Psalm 74:15
You did split the fountain and the flood: you dried up mighty rivers.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Thou didst cleave . . .—Another pregnant expression for “thou didst cleave the rock, and a fountain came forth.”

Flood.—Better, brook. Heb., nāchal.

Mighty rivers.—See margin. But, perhaps, rather. rivers of constant flow, that did not dry up in summer like the “brooks.” The same word is used of the sea (Exodus 14:27), to express the return to the regular flow of the tide.

The verb “driest up” is that used (Joshua 2:10) of the Red Sea, and Joshua 4:23; Joshua 5:1 of the Jordan.

Psalm 74:15. Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood — That is, thou didst, by cleaving the rock, make a fountain in it, and a flood or stream to flow from it, for the refreshment of thy people in those dry deserts. Thou driedst up mighty rivers — Hebrew, נהרות איתןrivers of strength. The Seventy, however, render it, ποταμους ηθαμ, taking the latter word, eethan, for a proper name. Undoubtedly Jordan is meant: so that “two other remarkable exertions of the divine power, in favour of the Israelites, are here referred to. Water was brought out of the rock to satisfy their thirst in the time of drought; and the river Jordan was dried up to open the passage for them into Canaan.”74:12-17 The church silences her own complaints. What God had done for his people, as their King of old, encouraged them to depend on him. It was the Lord's doing, none besides could do it. This providence was food to faith and hope, to support and encourage in difficulties. The God of Israel is the God of nature. He that is faithful to his covenant about the day and the night, will never cast off those whom he has chosen. We have as much reason to expect affliction, as to expect night and winter. But we have no more reason to despair of the return of comfort, than to despair of day and summer. And in the world above we shall have no more changes.Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood - That is, the source of the streams and the streams themselves. The main allusion is probably to the Jordan, and the idea is, that God had, as it were, divided all the waters, or prevented any obstruction to his people from the river in any respect; as if the waters in the very springs and fountains, and the waters in the channel of the river flowing from those springs and fountains, had been so restrained and divided that there was a safe passage through them. Joshua 3:14-17.

Thou driedst up mighty rivers - Margin, "rivers of strength." The Hebrew - איתן 'êythân - (compare Deuteronomy 21:4; Amos 5:24; 1 Kings 8:2) - means rather perennial, constant, ever-flowing. The allusion is to rivers or streams that flow constantly, or that do not dry up. It was this which made the miracle so apparent. It could not be pretended that they had gone over the bed of a stream which was accustomed to be dry at certain seasons of the year. They passed over rivers that never dried up; and, therefore, it could have been only by miracle. The main allusion is undoubtedly to the passage of the Jordan.

15. cleave the fountain—that is, the rocks of Horeb and Kadesh; for fountains.

driedst up—Jordan, and, perhaps, Arnon and Jabbok (Nu 21:14).

Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood, i.e. thou didst by cleaving the rock make a fountain in it, and a flood or stream to flow from it, for the refreshment of thy people in those dry deserts. The phrase is like that Isaiah 47:2, grind meal, i.e. by grinding the corn make meal.

Mighty rivers; either,

1. Jordan, which was then more mighty than ordinarily, as having overflowed all his banks, and therefore may be called rivers, because it was now equivalent to two or three such rivers; or it is only an ensilage of the plural number for the singular, whereof I have given many instances formerly. Or rather,

2. Both Jordan and the Red Sea; for the sea itself, yea, a greater sea than that, is called a river, Jonah 2:3; for the Hebrew word is the same which is here used, though there it be rendered floods. And the same title is expressly given to the sea by Homer and other ancient writers. To these the ancient Chaldee interpreter addeth the rivers of Amen and Jabbok, in or about which some extraordinary work was wrought, yea, something which was like God’s work at the Red Sea, as may seem by the conjunction of these together, Numbers 21:14. Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood,.... That is, the rocks at Horeb and at Kadesh, from whence water flowed as out of a fountain, and became a flood, whereby the people of Israel were supplied with water in the wilderness, and also their beasts; and from this instance it may be concluded that God will not leave his people, nor suffer them to want, but will supply all their need while they are in the wilderness, and will open fountains and rivers for them, Isaiah 41:17 he himself is a fountain of living water; Christ is the fountain of gardens, and the Spirit and his grace a well of living water springing up unto everlasting life:

thou driedst up mighty rivers; the river of Jordan, called "mighty", as Kimchi says, because by its strength it overflowed all its banks and "rivers", and because other rivers flowed into it; this was dried up, or way was made through it, as on dry land, for the people of Israel to pass into Canaan, Joshua 3:14, the Targum is,

"thou hast dried up the fords and brooks of Hermon, and the fords of Jabbok and Jordan;''

see Numbers 21:14, and the Lord, that did this, is able to dry up, and will dry up, the river Euphrates, as is foretold, Revelation 16:12, that is, destroy the Turkish empire, and make way for the spread of the Gospel in the eastern parts of the world; to which reference is had in Isaiah 11:15.

Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. Thou didst cleave fountain and torrent:

Thou didst dry up perennial rivers.

God’s omnipotence was shewn alike in cleaving the rock so that water flowed out (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:8; Psalm 78:15; Isaiah 48:21), and in drying up the perennial stream of the Jordan (Joshua 3; Joshua 4:23).Verse 15. - Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood; rather, and the torrent (comp. Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11). Thou driedst up mighty rivers; i.e. the Jordan (Joshua 3:13, et seqq.). The worst thing the poet has to complain of is that God has not acknowledged His people during this time of suffering as at other times. "Our signs" is the direct antithesis to "their sings" (Psalm 74:4), hence they are not to be understood, after Psalm 86:17, as signs which God works. The suffix demands, besides, something of a perpetual character; they are the instituted ordinances of divine worship by means of which God is pleased to stand in fellowship with His people, and which are now no longer to be seen because the enemies have set them aside. The complaint "there is not prophet any more" would seem strange in the period immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem, for Jeremiah's term of active service lasted beyond this. Moreover, a year before (in the tenth year of Zedekiah's reign) he had predicted that the Babylonian domination, and relatively the Exile, would last seventy years; besides, six years before the destruction Ezekiel appeared, who was in communication with those who remained behind in the land. The reference to Lamentations 2:9 (cf. Ezekiel 7:26) does not satisfy one; for there it is assumed that there were prophets, a fact which is here denied. Only perhaps as a voice coming out of the Exile, the middle of which (cf. Hosea 3:4; 2 Chronicles 15:3, and besides Canticum trium puerorum, Psalm 74:14 : καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ ἄρχων καὶ προφήτης καὶ ἡγούμενος) was truly thus devoid of signs or miracles, and devoid of the prophetic word of consolation, can Psalm 74:9 be comprehended. The seventy years of Jeremiah were then still a riddle without any generally known solution (Daniel 9). If, however, synagogues are meant in Psalm 74:8, Psalm 74:9 now too accords with the like-sounding lament in the calamitous times of Antiochus (1 Macc. 4:46; 9:27; 14:41). In Psalm 74:10 the poet turns to God Himself with the question "How long?" how long is this (apparently) endless blaspheming of the enemy to last? Why dost Thou draw back (viz., ממּנוּ, from us, not עלינוּ, Psalm 81:15) Thy hand and Thy right hand? The conjunction of synonyms "Thy hand and Thy right hand" is, as in Psalm 44:4, Sirach 33:7, a fuller expression for God's omnipotent energy. This is now at rest; Psalm 74:11 calls upon it to give help by an act of judgment. "Out of the midst of Thy bosom, destroy," is a pregnant expression for, "drawing forth out of Thy bosom the hand that rests inactive there, do Thou destroy." The Chethb חוקך has perhaps the same meaning; for חוק, Arab. ḥawq, signifies, like חיק, Arab. ḥayq, the act of encompassing, then that which encompasses. Instead of מחיקך (Exodus 4:7) the expression is מקּרב חיקך, because there, within the realm of the bosom, the punitive justice of God for a time as it were slumbers. On the כלּה, which outwardly is without any object, cf. Psalm 59:14.
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