Psalm 68:14
When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Salmon.
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Psalm 68:14. When the Almighty scattered kings in it — In Canaan, at the coming of the Israelites thither; it was white as snow in Salmon — “The Almighty appeared most illustrious as Salmon,” says Bishop Patrick, that is, as mount Salmon covered with snow: “The land and nation,” says Mr. Samuel Clark, “were then in a very flourishing, joyful condition, and resplendent, by the establishment of God’s pure worship there.” Dr. Hammond explains and confirms this interpretation of the passage more at large, as follows: “The construction lies thus: בפרשׂ שׁדי מלכים בה, O God, by scattering kings there; or, when thou, O God Almighty, didst scatter kings in, or on it, επ αυτης, say the LXX., that is, on Salmon, תשׁלג, tashleg, thou wast white as snow; or, thou didst snow, that is, thou didst there appear in the most shining, bright, propitious form; thy mercies made that place more beautiful than the crown of snow doth the head of that mountain, when it melts in fertile moisture on the neighbouring valleys.” “Salmon,” he adds, “was the name of a very high hill on this side Jordan, in the portion of the tribe of Ephraim, Jdg 9:40, and consequently used to have snow lying long upon it.” Poole however thinks, with many other interpreters, both Hebrew and Christian, and the Chaldee among the rest, that the word Salmon ought to be taken here, not for a proper, but a common name, signifying darkness, or a shadow, and therefore proposes rendering the clause, It was snow-white, or, Thou madest it snow-white in darkness; or, Thou didst cause light to shine out of darkness: that is, at a time when the state of thy people, and the land of Canaan, which thou hadst given them, was dark and dismal, or bloody, by reason of the wars raised against them by the Canaanitish kings, thou didst quickly change it, and whereas it was red like scarlet, or crimson, thou madest it whiter than snow. Thus Buxtorf translates תשׁלג בצלמון, tashleg betsalmon, nivesces, thou didst snow, or albesces sicut nix, in caligine. Thou didst grow white in darkness. Henry understands it of the church of God that then was: “She was white as snow in Salmon, purified and refined by the mercies of God.” Chandler renders the clause, When the Almighty scattered kings therein, thou didst make them joyful in Salmon; or, There was great joy in Salmon. Dr. Horne who doubtless had consulted the commentators above quoted and many others on the passage, acquiesces in this interpretation, observing, “The purport of this difficult verse seems to be, that all was white as snow, that is, all was brightness, joy, and festivity about mount Salmon, when the Almighty, fighting for his people Israel, vanquished their enemies in or about that part of the country.”68:7-14 Fresh mercies should put us in mind of former mercies. If God bring his people into a wilderness, he will be sure to go before them in it, and to bring them out of it. He provided for them, both in the wilderness and in Canaan. The daily manna seems here meant. And it looks to the spiritual provision for God's Israel. The Spirit of grace and the gospel of grace are the plentiful rain, with which God confirms his inheritance, and from which their fruit is found. Christ shall come as showers that water the earth. The account of Israel's victories is to be applied to the victories over death and hell, by the exalted Redeemer, for those that are his. Israel in Egypt among the kilns appeared wretched, but possessed of Canaan, during the reigns of David and Solomon, appeared glorious. Thus the slaves of Satan, when converted to Christ, when justified and sanctified by him, look honourable. When they reach heaven, all remains of their sinful state disappear, they shall be as the wings of the dove, covered with silver, and her feathers as gold. Full salvation will render those white as snow, who were vile and loathsome through the guilt and defilement of sin.When the Almighty scattered kings in it - The Hebrew here is, "In the scattering of (that is, by) the Almighty of kings." The reference is to the act of God in causing kings to abandon their purposes of invasion, or to flee when their own countries were invaded. Compare Psalm 48:5-6. The language here is so general that it might be applied to any such acts in the history of the Hebrew people; to any wars of defense or offence which they waged. It may have reference to the scattering of kings and people when Joshua invaded the land of Canaan, and when he discomfited the numerous forces, led by different kings, as the Israelites took possession of the country. The close connection of the passage with the reference to the journey through the wilderness Psalm 68:7-9 would make it probable that this is the allusion. The phrase "in it," (margin, for her), refers doubtless to the land of Canaan, and to the victories achieved there.

It was white as snow in Salmon - Margin, She was. The allusion is to the land of Canaan. But about the meaning of the phrase "white as snow in Salmon," there has been great diversity of opinion. The word rendered "was white as snow" is correctly rendered. It means to be snowy; then, to be white like snow. The verb occurs nowhere else. The noun is of frequent occurrence, and is always rendered snow. Exodus 4:6; Numbers 12:10; 2 Samuel 23:20; 2 Kings 5:27; et al. The word Salmon properly means shady, and was applied to the mountain here referred to, probably on account of the dark forests which covered it. That mountain was in Samaria, near Shechem. Judges 9:48. It is not known why the snow of that mountain is particularly alluded to here, as if there was any special whiteness or purity in it. It is probably specified by name only to give more vivacity to the description. There is much difference of opinion as to what is the meaning of the expression, or in what respects the land was thus white.

The most common opinion has been that it was from the bones of the slain which were left to bleach unburied, and which covered the land so that it seemed to be white. Compare Virg. AEn. v. 865; xii. 36. Ovid uses similar language, Fast. i: "Humanis ossibus albet humus."So also Horace, Serra. 1, 8: "Albis informem spectabant ossibus agrum." This interpretation of the passage is adopted by Rosenmuller, Gesenius, and DeWette. Others suppose it to mean that the land was like the dazzling whiteness of snow in the midst of blackness or darkness. This was the opinion of Kimchi, and this interpretation is adopted by Prof. Alexander. Tholuck supposes it to mean that, when war was waged on the kings and people, they fell as fast as snow-flakes on Mount Salmon; and that the idea is not so much the whiteness of the land, as the fact that they fell in great numbers, covering the land as the snow-flakes do. It is perhaps not possible to determine which of these explanations is correct. Either of them would accord with the meaning of the words and the general sense of the psalm. That of Tholuck is the most poetical, but it is less obvious from the Hebrew words used.

14. Their enemies dispersed, the contrast of their prosperity with their former distress is represented by that of the snow with the dark and somber shades of Salmon. In it; in Canaan, at the coming of the Israelites thither. The land was as white as Mount Salmon is with the snow, which falls and lies for a long time upon it; which is opposed to the native obscurity of that mountain by the many shady trees which were there, Judges 9:48. But because there is nothing certain, either concernirig the great height of this mountain, or concerning its snow, as we do read of snow of Lebanon, Jeremiah 18:14, other interpreters, both Hebrew and Christian, and the Chaldee among the rest, take this word Salmon for a common, and not a proper name, signifying darkness or a shadow, as the root from whence it comes unquestionably signifies. Nor is it strange if this word be no where else taken in that sense but here, because that is the lot of many Hebrew words, or of some significations of them, that they are to be found but in one text of Scripture. This being granted, the words are or may be rendered thus, it was snow-white, or thou madest it snow-white in darkness, or, as the Chaldee renders this word, in the shadow of death, i.e. thou didst cause light to shine out of darkness. When the state of thy people, and of the land of Canaan which thou hadst given to them, was dark and dismal or bloody, by reason of the wars raised against them by the Canaanitish kings, thou didst quickly change it; and whereas it was red like scarlet or crimson, thou madest it whiter than snow. When the Almighty scattered kings in it,.... His inheritance, his congregation, the church, Psalm 68:9. Which some understand of his diffusing, and spreading and giving, in large numbers, ministers and preachers of the Gospel, pastors and teachers; who are kings and spiritual governors, are over churches, and have the rule over them in the Lord: and so Jarchi interprets them of the disciples of the wise men. Or they may be understood of the Lord's bringing into his churches such as are made kings and priests unto God, and in whose hearts grace reigns; and even of kings, in a literal sense, who will be brought into the church in the latter day, Isaiah 49:23. Though they may be interpreted of wicked kings, and the destruction of them "by it" (f), the dove, the church of Christ; which will be done at the battle of Armageddon, at which time we read of the church being clothed in white, as follows; see Revelation 16:14. The name of "Almighty" well agrees with Christ, Revelation 1:8; or "Shaddai", who is sufficient, all sufficient; and whose grace is sufficient for his people, 2 Corinthians 12:9;

it was white as snow in Salmon; a mountain near to Shechem, Judges 9:48; which seems to have had its name from the shady trees upon it; and which also, as it seems from hence, was sometimes covered with snow; as was Lebanon, so called from the whiteness of the snow on it; and Olympus is called snowy by Homer, from the snow continually on it (g). Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it, "in darkness", or "in the shadow of death"; denoting, as Ainsworth observes, light in darkness; joy in tribulation: but rather it may design the purity of the church and people of God, through the imputation of Christ's righteousness to them, which is as fine linen, clean and white; and through his pardoning blood, whereby their scarlet and crimson sins are as white as wool, as white as snow; and through the sanctifying grace of the Spirit, by which they are washed and cleansed, and made all glorious within; and through the holiness of their lives and conversations, they hating the garment spotted with the flesh; and washing their garments, and making them white in the blood of the Lamb: or they may be said to be so, as having got the victory over all their enemies; and especially this will be the case when the kings of the earth will be scattered and destroyed by the Almighty Saviour, Revelation 7:9.

(f) "per eam, vel propter eam", Gejerus. (g) Iliad. c. v. 420. & 18. v. 615.

When the Almighty scattered kings {l} in it, it was white as snow in Salmon.

(l) In the land of Canaan, where his Church was.

14. Of this verse, as of Psalm 68:13, the meaning is uncertain. Possibly it too is a fragment, significant to those who remembered its original context, but necessarily obscure to us. It is doubtful, too, if the text is sound. In it, R.V. therein, must mean ‘in the land.’ Salmon, R.V. Zalmon, is only known to us as the name of a wooded hill near Shechem, from which Abimelech fetched wood to burn the tower of Shechem (Jdg 9:48). But the name, which means ‘dark’ or ‘shady’ (cp. Black Mountain, Black Forest), may have been borne by other mountains. If Zalmon near Shechem is intended, it may be mentioned either as a central point in the land, or from its connexion with some historical incident of which no record has been preserved, or simply to heighten the picturesqueness of the simile by representing the snowstorm as seen against the background of the dark mountain. Shaddai, ‘The Almighty’, only occurs once again in the Psalter (Psalm 91:1).

(1) Taking the second line as a simile, we may render with R.V.,

When the Almighty scattered kings therein,

(It was as when) it snoweth in Zalmon.

But what is meant by the simile? It has been supposed to refer to the bones of the enemy bleaching on the field of battle (cp. Verg. Aen. xii. 36, campiqiu ingentes ossibus albent: “The vast plains are white with bones”): or to the glistening of the armour &c. dropped by the fugitives in their flight: but it is far more suggestive to think, not of fallen snow lying on the ground, but of falling snow. The snowflakes driven before the storm are an apt emblem of the kings driven in pell-mell flight by the breath of the Lord, and this explanation suits the context. By the thought of the victory won for Israel by God in spite of the sloth of many an Israelite (Psalm 68:13) the poet is naturally carried back to the battle-scene, and desires to emphasise the fact that the Almighty had fought for Israel, sweeping the foe before Him like the snowflakes swept along by the hurricane.

(2) Taking the second line literally, we may render with R.V. marg., It snowed in Zalmon. The words will then refer to a snowstorm which accompanied and completed the rout of the kings. They can scarcely refer to the hardships endured by those who took up arms amid the rigours of an exceptionally severe winter, in contrast to the luxurious ease of the cowards who are chidden in Psalm 68:13; still less can they be the words of those cowards excusing themselves from taking part in the war by the severity of the weather.

(3) Some combine the literal and figurative explanations, interpreting it snowed in Zalmon to mean that “the mountain clothed itself in a bright garment of light in celebration of the joyful event. Whoever has been in Palestine knows how refreshing is the sight of the distant mountain peaks covered with snow.” This however is too far-fetched an explanation to be probable.Verse 14. - When the Almighty scattered kings in it; i.e. "in the land" (comp. ver. 10). Most of the defeats of kings, referred to above (see the comment on ver. 12), took place within the limits of Palestine. It was white as snow in Salmon. The present text has only the two words which mean, "it snows on Salmon;" whence it is concluded that something must have fallen out. Professor Cheyne supplies כְּמוֵ הַשֶּׁלֶג like snow," and understands the passage to mean that, when the kings were scattered, "it was like snow when it snows on Salmon" - the ground was all covered with glistering arms, armour, and garments. Salmon was a wooded hill near Shechem (Judges 9:48). In Psalm 68:7. the poet repeats the words of Deborah (Judges 5:4.), and her words again go back to Deuteronomy 33:2, cf. Exodus 19:15.; on the other hand, our Psalm is the original to Habakkuk 3. The martial verb יצא represents Elohim as, coming forth from His heavenly dwelling-place (Isaiah 26:21), He places Himself at the head of Israel. The stately verb צעד represents Him as He accompanies the hosts of His people with the step of a hero confident of victory; and the terrible name for the wilderness, ישׁימון, is designedly chosen in order to express the contrast between the scene of action and that which they beheld at that time. The verb to זה סיני is easily supplied; Dachselt's rendering according to the accents is correct: hic mons Sinai (sc. in specie ita tremuit). The description fixes our attention upon Sinai as the central point of all revelations of God during the period of deliverance by the hand of Moses, as being the scene of the most gloriously of them all (vid., on Hab. p. 136f.). The majestic phenomena which proclaimed the nearness of God are distributed over the whole journeying, but most gloriously concentrated themselves at the giving of the Law of Sinai. The earth trembled throughout the extended circuit of this vast granite range, and the heavens dropped, inasmuch as the darkness of thunder clouds rested upon Sinai, pierced by incessant lightnings (Exodus 19). There, as the original passages describe it, Jahve met His people; He came from the east, His people from the west; there they found themselves together, and shaking the earth, breaking through the heavens, He gave them a pledge of the omnipotence which should henceforth defend and guide them. The poet has a purpose in view in calling Elohim in this passage "the God of Israel;" the covenant relationship of God to Israel dates from Sinai, and from this period onwards, by reason of the Tra, He became Israel's King (Deuteronomy 33:5). Since the statement of a fact of earlier history has preceded, and since the preterites alternate with them, the futures that follow in Psalm 68:10, Psalm 68:11 are to be understood as referring to the synchronous past; but hardly so that Psalm 68:10 should refer to the miraculous supply of food, and more especially the rain of manna, during the journeyings through the wilderness. The giving of the Law from Sinai has a view to Israel being a settled, stationary people, and the deliverance out of the land of bondage only finds its completion in the taking and maintaining possession of the Land of Promise. Accordingly Psalm 68:10, Psalm 68:11 refer to the blessing and protection of the people who had taken up their abode there.

The נחלהּ of God (genit. auctoris, as in 2 Macc. 2:4) is the land assigned by Him to Israel as an inheritance; and גּשׁם נדבות an emblem of the abundance of gifts which God has showered down upon the land since Israel took up its abode in it. נדבה is the name given to a deed and gift springing from an inward impulse, and in this instance the intensive idea of richness and superabundance is associated therewith by means of the plural; גּשׁם נדבות is a shower-like abundance of good gifts descending from above. The Hiphil הניף here governs a double accusative, like the Kal in Proverbs 7:17, in so far, that is, as נחלתך is drawn to Psalm 68:10; for the accentuation, in opposition to the Targum, takes נחלתך ונלאה together: Thine inheritance and that the parched one (Waw epexeget. as in 1 Samuel 28:3; Amos 3:11; Amos 4:10). But this "and that" is devoid of aim; why should it not at once be read הנּלאה? The rendering of Bttcher, "Thy sickened and wearied," is inadmissible, too, according to the present pointing; for it ought to be נחלתך or נחלתך. And with a suffix this Niphal becomes ambiguous, and more especially so in this connection, where the thought of נחלה, an inherited possession, a heritage, lies so naturally at hand. נחלתך is therefore to be drawn to Psalm 68:10, and Psalm 68:10 must begin with ונלאה, as in the lxx, καὶ ἠσθένησε σὺ δὲ κατεερτίσω αὐτήν. It is true נלאה is not a hypothetical preteriet equivalent to ונלאתה; but, as is frequently the case with the anarthrous participle (Ew. 341, b), it has the value of a hypothetical clause: "and if it (Israel's inheritance) were in a parched, exhausted condition (cf. the cognate root להה, Genesis 47:13), then hast Thou always made it again firm" (Psalm 8:4; Psalm 15:1-5 :17), i.e., strengthened, enlivened it. Even here the idea of the inhabitants is closely associated with the land itself; in Psalm 68:11 they are more especially thought of: "They creatures dwelt therein." Nearly all modern expositors take חיּה either according to 2 Samuel 23:11, 2 Samuel 23:13 (cf. 1 Chronicles 11:15), in the signification tent-circle, ring-camp (root חו, Arab. ḥw, to move in a circle, to encircle, to compass), or in the signification of Arab. ḥayy (from Arab. ḥayiya equals חיי, חיה), a race or tribe, i.e., a collection of living beings (cf. חיּי, 1 Samuel 18:18). But the Asaphic character of this Psalm, which is also manifest in other points, is opposed to this rendering. This style of Psalm is fond of the comparison of Israel to a flock, so that also in Psalm 74:19 חית עניין signifies nothing else than "the creatures [Getheir, collective] of Thy poor, Thy poor creatures." This use of חיה is certainly peculiar; but not so remarkable as if by the "creatures of God" we had to understand, with Hupfeld, the quails (Exodus 16). The avoiding of בּהמה on account of the idea of brutum (Psalm 73:22) which is inseparable from this word, is sufficient to account for it; in חיה, ζῷον, there is merely the notion of moving life. We therefore are to explain it according to Micah 7:14, where Israel is called a flock dwelling in a wood in the midst of Carmel: God brought it to pass, that the flock of Israel, although sorely persecuted, nevertheless continued to inhabit the land. בּהּ, as in Micah 7:15, refers to Canaan. עני in Psalm 68:11 is the ecclesia pressa surrounded by foes on every side: Thou didst prepare for Thy poor with Thy goodness, Elohim, i.e., Thou didst regale or entertain Thy poor people with Thy possessions and Thy blessings. הכין ל, as in Genesis 43:16; 1 Chronicles 12:39, to make ready to eat, and therefore to entertain; טובה as in Psalm 65:12, טוּב ה, Jeremiah 31:12. It would be quite inadmissible, because tautological, to refer תּכין to the land according to Psalm 65:10 (Ewald), or even to the desert (Olshausen), which the description has now left far behind.

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