Psalm 78:63
The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage.
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(63) Were not given.—See margin. The desolation and misery were marked by the absence of the glad nuptial song.

78:56-72 After the Israelites were settled in Canaan, the children were like their fathers. God gave them his testimonies, but they turned back. Presumptuous sins render even Israelites hateful to God's holiness, and exposed to his justice. Those whom the Lord forsakes become an easy prey to the destroyer. And sooner or later, God will disgrace his enemies. He set a good government over his people; a monarch after his own heart. With good reason does the psalmist make this finishing, crowning instance of God's favour to Israel; for David was a type of Christ, the great and good Shepherd, who was humbled first, and then exalted; and of whom it was foretold, that he should be filled with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. On the uprightness of his heart, and the skilfulness of his hands, all his subjects may rely; and of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. Every trial of human nature hitherto, confirms the testimony of Scripture, that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, and nothing but being created anew by the Holy Ghost can cure the ungodliness of any.The fire consumed their young men - Fire here may be regarded as an image of destructive war, as in Numbers 21:28 : "For there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon: it hath consumed Ar of Moab," etc. The idea here is, that the young people had been cut off in war.

And their maidens were not given to marriage - As the young people who would have entered into this relation were cut off in war. The margin here is praised; "The maidens were not praised." This is in accordance with the Hebrew. The idea is, "Their virgins were not praised in nuptial songs;" that is, there were no marriage celebrations; no songs such as were usually composed on such occasions in praise of those who were brides. The Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate render this much less accurately, and much less beautifully, were not lamented.

63. fire—either figure of the slaughter (1Sa 4:10), or a literal burning by the heathen.

given to marriage—literally, "praised"—that is, as brides.

Because the young men who should have married them were slain. Heb. were not praised, to wit, with marriage songs, which was usual at marriage solemnities among the Jews, as appears from Jeremiah 7:34 16:9 25:10. The fire consumed their young men,.... Not Nadab and Abihu, as some of the Jewish Rabbins interpret it, of which Jarchi makes mention; but the young men, the choice, the flower, of the Israelitish army, which engaged with the Philistines in the times of Eli; and the fire that consumed them is not to be understood of material fire, or of extraordinary fire from heaven, but either of the wrath of God, as Jarchi, or of the flaming glittering sword of the enemy, which consumed them like fire; see Numbers 21:28.

and their maidens were not given to marriage; the young men to whom they should have been married, and to whom they might have been espoused, being slain in battle: or, "were not honoured" (a); that with marriage, which is honourable to all, Hebrews 13:4, or "were not praised" (b); were not attended with epithalamies and nuptial songs, such as used to be sung at the time of marriage; hence, as Kimchi observes, the nuptial chamber is called , "the house of praise"; and so frequently, when a great calamity is threatened or described, it is said, the voice of the bride and bridegroom is not heard; see Jeremiah 16:9.

(a) "honoratae", Munster; so some in Vatablus. (b) "Celebratae epithalamio", Montanus; "laudatae", Tigurine version, Amama, so Ainsworth; "laudarentur", Junius & Tremellius, Michaelis; "laudabantur", Piscator; "commendabantur", Gejerus.

The fire {n} consumed their young men; and their maidens were not {o} given to marriage.

(n) They were suddenly destroyed, 1Sa 4:10.

(o) They had no marriage songs: that is, they were not married.

63. Fire devoured their young men;

And their maidens had no marriage song. (R.V.)

The fire of war (Numbers 21:28) consumed the young men, so that the maidens remained unmarried.Verse 63. - The fire consumed their young men. The reference is not to such passages as Leviticus 10:2; Numbers 11:1; Numbers 16:35, where a literal fire seems to be spoken of, but rather to the fire of war (Numbers 21:28; Isaiah 26:11; Jeremiah 48:45), or more generally to the fire of the Divine anger (Isaiah 10:16-18; Isaiah 47:14, etc.). And their maidens were not given to marriage; literally, were not praised in song; i.e. in the bridal song. The destruction of the young men, either in battle or in any other way, caused there to be more marriageable girls in Israel than there were husbands for (comp. Isaiah 4:1). When these plagues rose to the highest pitch, Israel became free, and removed, being led by its God, into the Land of Promise; but it continued still to behave there just as it had done in the desert. The poet in Psalm 78:49-51 brings the fifth Egyptian plague, the pestilence (Exodus 9:1-7), and the tenth and last, the smiting of the first-born (מכּת בּכרות), Exodus 11:1, together. Psalm 78:49 sounds like Job 20:23 (cf. below Psalm 78:64). מלאכי רעים are not wicked angels, against which view Hengstenberg refers to the scriptural thesis of Jacobus Ode in his work De Angelis, Deum ad puniendos malos homines mittere bonos angelos et ad castigandos pios usurpare malos, but angels that bring misfortune. The mode of construction belongs to the chapter of the genitival subordination of the adjective to the substantive, like אשׁת רע, Proverbs 6:24, cf. 1 Samuel 28:7; Numbers 5:18, Numbers 5:24; 1 Kings 10:15; Jeremiah 24:2, and the Arabic msjdu 'l-jâm‛, the mosque of the assembling one, i.e., the assembling (congregational) mosque, therefore: angels (not of the wicked ones equals wicked angels, which it might signify elsewhere, but) of the evil ones equals evil, misfortune-bringing angels (Ew. ֗287, a). The poet thus paraphrases the המּשׁחית that is collectively conceived in Exodus 12:13, Exodus 12:23; Hebrews 11:28. In Psalm 78:50 the anger is conceived of as a stream of fire, in Psalm 78:50 death as an executioner, and in 50c the pestilence as a foe. ראשׁית אונים (Genesis 49:3; Deuteronomy 21:17) is that which had sprung for the first time from manly vigour (plur. intensivus). Egypt is called חם as in Psalm 105 and Psalm 111:1-10 according to Genesis 10:6, and is also called by themselves in ancient Egyptian Kemi, Coptic Chmi, Kme (vid., Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, ch. 33). When now these plagues which softened their Pharaoh went forth upon the Egyptians, God procured for His people a free departure, He guided flock-like (כּעדר like בּעדר, Jeremiah 31:24, with Dag. implicitum), i.e., as a shepherd, the flock of His people (the favourite figure of the Psalms of Asaph) through the desert, - He led them safely, removing all terrors out of the way and drowning their enemies in the Red Sea, to His holy territory, to the mountain which (זה) His right hand had acquired, or according to the accents (cf. supra, p. 104): to the mountain there (זה), which, etc. It is not Zion that is meant, but, as in the primary passage Exodus 15:16., in accordance with the parallelism (although this is not imperative) and the usage of the language, which according to Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 57:13, is incontrovertible, the whole of the Holy Land with its mountains and valleys (cf. Deuteronomy 11:11). בּחבל נחלה is the poetical equivalent to בּנחלה, Numbers 34:2; Numbers 36:2, and frequently. The Beth is Beth essentiae (here in the same syntactical position as in Isaiah 48:10; Ezekiel 20:41, and also Job 22:24 surely): He made them (the heathen, viz., as in Joshua 23:4 their territories) fall to them (viz., as the expression implies, by lot, בגורל) as a line of inheritance, i.e., (as in Psalm 105:11) as a portion measured out as an inheritance. It is only in Psalm 78:56 (and not so early as Psalm 78:41) that the narration passes over to the apostate conduct of the children of the generation of the desert, that is to say, of the Israel of Canaan. Instead of עדוריו from עדוּת, the word here is עדוריו from עדה (a derivative of עוּד, not יעד). Since the apostasy did not gain ground until after the death of Joshua and Eleazar, it is the Israel of the period of the Judges that we are to think of here. קשׁת רמיּה, Psalm 78:57, is not: a bow of slackness, but: a bow of deceit; for the point of comparison, according to Hosea 7:16, is its missing the mark: a bow that discharges its arrow in a wrong direction, that makes no sure shot. The verb רמה signifies not only to allow to hang down slack (cogn. רפה), but also, according to a similar conception to spe dejicere, to disappoint, deny. In the very act of turning towards God, or at least being inclined towards Him by His tokens of power and loving-kindness, they turned (Jeremiah 2:21) like a vow that misses the mark and disappoints both aim and expectation. The expression in Psalm 78:58 is like Deuteronomy 32:16, Deuteronomy 32:21. שׁמע refers to their prayer to the Ba(a4lim (Judges 2:11). The word התעבּר, which occurs three times in this Psalm, is a word belonging to Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 3:26). Psalm 78:59 is purposely worded exactly like Psalm 78:21. The divine purpose of love spurned by the children just as by the fathers, was obliged in this case, as in the former, to pass over into angry provocation.
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