Psalm 78:49
He cast on them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(49) Evil angels.—So LXX. and Vulg., but in the Hebrew angels (or messengers) of ills (so Symmachus), with evident reference to the destruction of the firstborn.

Psalm 78:49. He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger — Anger in the highest degree, wrath and indignation, the cause, and trouble, (tribulation and anguish, Romans 2:8-9,) the effect. These he cast upon them from on high, and did not spare. By sending evil angels among them — Hebrew, משׁלחת, mishlachath, the sending of evil angels, or, of the angels, or messengers, of evil things; namely, as most commentators understand it, the angels whom God employed in producing these plagues. The reader must observe, that “some of the Egyptian plagues having been specified in the foregoing verses, others of them are here thrown together, and the whole scene is affirmed to have been a full display of wrath and vengeance, executed upon the oppressors of the church by evil angels, agents, or messengers; whether, by this expression, we understand the material instruments of divine displeasure, or angels employed as ministers of vengeance, or the actual appearance and ministration of evil spirits, suffered to torment the wicked in this world, as they certainly will do in the next. Tradition seems to have favoured this last opinion, since the author of the book of Wisdom, above referred to, describes the Egyptian darkness as a kind of temporary hell, in which there appeared to the wicked, whose conscience suggested to them every thing that was horrible, ‘a fire kindled of itself, very dreadful; they were seared with beasts that passed by, and hissing of serpents; and they were vexed with monstrous apparitions, so that they fainted, and died for fear; while over them was spread a heavy night, an image of that darkness which should afterward receive them,’” Wisdom 17.78:40-55. Let not those that receive mercy from God, be thereby made bold to sin, for the mercies they receive will hasten its punishment; yet let not those who are under Divine rebukes for sin, be discouraged from repentance. The Holy One of Israel will do what is most for his own glory, and what is most for their good. Their forgetting former favours, led them to limit God for the future. God made his own people to go forth like sheep; and guided them in the wilderness, as a shepherd his flock, with all care and tenderness. Thus the true Joshua, even Jesus, brings his church out of the wilderness; but no earthly Canaan, no worldly advantages, should make us forget that the church is in the wilderness while in this world, and that there remaineth a far more glorious rest for the people of God.He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger ... - This verse is designed to describe the last, and the most dreadful of the plagues that came upon the Egyptians, the slaying of their first-born; and hence, there is such an accumulation of expressions: anger - fierce anger - wrath - indignation - trouble. All these expressions are designed to be emphatic; all these things were combined when the first-born were slain. There was no form of affliction that could surpass this; and in this trial all the expressions of the divine displeasure seemed to be exhausted. It was meant that this should be the last of the plagues; it was meant that the nation should be humbled, and should be made willing that the people of Israel should go.

By sending evil angels among them - There is reference here undoubtedly to the slaying of the first-born in Egypt. Exodus 11:4-5; Exodus 12:29-30. This work is ascribed to the agency of a destroyer (Exodus 12:23; compare Hebrews 11:28), and the allusion seems to be to a destroying angel, or to an angel employed and commissioned to accomplish such a work. Compare 2 Samuel 24:16; 2 Kings 19:35. The idea here is not that the angel himself was evil or wicked, but that he was the messenger of evil or calamity; he was the instrument by which these afflictions were brought upon them.

49. evil angels—or, "angels of evil"—many were perhaps employed, and other evils inflicted. Indignation and trouble; other most grievous plagues, which were mixed with and were the effects of his anger and wrath; whereby their miseries were greatly aggravated, and distinguished from the afflictions which God sent upon the Israelites in Egypt, which were only fatherly chastisements, and the effects of God’s love and occasions of their deliverance.

By sending evil angels, Heb. the sending (or the operation or effects) of evil angels, or of the angels or messengers of evil things; either of the angels whom God employed in producing these plagues; or of Moses and Aaron, who were to the Egyptians messengers of evil, and by whom these judgments were sent to and inflicted upon them. He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger,.... This with the following words,

wrath, and indignation, and trouble, are thought by some to intend the other plagues, which are not particularly mentioned; or rather they express the manner in which they were all inflicted, in great wrath and hot displeasure for their sins and iniquities, and which particularly were shown

by sending evil angels among them; not evil in themselves, but because they were the instruments God made use of to bring evil things upon the Egyptians, as good angels often are; though some think that demons, devils, or wicked spirits, were sent among them at that time; the darkness was over all the land, and frightened them; in the Apocrypha:

"3 For while they supposed to lie hid in their secret sins, they were scattered under a dark veil of forgetfulness, being horribly astonished, and troubled with strange apparitions. 4 For neither might the corner that held them keep them from fear: but noises as of waters falling down sounded about them, and sad visions appeared unto them with heavy countenances.'' (Wisdom 17)

According to Arama, the three last plagues are meant: the words may be rendered "messengers of evil things" (l), as they are by some, and be understood of Moses and Aaron, who were sent time after time with messages of evil things to Pharaoh, in which were expressed his wrath and fury against them.

(l) "numcios malorum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending {d} evil angels among them.

(d) So called either for the effect, that is, of punishing the wicked: or else because they were wicked spirits, whom God permitted to vex men.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
49. He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger] Lit., he sent, as in Psalm 78:45. The same phrase is found in Job 20:23.

by sending evil angels among them] R.V., a band of angels of evil: lit. a mission of evil angels: not wicked angels, but destroying angels, commissioned by God to execute His purposes of punishment. Cp. “the destroyer,” Exodus 12:23; and see 2 Samuel 24:16 f.; 2 Kings 19:35; Job 33:22.

49–51. The culmination of the plagues in the death of the firstborn.Verse 49. - He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble. "The accumulation of terms signifying Divine wrath is designed to set forth the dreadful nature of this last judgment" (Hengstenberg) - the death of the firstborn. By sending evil angels among them. Most modern critics regard this clause as in apposition with the preceding one, and consider the "wrath, indignation, and trouble" to be themselves the "evil angels" spoken cf. Some, however, as Hengstenberg and Kay, interpret the passage of spiritual beings - not, however, of spirits of evil, who are never said to be ministers of God's wrath, but of good angels, who on this occasion were "ministers of woe." The second part of the Psalm now begins. God, notwithstanding, in His compassion restrains His anger; but Israel's God-tempting conduct was continued, even after the journey through the desert, in Canaan, and the miracles of judgment amidst which the deliverance out of Egypt had been effected were forgotten. With והוּא in Psalm 78:38

(Note: According to B. Kiddushin 30a, this Psalm 78:38 is the middle one of the 5896 פסוקין, στίχοι, of the Psalter. According to B. Maccoth 22b, Psalm 78:38, and previously Deuteronomy 28:58-59; Deuteronomy 29:8 [9], were recited when the forty strokes of the lash save one, which according to 2 Corinthians 11:24 Paul received five times, were being counted out to the culprit.)

begins an adversative clause, which is of universal import as far as ישׁהית, and then becomes historical. Psalm 78:38 expands what lies in רחוּם: He expiates iniquity and, by letting mercy instead of right take its course, arrests the destruction of the sinner. With והרבּה (Ges. ֗֗142, 2) this universal truth is supported out of the history of Israel. As this history shows, He has many a time called back His anger, i.e., checked it in its course, and not stirred up all His blowing anger (cf. Isaiah 42:13), i.e., His anger in all its fulness and intensity. We see that Psalm 78:38 refers to His conduct towards Israel, then Psalm 78:39 follows with the ground of the determination, and that in the form of an inference drawn from such conduct towards Israel. He moderated His anger against Israel, and consequently took human frailty and perishableness into consideration. The fact that man is flesh (which not merely affirms his physical fragility, but also his moral weakness, Genesis 6:3, cf. Genesis 8:21), and that, after a short life, he falls a prey to death, determines God to be long-suffering and kind; it was in fact sensuous desire and loathing by which Israel was beguiled time after time. The exclamation "how oft!" Psalm 78:40, calls attention to the praiseworthiness of this undeserved forbearance.

But with Psalm 78:41 the record of sins begins anew. There is nothing by which any reference of this Psalm 78:41 to the last example of insubordination recorded in the Pentateuch, Numbers 35:1-9 (Hitzig), is indicated. The poet comes back one more to the provocations of God by the Israel of the wilderness in order to expose the impious ingratitude which revealed itself in this conduct. התוה is the causative of תּוה equals Syriac tewā', תּהא, to repent, to be grieved, lxx παρώξυναν. The miracles of the tie of redemption are now brought before the mind in detail, ad exaggerandum crimen tentationis Deu cum summa ingratitudine conjunctum (Venema). The time of redemption is called יום, as in Genesis 2:4 the hexahemeron. שׂים אות (synon. עשׂה, נתן) is used as in Exodus 10:2. We have already met with מנּי־צר in Psalm 44:11. The first of the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7:14-25), the turning of the waters into blood, forms the beginning in Psalm 78:44. From this the poet takes a leap over to the fourth plague, the ערב (lxx κυνόμυια), a grievous and destructive species of fly (Exodus 8:20-32), and combines with it the frogs, the second plague (Exodus 8:1-15). צפרדּע is the lesser Egyptian frog, Rana Mosaica, which is even now called Arab. ḍfd‛, ḍofda. Next in Psalm 78:46 he comes to the eighth plague, the locusts, חסיל (a more select name of the migratory locusts than ארבּה), Exodus 10:1-20; the third plague, the gnats and midges, כּנּים, is left unmentioned in addition to the fourth, which is of a similar kind. For the chastisement by means of destructive living things is now closed, and in Psalm 78:47 follows the smiting with hail, the seventh plague, Exodus 9:13-35. חנמל (with pausal , not ā, cf. in Ezekiel 8:2 the similarly formed החשׁמלה) in the signification hoar-frost (πάχνη, lxx, Vulgate, Saadia, and Abulwald), or locusts (Targum כּזוּבא equals חגב), or ants (J. D. Michaelis), does not harmonize with the history; also the hoar-frost is called כּפוּר, the ant נּמלה (collective in Arabic neml). Although only conjecturing from the context, we understand it, with Parchon and Kimchi, of hailstones or hail. With thick lumpy pieces of ice He smote down vines and sycamore-trees (Fayum was called in ancient Egyptian "the district of the sycamore"). הרג proceeds from the Biblical conception that the plant has a life of its own. The description of this plague is continued in Psalm 78:48. Two MSS present לדּבר instead of לבּרד; but even supposing that רשׁפים might signify the fever-burnings of the pestilence (vid., on Habakkuk 3:5), the mention of the pestilence follows in Psalm 78:50, and the devastation which, according to Exodus 9:19-22, the hail caused among the cattle of the Egyptians is in its right place here. Moreover it is expressly said in Exodus 9:24 that there was conglomerate fire among the hail; רשׁפים are therefore flaming, blazing lightnings.

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