|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
74:1-11 This psalm appears to describe the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Chaldeans. The deplorable case of the people of God, at the time, is spread before the Lord, and left with him. They plead the great things God had done for them. If the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt was encouragement to hope that he would not cast them off, much more reason have we to believe, that God will not cast off any whom Christ has redeemed with his own blood. Infidels and persecutors may silence faithful ministers, and shut up places of worship, and say they will destroy the people of God and their religion together. For a long time they may prosper in these attempts, and God's oppressed servants may see no prospect of deliverance; but there is a remnant of believers, the seed of a future harvest, and the despised church has survived those who once triumphed over her. When the power of enemies is most threatening, it is comfortable to flee to the power of God by earnest prayer.
Verse 8. - They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them altogether. It was, no doubt, the intention of Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Israel as a nation. Hence the complete destruction of the city and temple (2 Kings 25:9, 10; 2 Chronicles 36:19; Lamentations 2:1-9, etc.); hence the deportation of all the strength of the nation (2 Kings 24:14-16; 2 Kings 25:11), and their settlement in the far off region of Babylonia; hence the desolation, not only of Jerusalem, but of "all the habitations of Jacob" (Lamentations 2:2), all the "strongholds of the daughter of Judah" (Lamentations 2:2, 5). They have burnt up all the synagogues of God in the land. The synagogue system was first introduced by Ezra, according to Jewish tradition; and it has been argued that the mention of "synagogues" here - literally, "sacred meeting places" - proves the psalm to be Maccabean. But meeting places for worship, other than the temple, always existed in Palestine, both before and after its erection. Mesha speaks of having plundered a "house of Jehovah" in his war with Ahab ('Records of the Past,' vol. 11:p. 167); and it is plain from 2 Kings 4:23 that religious meetings were held by the prophets, probably in houses devoted to the purpose, during the period of the divided monarchy. Hezekiah's destruction of the high places (2 Kings 18:4) is not likely to have interfered with the use of these buildings, to which no savour of idolatry can have attached in the mind of the most violent iconoclast. I should therefore believe, with Leopold Low, that buildings existed before the Exile, in which religious instruction was given by authorized teachers.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They said in their hearts, let us destroy them together,.... The Targum is,
"their children, are together;''
or "their kindred", as the Septuagint Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions, taking the word to be of which signifies a "son"; and the sense to be, that seeing they were all together, as the Jews were at the taking of Jerusalem, they might be cut off at once. Jarchi explains it of their rulers; Marinus, as Aben Ezra observes, derives it from a word which signifies to afflict and oppress, to which he agrees; see Psalm 83:3,
they have burnt up all the synagogues of God in the land; not only in Jerusalem, where there were, the Jewish (q) writers say, four hundred and sixty, and others four hundred and eighty of them, but also in all the land of Judea; of these synagogues there is much mention made in the New Testament; they were places for public worship, in which, prayer was made, and the Scriptures were read and explained; see Matthew 6:5, but it may be doubted whether they are meant here, since it does not appear that there were any until after the return of the Jews from Babylon (r); the temple, and the parts of it, may be meant, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra; or the schools of the prophets; though the psalm may refer to times after the Babylonish captivity, and so may design Jewish synagogues, and even take in places of worship among Christians.
(q) T. Hieros. Cetubot, fol. 35. 3. & Megillah, fol. 73. 4. (r) Vid. Vitringam de Synagog. Vet. l. 1. par. 2. c. 9. Reland. Antiqu. Heb. par. 1. c. 16. sect. 3. Burmannum de Synagogis disp. I. sect. 9.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. together—at once, all alike.
synagogues—literally, "assemblies," for places of assembly, whether such as schools of the prophets (2Ki 4:23), or "synagogues" in the usual sense, there is much doubt.
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