Psalm 68:27
There is little Benjamin with their ruler, the princes of Judah and their council, the princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(27) There is . . .—The procession is apparently a representative one. and the conjecture is probable which refers the selection of Zebulun and Naphtali to their prominence in Deborah’s song. Benjamin may owe its position to the fact that it gave the nation its first king, and Judah would naturally figure in the pomp as the tribe of David. But other considerations besides may have had weight. The selection may have been made as representative of the two kingdoms.

Their ruler.—The Hebrew word has always a sense of a high-handed conqueror’s rule, with the possible exception of Jeremiah 5:31. There is probably still a reference to Saul and his conquests—“little Benjamin who conquered for thee,” or, possibly, here Benjamin takes the victor’s place as leader of the procession.

Their council.—The reading must certainly be changed in accordance with Psalm 55:14. Their crowd, or company.

Psalm 68:27. There is little Benjamin — Present in this solemn pomp of carrying the ark to Zion, under the conduct of David their king. That tribe is called little, partly because it was the youngest, as being descended from Jacob’s youngest son, and principally because it was exceedingly diminished, and almost annihilated under the judges. And he notices it particularly here, both because it was nearest to Judah, and to the place to which the ark was now carried; and also to signify their reconciliation and submission to David, against whom they had stood out with more obstinacy than any other tribe, as having been so long used to govern, and unwilling to part with the regal dignity, which was, by God’s appointment, first seated among them. With their ruler — With the prince of their tribe, who marched at the head of them. Hebrew, Benjamin their ruler; the tribe which had lately swayed the sceptre, but now submitted to David. The princes of Judah — It is no wonder that he should mention the princes of this tribe, because he was elected by them to be their king; their council — “This tribe was certainly the council or chief support of the Israelitish constitution, both in the cabinet and the field; in the former it had the lead. The princes of Zebulun and Naphtali are added, as the most remote, to show the unanimity of the whole nation, and of all the tribes far and near, in attending this solemnity; to testify their willing acknowledgment of David for their king, and their consent, that henceforward Jerusalem, the city of David, should be declared and esteemed the capital of the whole nation.”68:22-28 The victories with which God blessed David over the enemies of Israel, are types of Christ's victory, for himself and for all believers. Those who take him for theirs, may see him acting as their God, as their King, for their good, and in answer to their prayers; especially in and by his word and ordinances. The kingdom of the Messiah shall be submitted to by all the rulers and learned in the world. The people seem to address the king, ver. 28. But the words are applicable to the Redeemer, to his church, and every true believer. We pray, that thou, O God the Son, wilt complete thine undertaking for us, by finishing thy good work in us.There is little Benjamin - In that solemn procession. That is, the tribe of Benjamin is "represented" there; or, there are in the procession those who are connected with that tribe. The name "little" is given to the tribe either because Benjamin was the youngest of the sons of Jacob, or, more probably, because that tribe was among the smallest of the tribes of Israel. In fact, the tribe was so small, as compared with that of Judah, for instance, that, after the revolt of the ten tribes, the name of Benjamin was lost, and the whole nation was called, after the tribe of Judah, "Jews."

With their ruler - The word "with" is not in the original. The Hebrew is literally "ruling them." This would seem to mean that, on the occasion referred to, Benjamin, or those who were connected with that tribe, had the oversight, or the direction of those who were engaged in this solemn procession. Though small, it had the preeminence on this occasion. To it was committed the important duty of presiding over these solemnities; that is, those who were prominent in the arrangements for the occasion were of the tribe of Benjamin. This seems to me to be a better explanation than to suppose, as Professor Alexander does, that it has reference to the enemies of the people of God, and that Benjamin had "conquered" or "subdued" them.

The princes of Judah - The principal men of the tribe of Judah.

And "their council - Margin, "with their company." The Hebrew word here, - רגמה rigmâh - means crowd, throng, band. It never means "council." The idea is, evidently, that large numbers of the tribe of Judah attended - that the "princes" or leaders were accompanied by throngs of their own people; in allusion to the fact that Judah was one of the largest of the tribes of Israel - and in contrast with Benjamin, which was few in number, and yet thus occupied the most honorable place as having "charge" of the arrangements.

The princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali - These were remote or border tribes, and they seem to be mentioned here to show that all the tribes were represented; that is, that this was a national celebration. The fact that these tribes are mentioned as being represented on the occasion, proves that this psalm was composed before the revolt of the ten tribes, and the formation of the kingdom of Israel; that is, as "early" as the time of Solomon. This increases the probability that the psalm was written by David.

26. from—or literally, "of"

the fountain of Israel—that is, lineal descendants of Jacob, are invited to unite in the doxology. Then by one of the nearest tribes, one of the most eminent, and two of the most remote, are represented the whole nation of Israel, passing forward (Nu 7:1-89).

There is present in this solemn pomp of carrying the ark to Zion, under the conduct of David their king,

little Benjamin. That tribe is called little, partly because it was the youngest, as being descended from Jacob’s youngest son Benjamin; and principally because it was exceedingly diminished, and almost extinguished, under the judges, Judges 20 Jud 21. He mentions this tribe, partly because they were nearest unto Judah, and to the place whither the ark was going; and partly to note their reconciliation and submission to David, against whom they had stood out with more obstinacy than any other tribe, as having been so long used to govern, and loth to part with the regal dignity which was by God’s appointment first seated among them.

With their ruler; with the prince of their tribe, who marched in the head of them. Heb. the ruler, i.e. the tribe which had lately swayed the sceptre, but now submitted themselves to David, and waited upon him in this expedition. But the first sense seems the truest, because the princes of all the following tribes are here mentioned.

Their council; their counsellors; or rather, their company, as it is in the margin, the people of that tribe who waited upon them in that action; which may seem to be here noted, to intimate that though the princes only of the following tribes be yet the people are comprehended under them, and were present with them in that solemnity. Zebulun and Naphtali: he mentions these tribes, either,

1. Because they excelled in learning and knowledge, as is gathered from Genesis 49:21 Deu 33:19 Judges 5:14. Or,

2. Because they were more hearty and forward in complying with David and in his service than the rest, as may seem from the great number of them which came from the ends of the land to David in Hebron, 1 Chronicles 12:33,34. Or,

3. Because they lived in the remotest parts of the land of Canaan. And so by naming two of the nearest tribes, and two of the furthest, he leaves it to be understood that the other tribes also did come upon this occasion, as is manifest from 2 Samuel 6:15,19 1 Chronicles 13:2,5,6,8 15:3,28. There is little Benjamin, with their ruler,.... Or who is "their ruler" (y); that is, in the congregations or churches, where he was a ruler; or in the procession, the triumphal progress of Christ in Judea, and in the Gentile world, by the ministry of the word; where the singers and players of instruments, and damsels with timbrels, went in order: for not the tribe of Benjamin is meant, called "little", because Benjamin was Jacob's younger son; or because it was greatly weakened and reduced at Gibeah, Judges 20:48; and was one of the smallest tribes in Israel; and Saul's family, who was the first king of Israel, the least in that tribe, 1 Samuel 9:21; though the Targum interprets it of the tribe; and so Jarchi; but the Apostle Paul is here meant, who was of the tribe of Benjamin, Romans 11:1; was a young man when he was converted, Acts 7:58; as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions have it here; was "little" in stature, as is generally reported of him, and as his name "Paul" may be thought to signify, and might be given him on that account; see 2 Corinthians 10:10; and was little in his own eyes, less than the least of all saints, and the chief of sinners; one born out of due time, and unworthy to be called an apostle; as well as he was little and contemptible in the eyes of others; yet he was greatly honoured by Christ, had an authority from him, was a "ruler" in his churches; set in the first place there, made an apostle, and was an apostle of the Gentiles, and not a whit behind the very chief of the apostles; and he was a principal in this progress, and therefore is named first: he was a chosen vessel to bear the name of Christ, and carry it into the Gentile world; he travelled and laboured more abundantly than the rest, and preached the Gospel fully from Jerusalem round about to Illyricum. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, render it, "there was Benjamin the younger in an ecstasy", or trance, as the Apostle Paul was, Acts 9:9; but our version is best;

the princes of Judah, and their council; or "company", as Kimchi; their churches, or congregations over which they presided, or were the means of gathering; these were the apostles, some of which were of the tribe of Judah, of which tribe Christ was, and so must be those that are called his brethren, Matthew 13:55; these were "princes", not only in common with other Christians, by adoption and regeneration, but by their office, being apostles, and over others in the Lord; and besides the church at Jerusalem, where James presided, there were other churches in Judea, which had spiritual guides and governors over them; see Hebrews 13:7; and so the Septuagint version, and those that follow it, render the words, "the princes of Judah, their governors"; and so Aben Ezra interprets them, and observes that "regem", in Zechariah 7:2 so signifies; to which the sense of R. Menachem in Jarchi agrees, who renders it "their purpled ones"; so Cocceius; but Gussetius (z) renders it "their stoning"; who stoned those that preached the Gospel to them; see Matthew 21:35; or stoned their enemies, conquered them; or "their stone" (a), the Messiah, that sprung from Judah, Genesis 49:24;

the princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali; the rest of the apostles, who were of Galilee, in which country lay the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali: such as Peter, Andrew, James and John, Philip and Nathaniel, see Matthew 4:13.

(y) "dominans eos", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus; "dominator eorum", Musculus: so Tigurine version, Cocceius. (z) Ebr. Comment. p. 777. (a) Vid. Teelman. Explic. Parabol. p. 312.

There is {x} little Benjamin with their {y} ruler, the princes of Judah and their council, the princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali.

(x) Benjamin is called little, because he was the youngest son of Jacob.

(y) Who was some chief ruler of the tribe.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
27. The representatives of four tribes are specified as taking part in the procession. Judah and Benjamin naturally represent the South. Jerusalem was on the boundary between them; and the Temple was in the territory assigned to Benjamin (Deuteronomy 33:12; Joshua 18:16), which may account for the place of honour being assigned to it. But why are Zebulun and Naphtali selected to represent the North? Is it as a recognition of their heroic patriotism commemorated in the Song of Deborah (Jdg 5:18) of which this Psalm contains so many reminiscences? or is it (on the assumption of the exilic date of the Psalm) an allusion to the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 11:1), that just those tribes which had suffered most severely from the first Assyrian invasion should be restored to honour? This, if the exilic date of the Psalm is adopted, is the most obvious explanation. The prophets from Amos (Amos 9:11 ff.) and Hosea (Hosea 3:5) onward, foretold the restoration of Israel as well as Judah, and their reunion into one state, and the Psalmist sees this hope visibly fulfilled in the festal procession. It may be noted that in Jeremiah 3:17-18, the restoration of the reunited people is placed in close connexion with the conflux of the nations to worship at Jerusalem of which the Psalmist goes on to speak in Psalm 68:28 ff. It is important to remember that the Israelites who returned from Babylon regarded themselves as representing the whole nation, and not the kingdom of Judah only. Cp. Ezra 8:35; Psalm 122:4.

little Benjamin with their ruler] Omit with. Benjamin is called little as the youngest of the sons of Jacob, and the smallest of the tribes in population and territory (1 Samuel 9:21). Their ruler is explained by the Targ. as an allusion to Saul’s kingship; “There was Benjamin, small among the tribes, who first went down into the [Red] Sea, and therefore first received the kingdom”: by others it is supposed to mean ‘conducting them.’ The word is obscure and possibly corrupt.

and their council] Or, company.Verse 27. - There is little Benjamin with their ruler. "With" is wrongly supplied by our translators. "Little Benjamin" the "smallest of the tribes of Israel" (1 Samuel 9:21) - is called "their ruler," as having furnished the first king, and the one who began the conquests celebrated in vers. 11-23. If the psalm is to be accounted as David's, we may note it as a graceful act on his part that he places Saul's tribe first. The princes of Judah and their council. Again "and" is wrongly supplied. "The princes of Judah" are called "their council," or "their bulwark" (Kay), as holding the most important position in Israel at the time. The reading, however, is doubtful. The princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali. Four tribes only are mentioned, not because no more than four took part in the processions, but as representatives of the whole number. The tribes selected for mention are from the two ends of the land - the extreme south and the extreme north. Zebulun and Naphtali were the most important of the northern tribes (see Judges 4:6, 10; Judges 5:18), as Judah and Benjamin were of the southern ones. Now begins the second circuit of the hymn. Comforted by the majestic picture of the future that he has beheld, the poet returns to the present, in which Israel is still oppressed, but yet not forsaken by God. The translation follows the accentuation, regular and in accordance with the sense, which has been restored by Baer after Heidenheim, viz., אדני has Zarka, and יעמס לנוּ Olewejored preceded by the sub-distinctive Rebia parvum; it is therefore: Benedictus Dominator: quotidie bajulat nobis, - with which the Targum, Rashi, and Kimchi agree.

(Note: According to the customary accentuation the second יום has Mercha or Olewejored, and יעמס־לנוּ, Mugrash. But this Mugrash has the position of the accents of the Silluk-member against it; for although it does exceptionally occur that two conjunctives follow Mugrash (Accentsystem, xvii. 5), yet these cannot in any case be Mahpach sarkatum and Illui.)

עמס, like נשׂא and סבל, unites the significations to lay a burden upon one (Zechariah 12:3; Isaiah 46:1, Isaiah 46:3), and to carry a burden; with על it signifies to lay a burden upon any one, here with ל to take up a burden for any one and to bear it for him. It is the burden or pressure of the hostile world that is meant, which the Lord day by day helps His church to bear, inasmuch as He is mighty by His strength in her who of herself is so feeble. The divine name אל, as being the subject of the sentence, is האל: God is our salvation. The music here again strikes in forte, and the same thought that is emphasized by the music in its turn, is also repeated in Psalm 68:21 with heightened expression: God is to us a God למושׁעות, who grants us help in rich abundance. The pluralet. denotes not so much the many single proofs of help, as the riches of rescuing power and grace. In Psalm 68:21 למּות corresponds to the לנוּ; for it is not to be construed תּוצאות למּות: Jahve's, the Lord, are the outgoings to death (Bttcher), i.e., He can command that one shall not fall a prey to death. תוצאות, the parallel word to מושׁעות, signifies, and it is the most natural meaning, the escapings; יצא, evadere, as in 1 Samuel 14:41; 2 Kings 13:5; Ecclesiastes 7:18. In Jahve's power are means of deliverance for death, i.e., even for those who are already abandoned to death. With אך a joyously assuring inference is drawn from that which God is to Israel. The parallelism of the correctly divided verse shows that ראשׁ here, as in Psalm 110:6, signifies caput in the literal sense, and not in the sense of princeps. The hair-covered scalp is mentioned as a token of arrogant strength, and unhumbled and impenitent pride, as in Deuteronomy 32:42, and as the Attic koma'n directly signifies to strut along, give one's self airs. The genitival construction is the same as in Isaiah 28:1, Isaiah 32:13. The form of expression refers back to Numbers 24:17, and so to speak inflects this primary passage very similarly to Jeremiah 48:45. If קדקד שׂער be an object, then ראשׁ ought also to be a second object (that of the member of the body); the order of the words does not in itself forbid this (cf. Psalm 3:8 with Deuteronomy 33:11), but would require a different arrangement in order to avoid ambiguities.

In Psalm 68:23 the poet hears a divine utterance, or records one that he has heard: "From Bashan will I bring back, I will bring back from the eddies of the sea (from צוּל equals צלל, to whiz, rattle; to whirl, eddy), i.e., the depths or abysses of the sea." Whom? When after the destruction of Jerusalem a ship set sail for Rome with a freight of distinguished and well-formed captives before whom was the disgrace of prostitution, they all threw themselves into the sea, comforting themselves with this passage of Scripture (Gittin 57b, cf. Echa Rabbathi 66a). They therefore took Psalm 68:23 to be a promise which has Israel as its object;

(Note: So also the Targum, which understands the promise to refer to the restoration of the righteous who have been eaten by wild beasts and drowned in the sea (Midrash: מבשׁן equals מבין שׁני אריות); cf. also the things related from the time of the Khaliphs in Jost's Geschichte des Judenthums, ii. 399, and Grtz' Gesch. der Juden, v. 347.)

but the clause expressing a purpose, Psalm 68:24, and the paraphrase in Amos 9:2., show that the foes of Israel are conceived of as its object. Even if these have hidden themselves in the most out-of-the-way places, God will fetch them back and make His own people the executioners of His justice upon them. The expectation is that the flight of the defeated foes will take a southernly direction, and that they will hide themselves in the primeval forests of Bashan, and still farther southward in the depths of the sea, i.e., of the Dead Sea (ים as in Isaiah 16:8; 2 Chronicles 20:2). Opposite to the hiding in the forests of the mountainous Bashan stands the hiding in the abyss of the sea, as the extreme of remoteness, that which is in itself impossible being assumed as possible. The first member of the clause expressing the purpose, Psalm 68:24, becomes more easy and pleasing if we read תּרחץ (lxx, Syriac, and Vulgate, ut intingatur), according to Psalm 58:11. So far as the letters are concerned, the conjecture תּחמץ (from which תמחץ, according to Chajug', is transposed), after Isaiah 63:1, is still more natural (Hitzig): that thy foot may redden itself in blood. This is certainly somewhat tame, and moreover מדּם would be better suited to this rendering than בּדם. As the text now stands, תּמחץ

(Note: The Gaja of the first closed syllable warns one to make a proper pause upon it, in order that the guttural of the second, so apt to be slurred over, may be distinctly pronounced; cf. תּבחר, Psalm 65:5; הרחיק, Psalm 103:12. So also with the sibilants at the beginning of the second syllable, e.g., תּדשׁא, Genesis 1:11, in accordance with which, in Genesis 14:1; Genesis 53:2, we must write השׁתיתו והתעיבו.)

is equivalent to תּמחצם (them, viz., the enemies), and רגלך בּדם is an adverbial clause (setting or plunging thy foot in blood). It is, however, also possible that מחץ is used like Arab. machaḍa (vehementer commovere): ut concutias s. agites pedem tuam in sanguine. Can it now be that in Psalm 68:24 from among the number of the enemies of the one who goes about glorying in his sins, the רשׁע κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν (cf. Isaiah 11:4; Habakkuk 3:13, and other passages), is brought prominently forward by מנּהוּ? Hardly so; the absence of תּלק (lambat) cannot be tolerated, cf. 1 Kings 21:19; 1 Kings 22:38. It is more natural, with Simonis, to refer מנּהוּ back to לשׁון (a word which is usually fem., but sometimes perhaps is masc., Psalm 22:16; Proverbs 26:28); and, since side by side with ממּנוּ only מנהוּ occurs anywhere else (Ew. 263, b), to take it in the signification pars ejus (מן from מנן equals מגה, after the form גּז, חן, קץ, of the same meaning as מגה, מנת, Psalm 63:11), in favour of which Hupfeld also decides.

What is now described in Psalm 68:25-28, is not the rejoicing over a victory gained in the immediate past, nor the rejoicing over the earlier deliverance at the Red Sea, but Israel's joyful celebration when it shall have experienced the avenging and redemptive work of its God and King. According to Psalm 77:14; Habakkuk 3:6, הליכות appears to be God's march against the enemy; but what follows shows that the pompa magnifica of God is intended, after He has overcome the enemy. Israel's festival of victory is looked upon as a triumphal procession of God Himself, the King, who governs in holiness, and has now subjugated and humbled the unholy world; בּקּדשׁ as in Psalm 68:18. The rendering "in the sanctuary' is very natural in this passage, but Exodus 15:11; Psalm 77:14, are against it. The subject of ראוּ is all the world, more especially those of the heathen who have escaped the slaughter. The perfect signifies: they have seen, just as קדּמוּ, they have occupied the front position. Singers head the procession, after them (אחר,

(Note: This אחר, according to B. Nedarim 37b, is a so-called עטור סופרים (ablatio scribarum), the sopherim (sofrim) who watched over the faithful preservation of the text having removed the reading ואחר, so natural according to the sense, here as in Genesis 18:5; Genesis 24:55; Numbers 31:2, and marked it as not genuine.)

an adverb as in Genesis 22:13; Exodus 5:1) players upon citherns and harps (נגנים, participle to נגּן), and on either side virgins with timbrels (Spanish adufe); תּופפות, apocopated part. Poel with the retension of ē (cf. שׁוקקה, Psalm 107:9), from תּפף, to strike the תּף (Arab. duff). It is a retrospective reference to the song at the Sea, now again come into life, which Miriam and the women of Israel sang amidst the music of timbrels. The deliverance which is now being celebrated is the counterpart of the deliverance out of Egypt. Songs resound as in Psalm 68:27, "in gatherings of the congregation (and, so to speak, in full choirs) praise ye Elohim." מקהלות (מקהלים, Psalm 26:12) is the plural to קהל (Psalm 22:23), which forms none of its own (cf. post-biblical קהלּות from קהלּה). Psalm 68:27 is abridged from ברכו אדני אשׁר אתם ממקור ישראל, praise ye the Lord, ye who have Israel for your fountainhead. אדני, in accordance with the sense, has Mugrash. Israel is here the name of the patriarch, from whom as from its fountainhead the nation has spread itself abroad; cf. Isaiah 48:1; Isaiah 51:1, and as to the syntax ממּך, those who descend from thee, Isaiah 58:12. In the festive assembly all the tribes of Israel are represented by their princes. Two each from the southern and northern tribes are mentioned. Out of Benjamin was Israel's first king, the first royal victor over the Gentiles; and in Benjamin, according to the promise (Deuteronomy 33:12) and according to the accounts of the boundaries (Joshua 18:16., Joshua 15:7.), lay the sanctuary of Israel. Thus, therefore, the tribe which, according both to order of birth (Genesis 43:29.) and also extent of jurisdiction and numbers (1 Samuel 9:21), was "little," was honoured beyond the others.

(Note: Tertullian calls the Apostle Paul, with reference to his name and his Benjamitish origin, parvus Benjamin, just as Augustine calls the poetess of the Magnificat, nostra tympanistria.)

Judah, however, came to the throne in the person of David, and became for ever the royal tribe. Zebulun and Naphtali are the tribes highly praised in Deborah's song of victory (Judges 5:18, cf. Psalm 4:6) on account of their patriotic bravery. רדם, giving no sense when taken from the well-known verb רדם, falls back upon רדה, and is consequently equivalent to רדם (cf. Lamentations 1:13), subduing or ruling them; according to the sense, equivalent to רדה בם (1 Kings 5:30; 1 Kings 9:23; 2 Chronicles 8:10), like המּצלם, not "their leader up," but ὁ ἀναγαγὼν αὐτοὺς, Isaiah 63:11, not equals רדיהם (like עשׂיהם, ראיהם), which would signify their subduer or their subduers. The verb רדה, elsewhere to subjugate, oppress, hold down by force, Ezekiel 34:4; Leviticus 25:53, is here used of the peaceful occupation of the leader who maintains the order of a stately and gorgeous procession. For the reference to the enemies, "their subduer," is without any coherence. But to render the parallel word רגמתם "their (the enemies') stoning" (Hengstenberg, Vaihinger, and others, according to Bttcher's "Proben"), is, to say nothing more, devoid of taste; moreover רגם does not mean to throw stones with a sling, but to stone as a judicial procedure. If we assign to the verb רגם the primary signification congerere, accumulare, after Arab. rajama VIII, and rakama, then רגמתם signifies their closely compacted band, as Jewish expositors have explained it (קהלם או קבוצם). Even if we connect רגם with רקם, variegare, or compare the proper name regem equals Arab. rajm, socius (Bttcher), we arrive at much the same meaning. Hupfeld's conjecture רגשׁתם is consequently unnecessary.

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