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

Psalms Chapter 150


psa 150:0

The Final Hallelujah

The call to praise Jahve "with dance and with timbrel" in Psa 149:3 is put forth here anew in Psa 150:4, but with the introduction of all the instruments; and is addressed not merely to Israel, but to every individual soul.

Psalms 150:1

psa 150:1

The Synagogue reckons up thirteen divine attributes according to ex. Psa 34:6. (שׁלשׁ עשׂרה מדּות), to which, according to an observation of Kimchi, correspond the thirteen הלּל of this Psalm. It is, however, more probable that in the mind of the poet the tenfold halaluw encompassed by Hallelujah's is significative; for ten is the number of rounding off, completeness, exclusiveness, and of the extreme of exhaustibleness. The local definitions in Psa 150:1 are related attributively to God, and designate that which is heavenly, belonging to the other world, as an object of praise. קדשוּ (the possible local meaning of which is proved by the קדשׁ and קדשׁ קדשׁים of the Tabernacle and of the Temple) is in this passage the heavenly היכל; and רקיע עזּו is the firmament spread out by God's omnipotence and testifying of God's omnipotence (Psa 68:35), not according to its front side, which is turned towards the earth, but according to the reverse or inner side, which is turned towards the celestial world, and which marks it off from the earthly world. The third and fourth hălalu give as the object of the praise that which is at the same time the ground of the praise: the tokens of His גּבוּרה, i.e., of His all-subduing strength, and the plenitude of His greatness (גּדלו = גּדלו), i.e., His absolute, infinite greatness. The fifth and sixth hălalu bring into the concert in praise of God the ram's horn, שׁופר, the name of which came to be improperly used as the name also of the metallic חצצרה (vid., on Psa 81:4), and the two kinds of stringed instruments (vid., Psa 33:2), viz., the nabla (i.e., the harp and lyre) and the kinnor (the cithern), the ψαλτήριον and the κιθάρα (κινύρα). The seventh hălalu invites to the festive dance, of which the chief instrumental accompaniment is the תּף (Arabic duff, Spanish adufe, derived from the Moorish) or tambourine. The eighth hălalu brings on the stringed instruments in their widest compass, מנּים (cf. Psa 45:9) from מן, Syriac menı̂n, and the shepherd's pipe, עגב (with the Gimel raphe = עוּגב); and the ninth and tenth, the two kinds of castanets (צלצלי, construct form of צלצלים, singular צלצל), viz., the smaller clear-sounding, and the larger deeper-toned, more noisy kinds (cf. κύμβαλον ἀλαλάζον, Co1 13:1), as צלצלי שׁמע (pausal form of שׁמע = שׁמע, like סתר in Deu 27:15, and frequently, from סתר = סתר) and צלצלי תרוּעה are, with Schlultens, Pfeifer, Burk, Kster, and others, to be distinguished.

Psalms 150:6

psa 150:6

The call to praise has thus far been addressed to persons not mentioned by name, but, as the names of instruments thus heaped up show, to Israel especially. It is now generalized to "the totality of breath," i.e., all the beings who are endowed by God with the breath of lie (Heb.: נשׁמת חיּים), i.e., to all mankind.

With this full-toned Finale the Psalter closes. Having risen as it were by five steps, in this closing Psalm it hovers over the blissful summit of the end, where, as Gregory of Nyssa says, all creatures, after the disunion and disorder caused by sin have been removed, are harmoniously united for one choral dance (εἰς μίαν χοροστασίαν), and the chorus of mankind concerting with the angel chorus are become one cymbal of divine praise, and the final song of victory shall salute God, the triumphant Conqueror (τῷ τροπαιούχῳ), with shouts of joy. There is now no need for any special closing beracha. This whole closing Psalm is such. Nor is there any need even of an Amen (Psa 106:48, cf. Ch1 16:36). The Hallelujah includes it within itself and exceeds it.

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