Psalm 58:8
As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
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Psalm 58:8. As a snail melteth — Which thrusts forth itself, and seems to threaten with its horns, but is quickly dissolved. For it wastes by its own motions, in every stretch it makes, leaving some of its moisture behind, which, by degrees, must needs consume it, though it makes a path to shine after it. Like the untimely birth of a woman — Which dies as soon as it begins to live, and never sees the sun.

58:6-11 David prayed that the enemies of God's church and people might be disabled to do further mischief. We may, in faith, pray against the designs of the enemies of the church. He foretells their ruin. And who knows the power of God's anger? The victories of the Just One, in his own person and that of his servants, over the enemies of man's salvation, produce a joy which springs not from revenge, but from a view of the Divine mercy, justice, and truth, shown in the redemption of the elect, the punishment of the ungodly, and the fulfilment of the promises. Whoever duly considers these things, will diligently seek the reward of righteousness, and adore the Providence which orders all thing aright in heaven and in earth.As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away - Or rather, As the snail which melteth as it goes; that is, which leaves a slimy trail as it moves along, and thus melts away the more as it advances, until at length it dies. Gesenius, Lexicon. The allusion is to what seems to occur to the snail; it seems to melt or to be dissolved as it moves along; or seems to leave a part of itself in the slime which flows from it.

Like the untimely birth of a woman - The Hebrew word means literally "that which falls from a woman;" and hence, the word is used to denote an abortion. The prayer is, that they might utterly pass away; that they might become like those who never had real life; that their power might wholly disappear.

That they may not see the sun - May not be among the living. Compare the notes at Job 3:16.

8, 9. Other figures of this utter ruin; the last denoting rapidity. In a shorter time than pots feel the heat of thorns on fire— Which melteth; Which thrusts forth, and seems to threaten with its horns, but is quickly dissolved; for when it goes out of its shell, it spends its vital moisture, until by degrees it waste away and perish.

The untimely birth of a woman; which endeavouring violently and unseasonably to break forth from the womb, is choked in the attempt, and doth not live to see the light of the sun.

As a snail which melteth, let everyone of them pass away,.... As a snail when it comes out of its shell liquefies, drops its moisture, and with it makes a "path", from whence it has its name in the Hebrew language; and so the Targum here,

"as the snail moistens its way;''

which moistness it gradually exhausts, and melts away, and dies: so the psalmist prays that everyone of his enemies might die in like manner. Some think reference is had to the snail's putting out its horns to no purpose when in danger, and apply it to the vain threatenings of the wicked; a strange difference this, between a roaring young lion, Psalm 58:6, and a melting snail. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, render it, "as wax which melteth": see Psalm 68:2;

like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun; see Job 3:16. The Targum is,

"as an abortive and a mole, which are blind and see not the sun.''

So Jarchi renders it a "mole", agreeably to the Talmud (g). Or, "let them not see the sun" (h); let them die, and never see the sun in the firmament any more; Christ, the sun of righteousness; nor enjoy the favour of God, and the light of his countenance; nor have the light of life, or eternal glory and happiness; see Psalm 49:19.

(g) T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 6. 2.((h) "ne videant solem", Pagninus, Montanus.

As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
8. Let them be like a snail which melts away and is gone:

Like the untimely births of women, that have not seen the sun.

Two more figures for the destruction of the wicked:—let them melt away; nay, vanish as though they had never existed.

The word shablûl puzzled the ancient translators. The LXX render it ‘wax’ (doubtless to suit the verb ‘melt’), Jerome ‘worm’; but later Hebrew attests the meaning snail. But what is the point of comparison? Is it that the snail seems to melt away as it goes along, leaving a slimy track behind it, or perhaps was popularly supposed to do so? or is it not rather an allusion to the way in which snails dry up and perish in drought? There are to be found in all parts of Palestine “myriads of snail shells in fissures, still adhering by the calcareous exudation round their orifice to the surface of the rock, but the animal of which is utterly shrivelled and wasted—‘melted away,’ according to the expression of the Psalmist.” Tristram, Nat. Hist, of Bible, p. 296.

For the second figure cp. Job 3:16; Ecclesiastes 6:3-5. That they may not see the sun (A.V.) is an ungrammatical rendering.

Verse 8. - As a snail which molteth, lot every one of them pass away; or, "let them be as a snail, which melteth and passeth away" (Revised Version). Snails in Palestine, during dry seasons, often shrink, shrivel up, and disappear from their shells (Tristram, 'Natural History of the Bible,' p. 296). Like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun; rather, that hath not seen the sun (Professor Cheyne, Revised Version); i.e. "let them be as an abortion" (comp. Job 3:16). Psalm 58:8The verb הרס is used much in the same way in Psalm 58:7 as ἀράσσειν (e.g., Iliad, xiii. 577, ἀπὸ δὲ τρυφάλειαν ἄραξεν), which presents a similar onomatope. The form ימּאסוּ is, as in Job 7:5, equals ימּסּוּ. The Jewish expositors, less appropriately, compare צנאכם, Numbers 32:24, and בּזאוּ equals בּזזוּ, Isaiah 18:2, Isaiah 18:7; שׁאסיך, Chethb, Jeremiah 30:16, and ראמה, Zechariah 14:10, more nearly resemble it. The treading (bending) of the bow is here, as in Psalm 64:4, transferred to the arrows ( equals כּונן, Psalm 11:2): he bends and shoots off his arrows, they shall be as though cut off in the front, i.e., as inoperative as if they had no heads or points (כּמו as in Isaiah 26:18). In Psalm 58:9 follow two figures to which the apprecatory "let them become" is to be supplied. Or is it perhaps to be rendered: As a snail, which Thou causest to melt away, i.e., squashest with the foot (תּמס, as in Psalm 39:12, fut. Hiph. of מסה equals מסס), let him perish? The change of the number does not favour this; and according to the usage of the language, which is fond of construing הלך with gerunds and participles, and also with abstract nouns, e.g., הלך תּם, הלך קרי, the words תּמס יהלך belong together, and they are also accented accordingly: as a snail or slug which goes along in dissolution, goes on and dissolves as it goes (תּמס after the form תּבל form בּלל

(Note: In the Phoenician, the Cyprian copper mine Ταμασσός appears to have taken its name from תמס, liquefactio (Levy, Phnizische Studien, iii.7).)).

The snail has received its name from this apparent dissolving into slime. For שׁבּלוּל (with Dag. dirimens for שׁבלוּל) is the naked slimy snail or slug (Targum, according to ancient conception, זחיל תּבללא "the slimeworm"), from שׁבלל, to make wet, moist.

(Note: "God has created nothing without its use," says the Talmud, B. Shabbath 77b; "He has created the snail (שׁבלול לכתית) to heal bruises by laying it upon them:" cf. Genesis Rabba, ch. 51 init., where שׁבלול is explained by לימצא, סיליי, כיליי, κογχύλη, σέσιλος, limax. Abraham b. David of Fez, the contemporary of Saadia, has explained it in his Arabico-Hebrew Lexicon by אלחלזון, the slug. Nevertheless this is properly the name of the snail with a house (נרתיק), Talmudic חלּזון, and even at the present day in Syria and Palestine Arab. ḥlzûn (which is pronounced ḥalezôn); whereas שׁבלול, in conformity with the etymon and with the figure, is the naked snail or slug. The ancient versions perhaps failed to recognise this, because the slug is not very often to be seen in hot eastern countries; but שׁבלול in this signification can be looked upon as traditional. The rendering "a rain-brook or mountain-torrent (Arabic seil sâbil) which running runs away," would, to say nothing more, give us, as Rosenmller has already observed, a figure that has been made use of already in Psalm 58:8.)

In the second figure, the only sense in which נפל אשׁת belong together is "the untimely birth of a woman;" and rather than explain with the Talmud (B. Med katan 6b) and Targum (contrary to the accents): as an abortion, a mole,

(Note: The mole, which was thought to have no eyes, is actually called in post-biblical Hebrew אשׁת, plur. אישׁות (vid., Keelim xxi. 3).)

one would alter אשׁת into אשׁה. But this is not necessary, since the construct form אשׁת is found also in other instances (Deuteronomy 21:11; 1 Samuel 28:7) out of the genitival relation, in connection with a close coordinate construction. So here, where בּל־הזוּ שׁמשׁ, according to Job 3:16; Ecclesiastes 6:3-5, is an attributive clause to נפל אשׁת (the falling away of a woman equals abortions), which is used collectively (Ew. 176, b). The accentuation also harmonizes here with the syntactic relation of the words. In Psalm 58:10, אטד (plural in African, i.e., Punic, in Dioscorides atadi'n) is the rhamnus or buckthorn, which, like רתם, the broom, not only makes a cheerful crackling fire, but also produces an ash that retains the heat a long time, and is therefore very useful in cooking. The alternative כּמו - כּמו signifies sive, sive, whether the one or the other. חי is that which is living, fresh, viz., the fresh, raw meat still having the blood in it, the opposite of מבשּׁל (1 Samuel 2:15); חרון, a fierce heat or fire, here a boiling heat. There is no need to understand חרון metonymically, or perhaps as an adjective equals charrôn, of boiled meat: it is a statement of the condition. The suffix of ישׁערנּוּ, however, refers, as being neuter, to the whole cooking apparatus, and more especially to the contents of the pots. The rendering therefore is: whether raw or in a state of heat, i.e., of being cooked through, He (Jahve) carries it away as with a whirlwind. Hengstenberg rightly remarks, "To the raw meat correspond the immature plots, and to the cooked the mature ones." To us, who regard the Psalm as belonging to the time of Absalom, and not, like Hengstenberg, to the time of Saul, the meat in the pots is the new kingship of Absalom. The greater the self-renunciation with which David at that time looked on at the ripening revolt, disclaiming all action of his own, the stronger the confidence with which he expected the righteous interposition of God that did actually follow, but (as he here supposes possible) not until the meat in the pot was almost done through; yet, on the other side, so quickly, that the pots had scarcely felt the crackling heat which should fully cook the meat.

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