Psalm 140:10
Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.
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(10) In this verse too there is a grammatical difficulty, which the margin, “Let there fall on them,” instead of “Let them bring upon them,” does not remove, since the subject of the next verb is third person singular. The first verb is usually taken impersonally, as by the LXX., which version is actually to be followed in rendering coals of fire (literally, coals accompanied with fire, or, coals as fire), and we get the somewhat awkward, but intelligible—

“Let them bring upon them coals of fire;

Let him cast them into pits that they rise not again.’

But a very slight change gives a plain grammatical sentence with the subject carried on from the last verse:

“Let it (mischief) bring even upon themselves coals of fire;

Let it cast them into pits, so that they rise no more.”


The word “pits” is peculiar to the passage. Gesenius, deriving from a root meaning “to boil up,” renders, “whirlpools,” which, as in Psalm 66:12, combines “water” with “fire,” as joint emblems of perils that cannot be escaped. But Symmachus, Theodotion, and Jerome render “ditches,” which is supported by a Rabbinical quotation, given by Delitzsch: “first of all they burned them in pits; when the flesh was consumed they collected the bones, and burned them in coffins.”

140:8-13 Believers may pray that God would not grant the desires of the wicked, nor further their evil devices. False accusers will bring mischief upon themselves, even the burning coals of Divine vengeance. And surely the righteous shall dwell in God's presence, and give him thanks for evermore. This is true thanksgiving, even thanks-living: this use we should make of all our deliverances, we should serve God the more closely and cheerfully. Those who, though evil spoken of and ill-used by men, are righteous in the sight of God, being justified by the righteousness of Christ, which is imputed to them, and received by faith, as the effect of which, they live soberly and righteously; these give thanks to the Lord, for the righteousness whereby they are made righteous, and for every blessing of grace, and mercy of life.Let burning coals fall upon them - Let them be punished, "as if" burning coals were poured upon them. See Psalm 11:6, note; Psalm 18:12-13, notes; Psalm 120:4, note.

Let them be cast into the fire - Punished as if they were cast into the fire and consumed.

Into deep pits, that they rise not up again - That they may utterly perish. This was one mode of punishing, by casting a man into a deep pit from which he could not escape, and leaving him to die, Genesis 37:20, Genesis 37:24; Psalm 9:15; Psalm 35:7; Jeremiah 41:7.

10. (Compare Ps 11:6; 120:4).

cast into the fire; into deep pits—figures for utter destruction.

Burning coals; Divine vengeance, which is compared to coals of fire, as Psalm 18:12, and elsewhere.

Rise not up again; either to my danger, or their own comfort.

Let burning coals fall upon them,.... From heaven, as the Targum, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi, by way of explanation; alluding to the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from thence: and may design both the terrible judgments of God in this life, and everlasting burnings in hell; so Jarchi interprets it of the coals of hell; see Psalm 11:6;

let them be cast into the fire; into the fire of divine wrath, and have severe punishment inflicted on them in this world; and into the fire of hell hereafter, as the Targum, which is unquenchable and everlasting; and into which all wicked men, carnal professors, the followers of antichrist, the devil and his angels, will be cast: of the phrase of casting into hell, see Matthew 5:29;

into deep pits, that they rise not up again; meaning either the grave, the pit of corruption; from whence the wicked will not rise to eternal life, as the Targum adds, for though they will rise again, it will be to everlasting shame and damnation, Daniel 12:2; or else the pit of hell, the bottomless pit, from whence there will be no deliverance; where they must lie till the uttermost farthing is paid, and that will be for ever. Arama refers this to Korah, who was burnt and swallowed up, and rose not again in Israel.

Let burning coals fall upon them: {h} let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.

(h) That is by God, for David saw that they were reprobate and that there was no hope of repentance in them.

10. Let the fate of Sodom overtake these defiant offenders! Possibly we should read, comparing Psalm 11:6, May he rain hot coals upon them! may he cast them into the fire!

deep pits] A word of uncertain meaning, found here only. Some render whirlpools: cp. R.V. marg. floods. If they try to escape the fiery storm, may they be swept away by torrents!

that they rise not up again] Let their fall be final and irremediable (Psalm 36:12), in contrast to that of the righteous, who falls to rise again (Proverbs 24:16).

Verse 10. - Let burning coals fall upon them, or, "burning coals shall be thrown upon them." Let them be cast (or, "they shall be cast") into the fire, into deep pits, that they rise not up again. The clauses are declaratory rather than optative. The psalmist sees the wrath of God poured out upon his enemies, who are at the same time God's enemies - they are cast into the fire prepared to receive the wicked - and plunged into deep pits whence they find it impossible to extricate themselves. Psalm 140:10The strophic symmetry is now at an end. The longer the poet lingers over the contemplation of the rebels the more lofty and dignified does his language become, the more particular the choice of the expressions, and the more difficult and unmanageable the construction. The Hiph. הסב signifies, causatively, to cause to go round about (Exodus 13:18), and to raise round about (2 Chronicles 14:6); here, after Joshua 6:11, where with an accusative following it signifies to go round about: to make the circuit of anything, as enemies who surround a city on all sides and seek the most favourable point for assault; מסבּי from the participle מסב. Even when derived from the substantive מסב (Hupfeld), "my surroundings" is equivalent to איבי סביבותי in Psalm 27:6. Hitzig, on the other hand, renders it: the head of my slanderers, from סבב, to go round about, Arabic to tell tales of any one, defame; but the Arabic sbb, fut. u, to abuse, the IV form (Hiphil) of which moreover is not used either in the ancient or in the modern language, has nothing to do with the Hebrew סבב, but signifies originally to cut off round about, then to clip (injure) any one's honour and good name.

(Note: The lexicographer Neshwn says, i.:279b: Arab. 'l-sbb 'l - šatm w-qı̂l an aṣl 'l-sbb 'l - qaṭ‛ ṯm ṣâr 'l - štm, "sebb is to abuse; still, the more original signification of cutting off is said to lie at the foundation of this signification." That Arab. qṭ‛ is synonymous with it, e.g., Arab. lı̂štqt‛fı̂nâ, why dost thou cut into us? i.e., why dost thou insult our honour? - Wetzstein.)

The fact that the enemies who surround the psalmist on every side are just such calumniators, is intimated here in the word שׂפתימו. He wishes that the trouble which the enemies' slanderous lips occasion him may fall back upon their own head. ראשׁ is head in the first and literal sense according to Psalm 7:17; and יכסּימו (with the Jod of the groundform kcy, as in Deuteronomy 32:26; 1 Kings 20:35; Chethb יכסּוּמו,

(Note: Which is favoured by Exodus 15:5, jechasjûmû with mû instead of mô, which is otherwise without example.)

after the attractional schema, 2 Samuel 2:4; Isaiah 2:11, and frequently; cf. on the masculine form, Proverbs 5:2; Proverbs 10:21) refers back to ראשׁ, which is meant of the heads of all persons individually. In Psalm 140:11 ימיטוּ (with an indefinite subject of the higher punitive powers, Ges. 137, note), in the signification to cause to descend, has a support in Psalm 55:4, whereas the Niph. נמוט, fut. ימּט, which is preferred by the Ker, in the signification to be made to descend, is contrary to the usage of the language. The ἅπ. λεγ. מהמרות has been combined by Parchon and others with the Arabic hmr, which, together with other significations (to strike, stamp, cast down, and the like), also has the signification to flow (whence e.g., in the Koran, mâ' munhamir, flowing water). "Fire" and "water" are emblems of perils that cannot be escaped, Psalm 66:12, and the mention of fire is therefore appropriately succeeded by places of flowing water, pits of water. The signification "pits" is attested by the Targum, Symmachus, Jerome, and the quotation in Kimchi: "first of all they buried them in מהמורות; when the flesh was consumed they collected the bones and buried them in coffins." On בּל־יקוּמוּ cf. Isaiah 26:14. Like Psalm 140:10-11, Psalm 140:12 is also not to be taken as a general maxim, but as expressing a wish in accordance with the excited tone of this strophe. אישׁ לשׁון is not a great talker, i.e., boaster, but an idle talker, i.e., slanderer (lxx ἀνὴρ γλωσσώδης, cf. Sir. 8:4). According to the accents, אישׁ חמס רע is the parallel; but what would be the object of this designation of violence as worse or more malignant? With Sommer, Olshausen, and others, we take רע as the subject to יצוּדנּוּ: let evil, i.e., the punishment which arises out of evil, hunt him; cf. Proverbs 13:21, חטּאים תּרדּף רעה, and the opposite in Psalm 23:6. It would have to be accented, according to this our construction of the words, אישׁ חמס רע יצודני למדחפת. The ἅπ. λεγ. למדחפת we do not render, with Hengstenberg, Olshausen, and others: push upon push, with repeated pushes, which, to say nothing more, is not suited to the figure of hunting, but, since דּחף always has the signification of precipitate hastening: by hastenings, that is to say, forced marches.

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