gathered round me like a lion. On my hands and my feet I can tell all my bones.” The punctuation of the text must therefore be given up, and a meaning sought by changing the reading. The necessity of a change is supported both by the ancient versions and by some MSS., and also by the Masora; though considerable difference exists as to what the word should be read. If the authority of the ancient versions alone were to decide, some verb in the past tense must be read, but the most reasonable course is to accept the present text, but with a different vowel, treating it as a participle, with suffix, of kûr, whose root-idea, according to Ewald, is “to bind;” but according to most other scholars is “to dig.” It is, however, so doubtful whether it can mean to dig throughi.e., to pierce—that it is better to understand here a binding of the limbs so tightly as to dig into them, and wound them. Render: “The band of villains [literally, breakers] surrounded me, binding my hands and feet so as to cut them.”

Psalm 22:16. Dogs have compassed me — So he calls his enemies, or rather the enemies of Christ, for their insatiable greediness, and implacable fierceness against him. The idea seems to be taken from a number of dogs encompassing a distressed deer, which they have hunted down, as is intimated in the remarks on the title. Hereby, Dr. Dodd thinks, are represented the Roman soldiers and the other Gentiles who were with the Jews around the cross. But without such a particular application, it may be interpreted generally of Christ’s enemies, either consulting and conspiring against him, or assaulting him with violence. They pierced my hands and my feet — These words cannot, with any probability, be applied to David, nor to the attempts of his enemies upon him; for their design was, not to torment his hands or feet, but to take away his life. And if it be pretended that it is to be understood of him in a metaphorical sense, it must be considered that it is so uncouth and unusual a metaphor that those who are of this opinion cannot produce any example of such a one, either in the Scriptures or in other authors; nor are they able to make any tolerable sense of the words thus understood. But what need is there of such forced interpretations, when this clause was most properly and literally verified in Christ, whose hands and feet were really pierced, and nailed to the cross, according to the manner of the Roman crucifixions? to whom therefore it is applied in the New Testament.22:11-21 In these verses we have Christ suffering, and Christ praying; by which we are directed to look for crosses, and to look up to God under them. The very manner of Christ's death is described, though not in use among the Jews. They pierced his hands and his feet, which were nailed to the accursed tree, and his whole body was left so to hang as to suffer the most severe pain and torture. His natural force failed, being wasted by the fire of Divine wrath preying upon his spirits. Who then can stand before God's anger? or who knows the power of it? The life of the sinner was forfeited, and the life of the Sacrifice must be the ransom for it. Our Lord Jesus was stripped, when he was crucified, that he might clothe us with the robe of his righteousness. Thus it was written, therefore thus it behoved Christ to suffer. Let all this confirm our faith in him as the true Messiah, and excite our love to him as the best of friends, who loved us, and suffered all this for us. Christ in his agony prayed, prayed earnestly, prayed that the cup might pass from him. When we cannot rejoice in God as our song, yet let us stay ourselves upon him as our strength; and take the comfort of spiritual supports, when we cannot have spiritual delights. He prays to be delivered from the Divine wrath. He that has delivered, doth deliver, and will do so. We should think upon the sufferings and resurrection of Christ, till we feel in our souls the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.For dogs have compassed me - Men who resemble dogs; harsh, snarling, fierce, ferocious. See Philippians 3:2, note; and Revelation 22:15, note. No one can doubt that this is applicable to the Redeemer.

The assembly of the wicked have enclosed me - That is, they have surrounded me; they have come around me on all sides so that I might not escape. So they surrounded the Redeemer in the garden of Gethsemane when they arrested him and bound him; so they surrounded him when on his trial before the Sanhedrin and before Pilate; and so they surrounded him on the cross.

They pierced my hands and my feet - This passage is attended with more difficulty than perhaps any other part of the psalm. It is remarkable that it is nowhere quoted or referred to in the New Testament as applicable to the Saviour; and it is no less remarkable that there is no express statement in the actual history of the crucifixion that either the hands or the feet of the Saviour were pierced, or that he was nailed to the cross at all. This was not necessarily implied in the idea of crucifixion, for the hands and the feet were sometimes merely bound to the cross by cords, and the sufferer was allowed to linger on the cross thus suspended until he died from mere exhaustion. There can be no doubt, however, that the common mode of crucifixion was to nail the hands to the transverse beam of the cross, and the feet to the upright part of it. See the description of the crucifixion in the notes at Matthew 27:31-32. Thus, Tertullian, speaking of the sufferings of Christ, and applying this passage to his death, says that "this was the special or proper - "propria" - severity of the cross." Adv. Marcionem, iii. 19, ed. Wurtz, I. p. 403. See Hengstenberg's Christology, 1,139. The great difficulty in this passage is in the word rendered in our version, "they pierced" - כארי kâ'ăriy. It occurs only in one other place, Isaiah 38:13, where it means as a lion. This would undoubtedly be the most natural interpretation of the word here, unless there were good reasons for setting it aside; and not a few have endeavored to show that this is the true rendering. According to this interpretation, the passage would mean, "As lions, they (that is, my enemies) surround (gape upon) my hands and my feet; that is, they threaten to tear my limbs to pieces." Gesenius, Lexicon. This interpretation is also that of Aben Ezra, Ewald, Paulus, and others. But, whatever may be the true explanation, there are very serious objections to this one.

(a) It is difficult to make sense of the passage if this is adopted. The preceding word, rendered in our version "enclosed," can mean only "surrounded" or "encompassed," and it is difficult to see how it could be said that a lion could "surround" or "encompass" "the hands and the feet." At all events, such an interpretation would be harsh and unusual.

(b) According to this interpretation the word "me" - "enclosed me" - would be superfluous; since the idea would be, "they enclose or surround my hands and my feet."

(c) All the ancient interpreters have taken the word here to be a verb, and in all the ancient versions it is rendered as if it were a verb.

Even in the Masorah Parva it is said that the word here is to be taken in a different sense from what it has in Isaiah 38:13, where it plainly means a lion. Gesenius admits that all the ancient interpreters have taken this as a verb, and says that it is "certainly possible" that it may be so. He says that it may be regarded as a participle formed in the Aramaic manner (from כוּר kûr), and in the plural number for כארים kâ'ăriym, and says that in this way it would be properly rendered, "piercing, my hands and my feet;" that is, as he says, "my enemies, who are understood in the dogs." From such high authority, and from the uniform mode of interpreting the word among the ancients, it may be regarded as morally certain that the word is a verb, and that it is not to be rendered, as in Isaiah 38:13, "as a lion." The material question is, What does the verb mean? The verb - כוּר kûr - properly means "to dig, to bore through, to pierce."

Thus used, according to Gesenius, it would mean "piercing;" and if the word used here is a verb, he supposes that it would refer to the enemies of David as wounding him, or piercing him, "with darts and weapons." He maintains that it is applicable to David literally, and he sees no reason to refer it to the Messiah. But, if so, it is natural to ask why "the hands" and "the feet" are mentioned. Certainly it is not usual for darts and spears thrown by an enemy to injure the hands or the feet particularly; nor is it customary to refer to the hands or the feet when describing the effects produced by the use of those weapons. If the reference were to the enemies of David as wounding him with darts and spears, it would be much more natural to refer to the body in general, without specifying any of the particular members of the body. DeWette renders it "fesseln" - "they bind my hands and my feet."

He remarks, however, in a note, that according to the ancient versions, and the codices of Kennicott and DeRossi, it means durchbohren - bore through. Aquila, Symmachus, and Jerome in five codices, says he, render it bind. The Septuagint renders it ὥρυξαν ōruxan - "they pierced." The Latin Vulgate the same, "foderunt." See the Syriac. For these reasons it seems to me that the common rendering is the true one, and that the meaning is, that, in some proper sense, the enemies here referred to "pierced or bored through" the hands and the feet of the sufferer. Evidently this could not be literally applied to David, for there is not the least authority for supposing that this ever happened to him; nor, as has been shown, was such a thing probable. A casual dart, or the stroke of a spear, might indeed strike the hand or the foot; but it would be unusual and remarkable if they should strike those members of the body and leave the other parts uninjured, so as to make this a matter for special notice; and even if they did strike those parts, it would be every way unlikely that they would "pierce them, or bore them through."

Such an event would be so improbable that we may assume that it did not occur, unless there was the most decisive evidence of the fact. Nor is there the least probability that the enemies of David would pierce his hands and feet deliberately and of design. I say nothing in regard to the fact that they never had him in their possession so that they could do it; it is sufficient to say that this was not a mode of punishing one who was taken captive in war. Conquerors killed their captives; they made them pass under yokes; they put them under saws and harrows of iron (compare 2 Samuel 12:31; 1 Chronicles 20:3); but there is not the slightest evidence that they ever tortured captives in war by piercing the hands and the feet. But, as has been remarked above, there is every reason to believe that this was the ordinary mode of crucifixion. I conclude, therefore, that this must have had original reference to the Messiah. It is no objection to the interpretation that this passage is not expressly referred to as having been fulfilled in the Redeemer, for there are undoubtedly many passages in the prophets which refer to the Messiah, which are not formally applied to him in the New Testament. To make it certain that the prophecy referred to him, and was fulfilled in him, it is not necessary that we should find on record an actual application of the passage to him. All that is necessary in the case is, that it should be a prophecy; that it should have been spoken before the event; and that to him it should be fairly applicable.

16. Evildoers are well described as dogs, which, in the East, herding together, wild and rapacious, are justly objects of great abhorrence. The last clause has been a subject of much discussion (involving questions as to the genuineness of the Hebrew word translated "pierce)" which cannot be made intelligible to the English reader. Though not quoted in the New Testament, the remarkable aptness of the description to the facts of the Saviour's history, together with difficulties attending any other mode of explaining the clause in the Hebrew, justify an adherence to the terms of our version and their obvious meaning. He calls his enemies

dogs for their vileness and filthiness, for their insatiable greediness and implacable fury and fierceness against him. He explains what he means by dogs, even wicked men, who are oft so called, not some few of them singly, but the whole company or congregation of them; whereby may be noted either their great numbers, or their consulting and conspiring together, as it were, in a lawful assembly; which was most literally and eminently fulfilled in Christ.

They pierced my hands and my feet: these words cannot with any probability be applied to David, nor to the attempts of his enemies upon him; for their design was not to torment his hands or feet, but to take away his life. And if it be pretended that it is to be understood of him in a metaphorical sense, it must be considered, that it is so uncouth and unusual a metaphor, that those who are of this mind cannot produce any one example of this metaphor, either in Scripture or in other authors; nor are they able to make any tolerable sense of it, but are forced to wrest and strain the words. But what need is there of such forced metaphors, when this was most properly and literally verified in Christ, whose hands and feet were really pierced and nailed to the cross, according to the manner of the Roman crucifixions, to whom therefore this is applied in the New Testament. See Matthew 27:35 Mark 15:24 Luke 23:33 John 19:18,23,37. For dogs have compassed me,.... By whom are meant wicked men, as the following clause shows; and so the Chaldee paraphrase renders it, "the wicked who are like to many dogs"; and to these such are often compared in Scripture, Matthew 7:6; and it may be the Roman soldiers, who were Gentiles, may be chiefly intended, whom the Jews used to call dogs, Matthew 15:26; these assembled together in Pilate's hall and surrounded Christ, and made sport with him; to these were committed the execution of him, they crucified him, and sat around him watching him while on the cross, as they also did when in the grave: some have thought the dregs of the Jewish people are designed, the common people, such as Job says he would not set with the dogs of his flock, Job 30:1; who encompassed Christ on the cross, wagging their heads at him; though I see not but that all of them, even the chief among them, the high priest, sanhedrim, Scribes, and Pharisees, may be intended; who are so called because of their impurity in themselves; for their avarice and covetousness, being greedy dogs that could never have enough; and for their impudence, calumnies, malice, and envy, against Christ: the allusion seems to be to hunting dogs, who, when they have got the creature they have been in pursuit of, surround it and fall upon it. Christ, in the title of this psalm, is called Aijeleth Shahar, "the morning hind", who was hunted by the Jews, and at last surrounded and taken by them;

the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; the Jewish sanhedrim, the chief priests and elders, who assembled together to consult his death, before whom he was brought when taken; and in, the midst of whom he was set and examined, and by them unanimously condemned; and who, notwithstanding all their pretensions to religion, were a set of wicked men: and also the whole congregation of the Jews, the body of the people, who were united in their request for his crucifixion and death; and who in great numbers got together, and in a circle stood around him when on the cross, insulting him;

they pierced my hands and my feet; by nailing them to the cross, which, though not related by the evangelists, is plainly suggested in John 20:25; and is referred to in other passages of Scripture, Zechariah 12:10; and clearly points at the kind of death Christ should die; the death, of the cross, a shameful and painful one. In this clause there is a various reading; in some copies in the margin it is, "as a lion my hands and my feet", but in the text, "they have dug" or "pierced my hands and my feet"; both are joined together in the Targum, "biting as a lion my hands and my feet"; as it is by other interpreters (c); and Schultens (d) retains the latter, rendering the preceding clause in connection with it thus,

"the assembly of the wicked have broken me to pieces, as a lion, my hands and my feet.''

In the Targum, in the king of Spain's Bible, the phrase, "as a lion", is left out. The modern Jews are for retaining the marginal reading, though without any good sense, and are therefore sometimes charged with a wilful and malicious corruption of the text; but without sufficient proof, since the different reading in some copies might be originally occasioned by the similarity of the letters and and therefore finding it in their copies, or margin, sometimes and sometimes have chose that which best suits their purpose, and is not to be wondered at; however, their "masoretic" notes, continued by them, sufficiently clear them from such an imputation, and direct to the true reading of the words; in the small Masorah on the text it is observed that the word is twice used as here pointed, but in two different senses; this is one of the places; the other is Isaiah 38:13; where the sense requires it should be read "as a lion": wherefore, according to the authors of that note, it must have a different sense here, and not to be understood of a lion; the larger Masorah, in Numbers 24:9; observes the word is to be found in two places, in that place and in Psalm 22:16; and adds to that, it is written "they pierced"; and Ben Chayim confirms (e) this reading, and says he found it so written it, some correct copies, and in the margin and so it is written in several manuscripts; and which is confirmed by the Arabic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Greek, and Vulgate Latin versions; in which it is rendered, "they dug my hands and my feet"; and so took it to be a verb and not a noun: so Apollinarius in his metaphrase; and which is also confirmed by the points; though taking for a participle, as the Targum, that reading may be admitted, as it is by some learned men (f), who render it "digging" or "piercing", and so has the same sense, deriving the word either from or which signify to dig, pierce, or make hollow; and there are many instances of plural words which end in the omitted, being cut off by an apocope; see 2 Samuel 23:8; and either way the words are expressive of the same thing, and manifestly point to the sufferings of Christ, and that kind of death he should die, the death of the cross, and the nailing of his hands and feet to it, whereby they were pierced. This passage is sometimes applied by the Jews (g) themselves to their Messiah.

(c) Amamae Antibarb. Bibl. p. 743. (d) Origin. Heb. l. 1. c. 12. s. 8. Vid. Jacob. Alting. Dissert. Philolog. 5. s. 27-34. (e) In Maarcath fol. 10. 2. ad Calc. Buxtorf. Bibl. (f) Pocock. Miscell. c. 4. p. 59, 60. Pfeiffer. Exercitat. 8. s. 37. Carpzov. Critic. Sacr. p. 838, 839. Alting. ut supra. (Dissert. Philolog. 5.) s. 48, 49. (g) Pesikta in Yalkut, par. 2. fol. 56. 4.

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they {k} pierced my hands and my feet.

(k) Thus David complained as though he were nailed by his enemies in both hands and feet, but this was accomplished in Christ.

16. A fresh description of his foes. An unclean, cowardly, worrying rabble, like the troops of hungry and half-savage dogs with which every oriental city and village still abounds (Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 79), come thronging round him: a gang of miscreants have hemmed him in.

They pierced my hands and my feet] The figure of the savage dogs is still continued. They fly at his feet and hands, and maim them.

The A.V. here rightly deserts the Massoretic text in favour of the reading represented by the LXX, Vulg., and Syr., which have, they dug, or, pierced. Another group of ancient Versions (Aq. Symm. Jer.) gives they bound. (Fixerunt in some editions of Jerome is a corruption for the true reading vinxerunt.) The Massoretic text has, like a lion my hands and my feet. A verb did they mangle must be supplied, but the construction is harsh and the sense unsatisfactory. It seems certain that a somewhat rare verb form כארו (kâ’ărû), ‘they pierced,’ has been corrupted into the similar word כארי (kâ’ărî), ‘like a lion.’ The Targum perhaps preserves a trace of the transition in its conflate rendering, biting like a lion.

The literal fulfilment in the Crucifixion is obvious. But it is nowhere referred to in the N.T.Verse 16. - For dogs have compassed me. "Dogs" now encompass the Sufferer, perhaps the subordinate agents in the cruelties - the rude Roman soldiery, who laid rough hands on the adorable Person (Matthew 27:27-35). Oriental dogs are savage and of unclean habits, whence the term "dog" in the East has always been, and still is, a term of reproach. The assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; or, a band of wicked ones have shut me in. The "band" of Roman soldiers (Mark 15:16) seems foreshadowed. They pierced my hands and my feet. There are no sufficient critical grounds for relinquishing (with Hengstenberg) this interpretation. It has the support of the Septuagint, the Syriac, the Arabic, and the Vulgate Versions, and is maintained by Ewald, Reinke, Bohl, Moll, Kay, the writer in the 'Speaker's Commentary,' and our Revisers. Whether the true reading be kaaru (כָאְרַוּ) or kaari (כָאֲרִי), the sense will be the same, kaarl being the apocopated participle of the verb, whereof kaaru is the 3rd pers. plu. indic. (Heb.: 22:10-12)The sufferer pleads that God should respond to his trust in Him, on the ground that this trust is made an object of mockery. With כּי he establishes the reality of the loving relationship in which he stands to God, at which his foes mock. The intermediate thought, which is not expressed, "and so it really is," is confirmed; and thus כי comes to have an affirmative signification. The verb גּוּח (גּיח) signifies both intransitive: to break forth (from the womb), Job 38:8, and transitive: to push forward (cf. Arab. jchcha), more especially, the fruit of the womb, Micah 4:10. It might be taken here in the first signification: my breaking forth, equivalent to "the cause of my breaking forth" (Hengstenberg, Baur, and others); but there is no need for this metonymy. גּחי is either part. equivalent to גּחי, my pusher forth, i.e., he who causes me to break forth, or, - since גוח in a causative signification cannot be supported, and participles like בּוס stamping and לוט veiling (Ges. 72, rem. 1) are nowhere found with a suffix, - participle of a verb גּחהּ, to draw forth (Hitz.), which perhaps only takes the place, per metaplasmum, of the Pil. גּחח with the uneuphonic מגחחי (Ewald S. 859, Addenda). Psalm 71 has גוזי (Psalm 71:6) instead of גּחי, just as it has מבטחי (Psalm 71:5) instead of מבטיחי. The Hiph. הבטיח does not merely mean to make secure (Hupf.), but to cause to trust. According to biblical conception, there is even in the new-born child, yea in the child yet unborn and only living in the womb, a glimmering consciousness springing up out of the remotest depths of unconsciousness (Psychol. S. 215; transl. p. 254). Therefore, when the praying one says, that from the womb he has been cast

(Note: The Hoph. has o, not u, perhaps in a more neuter sense, more closely approximating the reflexive (cf. Ezekiel 32:19 with Ezekiel 32:32), rather than a purely passive. Such is apparently the feeling of the language, vid., B. Megilla 13a (and also the explanation in Tosefoth).)

upon Jahve, i.e., directed to go to Him, and to Him alone, with all his wants and care (Psalm 55:23, cf. Psalm 71:6), that from the womb onwards Jahve was his God, there is also more in it than the purely objective idea, that he grew up into such a relationship to God. Twice he mentions his mother. Throughout the Old Testament there is never any mention made of a human father, or begetter, to the Messiah, but always only of His mother, or her who bare Him. And the words of the praying one here also imply that the beginning of his life, as regards its outward circumstances, was amidst poverty, which likewise accords with the picture of Christ as drawn both in the Old and New Testaments. On the ground of his fellowship with God, which extends so far back, goes forth the cry for help (Psalm 22:12), which has been faintly heard through all the preceding verses, but now only comes to direct utterance for the first time. The two כּי are alike. That the necessity is near at hand, i.e., urgent, refers back antithetically to the prayer, that God would not remain afar off; no one doth, nor can help except He alone. Here the first section closes.

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