How he had worked his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Psalm 78:43-48. How he had wrought his signs in Egypt — Here the Psalm goes back to the subject of Israelitish ingratitude, (mentioned Psalm 78:11-12,) in order to introduce an account of the miracles wrought in Egypt previous to Israel’s deliverance from thence. “These miracles,” says Dr. Horne, “were intended to evince the superiority of Jehovah over the elements and powers of nature, which at that time were objects of worship among the Egyptians, but plainly appeared to act, at the command of Moses, in subordination to their great Creator, the God of the Hebrews. In the heavens, on the earth, and in the waters, supremacy and independence were demonstrated to belong to him only: fire and air, thunder and lightning, wind, rain, and hail obeyed his words; rivers became blood, and their inhabitants perished; insects and animals left their wonted habitations, to destroy vegetables, or torment man: so that wherever the gods of Egypt were supposed to reside, and to exert their influences in favour of their votaries, in all places, and all circumstances, victory declared for Jehovah. Hence modern as well as ancient idolaters may learn not to put their trust in the world, but in him who made, and who can and will destroy it; whose power can render the most insignificant of his creatures instruments of his vengeance, and in a moment arm all the elements against sinners; and whose mercy will employ that power in the final salvation of the church; when, as the author of the book of Wisdom expresseth it, ‘He shall make the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enemies, and the world shall fight for him against the unwise.’“ Had turned the rivers into blood — The several branches and streams of the river Nile, and those many rivulets which they drew from it. He sent divers sorts of flies, which devoured them — Or, destroyed them, which they were able to do by their numerous stings; for these flies were doubtless extraordinary in their nature, and their poisonous and hurtful qualities, as well as in their number: and the same is to be supposed concerning the frogs here mentioned, which also might destroy the people by corrupting their meats and drinks, and by infecting the air with putrefaction. He gave also their labour unto the locusts — That is, the fruit of their labour, the herbs and corn which had sprung up. He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamore-trees — Or, wild fig-trees, which were there in great abundance. Under these and the vines, all other trees are comprehended. And this hail and frost not only destroyed the fruits of the trees, but in many instances the trees themselves. He gave up also their cattle to the hail — Hebrew ויסגר, vajasgeer, he shut up, as in a prison, that they could not escape it; and their flocks to hot thunderbolts — Hebrew, לרשׁפים, lareshapim, prunis ignitis, to burning coals. He alludes to the fire mingled with hail, Exodus 9:23-24.
And his wonders in the field of Zoan - The wonderful things which he did; the things suited to excite amazement, or astonishment. On the word Zoan, see the notes at Psalm 78:12.
and his wonders in the field of Zoan, or in the country of Zoan, that is, Tanis, as the Targum renders it; so the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions; see Psalm 78:12, an enumeration of these signs and wonders follows; but not of all, nor in the order in which they were: only seven are mentioned, with which compare the seven vials or last plagues, Revelation 6:1.How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)43. How he set his signs in Egypt (R.V.): words borrowed from Exodus 10:1-2, “my signs which I have set among them.” Cp. Psalm 105:27.
Only six, or, if Psalm 78:48 or Psalm 78:50 refers to the murrain, possibly seven, plagues are mentioned, the plagues of lice, boils, and darkness being omitted. The order is different from that of Exodus, coinciding with it only in the first and last plagues. It is of course possible that the Psalmist, treating the narrative with poetic freedom, only mentions the principal plagues, and intentionally omits the others: but it is noteworthy that the three which he does not mention are just those the accounts of which are judged by critics upon grounds of style to have been derived from different documents: the plague of darkness from the ‘Elohistic document,’ and the plagues of lice and boils from the ‘Priestly Code.’ The accounts of the remaining seven are in the main derived from the ‘Jehovistic document.’ See Driver’s Introd. to the Lit. of the O.T., pp. 22ff. It certainly looks as if the Psalmist used the ‘Jehovistic document,’ while it was in circulation as a separate work.Verse 43. - How he had wrought his signs in Egypt. The point just touched in ver. 12 is now taken up and expanded, with the object of showing to the Israelites of the writer's day what cause they had for thankfulness to God in the past and for trust in him for the future. And his wonders in the field of Zoan. "The field of Zoan" (sochet Zoan) is said to be mentioned in an Egyptian inscription (Zeitschrift fur Aegyptische Sprache for the year 1872, p. 16). Exodus 16, which directly preceded the giving of the manna. But the description follows the second: יסּע (He caused to depart, set out) after Numbers 11:31. "East" and "south" belong together: it was a south-east wind from the Aelanitic Gulf. "To rain down" is a figurative expression for a plentiful giving of dispensing from above. "Its camp, its tents," are those of Israel, Numbers 11:31, cf. Exodus 16:13. The תּעוה, occurring twice, Psalm 78:29-30 (of the object of strong desire, as in Psalm 21:3), points to Kibroth-hattaavah, the scene of this carnal lusting; הביא is the transitive of the בּוא in Proverbs 13:12. In Psalm 78:30-31 even in the construction the poet closely follows Numbers 11:33 (cf. also זרוּ with לזרא, aversion, loathing, Numbers 11:20). The Waw unites what takes place simultaneously; a construction which presents the advantage of being able to give special prominence to the subject. The wrath of God consisted in the breaking out of a sickness which was the result of immoderate indulgence, and to which even the best-nourished and most youthfully vigorous fell a prey. When the poet goes on in Psalm 78:32 to say that in spite of these visitations (בּכל־זאת) they went on sinning, he has chiefly before his mind the outbreak of "fat" rebelliousness after the return of the spies, cf. Psalm 78:32 with Numbers 14:11. And Psalm 78:33 refers to the judgment of death in the wilderness threatened at that time to all who had come out of Egypt from twenty years old and upward (Numbers 14:28-34). Their life devoted to death vanished from that time onwards בּהבל, in breath-like instability, and בּבּהלה, in undurable precipitancy; the mode of expression in Psalm 31:11; Job 36:1 suggests to the poet an expressive play of words. When now a special judgment suddenly and violently thinned the generation that otherwise was dying off, as in Numbers 21:6., then they inquired after Him, they again sought His favour, those who were still preserved in the midst of this dying again remembered the God who had proved Himself to be a "Rock" (Deuteronomy 32:15, Deuteronomy 32:18, Deuteronomy 32:37) and to be a "Redeemer" (Genesis 48:16) to them. And what next? Psalm 78:36-37
(Note: According to the reckoning of the Masora this Psalm 78:36 is the middle verse of the 2527 verses of the Psalter (Buxtorf, Tiberias, 1620, p. 133).)
tell us what effect they gave to this disposition to return to God. They appeased Him with their mouth, is meant to say: they sought to win Him over to themselves by fair speeches, inasmuch as they thus anthropopathically conceived of God, and with their tongue they played the hypocrite to Him; their heart, however, was not sincere towards Him (עם like את in Psalm 78:8), i.e., not directed straight towards Him, and they proved themselves not stedfast (πιστοί, or properly βέβαιοι) in their covenant-relationship to Him.
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