They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Like bees.—The image of the “bees” may be derived from Deuteronomy 1:44 (comp. Isaiah 7:18), but the LXX. suggest that the poet employed an original and far more expressive image, for they read, “as bees surround the comb.” Possibly the word comb dropped out of the Hebrew text, because the copyist was thinking of Deuteronomy 1:44.
The fire of thorns.—See Psalm 58:9, Note. The rapidity with which a fire made of thorns burns gives the point of the comparison. The LXX. and Vulg. gave this more plainly by rendering, “they burnt out like a fire in thorns.” Shakespeare may have had this verse in his thought when he wrote:
“Shallow jesters and rash bavin (i.e., brushwood) wit,
Soon kindled and soon burnt.”—King Henry IV.
(a) As thick or numerous as bees;
(b) armed as bees - or, their weapons might be compared to the stings of bees.
They are quenched as the fire of thorns - The Septuagint and the Vulgate render this, "They burn as the fire of thorns." The connection would seem to demand this, but the Hebrew will not bear it. The figure is changed in the Hebrew, as is not uncommon. The mind of the psalmist at first recalls the number and the malignity of his foes; it then instantly adverts to the rapid manner in which they were destroyed. The illustration from the "fire of thorns" is derived from the fact that they quickly kindle into a blaze, and then the flame soon dies away. In Eastern countries it was common to burn over their fields in the dry time of the year, and thus to clear them of thorns and briars and weeds. Of course, at such a time they would kindle quickly, and burn rapidly, and would soon be consumed. So the psalmist says it was with his enemies. He came upon them, numerous as they were, as the fire runs over a field in a dry time, burning everything before it. Compare the notes at Isaiah 33:12.
in the name, &c.—by the power (Ps 20:5; 124:8).Like bees; in great numbers, and with great and potent fury, and to their own ruin, as bees do when they fly about a man, and leave their stings in him.
They are quenched: so this word is used Job 6:17 18:5,6 21:17. Or, as the LXX. and Chaldee render it, they burnt or flamed, i.e. raged against me like fire, as it follows. And this is supposed to be one of those Hebrew verbs, which have not only divers, but contrary significations.
As the fire of thorns; which flameth out terribly, and makes a crackling noise, and burneth fiercely, but quickly spends itself without any considerable or lasting effect.
For; or, but, as this very particle is frequently used, and here twice in this very phrase, Psalm 118:10,11. So as the former part of the verse notes their hostile attempt, this notes their ill success and utter ruin. Here is an inversion of words in this last clause, which is not unusual in the Hebrew text. Although these words may be, and are by a learned man of our own, rendered as they lie in the Hebrew, I trust (which word may easily be understood out of Psalm 118:8,9)
in the name of the Lord, therefore (for so the Hebrew chi is oft rendered, and is so taken by the Chaldee in this place)
I shall destroy them, or cut them off. Deuteronomy 1:44. They will attack horses and kill them, as Aristotle (x) says; and places besieged have been delivered by throwing out hives of bees among the besiegers (y): and yet as they are feeble creatures, so by striking they lose their sting; and either die very quickly, or however become useless. All which denotes the numbers of the enemies of David and of Christ, and of his church and people, and the wrath and fury of them against them, as well as their fruitless and unsuccessful attempts upon them; for though they rage, what they contrive and endeavour to put in execution are vain things, and in the issue end in their own ruin and destruction;
they are quenched as the fire of thorns; which make a blaze, a noise, for a while; but are soon consumed, and leave only a few ashes behind. Wicked men are often compared to thorns, they being like them, unfruitful in themselves, unprofitable to others, harmful to the saints, and whose end is to be burnt; and whose destruction is certain and sudden, and easily effected as the burning of thorns; see Psalm 58:9, Ecclesiastes 7:6. The Targum renders it,
"they burned as fire among thorns;''
which is easily kindled and soon quenched: and so the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions; as if it was expressive of their wrath and fury, which was soon over; which agrees with what follows:
for; or "but", or "verily" (z),
(w) , Homer. Iliad. 2. v. 87, Vid. Virgil. Aeneid. 12. v. 587. (x) Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 40. (y) Vid. Dieteric. Antiqu. Biblic. p. 478. (z) "sed", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "certe utique", Polus; "quod certissime", Michaelis.They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. like bees] Cp. Deuteronomy 1:44.
they were extinguished as a fire of thorns] The sudden collapse of their rage is compared to a fire of thorns which blazes up fiercely and then rapidly dies down. But the form of the preceding verses and the following line lead us to expect a climax in the description of their hostility rather than a description of their extinction, and the LXX may have preserved the true text:
They came about me like bees about wax;
They blazed like a fire among thorns;
In the name of Jehovah, I cut them off.
The corruption of the Massoretic text is most ingeniously explained by Baethgen. The Targ. ‘burning like a fire among thorns,’ seems to preserve a reminiscence of this reading. Aq. Symm. Jer. Syr. follow the Mass. text.Verse 12. - They compassed me about like bees; i.e. in vast numbers, and with intense energy, and a furious desire to injure (comp. Deuteronomy 1:44; and the powerful description of Virgil, 'Georg.,' 4:236-238). They are quenched as the fire of thorns. Their fury dies away and goes out suddenly, like a fire kindled among thorns, which blazes up with vast heat and noise, but in a short time dies down and disappears. For in the Name of the Lord I will destroy them (see the comment on ver. 11). Psalm 115:9-11) who fear the God of revelation, are urgently admonished to echo it back; for "yea, His mercy endureth for ever," is the required hypophon. In Psalm 118:5, Israel too then begins as one man to praise the ever-gracious goodness of God. יהּ, the Jod of which might easily become inaudible after קראתי, has an emphatic Dagesh as in Psalm 118:18, and המּצר has the orthophonic stroke beside צר (the so-called מקּל), which points to the correct tone-syllable of the word that has Dechמ.
(Note: Vid., Baer's Thorath Emeth, p. 7 note, and p. 21, end of note 1.)
Instead of ענני it is here pointed ענני, which also occurs in other instances not only with distinctive, but also (though not uniformly) with conjunctive accents.
(Note: Hitzig on Proverbs 8:22 considers the pointing קנני to be occasioned by Dech, and in fact ענני in the passage before us has Tarcha, and in 1 Samuel 28:15 Munach; but in the passage before us, if we read במרחביה as one word according to the Masora, ענני is rather to be accented with Mugrash; and in 1 Samuel 28:15 the reading ענני is found side by side with ענני (e.g., in Bibl. Bomberg. 1521). Nevertheless צרפתני Psalm 17:3, and הרני Job 30:19 (according to Kimchi's Michlol, 30a), beside Mercha, show that the pointing beside conjunctive as beside disjunctive accents wavers between a& and a4, although a4 is properly only justified beside disjunctive accents, and צוּני also really only occurs in pause.)
The constructions is a pregnant one (as in Psalm 22:22; Psalm 28:1; Psalm 74:7; 2 Samuel 18:19; Ezra 2:62; 2 Chronicles 32:1): He answered me by removing me to a free space (Psalm 18:20). Both lines end with יהּ; nevertheless the reading במּרחביה is attested by the Masora (vid., Baer's Psalterium, pp. 132f.), instead of בּמּרחב יהּ. It has its advocates even in the Talmud (B. Pesachim 117a), and signifies a boundless extent, יה expressing the highest degree of comparison, like מאפּליה in Jeremiah 2:31, the deepest darkness. Even the lxx appears to have read מרחביה thus as one word (εἰς πλατυσμόν, Symmachus εἰς εὐρυχωρίαν). The Targum and Jerome, however, render it as we do; it is highly improbable that in one and the same verse the divine name should not be intended to be used in the same force of meaning. Psalm 56:1-13 (Psalm 56:10; Psalm 56:5, Psalm 56:12) echoes in Psalm 118:6; and in Psalm 118:7 Psalm 54:1-7 (Psalm 54:6) is in the mind of the later poet. In that passage it is still more clear than in the passage before us that by the Beth of בּעזרי Jahve is not meant to be designated as unus e multis, but as a helper who outweighs the greatest multitude of helpers. The Jewish people had experienced this helpful succour of Jahve in opposition to the persecutions of the Samaritans and the satraps during the building of the Temple; and had at the same time learned what is expressed in Psalm 118:7-8 (cf. Psalm 146:3), that trust in Jahve (for which חסה ב is the proper word) proves true, and trust in men, on the contrary, and especially in princes, is deceptive; for under Pseudo-Smerdis the work, begun under Cyrus, and represented as open to suspicion even in the reign of Cambyses, was interdicted. But in the reign of Darius it again became free: Jahve showed that He disposes events and the hearts of men in favour of His people, so that out of this has grown up in the minds of His people the confident expectation of a world-subduing supremacy expressed in Psalm 118:10.
The clauses Psalm 118:10, Psalm 118:11, and Psalm 118:12, expressed in the perfect form, are intended more hypothetically than as describing facts. The perfect is here set out in relief as a hypothetical tense by the following future. כּל־גּוים signifies, as in Psalm 117:1, the heathen of every kind. דּברים (in the Aramaic and Arabic with )ז are both bees and wasps, which make themselves especially troublesome in harvest time. The suffix of אמילם (from מוּל equals מלל, to hew down, cut in pieces) is the same as in Exodus 29:30; Exodus 2:17, and also beside a conjunctive accent in Psalm 74:8. Yet the reading אמילם, like יחיתן Habakkuk 2:17, is here the better supported (vid., Gesenius, Lehrgebude, S. 177), and it has been adopted by Norzi, Heidenheim, and Baer. The כּי is that which states the ground or reason, and then becomes directly confirmatory and assuring (Psalm 128:2, Psalm 128:4), which here, after the "in the name of Jahve" that precedes it, is applied and placed just as in the oath in 1 Samuel 14:44. And in general, as Redslob has demonstrated, כּי has not originally a relative, but a positive (determining) signification, כ being just as much a demonstrative sound as ד, ז, שׁ, and ת (cf. ἐκεῖ, ἐκεῖνος, κει'νος, ecce, hic, illic, with the Doric τηνεί, τῆνος). The notion of compassing round about is heightened in Psalm 118:11 by the juxtaposition of two forms of the same verb (Ges. 67, rem. 10), as in Hosea 4:18; Habakkuk 1:5; Zephaniah 2:1, and frequently. The figure of the bees is taken from Deuteronomy 1:44. The perfect דּעכוּ (cf. Isaiah 43:17) describes their destruction, which takes place instantly and unexpectedly. The Pual points to the punishing power that comes upon them: they are extinguished (exstinguuntur) like a fire of thorns, the crackling flame of which expires as quickly as it has blazed up (Psalm 58:10). In Psalm 118:13 the language of Israel is addressed to the hostile worldly power, as the antithesis shows. It thrust, yea thrust (inf. intens.) Israel, that it might fall (לנפּל; with reference to the pointing, vid., on Psalm 40:15); but Jahve's help would not suffer it to come to that pass. Therefore the song at the Red Sea is revived in the heart and mouth of Israel. Psalm 118:14 (like Isaiah 12:2) is taken from Exodus 15:2. עזּי (in MSS also written עזּי) is a collateral form of עזּי (Ew. 255, a), and here signifies the lofty self-consciousness which is united with the possession of power: pride and its expression an exclamation of joy. Concerning זמרת vid., on Psalm 16:6. As at that time, the cry of exultation and of salvation (i.e., of deliverance and of victory) is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of Jahve - they sing - עשׂה חיל (Numbers 24:18), practises valour, proves itself energetic, gains (maintains) the victory. רוממה is Milra, and therefore an adjective: victoriosa (Ew. 120 d), from רמם equals רוּם like שׁומם from שׁמם. It is not the part. Pil. (cf. Hosea 11:7), since the rejection of the participial Mem occurs in connection with Poal and Pual, but not elsewhere with Pilel (רומם equals מרומם from רוּם). The word yields a simpler sense, too, as adject. participle Kal; romēmā́h is only the fuller form for ramā́h, Exodus 14:8 (cf. rā́mah, Isaiah 26:11). It is not its own strength that avails for Israel's exultation of victory, but the energy of the right hand of Jahve. Being come to the brink of the abyss, Israel is become anew sure of its immortality through Him. God has, it is true, most severely chastened it (יסּרנּי with the suffix anni as in Genesis 30:6, and יהּ with the emphatic Dagesh, which neither reduplicates nor connects, cf. Psalm 118:5, Psalm 94:12), but still with moderation (Isaiah 27:7.). He has not suffered Israel to fall a prey to death, but reserved it for its high vocation, that it may see the mighty deeds of God and proclaim them to all the world. Amidst such celebration of Jahve the festive procession of the dedication of the Temple has arrived at the enclosure wall of the Temple.
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