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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Psalms Chapter 105


psa 105:0

Thanksgiving Hymn in Honour of God Who Is Attested in the Earliest History of Israel

We have here another Psalm closing with Hallelujah, which opens the series of the Hodu-Psalms. Such is the name we give only to Psalms which begin with הודו (Ps 105, Ps 107, Ps 118, Ps 136), just as we call those which begin with הללויה (Ps 106, Psa 111:1, Psa 117:1-2, Ps 135, Psa 146:1) Hallelujah-Psalms (alleluiatici). The expression להלּל וּלהודות, which frequently occurs in the books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, points to these two kinds of Psalms, or at least to their key-notes.

The festival song which David, according to Ch1 16:7, handed over to Asaph and his brethren for musical execution at the setting down of the Ark and the opening of divine service on Zion, is, so far as its first part is concerned (Ch1 16:8-22), taken from our Psalm (Psa 105:1), which is then followed by Psa 96:1-13 as a second part, and is closed with Psa 106:1, Psa 106:47-48. Hitzig regards the festival song in the chronicler as the original, and the respective parallels in the Psalms as "layers or shoots." "The chronicler," says he, "there produces with labour, and therefore himself seeking foreign aid, a song for a past that is dead." But the transition from Psa 105:22 to Psa 105:23 and from Psa 105:33 to Psa 105:34, so devoid of connection, the taking over of the verse out of Ps 106 referring to the Babylonian exile into Psa 105:35, and even of the doxology of the Fourth Book, regarded as an integral part of the Psalm, into Psa 105:36, refute that perversion of the right relation which has been attempted in the interest of the Maccabaean Psalms. That festival song in the chronicler, as has been shown again very recently by Riehm and Kצhler, is a compilation of parts of songs already at hand, arranged for a definite purpose. Starting on the assumption that the Psalms as a whole are Davidic (just as all the Proverbs are Salomonic), because David called the poetry of the Psalms used in religious worship into existence, the attempt is made in that festival song to represent the opening of the worship on Zion, at that time in strains belonging to the Davidic Psalms.

So far as the subject-matter is concerned, Psalms 105 attaches itself to the Asaph Ps 78, which recapitulates the history of Israel. The recapitulation here, however, is made not with any didactic purpose, but with the purpose of forming a hymn, and does not come down beyond the time of Moses and Joshua. Its source is likewise the Tפra as it now lies before us. The poet epitomizes what the Tפra narrates, and clothes it in a poetic garb.

Psalms 105:1

psa 105:1

Invitation to the praise - praise that resounds far and wide among the peoples - of the God who has become manifest wondrously in the deeds and words connected with the history of the founding of Israel. הודה לה, as in Psa 33:2; Psa 75:2, of a praising and thankful confession offered to God; קרא בשׁם ה, to call with the name of Jahve, i.e., to call upon it, of an audible, solemn attestation of God in prayer and in discourse (Symmachus, κηρύσσετε). The joy of heart

(Note: The Mugrash of ישׂמח with the following Legarme seems here to be of equal value with Zakeph, Ch1 16:10.)

that is desired is the condition of a joyous opening of the mouth and Israel's own stedfast turning towards Jahve, the condition of all salutary result; for it is only His "strength" that breaks through all dangers, and His "face" that lightens up all darkness. משׁפּטי־פּיו, as Psa 105:7 teaches, are God's judicial utterances, which have been executed without any hindrance, more particularly in the case of the Egyptians, their Pharaoh, and their gods. The chronicler has פּיהוּ and זרע ישׂראל, which is so far unsuitable as one does not know whether עבדו is to be referred to "Israel" the patriarch, or to the "seed of Israel," the nation; the latter reference would be deutero-Isaianic. In both texts the lxx reads עבדו (ye His servants).

Psalms 105:7

psa 105:7

The poet now begins himself to do that to which he encourages Israel. Jahve is Israel's God: His righteous rule extends over the whole earth, whilst His people experience His inviolable faithfulness to His covenant. יהוה in Psa 105:7 is in apposition to הוּא, for the God who bears this name is as a matter of course the object of the song of praise. זכר is the perfect of practically pledges certainty (cf. Psa 111:5, where we find instead the future of confident prospect). The chronicler has זכרוּ instead (lxx again something different: μνημονεύωμεν); but the object is not the demanding but the promissory side of the covenant, so that consequently it is not Israel's remembering but God's that is spoken of. He remembers His covenant in all time to come, so that exile and want of independence as a state are only temporary, exceptional conditions. צוּה has its radical signification here, to establish, institute, Psa 111:9. לאלף דּור (in which expression דור is a specifying accusative) is taken from Deu 7:9. And since דּבר is the covenant word of promise, it can be continued אשׁר כּרת; and Hag 2:5 (vid., Khler thereon) shows that אשׁר is not joined to בריתו over Psa 105:8. וּשׁבוּעתו, however, is a second object to זכר (since דּבר with what belongs to it as an apposition is out of the question). It is the oath on Moriah (Gen 22:16) that is meant, which applied to Abraham and his seed. לישׂחק (chronicler ליצחק), as in Amo 7:9; Jer 33:26. To זכר is appended ויּעמרדה; the suffix, intended as neuter, points to what follows, viz., this, that Canaan shall be Israel's hereditary land. From Abraham and Isaac we come to Jacob-Israel, who as being the father of the twelve is the twelve-tribe nation itself that is coming into existence; hence the plural can alternate with the singular in Psa 105:11. את־ארץ כּנען (chronicler, without the את) is an accusative of the object, and חבל נחלתכם accusative of the predicate: the land of Canaan as the province of your own hereditary possession measured out with a measuring line (Psa 78:55).

Psalms 105:12

psa 105:12

The poet now celebrates the divine preservation which had sway over the small beginnings of Israel, when it made the patriarchs proof against harm on their wanderings. "Men of number" are such as can be easily counted, vid., the confessions in Gen 34:30; Deu 26:5; ויּתהלּכוּ places the claim upon the hospitality at one time of this people and at another time of that people in the connection with it of cause and effect. כּמעט, as a small number, only such a small number, signifies, as being virtually an adjective: inconsiderable, insignificant, worthless (Pro 10:20). בּהּ refers to Canaan. In Psa 105:13 the way in which the words גּוי and עם alternate is instructive: the former signifies the nation, bound together by a common origin, language, country, and descent; the latter the people, bound together by unity of government.

(Note: For this reason a king says עמּי, not גּויי; and גּוי only occurs twice with a suffix, which refers to Jahve (Psa 106:5; Zep 2:9); for this reason גּוי, frequently side by side with עם, is the nobler word, e.g., in Deu 32:21; Jer 2:11; for this reason עם is frequently added to גּוי as a dignitative predicate, Exo 33:13; Deu 4:6; and for this reason גּוים and עם ה are used antithetically.)

The apodosis does not begin until Psa 105:14. It is different in connection with בּהיותכם in the text of the chronicler, and in this passage in the Psalter of the Syriac version, according to which Psa 105:12 ought to be jointed to the preceding group. The variation ומממלכה instead of מממלכה is of no consequence; but לאישׁ (to any one whomsoever) instead of אדם, in connection with הניח, restores the current mode of expression (Ecc 5:11; Sa2 16:11; Hos 4:17) instead of one which is without support elsewhere, but which follows the model of נתן, נטשׁ, Gen 31:28 (cf. supra p. 171); whilst on the other hand ובנביאי instead of ולנביאי substitutes an expression that cannot be supported for the current one (Gen 19:9; Rut 1:21). In Psa 105:14 the poet has the three histories of the preservation of the wives of the patriarchs in his mind, viz., of Sarah in Egypt (Gen. 12), and of Sarah and of Rebekah both in Philistia (Psa 20:1-9, Psa 26:1-12, cf. especially Psa 26:11). In the second instance God declares the patriarch to be a "prophet" (Psa 20:7). The one mention has reference to this and the other to Gen. 17, where Abram is set apart to be the father of peoples and kings, and Sarai to be a princess. They are called משׁיהים (a passive form) as eing God-chosen princes, and נביאים (an intensive active form, from נבא, root נב, to divulge), not as being inspired ones (Hupfeld), but as being God's spokesmen (cf. Exo 7:1. with Exo 4:15.), therefore as being the recipients and mediators of a divine revelation.

Psalms 105:16

psa 105:16

"To call up a famine" is also a prose expression in Kg2 8:1. To break the staff of bread (i.e., the staff which bread is to man) is a very old metaphor, Lev 26:26. That the selling of Joseph was, providentially regarded, a "sending before," he himself says in Gen 45:5. Psa 102:24 throws light upon the meaning of ענּה ב. The Kerמ רגלו is just as much without any occasion to justify it as עינו in Ecc 4:8 (for עיניו). The statement that iron came upon his soul is intended to say that he had to endure in iron fetters sufferings that threatened his life. Most expositors take בּרזל as equivalent to בּבּרזל, but Hitzig rightly takes נפשׁו as an object, following the Targum; for ברזל as a name of an iron fetter

(Note: Also in ancient Arabic firzil (after the Aramaic פרזלא) directly signifies an iron fetter (and the large smith's shears for cutting the iron), whence the verb. denom. Arab. farzala, c. acc. pers., to put any one into iron chains. Iron is called בּרזל from בּרז, to pierce, like the Arabic ḥdı̂d, as being the material of which pointed tools are made.)

can change its gender, as do, e.g., צפון as a name of the north wind, and כבוד as a name of the soul. The imprisonment (so harsh at the commencement) lasted over ten years, until at last Joseph's word cam to pass, viz., the word concerning this exaltation which had been revealed to him in dreams (Gen 42:9). According to Psa 107:20, דברו appears to be the word of Jahve, but then one would expect from Psa 105:19 a more parallel turn of expression. What is meant is Joseph's open-hearted word concerning his visions, and אמרת ה is the revelation of God conveying His promises, which came to him in the same form, which had to try, to prove, and to purify him (צרף as in Psa 17:3, and frequently), inasmuch as he was not to be raised to honour without having in a state of deep abasement proved a faithfulness that wavered not, and a confidence that knew no despair. The divine "word" is conceived of as a living effectual power, as in Psa 119:50. The representation of the exaltation begins, according to Gen 41:14, with שׁלח־מלך

(Note: Here שׁלח is united by Makkeph with the following word, to which it hurries on, whereas in Psa 105:28 it has its own accent, a circumstance to which the Masora has directed attention in the apophthegm: שׁלוחי דמלכא זריזין שׁלוחי דחשׁוכא מתינין (the emissaries of the king are in haste, those of darkness are tardy); vid., Baer, Thorath Emeth, p. 22.)

and follows Gen 41:39-41, Gen 41:44, very closely as to the rest, according to which בּנפשׁו is a collateral definition to לאסּר (with an orthophonic Dag.) in the sense of בּרצונו: by his soul, i.e., by virtue of his will (vid., Psychology, S. 202; tr. p. 239). In consequence of this exaltation of Joseph, Jacob-Israel came then into Egypt, and sojourned there as in a protecting house of shelter (concerning גּוּר, vid., supra, p. 414). Egypt is called (Psa 105:23, Psa 105:27) the land of Chaam, as in Psa 78:51; according to Plutarch, in the vernacular the black land, from the dark ashy grey colouring which the deposited mud of the Nile gives to the ground. There Israel became a powerful, numerous people (Exo 1:7; Deu 26:5), greater than their oppressors.

Psalms 105:25

psa 105:25

Narration of the exodus out of Egypt after the plagues that went forth over that land. Psa 105:25 tells how the Egyptians became their "oppressors." It was indirectly God's work, inasmuch as He gave increasing might to His people, which excited their jealousy. The craft reached its highest pitch in the weakening of the Israelites that was aimed at by killing all the male children that were born. דּברי signifies facts, instances, as in Psa 65:4; Psa 145:5. Here, too, as in Ps 78, the miraculous judgments of the ten plagues to not stand in exactly historical order. The poet begins with the ninth, which was the most distinct self-representation of divine wrath, viz., the darkness (Exo 10:21-29): shā'lach chō'shech. The former word (שׁלח) has an orthophonic Gaja by the final syllable, which warns the reader audibly to utter the guttural of the toneless final syllable, which might here be easily slurred over. The Hiph. החשׁיך has its causative signification here, as also in Jer 13:16; the contracted mode of writing with i instead of ı̂ may be occasioned by the Waw convers. Psa 105:28 cannot be referred to the Egyptians; for the expression would be a mistaken one for the final compliance, which was wrung from them, and the interrogative way of taking it: nonne rebellarunt, is forced: the cancelling of the לא, however (lxx and Syriac), makes the thought halting. Hitzig proposes ולא שׁמרו: they observed not His words; but this, too, sounds flat and awkward when said of the Egyptians. The subject will therefore be the same as the subject of שׂמוּ; and of Moses and Aaron, in contrast to the behaviour at Mê-Merı̂bah (Num 20:24; Num 27:14; cf. Kg1 13:21, Kg1 13:26), it is said that this time they rebelled not against the words (Ker, without any ground: the word) of God, but executed the terrible commands accurately and willingly. From the ninth plague the poet in Psa 105:29 passes over to the first (Exo 7:14-25), viz., the red blood is appended to the black darkness. The second plague follows, viz., the frogs (Exo 8:1-15); Psa 105:20 looks as though it were stunted, but neither has the lxx read any ויבאו (ויעלו), Ex. 7:28. In Psa 105:31 he next briefly touches upon the fourth plague, viz., the gad-fly, ערב, lxx κυνόμυια (Exo 8:20-32, vid., on Psa 78:45), and the third (Exo 8:16-19), viz., the gnats, which are passed over in Ps 78. From the third plague the poet in Psa 105:32, Psa 105:33 takes a leap over to the seventh, viz., the hail (Ex 9:13-35). In Psa 105:32 he has Exo 9:24 before his mind, according to which masses of fire descended with the hail; and in Psa 105:33 (as in Psa 78:47) he fills in the details of Exo 9:25. The seventh plague is followed by the eighth in Psa 105:34, Psa 105:35, viz., the locust (Ex 10:1-20), to which ילק (the grasshopper) is the parallel word here, just as חסיל (the cricket) is in Psa 78:46. The expression of innumerableness is the same as in Psa 104:25. The fifth plague, viz., the pestilence, murrain (Exo 9:1-7), and the sixth, viz., שׁחין, boils (Exo 9:8-12), are left unmentioned; and the tenth plague closes, viz., the smiting of the first-born (Exo 11:1.), which Psa 105:36 expresses in the Asaphic language of Psa 78:51. Without any mention of the institution of the Passover, the tenth plague is followed by the departure with the vessels of silver and gold asked for from the Egyptians (Exo 12:35; Exo 11:2; Exo 3:22). The Egyptians were glad to get rid of the people whose detention threatened them with total destruction (Exo 12:33). The poet here draws from Isa 5:27; Isa 14:31; Isa 63:13, and Exo 15:16. The suffix of שׁבטיו refers to the chief subject of the assertion, viz., to God, according to Psa 122:4, although manifestly enough the reference to Israel is also possible (Num 24:2).

Psalms 105:39

psa 105:39

Now follows the miraculous guidance through the desert to the taking possession of Canaan. The fact that the cloud (ענן, root ען, to meet, to present itself to view, whence the Arabic ‛ănăn, the visible outward side of the vault of heaven) by day, and becoming like fire by night, was their guide (Exo 13:21), is left out of consideration in Psa 105:39. With למסך we are not to associate the idea of a covering against foes, Exo 14:19., but of a covering from the smiting sun, for פּרשׁ (Exo 40:19), as in Isa 4:5., points to the idea of a canopy. In connection with the sending of the quails the tempting character of the desire is only momentarily dwelt upon, the greater emphasis is laid on the omnipotence of the divine goodness which responded to it. שׁאלוּ is to be read instead of שׁאל, the w before w having been overlooked; and the Kerמ writes and points שׂליו (like סתיו, עניו) in order to secure the correct pronunciation, after the analogy of the plural termination יו-. The bread of heaven (Psa 78:24.) is the manna. In Psa 105:41 the giving of water out of the rock at Rephidim and at Kadesh are brought together; the expression corresponds better to the former instance (Exo 17:6, cf. Num 20:11). הלכוּ refers to the waters, and נהר for כּנּהרות, Psa 78:16, is, as in Psa 22:14, an equation instead of a comparison. In this miraculous escort the patriarchal promise moves on towards its fulfilment; the holy word of promise, and the stedfast, proved faith of Abraham - these were the two motives. The second את is, like the first, a sign of the object, not a preposition (lxx, Targum), in connection with which Psa 105:42 would be a continuation of Psa 105:42, dragging on without any parallelism. Joy and exulting are mentioned as the mood of the redeemed ones with reference to the festive joy displayed at the Red Sea and at Sinai. By Psa 105:43 one is reminded of the same descriptions of the antitype in Isaiah, Isa 35:10; Isa 51:11; Isa 55:12, just as Psa 105:41 recalls Isa 48:21. "The lands of the heathen" are the territories of the tribes of Canaan. עמל is equivalent to יגיע in Isa 45:14 : the cultivated ground, the habitable cities, and the accumulated treasures. Israel entered upon the inheritance of these peoples in every direction. As an independent people upon ground that is theirs by inheritance, keeping the revealed law of their God, was Israel to exhibit the pattern of a holy nation moulded after the divine will; and, as the beginning of the Psalm shows, to unite the peoples to themselves and their God, the God of redemption, by the proclamation of the redemption which has fallen to their own lot.

Next: Psalms Chapter 106