Psalm 68:18
You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive: you have received gifts for men; yes, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBTODWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Thou hast ascended on high.—Or, to the height, i.e., Mount Zion, as in Psalms 24 (Comp. Jeremiah 31:12; Ezekiel 20:40.)

Captivity captive.—Or, captives into captivity. (See Judges 5:12, Note.)

For men.—This rendering is inadmissible. Literally, in man, which is equivalent to our of men. Gifts of men are therefore captives or hostages, viz., the rebellious in the next clause, i.e., the heathen, whom the poet describes as subjected to Jehovah, and their land made His dweiling-place. (For St. Paul’s citation of this verse, or its original, see Note, Ephesians 4:8, New Testament Commentary.)

Psalm 68:18. Thou hast ascended on high — “When the ark had ascended mount Zion, and was deposited in the place assigned for it, the singers are supposed, by Dr. Chandler, to gave proceeded with this part of the Psalm, in which (he thinks) they celebrate the ascension of their God and king, by the symbol of his presence, to the heights of Zion, after having subdued their enemies, and enriched his people with the spoil of the vanquished, and the gifts of the tributary nations; of which much was probably employed in the service of the tabernacle, and afterward in building the temple, first designed by David, that the Lord God might dwell and have a fixed habitation among his people.” — Horne. But although David, in composing this Psalm for the occasion, as is supposed, of removing the ark, might probably, in this part of it, refer in some measure to the ascent of that symbol of the divine presence to the top of mount Zion; yet his expressions are evidently too strong and exalted to be confined to that transaction, or even to have been primarily intended of it. He certainly speaks principally of another and much more important event, typified, indeed, by that ascent of the ark, and the advantages resulting therefrom to the people, but far more glorious in itself, and producing effects of infinitely greater consequence, not only to the Jews, but to the whole human race. He speaks of the ascension of the Messiah into heaven, in consequence of his victory over his and our enemies, obtained by his death and resurrection. And, accordingly, as is well known, his words are so applied by the apostle to the Gentiles, Ephesians 4:8, who, guided as he was, by the Spirit of truth, certainly neither did, not could, mistake the meaning of this divine oracle given forth by the inspiration of the same Spirit. It must, however, be acknowledged, that, having been speaking of victories and conquests in war, he borrows, as it was natural for him to do, his expressions on this subject from the ancient custom of princes and generals of armies, who, after such glorious achievements, were wont to go up into their royal cities in triumphant chariots, being attended by their captive enemies, and afterward to distribute divers gifts to their soldiers and subjects, and sometimes to do some acts of clemency, even to their enemies and rebels, and to receive them into the number of their own people. In allusion to this, he here represents the victorious Captain of our salvation as ascending to his royal city in the heavens, leading his enemies captive, and conferring the most important gifts, privileges, and blessings on his subjects, and even on such as had been rebels against his government. Thou hast led captivity captive — That is, either those who did formerly take thy people captive, or rather, those whom thou hadst taken captive, as this expression is most commonly used. See Deuteronomy 21:10; Jdg 5:12. Thus poverty is but for the poor, 2 Kings 24:14; see the Hebrew. This is meant of Satan, sin and death, and of all the enemies of Christ and his people, whom he led in triumph, having spoiled them, and making a show of them openly, as is expressed Colossians 2:15. Thou hast received gifts for men — Hebrew, באדם; εν ανθρωπω, in the man, as the LXX. render it, that is, in the human nature, wherewith thou wast pleased to clothe thyself, that thou mightest be a merciful and faithful High-Priest in things pertaining to God. Not in thy Godhead; but according to thy manhood, thou hast received from God all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and all those gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit which are necessary, either to the perfection of thy nature, or the good of thy church and people; or, for men; not for angels; “fallen angels were not to be made saints,” says Henry, “nor standing angels ministers. Not for Jews only, but for all men; whosoever will may reap the benefit of these gifts.” The apostle, in the reference which he makes to these words, names some of these gifts: they were prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers; namely, the institution of a gospel ministry, and the qualification of men for it, both which are to be valued as the gifts of God, and the fruits of Christ’s ascension. The apostle reads it, he gave gifts to men. For he received that he might give them. And some of the best critics have observed, that in the Hebrew idiom, to take gifts for another, is the same as to give them to another: see 1 Kings 3:24; and Genesis 18:5, in the Hebrew. The anointing of the Spirit was poured on his head, that it might descend to the skirts of his garments, to the lowest and meanest members of his mystical body. Yea, for the rebellious also — For those that had been rebellious, who had not only broken his laws, but appeared in arms against him; even for his most stubborn and determined enemies, whether Jews or Gentiles; for those who crucified him and put him to open shame. Even for these, as well as others, he received, and to these he gave those saving gifts and graces; and of such as these, converted by the power of his gospel, he formed and established a holy church; that the Lord God might dwell among them — That having received such gifts and graces, and thereby being made fit habitations for God, he, who as man is ascended into the highest heavens, might, as God, come down to them and abide with them, not only in and by his ordinances, in which he is present, but by his Spirit dwelling in their hearts.68:15-21 The ascension of Christ must here be meant, and thereto it is applied, Eph 4:8. He received as the purchase of his death, the gifts needful for the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of believers. These he continually bestows, even on rebellious men, that the Lord God might dwell among them, as their Friend and Father. He gave gifts to men. Having received power to give eternal life, the Lord Jesus bestows it on as many as were given him, Joh 17:2. Christ came to a rebellious world, not to condemn it, but that through him it might be saved. The glory of Zion's King is, that he is a Saviour and Benefactor to all his willing people, and a consuming fire to all that persist in rebellion against him. So many, so weighty are the gifts of God's bounty, that he may be truly said to load us with them. He will not put us off with present things for a portion, but will be the God of our salvation. The Lord Jesus has authority and power to rescue his people from the dominion of death, by taking away the sting of it from them when they die, and giving them complete victory over it when they rise again. The crown of the head, the chief pride and glory of the enemy, shall be smitten; Christ shall crush the head of the serpent.Thou hast ascended on high - That is, Thou hast gone up to the high place; to thy throne; to thine abode. The idea is, that God had descended or come down from his dwelling-place in the case referred to in the psalm, and that having now secured a victory by vanquishing his foes, and having given deliverance to his people, he had now returned, or reascended to his seat. This may either mean his throne on earth, or his abode in heaven. It would seem most probable that the latter is the idea.

Thou hast led captivity captive - "Thou hast made captivity captive," or "Thou hast captured a captivity." The main idea is, that he had achieved a complete victory; he had led all his foes captive. The language "would" also express the idea that he had made captives for himself of those who were captives to others, or who were in subjection to another. As applied in the Christian sense, this would refer to those who were captives to Satan, and who were held in bondage by him, but who had been rescued by the Redeemer, and brought under another captivity - the yielding of voluntary service to himself. Those once captives to sin were now led by him, captives in a higher sense. See the notes at Ephesians 4:8.

Thou hast received gifts for men - Margin, "in the man." That is, "Among men," or while among them as a conqueror. The idea here most naturally conveyed would be, that he had obtained "gifts," privileges, advantages, "in" man; that is, that men, considered as captives, constituted the victory which he had achieved - the advantage which he had acquired. It was not so much "for" them as "in" them, and "by" them, to wit, by possessing them as captives or subjects to him. With this victory achieved, he had now ascended on high.

Yea, for the rebellious also - Or, more properly, "even the rebellious." That is, Those who had been in a state of rebellion he had subdued to himself, and had thus led captivity captive. It was a triumph by which they had become subdued to him.

That the Lord God might dwell among them - literally, "For the dwelling of Jah, God." The idea is, that he had achieved such a triumph; he had so brought the rebellious under subjection to himself, that he could take up his abode with them, or dwell with them as his people. His rule could be extended over them, and they would acknowledge him as their sovereign. This would be applicable to a people in ancient times that had been subdued by the people of God. It might now be properly applied, also, to sinners who by the power of truth have been so subdued as to submit to God. It is applicable to all who have been conquered by the Gospel - whose enmity has been slain - who have been changed from enemies to friends - so that the Lord may dwell in their hearts, or rule over them. This passage is applied by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:8 to the Messiah, not as having original reference to him, but as suggesting language which would appropriately express the nature of his work, and the glory of his triumph. See the notes at that place.

18. From the scene of conquest He ascends to His throne, leading—

captivity captive—or, "many captives captive" (Jud 5:12).

received gifts for men—accepting their homage, even when forced, as that of rebels.

that the Lord God might dwell—or literally, "to dwell, O Lord God" (compare Ps 68:16)—that is, to make this hill, His people or Church, His dwelling. This Psalm typifies the conquests of the Church under her divine leader, Christ. He, indeed, "who was with the Church in the wilderness" (Ac 7:38) is the Lord, described in this ideal ascension. Hence Paul (Eph 4:8) applies this language to describe His real ascension, when, having conquered sin, death, and hell, the Lord of glory triumphantly entered heaven, attended by throngs of adoring angels, to sit on the throne and wield the scepter of an eternal dominion. The phrase "received gifts for (or literally, among) men" is by Paul, "gave gifts to men." Both describe the acts of a conqueror, who receives and distributes spoils. The Psalmist uses "receiving" as evincing the success, Paul "gave" as the act, of the conqueror, who, having subdued his enemies, proceeds to reward his friends. The special application of the passage by Paul was in proof of Christ's exaltation. What the Old Testament represents of His descending and ascending corresponds with His history. He who descended is the same who has ascended. As then ascension was an element of His triumph, so is it now; and He, who, in His humiliation, must be recognized as our vicarious sacrifice and the High Priest of our profession, must also be adored as Head of His Church and author of all her spiritual benefits.

Thou hast ascended on high; having spoken of the Lord, and of his presence upon earth, he now turneth his speech to him, as is most usual in this book. And the contents of this verse do not agree to the present occasion of carrying the ark to Zion, but have a manifest reference to Christ, and to his ascension into heaven, in whom, and in whom alone, they are literally and fully accomplished, and to whom therefore they are ascribed, Ephesians 4:8. Although the expressions here used are borrowed from the ancient custom of princes, or generals of armies, who, after some glorious achievements and victories, used to go up into their royal cities in triumphant chariots, being attended by their captive enemies, and afterward to distribute divers gifts to their soldiers and subjects, and sometimes to do some acts of grace and clemency even to their rebels and enemies, and to receive them into the number of his own people.

Captivity; either,

1. Those who did formerly take thy people captives. Or rather,

2. Those whom thou hast taken captive, as this word is most commonly used, as Numbers 21:1 Deu 21:10 Judges 5:12, &c. So poverty is put for the poor, 2 Kings 24:14. This is meant of death, and sin, and the devil, and all the enemies of Christ and of his people, whom Christ led in triumph, having spoiled them, and making a show of them openly, as it is expressed, Colossians 2:15.

Thou hast received gifts; though as thou art God thou art uncapable of receiving any thing more than thou hast, yet according to thy manhood thou hast received from God all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and all those gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit which are necessary either to the perfection of thy nature, or to the discharge of thine office, or to the service and good of thy church and people. For men: not for thyself, for thou didst not need them, having the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in thee bodily, Colossians 2:9; but for the sons of men, or which thou mightest give unto men; whence for receiving for men, the apostle justly saith gave unto men, Ephesians 4:8, because he received them for no other end but to give them, and in such cases receiving or taking is oft put for giving, or for taking and giving, as Exodus 25:2 Judges 14:2 1 Kings 3:24 17:10, &c.

For the rebellious also: nor didst thou only receive gifts for and give them to thy friends and people, as the manner of other conquerors is, but also to thy most stubborn and rebellious enemies, whether Jews or Gentiles, who resolved to break thy bands asunder, and to cast away thy cords from them as is said, Psalm 2:3; and would not have thee to reign over them, Luke 19:14; who crucified him, and put him to open shame; and yet to these, as well as others, thou didst give those saving gifts and graces, as we read, Ac 2, and elsewhere.

That the Lord God might dwell among them; that having received such gifts, and thereby being made fit habitations for God, he who as man is ascended into the highest heavens, might as God come down to them, and dwell with them, not only in and by his ordinances, in which he is present, but also by his Spirit dwelling in their hearts by faith. Or, that they might dwell with the Lord God; the particle with being either understood, as it is in many places, or being contained in the Hebrew verb shacan, which, as some Hebrew critics observe, signifies not only to dwell, but to dwell with another; of which the learned may see many instances in Forsterus’s Hebrew Lexicon. So the sense is, that they who were estranged and at a distance from God, and enemies to him, might draw near to him, and dwell with him both here and in heaven. Thou hast ascended on high,.... Which is to be understood, not of Moses ascending up to the firmament, as the Targum and Jarchi interpret it, of which we nowhere read; nor of David's going up to the high fortresses, as Aben Ezra; nor of God's ascent from Mount Sinai; but of Christ's ascension to heaven, as the apostle cites and explains it in Ephesians 4:8; which ascension respects him as man, was not figurative, as in Genesis 17:22; but real and local, from earth to heaven, and was certain and visible; he was seen to go up by angels and men; and, because of the certainty of it, it is here expressed in the past tense, though it was then future;

thou hast led captivity captive; meaning either such who had been captives, in which sense the word is used, Psalm 126:1; and so may design either those who had been prisoners in the grave, but were set free at Christ's resurrection, and went with him in triumph to heaven; or all his people, whom he redeemed by his blood from that captivity and bondage they were in by nature; or rather those who led them captive are here meant by "captivity"; such as sin, Satan, the world, death, and every spiritual enemy, whom Christ conquered and triumphed over; the allusion may be to public triumphs, when captives were led in chains, even kings and great men, that had captivated others: the words seem to be borrowed out of Judges 5:12;

thou hast received gifts for men; the gifts of the Holy Spirit, qualifying men for the ministry of the Gospel, as they are interpreted by the Apostle, Ephesians 4:11; these Christ received from his divine Father in human nature, when he ascended up to heaven, in order to give them to men; and which he did in a very extraordinary manner on the day of Pentecost. The Targum and Syriac version render it, "thou hast given gifts to men"; and the Arabic version, "and he gave gifts to men", as the apostle, Ephesians 4:8;

yea, for the rebellious also; disobedient and unbelieving (m), as all men are by nature, even God's elect, before conversion, Titus 3:3; who are not only called by grace, and have the blessings of grace bestowed upon them; but some of them have gifts given them, whereby they are fitted to preach the Gospel to others, as Saul, the blasphemer, persecutor, and injurious; and some of those among the Jews, that were concerned in the crucifixion of Christ: though some think the Gentiles are intended, on whom the Holy Spirit was poured forth after our Lord's ascension; and so the Targum interprets it of the rebellious, who become proselytes, and return by repentance;

that the Lord God might dwell among them; that is, that they, by the gifts and graces of the Spirit bestowed on them, might become a fit habitation for God; or that "they", the rebellious, being now partakers of the grace of God and his gifts, "might dwell with the Lord God" (n) in his churches; enjoy his divine presence, and have communion with him in his word and ordinances.

(m) Sept. "non credentes", V. L. (n) "ut habitent cum Jah, Jehovah", Piscator; "cum Deo", Gejerus; "ut habitent pulchritudinem Dei", Cocceius.

Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast {o} led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.

(o) As God overcame the enemy of his Church, took them prisoners, and made them tributaries: so Christ, which is God manifested in the flesh, subdued Satan and sin under us, and gave to his Church most liberal gifts of his Spirit, Eph 4:8.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. Thou hast ascended on high] Lit. thou hast gone up to the height. Cp. Psalm 147:5. ‘The height’ elsewhere means heaven, though we find such a phrase as ‘the height of Zion’ (Jeremiah 31:12).Probably the poet did not make any sharp distinction between the triumphant return of Jehovah to heaven (as we speak), and the triumphant procession to His earthly abode which was the symbol of it.

thou hast led captivity captive] For the phrase cp. Jdg 5:12. ‘Captivity’ is not, as the English reader might suppose, a personification of the hostile powers which had led Israel captive, but the abstract for the concrete, equivalent to a body of captives. To obviate misunderstanding, R.V. gives ‘thy captivity.’ The captive enemies of Israel are meant, not, as some modern commentators suppose, referring to Isaiah 24:21 ff., rebellious heavenly powers, nor, as Kay thinks, the Israelites themselves, though 2 Corinthians 2:14 (R.V.) would give a good parallel for this meaning.

thou hast received gifts for men] An impossible rendering, influenced probably by the quotation in Ephesians 4:8. R.V. rightly, among men. The ‘gifts’ offered to the king as Jehovah’s representative and appropriated to the service of the Temple (2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 8:11; 1 Kings 4:21), are regarded as offered to Him as the real Conqueror.

yea, for the rebellious also] R.V., Yea, (among) the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell (with them): marg., there. ‘The rebellious’ are commonly understood to be the heathen, who pay homage to Jehovah, and dwell under His protection. But (see note on Psalm 68:6) the term is generally applied to the Israelites; and the line may be rendered, Yea, even the stubborn (are content) to dwell with Jah Elohim. Even the successors (in spirit) of the stubborn and rebellious generation of the wilderness are subdued when they see Jehovah’s triumphs, and are content to become His obedient subjects. For construction and thought cp. Psalm 5:4; Isaiah 33:14. Another alternative is to take Jah as the subject of the infin., Yea, even the stubborn (are content) that Jah Elohim should dwell (among them). Cp. Psalm 78:60; Exodus 25:8; &c. So apparently the LXX.

St Paul quotes this verse in Ephesians 4:8 in the form, “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men,” applying it to the spiritual gifts showered upon the Church by the risen and ascended Christ. How came he to substitute “gave gifts unto men” for “received gifts among men”? The Targum paraphrases the verse thus; “Thou didst ascend to the firmament, O prophet Moses! thou didst lead captivity captive; thou didst teach the words of the law; thou didst give gifts to the sons of men.” Similarly the Syriac, which may have been influenced by Jewish exegesis, has, “Thou didst give gifts to the sons of men.” Now though the Targum in its present form is much later than St Paul’s time, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the oral paraphrase then current already interpreted the verse in this way, and St Paul quotes it in the form familiar to him, without pausing to think whether it was an exact rendering of the original or not. But though the quotation is not verbally exact it is deeply significant. The triumph of Jehovah over the enemies of Israel prefigured the triumph of Christ over the spiritual enemies of the Church: or rather may we not say more truly that they are both parts of the same divine plan of redemption working first in the natural and then in the spiritual order? Christ ascended up to heaven, leading the defeated powers of evil in triumph (Colossians 2:15). There He performs a yet more royal function than receiving gifts from men, (though of course it would be also true to say that He receives gifts); He bestows them. Spiritual victory corresponds to temporal: the bestowal of gifts of grace to the reception of gifts of homage. For a full discussion of the passage see Driver in The Expositor, 1889, i. pp. 20 ff.Verse 18. - Thou hast ascended on high; i.e. ascended into the sanctuary, Mount Zion - gone up with the ark when it was transferred thither (see 2 Samuel 6:12-19; 1 Chronicles 15:11-28). Thou hast led captivity captive; i.e. thou hast made many captives - or enabled us to take many prisoners. Thou hast received gifts for men; rather, among men. Tribute from Israel's enemies is probably intended (see 2 Samuel 8:2; comp. 1 Kings 4:21). Yea, for the rebellious also; literally, yea, rebels also; i.e. enemies, that when reduced have rebelled, and then submitted to pay tribute a second time. That the Lord God (Jah Elohim) might dwell among them; "That God, after the nations had been subdued and submitted themselves, might rest quietly thenceforth in Zion." The futures that now follow are no longer to be understood as referring to previous history; they no longer alternate with preterites. Moreover the transition to the language of address in Psalm 68:14 shows that the poet here looks forth from his present time and circumstances into the future; and the introduction of the divine name אדני, after Elohim has been used eleven times, is an indication of a new commencement. The prosperous condition in which God places His church by giving it the hostile powers of the world as a spoil is depicted. The noun אמר, never occurring in the genitival relationship, and never with a suffix, because the specific character of the form would be thereby obliterated, always denotes an important utterance, more particularly God's word of promise (Psalm 77:9), or His word of power (Habakkuk 3:9), which is represented elsewhere as a mighty voice of thunder (Psalm 68:34, Isaiah 30:30), or a trumpet-blast (Zechariah 9:14); in the present instance it is the word of power by which the Lord suddenly changes the condition of His oppressed church. The entirely new state of things which this omnipotent behest as it were conjures into existence is presented to the mind in v. 12b: the women who proclaim the tidings of victory - a great host. Victory and triumph follow upon God's אמר, as upon His creative יהי. The deliverance of Israel from the army of Pharaoh, the deliverance out of the hand of Jabin by the defeat of Sisera, the victory of Jephthah over the Ammonites, and the victorious single combat of David with Goliath were celebrated by singing women. God's decisive word shall also go forth this time, and of the evangelists, like Miriam (Mirjam) and Deborah, there shall be a great host.

Psalm 68:12 describes the subject of this triumphant exultation. Hupfeld regards Psalm 68:13-15 as the song of victory itself, the fragment of an ancient triumphal ode (epinikion) reproduced here; but there is nothing standing in the way that should forbid our here regarding these verses as a direct continuation of Psalm 68:12. The "hosts" are the numerous well-equipped armies which the kings of the heathen lead forth to the battle against the people of God. The unusual expression "kings of hosts" sounds very much like an ironically disparaging antithesis to the customary "Jahve of Hosts" (Bttcher). He, the Lord, interposes, and they are obliged to flee, staggering as they go, to retreat, and that, as the anadiplosis (cf. Judges 5:7; Judges 19:20) depicts, far away, in every direction. The fut. energicum with its ultima-accentuation gives intensity to the pictorial expression. The victors then turn homewards laden with rich spoils. נות בּית, here in a collective sense, is the wife who stays at home (Judges 5:24) while the husband goes forth to battle. It is not: the ornament (נוה as in Jeremiah 6:2) of the house, which Luther, with the lxx, Vulgate, and Syriac, adopts in his version,

(Note: "Hausehre," says he, is the housewife or matron as being the adornment of the house; vid., F. Dietrich, Frau und Dame, a lecture bearing upon the history of language (1864), S. 13.)

but: the dweller or homely one (cf. נות, a dwelling-lace, Job 8:6) of the house, ἡ οἰκουρός. The dividing of the spoil elsewhere belongs to the victors; what is meant here is the distribution of the portions of the spoil that have fallen to the individual victors, the further distribution of which is left for the housewife (Judges 5:30., 2 Samuel 1:24). Ewald now recognises in Psalm 68:14. the words of an ancient song of victory; but v. 13b is unsuitable to introduce them. The language of address in Psalm 68:14 is the poet's own, and he here describes the condition of the people who are victorious by the help of their God, and who again dwell peaceably in the land after the war. אם passes out of the hypothetical signification into the temporal, as e.g., in Job 14:14 (vid., on Psalm 59:16). The lying down among the sheep-folds (שׁפתּים equals משׁפּתים, cf. שׁפט, משׁפּט, the staked-in folds or pens consisting of hurdles standing two by two over against one another) is an emblem of thriving peace, which (like Psalm 68:8, Psalm 68:28) points back to Deborah's song, Judges 5:16, cf. Genesis 49:14. Just such a time is now also before Israel, a time of peaceful prosperity enhanced by rich spoils. Everything shall glitter and gleam with silver and gold. Israel is God's turtle-dove, Psalm 74:19, cf. Psalm 56:1, Hosea 7:11; Hosea 11:11. Hence the new circumstances of ease and comfort are likened to the varied hues of a dove disporting itself in the sun. Its wings are as though overlaid with silver (נחפּה, not 3. praet, but part. fem. Niph. as predicate to כּנפי, cf. 1 Samuel 4:15; Micah 4:11; Micah 1:9; Ew. 317 a), therefore like silver wings (cf. Ovid, Metam. ii.:537: Niveis argentea pennis Ales); and its pinions with gold-green,

(Note: Ewald remarks, "Arabian poets also call the dove Arab. 'l-wrq'â, the greenish yellow, golden gleaming one, vid., Kosegarten, Chrestom. p. 156, 5." But this Arabic poetical word for the dove signifies rather the ash-green, whity blackish one. Nevertheless the signification greenish for the Hebrew ירקרק is established. Bartenoro, on Negaim xi. 4, calls the colour of the wings of the peacock ירקרק; and I am here reminded of what Wetzstein once told me, that, according to an Arab proverb, the surface of good coffee ought to be "like the neck of the dove," i.e., so oily that it gleams like the eye of a peacock. A way for the transition from green to grey in aurak as the name of a colour is already, however, opened up in post-biblical Hebrew, when to frighten any one is expressed by פנים הוריק, Genesis Rabba, 47a. The intermediate notions that of fawn colour, i.e., yellowish grey. In the Talmud the plumage of the full-grown dove is called זהוב and צהוב, Chullin, 22b.)

and that, as the reduplicated form implies, with the iridescent or glistening hue of the finest gold (חרוּץ, not dull, but shining gold).

Side by side with this bold simile there appears in v. 15 an equally bold but contrastive figure, which, turning a step or two backward, likewise vividly illustrates the results of their God-given victory. The suffix of בּהּ refers to the land of Israel, as in Isaiah 8:21; Isaiah 65:9. צלמום, according to the usage of the language so far as it is now preserved to us, is not a common noun: deep darkness (Targum equals צלמות), it is the name of a mountain in Ephraim, the trees of which Abimelech transported in order to set fire to the tower of Shechem (Judges 9:48.). The Talmudic literature was acquainted with a river taking its rise there, and also somewhat frequently mentions a locality bearing a similar name to that of the mountain. The mention of this mountain may in a general way be rendered intelligible by the consideration that, like Shiloh (Genesis 49:10), it is situated about in the centre of the Holy Land.

(Note: In Tosifta Para, ch. viii., a river of the name of יורדת הצלמון is mentioned, the waters of which might not be used in preparing the water of expiation (מי חטאת), because they were dried up at the time of the war, and thereby hastened the defeat of Israel (viz., the overthrow of Barcochba). Grtz "Geschichte der Juden, iv. 157, 459f.) sees in it the Nahar Arsuf, which flows down the mountains of Ephraim past Bethar into the Mediterranean. The village of Zalmon occurs in the Mishna, Jebamoth xvi. 6, and frequently. The Jerusalem Gemara (Maaseroth i. 1) gives pre-eminence to the carob-trees of Zalmona side by side with those of Shitta and Gadara.)

השׁליג signifies to bring forth snow, or even, like Arab. aṯlj, to become snow-white; this Hiph. is not a word descriptive of colour, like הלבּין. Since the protasis is בּפרשׂ, and not בּפרשׂך, תּשׁלג is intended to be impersonal (cf. Psalm 50:3; Amos 4:7, Mich. Psalm 3:6); and the voluntative form is explained from its use in apodoses of hypothetical protases (Ges. 128, 2). It indicates the issue to which, on the supposition of the other, it must and shall come. The words are therefore to be rendered: then it snows on Zalmon; and the snowing is either an emblem of the glistening spoil that falls into their hands in such abundance, or it is a figure of the becoming white, whether from bleached bones (cf. Virgil, Aen. v. 865: albi ossibus scopuli; xii. 36: campi ossibus albent; Ovid, Fasti i.:558: humanis ossibus albet humus) or even from the naked corpses (2 Samuel 1:19, על־בּמותיך חלל). Whether we consider the point of comparison to lie in the spoil being abundant as the flakes of snow, and like to the dazzling snow in brilliancy, or in the white pallid corpses, at any rate בּצלמון is not equivalent to כּבצלמון, but what follows "when the Almighty scatters kings therein" is illustrated by Zalmon itself. In the one case Zalmon is represented as the battle-ground (cf. Psalm 110:6), in the other (which better corresponds to the nature of a wooded mountain) as a place of concealment. The protasis בפרשׂ וגו favours the latter; for פּרשׂ signifies to spread wide apart, to cause a compact whole - and the host of "the kings" is conceived of as such - to fly far asunder into many parts (Zechariah 2:10, cf. the Niph. in Ezekiel 17:21). The hostile host disperses in all directions, and Zalmon glitters, as it were with snow, from the spoil that is dropped by those who flee. Homer also (Iliad, xix. 357-361) likens the mass of assembled helmets, shields, armour, and lances to the spectacle of a dense fall of snow. In this passage of the Psalm before us still more than in Homer it is the spectacle of the fallen and far seen glistening snow that also is brought into the comparison, and not merely that which is falling and that which covers everything (vid., Iliad, xii. 277ff.). The figure is the pendant of the figure of the dove.

(Note: Wetzstein gives a different explanation (Reise in den beiden Trachonen und um das Haura equals ngebirge in the Zeitscheift fr allgem. Erdkunde, 1859, S. 198). "Then fell snow on Zalmon, i.e., the mountain clothed itself in a bright garment of light in celebration of this joyous event. Any one who has been in Palestine knows how very refreshing is the spectacle of the distant mountain-top capped with snow. The beauty of this poetical figure is enhanced by the fact that Zalmon (Arab. ḏlmân), according to its etymology, signifies a mountain range dark and dusky, either from shade, forest, or black rock. The last would well suit the mountains of Haurn, among which Ptolemaeus (p. 365 and 370, Ed. Wilberg) mentions a mountain (according to one of the various readings) Ἀσαλμάνος.")

Links
Psalm 68:18 Interlinear
Psalm 68:18 Parallel Texts


Psalm 68:18 NIV
Psalm 68:18 NLT
Psalm 68:18 ESV
Psalm 68:18 NASB
Psalm 68:18 KJV

Psalm 68:18 Bible Apps
Psalm 68:18 Parallel
Psalm 68:18 Biblia Paralela
Psalm 68:18 Chinese Bible
Psalm 68:18 French Bible
Psalm 68:18 German Bible

Bible Hub






Psalm 68:17
Top of Page
Top of Page