Psalm 49:11
Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.
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(11) Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever.—These eleven words represent three in the Hebrew, and, as the text stands, give its sense, which is intelligible and consistent:

“They believe their houses will last for ever,

Their dwelling places from generation to generation;

They call the lands by their own names.”

The reading followed by the LXX., Chaldee, and Syriac, kibram for kirbam gives a different thought—

“Their graves are their homes,

Their dwelling places for ever.”

(Comp. “his long home,” Ecclesiastes 12:5.)

The last clause, which literally runs, they call in their names upon lands, is by some explained (see Isaiah 44:5) to mean, “they are celebrated in their lands,” which suits the text followed by the LXX.

Psalm 49:11. Their inward thought — Which they are ashamed to express, but which is yet their secret hope; is, that their houses — Either their families, or rather their mansion-houses, as it is explained in the next clause; shall continue for ever — To them and theirs in succeeding generations; they imagine, and secretly please themselves in this fancy, that when they can stay no longer in the world, their goodly houses which they have built shall stand for ever, and the places of their abode continue in their family from age to age. They call their lands after their own name — Though they cannot be immortal themselves, yet they hope their names, which they put upon their lands, shall never die. “Various are the contrivances,” says Dr. Horne, “of vain men, to have their names written on earth, and to procure, after their deaths, an imaginary immortality, for themselves and their families, in the memory and conversation of posterity; which is not often obtained; and, if obtained, is of no value; when, with less trouble, they might have had their names written in heaven, and have secured to themselves a blessed immortality in the glorious kingdom of their Redeemer.”49:6-14 Here is a description of the spirit and way of worldly people. A man may have wealth, and may have his heart enlarged in love, thankfulness, and obedience, and may do good with it. Therefore it is not men's having riches that proves them to be worldly, but their setting their hearts upon them as the best things. Worldly men have only some floating thoughts of the things of God, while their fixed thoughts, their inward thoughts, are about the world; that lies nearest the heart. But with all their wealth they cannot save the life of the dearest friend they have. This looks further, to the eternal redemption to be wrought out by the Messiah. The redemption of the soul shall cost very dear; but, being once wrought, it shall never need to be repeated. And he, the Redeemer, shall rise again before he sees corruption, and then shall live for evermore, Re 1:18. This likewise shows the folly of worldly people, who sell their souls for that which will never buy them. With all their wealth they cannot secure themselves from the stroke of death. Yet one generation after another applaud their maxims; and the character of a fool, as drawn by heavenly Wisdom itself, Lu 12:16-21, continues to be followed even among professed Christians. Death will ask the proud sinner, Where is thy wealth, thy pomp? And in the morning of the resurrection, when all that sleep in the dust shall awake, the upright shall be advanced to the highest honour, when the wicked shall be filled with everlasting shame and contempt, Da 12:2. Let us now judge of things as they will appear in that day. The beauty of holiness is that alone which the grave cannot touch, or damage.Their inward thought is - Their secret expectation and feeling is that they have secured permanency for their wealth in their own families, though they themselves may pass away. The essential thought in this verse is, that the rich people referred to in the foregoing verses imagine that their possessions will be perpetuated in their own families. The word rendered "inward thought" - קרב qereb - means properly "the midst, the middle, inner part;" and hence it comes to mean the heart, or the mind, as the seat of thought and affection: Psalm 5:9; Psalm 64:6. It means here, their hope, their calculation, their secret expectation; and the whole verse is designed to show the value or importance which they attach to wealth as being, in their apprehension, suited to build up their families forever.

That their houses shall continue "for ever - Either the dwellings which they rear, or - more probably - their families.

And their dwelling-places to all generations - Margin, as in Hebrew, "to generation and generation." That is, forever. They expect that their possessions will always remain in the family, and be transmitted from one generation to another.

They call their lands after their own names - They give their own names to the farms or grounds which they own, in the hope that, though they must themselves pass away, their "names" may be handed down to future times. This practice, which is not uncommon in the world, shows how intense is the desire of people not to be forgotten; and at the same time illustrates the main thought in the psalm - the importance attached to wealth by its possessor, as if it could carry his "name" down to future times, when he shall have passed away. In this respect, too, wealth is commonly as powerless as it is in saving its possessor from the grave. It is not very far into future times that mere wealth can carry the name of a man after he is dead. lands and tenements pass into other hands, and the future owner soon ceases to have any concern about the "name" of the former occupier, and the world cares nothing about it. A man must have some other claim to be remembered than the mere fact of his having been rich, or he will be soon forgotten. Compare the notes at Isaiah 22:15-19.

11. Still infatuated and flattered with hopes of perpetuity, they call their lands, or "celebrate their names on account of (their) lands." Their inward thought is; though they are ashamed to express it, yet it is their secret opinion, and hope, and wish.

Their houses; either,

1. Their posterity, oft called men’s houses 2 Samuel 7:11, &c.; Psalm 113:9 115:12. Or,

2. Their mansion houses, as it is explained in the next clause, which also serve for this purpose, to preserve a man name for ever.

Shall continue for ever; not to them in their own persons, but to them and theirs in succeeding generations, as it follows.

They call their lands after their own names; fondly dreaming by this means to immortalize their names and memories. Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever,.... This is the thought of their hearts, what they secretly imagine, and conclude within themselves; either that their families, which may be meant by their houses, see 2 Samuel 3:1; shall continue in succeeding ages, to the end of the world, to inherit their possessions, and perpetuate their name; though often so it is, that great families become extinct, and the seed of the wicked is cut off: or that their magnificent buildings, which they have erected to dwell in, and for their honour and glory, shall abide for ever; though in a little time, so it is by one means or another, like the buildings of the temple, not one stone is left upon another. Or the words may be rendered, "in the midst of them" (their heirs to whom they leave their wealth) "their houses shall remain for ever", so Aben Ezra; that is, so they fancy they will; but this is not always true, for fine houses and large estates belonging to them often pass into other hands and families. The word rendered "their inward part", by a transposition of two letters in it may be read "their graves", as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech observe; and to this sense the Targum, Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions render the words: and then the meaning is, that of all the houses they have built or been possessed of, they have only one left, and that is the grave; in which they shall dwell until the resurrection, and therefore is called "a long home", Ecclesiastes 12:5; see Job 17:13;

and their dwelling places to all generations; which signify the same as before;

they call their lands after their own names; as Egypt was called Mizraim, Ethiopia was called Cush, and Palestine Canaan, from men who were the first possessors of them, Genesis 10:6. Or "they proclaim their names throughout the land" (x); they seek to get a name, and spread and continue it in all part of the world; being unconcerned about their names being written in heaven, or about having a house not made with hands eternal there.

(x) So Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis.

Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.
11. Their inward thought is &c.] If they do reflect that they must die, they comfort themselves with the delusion that their houses will last for ever, and their names be perpetuated in the names of their estates, which like builders of cities or conquerors (2 Samuel 12:28) they have named after themselves. But the rendering their inward thought is questionable; and the LXX, Vulg., Syr., and Targ., all point to a different reading, involving simply a transposition of letters (qbrm for qrbm), which gives the sense:

Graves are their houses for ever;

The dwelling-places for all generations

Of those who called lands after their own names.

This reading suits the context best. They must surrender their wealth, and a narrow grave will be the only possession left to the man who called a vast estate by his own name. The first line recalls the name ‘eternal house’ applied to the grave in Ecclesiastes 12:5, and in inscriptions: cp. ‘eternal place,’ Tob 3:6 : and Isaiah calls Shebna’s pretentious sepulchre a ‘dwelling-place’ (Isaiah 22:16). Is there an ironical allusion in the last line to the vast estates of Isaiah’s day (Isaiah 5:8)?Verse 11. - Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling-places to all generations. Still, though they know this, the rich and worldly have an idea - an "inward thought" - which they cherish, that they can m a certain sense escape death by founding families and leaving to their children substantial houses, which will keep up the family reputation, and accumulating landed estates, to which they may affix their name, so keeping their memories alive to future ages. They call their lands after their own names (see Genesis 10:2, 4, 6, 22, 23, 29, etc.; and compare the Greek traditions with respect to Hellen, Ion, Achaeus, Pelops, Cadmus, etc.). To call cities after their own names, or the names of their sons, was a still commoner practice of great men in the olden times (Genesis 4:17; Genesis 11:31; Exodus 1:11; 'Records of the Past,' vol. 1. p. 14; vol. 3. pp. 45, 92, 112; vol. 7. pp. 32, 39, etc.). (Heb.: 49:6-13) First division of the sermon. Those who have to endure suffering from rich sinners have no need to fear, for the might and splendour of their oppressors is hastening towards destruction. ימי רע are days in which one experiences evil, as in Psalm 94:13, cf. Amos 6:3. The genitive r` is continued in Amos 6:6 in a clause that is subordinate to the בימי of Psalm 49:6 (cf. 1 Samuel 25:15; Job 29:2; Psalm 90:15). The poet calls his crafty and malicious foes עקבי. There is no necessity for reading עקבי as Bttcher does, since without doubt a participial noun עקב, supplantator, can be formed from עקב, supplantare; and although in its branchings out it coincides with עקב, planta, its meaning is made secure by the connection. To render the passage: "when wickedness surrounds me about my heels," whether with or without changing עון into עון (Hupfeld, von Ortenberg), is proved on all sides to be inadmissible: it ought to have been עול instead of עון; but even then it would still be an awkward expression, "to surround any one's heels,"

(Note: This might be avoided if it were possible for עון עקבי to mean "the sin that follows my heels, that follows me at the heels;" but apart from עון being unsuitable with this interpretation, an impossible meaning is thereby extorted from the genitive construction. This, however, is perhaps what is meant by the expression of the lxx, ἡ ἀνομία τῆς πτέρνης μου, so much spoken of in the Greek Church down to the present day.)

and the הבּטחים, which follows, would be unconnected with what precedes. This last word comes after עקבי, giving minuteness to the description, and is then continued quite regularly in Psalm 49:7 by the finite verb. Up to this point all is clear enough; but now the difficulties accumulate. One naturally expects the thought, that the rich man is not able to redeem himself from death. Instead of this it is said, that no man is able to redeem another from death. Ewald, Bttcher, and others, therefore, take אח, as in Ezekiel 18:10; Ezekiel 21:20 (vid., Hitzig), to be a careless form of writing for אך, and change יפדּה into the reflexive יפּדה; but the thought that is sought thus to be brought to is only then arrived at with great difficulty: the words ought to be אך אישׁ לא יפדּה נפשׁו. The words as they stand assert: a brother (אח, as a prominently placed object, with Rebia magnum, equals אהיו, cf. Ezekiel 5:10; Ezekiel 18:18; Micah 7:6; Malachi 1:6) can a man by no means redeem, i.e., men cannot redeem one another. Hengstenberg and Hitzig find the thought that is to be expected in Psalm 49:8: the rich ungodly man can with all his riches not even redeem another (אח), much less then can he redeem himself, offer a כּפר for himself. But if the poet meant to be so understood, he must have written ולא and כּפר נפשׁו. Psalm 49:8 and Psalm 49:8 bear no appearance of referring to different persons; the second clause is, on the contrary, the necessary supplement of the first: Among men certainly it is possible under some circumstances for one who is delivered over to death to be freed by money, but no כּפר ( equals פּדיון נפשׁ, Exodus 21:30 and frequently) can be given to God (לאלהים).

All idea of the thought one would most naturally look for must therefore be given up, so far as it can be made clear why the poet has given no direct expression to it. And this can be done. The thought of a man's redeeming himself is far from the poet's mind; and the contrast which he has before his mind is this: no man can redeem another, Elohim only can redeem man. That one of his fellow-men cannot redeem a man, is expressed as strongly as possible by the words לא־פדה יפדּה; the negative in other instances stands after the intensive infinitive, but here, as in Genesis 3:4; Amos 9:8; Isaiah 28:28, before it. By an easy flight of irony, Psalm 49:9 says that the lu'tron which is required to be paid for the souls of men is too precious, i.e., exorbitant, or such as cannot be found, and that he (whoever might wish to lay it down) lets it alone (is obliged to let it alone) for ever Thus much is clear enough, so far as the language is concerned (וחדל according to the consec. temp. equals ויחדּל), and, although somewhat fully expressed, is perfectly in accordance with the connection. But how is Psalm 49:10 attached to what precedes? Hengstenberg renders it, "he must for ever give it up, that he should live continually and not see the grave." But according to the syntax, ויהי cannot be attached to וחדל, but only to the futures in Psalm 49:8, ranking with which the voluntative ויחי, ut vivat (Ew. 347, a). Thus, therefore, nothing remains but to take Psalm 49:9 (which von Ortenberg expunges as a gloss upon Psalm 49:8) as a parenthesis; the principal clause affirms that no man can give to God a ransom that shall protect another against death, so that this other should still continue (עוד) to live, and that without end (לנצח), without seeing the grave, i.e., without being obliged to go down into the grave. The כּי in Psalm 49:11 is now confirmatory of what is denied by its opposite; it is, therefore, according to the sense, imo (cf. 1 Kings 21:15): ...that he may not see the grave - no indeed, without being able to interpose and alter it, he must see how all men, without distinction, succumb to death. Designedly the word used of the death of wise men is מוּת, and of the death of the fool and the stupid man, אבד. Kurtz renders: "together with the fool and the slow of understanding;"; but יחד as a proposition cannot be supported; moreover, ועזבוּ would then have "the wise" as its subject, which is surely not the intention of the poet. Everything without distinction, and in mingled confusion, falls a prey to death; the rich man must see it, and yet he is at the same time possessed by the foolish delusion that he, with his wealth, is immortal.

The reading קברם (lxx, Targ., Syr.), preferred by Ewald, and the conjecture קברם, adopted by Olshausen and Riehm, give a thought that is not altogether contrary to the connection, viz., the narrow grave is the eternal habitation of those who called broad lands their own; but this thought appears here, in view of Psalm 49:12, too early. קרב denotes the inward part, or that which is within, described according to that which encircles or contains it: that which is within them is, "their houses (pronounce bāttēmo) are for ever" (Hengstenberg, Hitzig); i.e., the contents of their inward part is the self-delusion that their houses are everlasting, and their habitations so durable that one generation after another will pass over them; cf. the similar style of expression in Psalm 10:4, Esther 5:7. Hitzig further renders: men celebrate their names in the lands; קרא בשׁם, to call with a name equals solemnly to proclaim it, to mention any one's name with honour (Isaiah 44:5). But it is unlikely that the subject of קראוּ should now again be any other than the rich men themselves; and עלי אדמות for בּכל־הארץ or בּארצות is contrary to the usage of the language. אדמה is the earth as tillage, אדמות (only in this passage) in this connection, fields, estates, lands; the proclaiming of names is, according to 2 Samuel 12:28; 1 Kings 8:43; Amos 9:12, equivalent to the calling of the lands or estates after their (the possessors') names (Bצttcher, Hupfeld, Kurtz). The idea of the rich is, their houses and dwelling-places (and they themselves who have grown up together with them) are of eternal duration; accordingly they solemnly give their own names to their lands, as being the names of immortals. But, adds the poet, man בּיקר, in the pomp of his riches and outward show, abideth not (non pernoctat equals non permanet). ביקר is the complement of the subject, although it logically (cf. Psalm 45:13) also belongs to בּל־ילין. Bttcher has shown the impropriety of reading בּל־יבין here according to Psalm 49:20. There are other instances also of refrains that are not exact repetitions; and this correction is moreover at once overthrown by the fact that בל will not suit יבין, it would stamp each man of rank, as such, as one deficient in intelligence. On the other hand, this emotional negative בל is admirably suitable to ילין: no indeed, he has no abiding. He is compared (נמשׁל like the New Testament ὡμοιώθη), of like kind and lot, to cattle (כּ as in Job 30:19). נדמוּ is an attributive clause to כּבּהמות: like heads of cattle which are cut off or destroyed. The verb is so chosen that it is appropriate at the same time to men who are likened to the beasts (Hosea 10:7, Hosea 10:15, Obadiah 1:5, Isaiah 6:5).

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