Psalm 68:16
Why leap you, you high hills? this is the hill which God desires to dwell in; yes, the LORD will dwell in it for ever.
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(16) Why leap ye?—The verb occurs only here, but is explained by Delitzsch, by comparison with an Arabic root, to express the attitude of a beast crouching down for a spring on its prey; a fine image: the jealous hills lying, like panthers, ready to spring on the passing Israelites. Or does the old feeling of jealousy of the tribes on the other side of Jordan still show itself lurking in this verse? Browning has an image some what similar:—

“Those two hills on the right

Crouched like two bulls.”

Others make the meaning simply “to look enviously on.” The older versions have caught the sense, “Why watch with suspicion?” We may translate the verse, Why, mountains of many peaks, glare ye at the mountain which God hath desired for a residence? Yea, Jehovah will dwell there for ever.

Psalm 68:16. Why leap ye, ye high hills — Why exult ye, or triumph, boasting of your height, and looking down upon poor Zion with scorn and contempt, as an obscure and inconsiderable hill, if compared with you? He speaks to the hills by a usual figure, called a prosopopœia. This is the hill, &c. — This hill, though despicable in your eyes, is precious and honourable in the eyes of God, and chosen by him for the place of his settled and perpetual residence. Dr. Chandler, however, gives a different sense to the word תרצדון, teratsdun, here rendered, leap ye; and translates the whole verse thus: Why look ye with envy, ye craggy hills? This is the mountain God hath desired to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell there for ever. Thus he considers the psalmist as poetically introducing Bashan, and the other little hills, as looking with envy on mount Zion, that she, above all the other mountains, should be favoured with the residence of the eternal God, and become the fixed seat of his ark. He tacitly bids them cease their envy; and by pointing to mount Zion, says, “See! there is the hill which God hath chosen, above all others, to inhabit! Yea, the Lord will dwell there for ever. His ark shall never be removed from it to any other dwelling whatsoever.” For, though the ark was removed from that particular spot, in which it was now to be placed, to the hill of Moriah, upon which the temple was to be built; yet it must be remembered that Zion and Moriah stood near each other, being both in Jerusalem, and were, probably, but two tops of one and the same hill. Here, excepting the seventy years of the Babylonish captivity, during which time Jerusalem lay desolate, God would dwell “till the old dispensation should be at an end; till the glory of the Lord should be revealed in human nature; till God should be manifest in the flesh; and the true tabernacle and temple should succeed the typical. After that, the privileges of Zion were transferred to the Christian Church; she became, and, while the world lasts, will continue to be, the hill in which God delighteth to dwell; she will therefore be justly entitled to the pre-eminence over all that may seem to be great and glorious in the world.” — Horne.68:15-21 The ascension of Christ must here be meant, and thereto it is applied, Eph 4:8. He received as the purchase of his death, the gifts needful for the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of believers. These he continually bestows, even on rebellious men, that the Lord God might dwell among them, as their Friend and Father. He gave gifts to men. Having received power to give eternal life, the Lord Jesus bestows it on as many as were given him, Joh 17:2. Christ came to a rebellious world, not to condemn it, but that through him it might be saved. The glory of Zion's King is, that he is a Saviour and Benefactor to all his willing people, and a consuming fire to all that persist in rebellion against him. So many, so weighty are the gifts of God's bounty, that he may be truly said to load us with them. He will not put us off with present things for a portion, but will be the God of our salvation. The Lord Jesus has authority and power to rescue his people from the dominion of death, by taking away the sting of it from them when they die, and giving them complete victory over it when they rise again. The crown of the head, the chief pride and glory of the enemy, shall be smitten; Christ shall crush the head of the serpent.Why leap ye, ye high hills? - That is, with exultation; with pride; with conscious superiority. Why do you seem to regard yourselves as so superior to Mount Zion, in strength, in beauty, in grandeur? The Hebrew, however - רצד râtsad - rather means, "Why do ye watch insidiously? why do ye look askance at?" The word occurs only in this place. In Arabic it means to watch closely; to lie in wait for. This is the idea here. The mountains around Palestine - the mountains of the pagan world - the lofty hills - as if conscious of their grandeur, are represented as looking "askance," in their pride, at Mount Zion; as eyeing it with silent contempt, as if it were not worthy of notice; as if it were so insignificant that it had no claim to attention. The idea is not that of "leaping," as in our English Bible, or of "hopping," as in the version of the Episcopal Prayer Book, but that of a look of silent disdain, as if, by their side, Zion, so insignificant, was not worthy of regard. "Perhaps," by the high hills here, however, are disguisedly also represented the mighty powers of the pagan world, as if looking with contempt on the people of the land where Zion was the place of worship.

This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in - The hill which "he" has selected as his abode, and which "he" has honored above all the mountains of the earth, by his permanent residence there. As such, Zion has an honor above the loftiest hills and ranges of mountains in the earth.

Yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever - Permanently; he will make it his fixed habitation on earth. Not-withstanding the envy or the contempt of surrounding hills, he will make this his settled abode. He has chosen it; he delights in it; he will not forsake it for the mountains and hills that are in themselves more grand and lofty.

15, 16. Mountains are often symbols of nations (Ps 46:2; 65:6). That of Bashan, northeast of Palestine, denotes a heathen nation, which is described as a "hill of God," or a great hill. Such are represented as envious of the hill (Zion) on which God resides; Why leap ye? why do you triumph and boast of your height, and look upon poor Zion with scorn and contempt, as an obscure and inconsiderable hill, if compared with you? He speaks to the hills by a usual figure called prosopopaeia. This hill, though despicable in your eyes, is precious and honourable in God’s eyes, and chosen by him for his settled and perpetual residence. For though the ark was removed from this particular place, in which it was now to be placed, to the hill of Moriah, upon which the temple was built, yet it must be remembered that Zion and Moriah stood one near to the other, being both in Jerusalem, and are by some said to have been but two tops of one and the same hill. Why leap ye, ye high hills?.... Meaning the kingdoms of this world that lift up themselves above, and look with contempt upon the interest, kingdom, and church of Christ; lie in wait for it, leap upon it, insult over it, and endeavour to crush and extirpate it; but all in vain; these high hills and mountains are nothing before Zerubbabel King of saints; his church is built on a rock, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it; the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands will become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth, and break in pieces and consume the kingdoms of it: the word in, the Arabic language, signifies "to lie in wait", as Jarchi from R. Moses Hadarsan observes; and to look out, and leap upon the prey; so R. Hai in Ben Melech says, it has the signification of looking, observing, hoping, or waiting, in the Arable language (k);

this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; as in Psalm 132:13; the Word of the Lord, as the Targum; the essential Word, the Messiah: his desire was towards his church and people, in eternity, in time, and now is; he has chosen and desired them for his habitation, and in the midst of them he delights to be, Revelation 1:13;

yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever: he dwells in his church now by his gracious presence; he will dwell in the New Jerusalem church state personally for the space of a thousand years; and after that he will dwell with and among his people to all eternity; see Psalm 132:14.

(k) "Ratzad, insidiatus fuit, uti praedae leo", Golius, col. 991. Castel. col. 3633.

{n} Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the LORD will dwell in it for ever.

(n) Why do you boast of your strength and beauty against this Mountain of God.

16. Why look ye enviously, ye high-peaked mountains,

At the mountain which God hath desired for his abode?

Yea, Jehovah will dwell in it for ever.

The grander mountains of Bashan, not Hermon only, but the rugged basaltic mountains which rise in precipitous peaks, suggesting ideas of majesty, antiquity, impregnability, are represented as looking enviously upon the insignificant mountain of Zion which God has chosen for His earthly dwelling-place. Sinai had been his temporary abode (Exodus 24:16); on Zion He will dwell for ever. Cp. 1 Kings 8:12-13. The choice of Zion is a parable of the method of God’s dealings with men. Cp. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

The A.V. why leap ye comes from the Targ., and assumes that the root rtsd, occurring here only, is synonymous with rqd, used in a similar apostrophe, Psalm 114:4; Psalm 114:6. But it is certainly to be explained from the meaning of the same root in Arabic.Verse 16. - Why leap ye, ye high hills? rather, Why look ye askance, ye mountains of peaks? In jealousy at not being chosen. This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; rather, on the mountain which God desireth to dwell in - a continuation of the preceding sentence. The mountain intended is, of course, Mount Zion, a comparatively low elevation. Yea, the Lord will dwell in it forever; i.e. make it his permanent, not merely his temporary, habitation, like Sinai. 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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