Psalm 72:16
There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.
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(16) An handful.—Rather, abundance, from a root meaning spread. The clauses, as arranged in the text, evidently miss the intention of the writer. Render,

“Let there be abundance of corn on the earth;

On the top of the mountains let it wave like Libanus,”

i.e., like the cedars of Libanus. The word rendered “wave” elsewhere is used of “earthquakes” or “violent storm,” and suggests here rather a violent agitation than the quiet waving of a sunny cornfield, as if the very mountains were under cultivation, and their crowning woods that sway to and fro in the breeze were suddenly changed to grain. (Comp. Psalm 92:13.) The images suggested by the LXX. and Vulg., of the corn in the lowlands growing high enough to overtop Lebanon, is grotesque.

And they of the city . . .—Better, and let them (men) spring forth from the city like grass from the earth. (As images of large population, comp. Psalm 92:7; Job 5:25.) But probably we ought to transpose a letter and read, “and let cities spring up like grass from the earth.”

Psalm 72:16. There shall be a handful of corn — Which intimates the small beginnings of this kingdom, and therefore does not agree to that of Solomon, which was, in a manner, as large at the beginning of his reign as at the end of it; but it exactly agrees to Christ and his kingdom, Matthew 13:31-33. In the earth — That is, sown in the earth. The seed is the word of God. That on good ground are they, who, in an honest and good heart, a heart made honest and good by grace, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience, Luke 8:11, &c.; bring forth first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear, Mark 4:26-28. Such, reader, is the progress of this handful of seed cast into the ground; though upon the top of the mountains — That is, in the most barren soil. It produces a number of converts, all born again of incorruptible seed by the word, 1 Peter 1:23; and in each convert the fruit of genuine repentance, of living faith, and of true holiness. The fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon — It shall yield such an abundant increase, that the ears, being thick and high, and full of corn, shall, when they are shaken by the wind, make a noise not unlike that which the tops of the trees of Lebanon sometimes make, upon the like occasion. Which expressions, as well as many others of the like nature, in the prophets, being applied to Christ and his kingdom, are to be understood in a spiritual sense, of the great and happy success of the preaching of the gospel. And they of the city — That is, the citizens of Jerusalem, which are here put for the subjects of this kingdom. Shall flourish like the grass of the earth — Shall both increase in number and in grace, being fruitful in every good word and work.

72:2-17 This is a prophecy of the kingdom of Christ; many passages in it cannot be applied to the reign of Solomon. There were righteousness and peace at first in the administration of his government; but, before the end of his reign, there were troubles and unrighteousness. The kingdom here spoken of is to last as long as the sun, but Solomon's was soon at an end. Even the Jewish expositors understood it of the kingdom of the Messiah. Observe many great and precious promises here made, which were to have full accomplishment only in the kingdom of Christ. As far as his kingdom is set up, discord and contentions cease, in families, churches, and nations. The law of Christ, written in the heart, disposes men to be honest and just, and to render to all their due; it likewise disposes men to live in love, and so produces abundance of peace. Holiness and love shall be lasting in Christ's kingdom. Through all the changes of the world, and all the changes of life, Christ's kingdom will support itself. And he shall, by the graces and comforts of his Spirit, come down like rain upon the mown grass; not on that cut down, but that which is left growing, that it may spring again. His gospel has been, or shall be, preached to all nations. Though he needs not the services of any, yet he must be served with the best. Those that have the wealth of this world, must serve Christ with it, do good with it. Prayer shall be made through him, or for his sake; whatever we ask of the Father, should be in his name. Praises shall be offered to him: we are under the highest obligations to him. Christ only shall be feared throughout all generations. To the end of time, and to eternity, his name shall be praised. All nations shall call HIM blessed.There shall be an handful of corn - "Of grain," for so the word means in the Scriptures. The "general" idea in this verse is plain. It is, that, in the time of the Messiah, there would be an ample supply of the fruits of the earth; or that his reign would tend to the promotion of prosperity, industry, abundance. It would be as if fields of grain waved everywhere, even on the tops of mountains, or as if the hills were cultivated to the very summit, so that the whole land would be covered over with waving, smiling harvests. There is a difference of opinion, however, and consequently of interpretation, as to the meaning of the word rendered "handful." This word - פסה pissâh - occurs nowhere else, and it is impossible, therefore, to determine its exact meaning. By some it is rendered "handful;" by others, "abundance." The former interpretation is adopted by Prof. Alexander, and is found in the older interpreters generally; the latter is the opinion of Gesenius, DeWette, and most modern expositors.

It is also the interpretation in the Syriac. The Vulgate and the Septuagint render it "strength" - meaning something "firm" or "secure," "firmamentum," στήριγμα stērigma. According to the explanation which regards the word as meaning "handful," the idea is, that there would be a great contrast between the small beginnings of the Messiah's reign and its ultimate triumph - as if a mere handful of grain were sown on the top of a mountain - on a place little likely to produce anything - a place usually barren and unproductive - which would grow into an abundant harvest, so that it would wave everywhere like the cedar trees of Lebanon. According to the other interpretation, the idea is simply that there would be an "abundance" in the land. The whole land would be cultivated, even to the tops of the hills, and the evidences of plenty would be seen everywhere. It is impossible to determine which of these is the correct idea; but both agree in that which is essential - that the reign of the Messiah would be one of peace and plenty. The former interpretation is the most poetic, and the most beautiful. It accords, also, with other representations - as in the parable of the grain of mustard-seed, and the parable of the leaven; and it accords, also, with the fact that the beginning of the Gospel was small in comparison with what would be the ultimate result. This would seem to render that interpretation the most probable.

In the earth - In the land; the land of Canaan; the place where the kingdom of the Messiah would be set up.

Upon the top of the mountains - In places "like" the tops of mountains. The mountains and hills were seldom cultivated to the tops. Yet here the idea is, that the state of things under the Messiah would be as if a handful of grain were sown in the place most unlikely to produce a harvest, or which no one thought of cultivating. No one needs to be told how well this would represent the cold and barren human heart in general; or the state of the Jewish world in respect to true religion, at the time when the Saviour appeared.

The fruit thereof - That which would spring up from the mere handful of grain thus sown.

Shall shake like Lebanon - Like the cedar trees of Lebanon. The harvest will wave as those tall and stately trees do. This is an image designed to show that the growth would be strong and abundant, far beyond what could have been anticipated from the small quantity of the seed sown, and the barrenness of the soil. The word rendered "shake" means more than is implied in our word "shake" or "wave." It conveys also the idea of a rushing sound, such as that which whistles among cedar or pine trees. "The origin of the Hebrew verb," says Gesenius, "and its primary idea lies in the "noise" and "crashing" which is made by concussion." Hence, it is used to denote the "rustling" motion of grain waving in the wind, and the sound of the wind whistling through trees when they are agitated by it.

And they of the city - Most interpreters suppose that this refers to Jerusalem, as the center of the Messiah's kingdom. It seems more probable, however, that it is not designed to refer to Jerusalem, or to any particular city, but to stand in contrast with the top of the mountain. Cities and hills would alike flourish; there would be prosperity everywhere - in barren and unpopulated wastes, and in places where people had been congregated together. The "figure" is changed, as is not uncommon, but the "idea" is retained. The indications of prosperity would be apparent everywhere.

Shall flourish like grass of the earth - As grass springs out of the ground, producing the idea of beauty and plenty. See the notes at Isaiah 44:3-4.

16. The spiritual blessings, as often in Scripture, are set forth by material, the abundance of which is described by a figure, in which a "handful" (or literally, "a piece," or small portion) of corn in the most unpropitious locality, shall produce a crop, waving in the wind in its luxuriant growth, like the forests of Lebanon.

they of the city … earth—This clause denotes the rapid and abundant increase of population—

of—or, "from"

the city—Jerusalem, the center and seat of the typical kingdom.

flourish—or, glitter as new grass—that is, bloom. This increase corresponds with the increased productiveness. So, as the gospel blessings are diffused, there shall arise increasing recipients of them, out of the Church in which Christ resides as head.

An handful of corn; which intimates the small beginnings of this kingdom; and therefore doth not agree to Solomon, whose kingdom was in a manner as large at the beginning of his reign ms at the end; but it exactly agrees to Christ and his kingdom, Matthew 13:31,32.

In the earth; sown in the earth.

Upon the top of the mountains; in the most barren grounds; and therefore this was an evidence of extraordinary and prodigious fertility.

Shake like Lebanon; it shall yield such abundance of corn, that the ears, being thick, and high, and full of corn, shall, when they are shaken with the wind, make a noise not unlike that which the tops of the trees of Lebanon sometimes make upon the like occasion; which expressions, as well as many others of the like nature in the prophets, being applied to Christ, are to be understood in a spiritual sense, of the great and happy success of the preaching of the gospel.

They of the city; the citizens of Jerusalem, which are here synecdochically put for the subjects of this kingdom.

Shall flourish like grass of the earth; shall both increase in number, that there may be mouths to receive the meat provided, and enjoy great prosperity and happiness.

There shall be an handful of corn,.... By which are not meant the people of Christ, compared to corn, or wheat, in distinction from hypocrites, said to be as chaff, Matthew 2:12; who are but few, yet fruitful and flourishing; nor the Gospel, so called in opposition to the chaff of false doctrine, Jeremiah 23:28; nor the blessings of grace, signified by corn, wine, and oil, Jeremiah 31:12; but Christ, who compares himself to a corn of wheat, John 12:24; for its choiceness and purity, and for its usefulness for food; and he may be compared to an handful of it, because of the little account he was made of here on earth, and the little that was expected from him; and on account of the small beginnings of his kingdom, which came not with observation, was like a little stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and like a grain of mustard seed: so R. Obadiah Gaon (m) interprets these words,

"an handful of corn; that is, the Messiah shall be at first as an handful of corn; but afterwards a multitude of disciples shall grow as the grass;''

in the earth; that is, sown in the earth: this denotes not Christ's being on the earth in the days of his flesh; but his death and burial, his descending into the lower parts of the earth, where he continued a while to answer the type of Jonah; and which is represented by a corn of wheat falling into the earth and dying, John 12:24; by which is signified, that Christ's death was not accidental, but designed, as is the sowing of corn in the earth; and that it was voluntary, and not forced, and was but for a time: for as the corn dies, and lives again, and does not lie always under the clods; so Christ rose again; nor could he be held with the cords of death. It is added,

upon the top of the mountains; where corn being sown, it is very unlikely it should come to anything; and as little was expected by the Jews from the crucifixion and death of Christ: or else this may denote the publicness of Christ's death, it being a fact known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and many others;

the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon; meaning either a large number of souls converted, the fruit of Christ's death, and of the Gospel ministry; of whom there was a large harvests, both in Judea and in the Gentile world, in the first times of the Gospel, immediately after Christ's death and resurrection; and there will be still a greater in the latter day: or else the blessings of grace are meant, which come by the death and resurrection of Christ; as righteousness, peace, pardon, and eternal life. The allusion is to a field of wheat when ripe, and its ears heavy, which, when the wind blows upon it, is shaken, rustles, and makes a noise (n), like the shaking of trees, and even of the cedars in Lebanon; it denotes the goodness and excellency or the fruit;

and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth; or "they shall flourish out of the city" (o); which the Targum interprets of the city of Jerusalem; and so the Talmud (p), and also Jarchi; and was literally true; for the Gospel, after Christ's death, was first preached in the city of Jerusalem, and was blessed for the conversion of many there, who were fruitful in grace and good works: it may very well be understood of all the citizens of Sion; such who are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, who being planted in the house of the Lord, flourish in the court of our God, and become very fruitful in every good word and work; and flourish like grass of the earth for numbers, for quickness of growth, and for verdure and beauty; all which is owing to their being rooted in Christ, to his coming down upon them as rain, Psalm 72:6; to the dews of his grace, and to his arising upon them as the sun of righteousness. The ancient Jews interpreted this passage of the Messiah:

"as the first Redeemer, they say (q), caused manna to descend, as it is said, Exodus 16:4; so the latter Redeemer shall cause manna to descend, as it is said, "there shall be an handful of corn in the earth".''

Jarchi says our Rabbins interpret this of the dainties in the days of the Messiah, and the whole psalm concerning the King Messiah.

(m) In Viccars. in loc. (n) "Corpus ut impulsae segetes aquilonibus horret", Ovid. Epist. 10. v. 139. (o) "de civilate", V. L. Musculus, Gejerus; so Montanus, Tigurine version, Cocceius, Michaelis. (p) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 111. 2.((q) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 63. 2.

There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the {n} fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.

(n) Under such a king will be great plenty, both of fruit and also of the increase of mankind.

16. May there be abundance of corn in the land upon the top of the mountains:

May the fruit thereof rustle like Lebanon;

And may men flourish out of the city like grass of the earth.

A prayer for the fertility of the land, and the prosperity of the people. The poet would see the cornfields stretching up to the very top of the hills, and hear the wind rustling through the ears of corn as through the cedars of Lebanon, a name in itself full of associations of beauty and fertility (Hosea 14:5 ff.). It is doubtful whether the verb means to wave, as A.V. shake, or to rustle. Grass is emblematic of freshness, beauty, abundant and vigorous growth. Cp. Job 5:25; Isaiah 27:6. The increase of the population was a marked feature of Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 4:20), and is a common characteristic in the pictures of the Messianic age (Isaiah 49:20 ff.).

Verse 16. - There shall be an handful of corn in the earth; rather, as in the Prayer book Version, an heap of corn; or, abundance of corn (Revised Version), "Abundance of corn" is put for general prosperity. Upon the top of the mountains. In flourishing times of agriculture, the very tops of the mountains were cultivated all over Palestine, as appears by the remains of terraces. The fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon. Canon Cook's seems to be the best exposition: "The ripened corn on the heights shall rustle in the wind like the foliage on Lebanon." And they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth. "They of the city" are the inhabitants of the "New Jerusalem" (Revelation 21:2), the citizens of Messiah's kingdom. Psalm 72:16Here, where the futures again stand at the head of the clauses, they are also again to be understood as optatives. As the blessing of such a dominion after God's heart, not merely fertility but extraordinary fruitfulness may be confidently desired for the land פּסּה (ἁπ. λεγ..), rendered by the Syriac version sugo, abundance, is correctly derived by the Jewish lexicographers from פּסס equals פּשׂה (in the law relating to leprosy), Mishnic פּסה, Aramaic פּסא, Arabic fšâ, but also fšš (vid., Job, at Psalm 35:14-16), to extend, expandere; so that it signifies an abundance that occupies a broad space. בּראשׁ, unto the summit, as in Psalm 36:6; Psalm 19:5. The idea thus obtained is the same as when Hofmann (Weissagung und Erf׬llung, i. 180f.) takes פסּה (from פּסס equals אפס) in the signification of a boundary line: "close upon the summit of the mountain shall the last corn stand," with reference to the terrace-like structure of the heights. פּריו does not refer back to בארץ (Hitzig, who misleads one by referring to Joel 2:3), but to בּר: may the corn stand so high and thick that the fields, being moved by the wind, shall shake, i.e., wave up and down, like the lofty thick forest of Lebanon. The lxx, which renders huperarthee'setai, takes ירעשׁ for יראשׁ, as Ewald does: may its fruit rise to a summit, i.e., rise high, like Lebanon. But a verb ראשׁ is unknown; and how bombastic is this figure in comparison with that grand, but beautiful figure, which we would not willingly exchange even for the conjecture יעשׁר (may it be rich)! The other wish refers to a rapid, joyful increase of the population: may men blossom out of this city and out of that city as the herb of the earth (cf. Job 5:25, where צאצאיך also accords in sound with יציצוּ), i.e., fresh, beautiful, and abundant as it. Israel actually became under Solomon's sceptre as numerous "as the sand by the sea" (1 Kings 4:20), but increase of population is also a settled feature in the picture of the Messianic time (Psalm 110:3, Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 49:20, Zechariah 2:8 [4]; cf. Sir. 44:21). If, however, under the just and benign rule of the king, both land and people are thus blessed, eternal duration may be desired for his name. May this name, is the wish of the poet, ever send forth new shoots (ינין Chethib), or receive new shoots (ינּון Ker, from Niph. ננון), as long as the sun turns its face towards us, inasmuch as the happy and blessed results of the dominion of the king ever afford new occasion for glorifying his name. May they bless themselves in him, may all nations call him blessed, and that, as ויתבּרכוּ בו

(Note: Pronounce wejithbārchu, because the tone rests on the first letter of the root; whereas in Psalm 72:15 it is jebārachenu with Chateph. vid., the rule in the Luther. Zeitschrift, 1863, S. 412.)

implies, so blessed that his abundance of blessing appears to them to be the highest that they can desire for themselves. To et benedicant sibi in eo we have to supply in thought the most universal, as yet undefined subject, which is then more exactly defined as omnes gentes with the second synonymous predicate. The accentuation (Athnach, Mugrash, Silluk) is blameless.

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