Psalm 22:12
Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
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(12) Bulls of Bashan.—For “Bashan” see Numbers 21:33; for its pastures and cattle, comp. Deuteronomy 32:14, and for the figures, Amos 4:1. Instead of “fat bulls,” the LXX. and Vulgate paraphrase “strong ones of Bashan.” The point of the comparison lies in the wantonness and insolence of pampered pride, displayed by the minions of fortune.

22:11-21 In these verses we have Christ suffering, and Christ praying; by which we are directed to look for crosses, and to look up to God under them. The very manner of Christ's death is described, though not in use among the Jews. They pierced his hands and his feet, which were nailed to the accursed tree, and his whole body was left so to hang as to suffer the most severe pain and torture. His natural force failed, being wasted by the fire of Divine wrath preying upon his spirits. Who then can stand before God's anger? or who knows the power of it? The life of the sinner was forfeited, and the life of the Sacrifice must be the ransom for it. Our Lord Jesus was stripped, when he was crucified, that he might clothe us with the robe of his righteousness. Thus it was written, therefore thus it behoved Christ to suffer. Let all this confirm our faith in him as the true Messiah, and excite our love to him as the best of friends, who loved us, and suffered all this for us. Christ in his agony prayed, prayed earnestly, prayed that the cup might pass from him. When we cannot rejoice in God as our song, yet let us stay ourselves upon him as our strength; and take the comfort of spiritual supports, when we cannot have spiritual delights. He prays to be delivered from the Divine wrath. He that has delivered, doth deliver, and will do so. We should think upon the sufferings and resurrection of Christ, till we feel in our souls the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.Many bulls have compassed me - Men with the fierceness and fury of bulls. Compare Isaiah 51:20; Psalm 68:30.

Strong bulls of Bashan - The country of Bashan embraced the territory which was on the east of the Jordan, north of Gilead, which was given to the half tribe of Manasseh: compare Genesis 14:5 with Joshua 12:4-6. It was distinguished as pasture land for its richness. Its trees and its breed of cattle are frequently referred to in the Scriptures. Thus in Deuteronomy 32:14, "rams of the breed of Bashan" are mentioned; in Isaiah 2:13, Zechariah 11:2, "oaks of Bashan" are mentioned in connection with the cedars of Lebanon; in Amos 4:1, "the kine of Bashan" are mentioned. The bulls of Bashan are here alluded to as remarkable for their size, their strength, and their fierceness; and are designed to represent men that were fierce, savage, and violent. As applied to the Redeemer, the allusion is to the fierce and cruel men that persecuted him and sought his life. No one can doubt that the allusion is applicable to his persecutors and murderers; and no one can show that the thought indicated by this phrase also may not have passed through the mind of the Redeemer when on the cross.

12, 13. His enemies, with the vigor of bulls and rapacity of lions, surround him, eagerly seeking his ruin. The force of both figures is greater without the use of any particle denoting comparison. Bulls; wicked, and violent, and potent enemies; for such are so called, Ezekiel 39:18 Amos 4:1.

Strong bulls of Bashan, i.e. fat and lusty, as the cattle there bred were, Deu 3:13 32:14, and therefore fierce and furious.

Many bulls have compassed me,.... By whom are meant the chief priests, elders, Scribes, and Pharisees, among the Jews, and Herod and Pontius Pilate among the Gentiles, comparable to bulls for their fierceness, rage, and fury against Christ, Psalm 2:1; and for their pushing at him with their horns of power and authority, and for their trampling him under their feet, his person and offices; these compassed him about at his apprehension, arraignment, trial, and condemnation; and there were many of them to one child, Jesus:

strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round; Bashan was a very fruitful country, in which cattle of various sorts, and bulls among the rest, were fed and fattened; see Deuteronomy 32:14; bulls are noted for their strength in other writers (a). Hence great men, who abounded in riches and power, and used them to the oppression of the poor, are compared to the kine of Bashan, Amos 4:1; and a very fit name this was for the kings and princes of the earth; for Caiaphas, Annas, and the chief priests, that lived upon the fat of the land, who beset Christ around, and employed all their power and policy to take him and bring him to death; nor is it unusual with Heathen writers (b) to compare great personages to bulls.

(a) "Fortes tauri", Virgil. Georgic. l. 1. v. 65. Ovid. Metamorph. l. 9. Fab. 1.((b) Homer. Iliad. 2. v. 48. Horat. Satyr. l. 1. Satyr. 3. v. 110.

Many bulls have compassed me: strong {g} bulls of Bashan have beset me round.

(g) He means that his enemies were so fat, proud and cruel that they were more like beasts than men.

12. He compares his insolent enemies to wanton bulls, which “are in the habit of gathering in a circle round any novel or unaccustomed object, and may easily be irritated into charging with their horns” (Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 71). Bashan is here used in a wide sense for the district from the Jabbok to the spurs of Hermon, including part of Gilead. It was famous for its rich pastures (Numbers 32:1 ff.; Deuteronomy 32:14; Amos 4:1).

Verse 12. - Many bulls have compassed me. The Sufferer represents the adversaries who crowd around him under the figure of "bulls" - fierce animals in all parts of the world, and in Palestine particularly' wild and ferocious. "Bulls,, and buffaloes are very numerous, says Canon Tristram, "in Southern Judaea; they are in the habit of gathering in a circle around any novel or unaccustomed object, and may be easily instigated into charging with their horns" ('Natural History of the Bible,' p. 71). Strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. Bashan, the richest pasture-g"round of Palestine, produces the largest and strongest animals (Ezekiel 39:18). Hence "the kine of Bashan" became an expression for powerful oppressors (Amos 4:1). Psalm 22:12(Heb.: 22:13-14)Looking back upon his relationship to God, which has existed from the earliest times, the sufferer has become somewhat more calm, and is ready, in Psalm 22:13, to describe his outward and inner life, and thus to unburden his heart. Here he calls his enemies פּרים, bullocks, and in fact אבּירי בּשׁן (cf. Psalm 50:13 with Deuteronomy 32:14), strong ones of Bashan, the land rich in luxuriant oak forests and fat pastures (בשׁן equals buthne, which in the Beduin dialect means rich, stoneless meadow-land, vid., Job S. 509f.; tr. ii. pp. 399f.) north of Jabbok extending as far as to the borders of Hermon, the land of Og and afterwards of Manasseh (Numbers 30:1). They are so called on account of their robustness and vigour, which, being acquired and used in opposition to God is brutish rather than human (cf. Amos 4:1). Figures like these drawn from the animal world and applied in an ethical sense are explained by the fact, that the ancients measured the instincts of animals according to the moral rules of human nature; but more deeply by the fact, that according to the indisputable conception of Scripture, since man was made to fall by Satan through the agency of an animal, the animal and Satan are the two dominant powers in Adamic humanity. כּתּר is a climactic synonym of סבב. On Psalm 22:14 compare the echoes in Jeremiah, Lamentations 2:16; Lamentations 3:46. Finally, the foes are all comprehended under the figure of a lion, which, as soon as he sights his prey, begins to roar, Amos 3:4. The Hebrew טרף, discerpere, according to its root, belongs to חרף, carpere. They are instar leonis dilaniaturi et rugientis.
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