Psalm 81:4
For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) For this.—Better, for it is a statute. Referring either to the feast itself or to the mode of celebrating it.

Law.—Literally, judgment, as LXX. and Vulg.

Psalm 81:4-5. For this was a statute for Israel — This is no human device, but a divine institution; God hath appointed and commanded this solemn feast to be announced and observed in this manner. This — Namely, the blowing of trumpets; he ordained in Joseph — Among the posterity of Joseph, namely, the people of Israel, as is evident both from the foregoing verse, where they are called Israel, and from the following words of this verse, where they are described by their coming out of Egypt, which was common to all the tribes of Israel, who are sometimes called by the name of Joseph. For a testimony — For a law, often called a testimony; or, rather, for a witness and memorial of the glorious deliverance here referred to. When he — That is, he who ordained, as was now said, namely, God; went out through the land of Egypt — As a captain at the head, or on the behalf of his people, to execute his judgments upon that land; or, against that land, namely, to destroy it. Or, as many ancient and modern interpreters read it, out of the land. And so understood, this text signifies the time when this and the other feasts were instituted, namely, soon after their coming out of Egypt, even at Sinai. Where I heard, &c. — That is, my progenitors heard, for all the successive generations of Israel make one body, and are sometimes spoken of as one person; a language which I understood not — Either the language of God himself, speaking from heaven at Sinai, which was strange and terrible to them; or, rather, the Egyptian language, which at first was both very disagreeable and unknown to the Israelites, Genesis 42:23, and probably continued so for some considerable time, because they were much separated, both in place and conversation, from the Egyptians, through Joseph’s pious and prudent appointment. This exposition of the passage is confirmed by Psalm 114:1, where this very thing is mentioned as an aggravation of their misery; and by other places of Scripture, where it is spoken of as a curse and calamity to be with a people of a strange language. See Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 5:15.81:1-7 All the worship we can render to the Lord is beneath his excellences, and our obligations to him, especially in our redemption from sin and wrath. What God had done on Israel's behalf, was kept in remembrance by public solemnities. To make a deliverance appear more gracious, more glorious, it is good to observe all that makes the trouble we are delivered from appear more grievous. We ought never to forget the base and ruinous drudgery to which Satan, our oppressor, brought us. But when, in distress of conscience, we are led to cry for deliverance, the Lord answers our prayers, and sets us at liberty. Convictions of sin, and trials by affliction, prove his regard to his people. If the Jews, on their solemn feast-days, were thus to call to mind their redemption out of Egypt, much more ought we, on the Christian sabbath, to call to mind a more glorious redemption, wrought out for us by our Lord Jesus Christ, from worse bondage.For this was a statute for Israel ... - See Exodus 12:3. That is, it was a law for the whole Jewish people, for all who had the name Israel, for all the descendants of Jacob. The word was is not in the original, as if this had been an old commandment which might now be obsolete, but the idea is one of perpetuity: it is a perpetual law for the Hebrew people.

A law of the God of Jacob - Hebrew, a judgment; or, right. The idea is, that it was what was due to God; what was his right. It was a solemn claim that he should be thus acknowledged. It was not a matter of conventional arrangement, or a matter of convenience to them; nor was it to be observed merely because it was found to be expedient and conducive to the welfare of the nation. It was a matter of right and of claim on the part of God, and was so to be regarded by the nation. The same is true now of the Sabbath, and of all the appointments which God has made for keeping up religion in the world. All these arrangements are indeed expedient and proper; they conduce to the public welfare and to the happiness of man; but there is a higher reason for their observance than this. It is that God demands their observance; that he claims as his own the time so appropriated. Thus he claims the Sabbath, the entire Sabbath, as his own; he requires that it shall be employed in his service, that it shall be regarded as his day; that it shall be made instrumental in keeping up the knowledge of himself in the world, and in promoting his glory. Exodus 20:10. People, therefore, "rob God" (compare Malachi 3:8) when they take this time for needless secular purposes, or devote it to other ends and uses. Nor can this be sinless. The highest guilt which man can commit is to "rob" his Maker of what belongs to Him, and of what He claims.

3. the new moon—or the month.

the time appointed—(Compare Pr 7:20).

For this is no human device, but an appointment and command of the great God, and your Lord. For this was a statute for Israel,.... It was not a piece of will worship, or device of the children of Israel, but was of divine institution; that the passover should be kept at the time it was; and that the trumpets should be blown on the new moon, or first of Tisri; and that the feast of tabernacles should be kept on the fifteenth of the same month:

and a law of the God of Jacob; and therefore to be observed by Jacob's posterity: the law for the one is in Exodus 12:18 and for the other is in Leviticus 23:24 and so all the ordinances of Christ, and of the Gospel dispensation, are to be regarded on the same account, because they are the statutes and appointments of God; and the feast of tabernacles is particularly put for them all, Zechariah 14:16.

For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. For it is a statute for Israel,

An ordinance of the God of Jacob. (R.V.)

It refers to the feast. The title God of Jacob carries our thoughts back beyond the Exodus to the providential dealings of Jehovah with the great ancestor of the nation (Genesis 46:2 ff.).

4, 5. The reason for the celebration in the divine appointment of the festival as a memorial of God’s goodness to Israel.Verse 4. - For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob; rather, this is a law (Kay, Cheyne, Revised Version). See the passages quoted in the preceding note. The complaint now assumes a detailing character in this strophe, inasmuch as it contrasts the former days with the present; and the ever more and more importunate prayer moulds itself in accordance therewith. The retrospective description begins, as is rarely the case, with the second modus, inasmuch as "the speaker thinks more of the bare nature of the act than of the time" (Ew. 136, b). As in the blessing of Jacob (Genesis 49:22) Joseph is compared to the layer (בּן) of a fruitful growth (פּרת), whose shoots (בּנות) climb over the wall: so here Israel is compared to a vine (Genesis 49:22; גּפן פּריּח, Psalm 128:3), which has become great in Egypt and been transplanted thence into the Land of Promise. הסּיע, lxx μεταίρειν, as in Job 19:10, perhaps with an allusion to the מסעים of the people journeying to Canaan (Psalm 78:52).

(Note: Exod. Rabba, ch. 44, with reference to this passage, says: "When husbandmen seek to improve a vine, what do they do? They root (עוקרין) it out of its place and plant (שׁותלין) it in another." And Levit. Rabba, ch. 36, says: "As one does not plant a vine in a place where there are great, rough stones, but examines the ground and then plants it, so didst Thou drive out peoples and didst plant it," etc.)

Here God made His vine a way and a place (פּנּהּ, to clear, from פּנה, to turn, turn aside, Arabic fanija, to disappear, pass away; root פן, to urge forward), and after He had secured to it a free soil and unchecked possibility of extension, it (the vine) rooted its roots, i.e., struck them ever deeper and wider, and filled the earth round about (cf. the antitype in the final days, Isaiah 27:6). The Israelitish kingdom of God extended itself on every side in accordance with the promise. תּשׁלּח (cf. Ezekiel 17:6, and vegetable שׁלח, a shoot) also has the vine as its subject, like תּשׁרשׁ. Psalm 80:11-12 state this in a continued allegory, by the "mountains" pointing to the southern boundary, by the "cedars" to the northern, by the "sea" to the western, and by the "river" (Euphrates) to the eastern boundary of the country (vid., Deuteronomy 11:24 and other passages). צלּהּ and ענפיה are accusatives of the so-called more remote object (Ges. 143, 1). קציר is a cutting equals a branch; יונקת, a (vegetable) sucker equals a young, tender shoot; ארזי־אל, the cedars of Lebanon as being living monuments of the creative might of God. The allegory exceeds the measure of the reality of nature, inasmuch as this is obliged to be extended according to the reality of that which is typified and historical. But how unlike to the former times is the present! The poet asks "wherefore?" for the present state of things is a riddle to him. The surroundings of the vine are torn down; all who come in contact with it pluck it (ארה, to pick off, pluck off, Talmudic of the gathering of figs); the boar out of the wood (מיער with עין תלויה, Ajin)

(Note: According to Kiddushin, 30a, because this Ajin is the middle letter of the Psalter as the Waw of גחון, Leviticus 11:42, is the middle letter of the Tra. One would hardly like to be at the pains of proving the correctness of this statement; nevertheless in the seventeenth century there lived one Laymarius, a clergyman, who was not afraid of this trouble, and found the calculations of the Masora (e.g., that אדני ה occurs 222 times) in part inaccurate; vid., Monatliche Unterredungen, 1691, S. 467, and besides, Geiger, Urschrift und Uebersetzungen der Bibel, S. 258f.))

cuts it off (כּרסם, formed out of כּסם equals גּזם

(Note: Saadia appropriately renders it Arab. yqrḍhâ, by referring, as does Dunash also, to the Talmudic קרסם, which occurs of ants, like Arab. qrḍ, of rodents. So Peah ii. 7, Menachoth 71b, on which Rashi observes, "the locust (חגב) is accustomed to eat from above, the ant tears off the corn-stalk from below." Elsewhere קירסם denotes the breaking off of dry branches from the tree, as זרד the removal of green branches.))

viz., with its tusks; and that which moves about the fields (vid., concerning זיז, Psalm 50:11), i.e., the untractable, lively wild beast, devours it. Without doubt the poet associates a distinct nation with the wild boar in his mind; for animals are also in other instances the emblems of nations, as e.g., the leviathan, the water-serpent, the behemoth (Isaiah 30:6), and flies (Isaiah 7:18) are emblems of Egypt. The Midrash interprets it of Ser-Edom, and זיז שׂדי, according to Genesis 16:12, of the nomadic Arabs.

In Psalm 80:15 the prayer begins for the third time with threefold urgency, supplicating for the vine renewed divine providence, and a renewal of the care of divine grace. We have divided the verse differently from the accentuation, since שׁוּב־נא הבּט is to be understood according to Ges. 142. The junction by means of ו is at once opposed to the supposition that וכּנּה in Psalm 80:16 signifies a slip or plant, plantam (Targum, Syriac, Aben-Ezra, Kimchi, and others), and that consequently the whole of Psalm 80:16 is governed by וּפקד. Nor can it mean its (the vine's) stand or base, כּן (Bttcher), since one does not plant a "stand." The lxx renders וכנה: καὶ κατάρτισαι, which is imper. aor. 1. med., therefore in the sense of כּוננה.

(Note: Perhaps the Caph majusculum is the result of an erasure that required to be made, vid., Geiger, Urschrift, S. 295. Accordingly the Ajin suspensum might also be the result of a later inserted correction, for there is a Phoenician inscription that has יר (wood, forest); vid., Levy, Phnizisches Wrterbuch, S. 22.)

But the alternation of על (cf. Proverbs 2:11, and Arab. jn ‛lâ, to cover over) with the accusative of the object makes it more natural to derive כנה, not from כּנן equals כּוּן, but from כּנן Arab. kanna equals גּנן, to cover, conceal, protect (whence Arab. kinn, a covering, shelter, hiding-place): and protect him whom...or: protect what Thy right hand has planted. The pointing certainly seems to take כנה as the feminine of כּן (lxx, Daniel 11:7, φυτόν); for an imperat. paragog. Kal of the form כּנּה does not occur elsewhere, although it might have been regarded by the punctuists as possible from the form גּל, volve, Psalm 119:22. If it is regarded as impossible, then one might read כנּה. At any rate the word is imperative, as the following אשׁר, eum quem, also shows, instead of which, if כנה were a substantive, one would expect to find a relative clause without אשׁר, as in Psalm 80:16. Moreover Psalm 80:16 requires this, since פּקד על can only be used of visiting with punishment. And who then would the slip (branch) and the son of man be in distinction from the vine? If we take בנה as imperative, then, as one might expect, the vine and the son of man are both the people of God. The Targum renders Psalm 80:16 thus: "and upon the King Messiah, whom Thou hast established for Thyself," after Psalm 2:1-12 and Daniel 7:13; but, as in the latter passage, it is not the Christ Himself, but the nation out of which He is to proceed, that is meant. אמּץ has the sense of firm appropriation, as in Isaiah 44:14, inasmuch as the notion of making fast passes over into that of laying firm hold of, of seizure. Rosenmller well renders it: quem adoptatum tot nexibus tibi adstrinxisti.

The figure of the vine, which rules all the language here, is also still continued in Psalm 80:17; for the partt. fem. refer to גּפן ot refer, - the verb, however, may take the plural form, because those of Israel are this "vine," which combusta igne, succisa (as in Isaiah 33:12; Aramaic, be cut off, tear off, in Psalm 80:13 the Targum word for ארה; Arabic, ksḥ, to clear away, peel off), is just perishing, or hangs in danger of destruction (יאבדוּ) before the threatening of the wrathful countenance of God. The absence of anything to denote the subject, and the form of expression, which still keeps within the circle of the figure of the vine, forbid us to understand this Psalm 80:17 of the extirpation of the foes. According to the sense תּהי־ידך על

(Note: The תהי has Gaja, like שׂאו־זמרה (Psalm 81:3), בני־נכר (Psalm 144:7), and the like. This Gaja beside the Sheb (instead of beside the following vowel) belongs to the peculiarities of the metrical books, which in general, on account of their more melodious mode of delivery, have many such a Gaja beside Sheb, which does not occur in the prose books. Thus, e.g., יהוה and אלהים always have Gaja beside the Sheb when they have Rebia magnum without a conjunctive, probably because Rebia and Dech had such a fulness of tone that a first stroke fell even upon the Sheb-letters.)

coincides with the supplicatory כנה על. It is Israel that is called בּן in Psalm 80:16, as being the son whom Jahve has called into being in Egypt, and then called out of Egypt to Himself and solemnly declared to be His son on Sinai (Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1), and who is now, with a play upon the name of Benjamin in Psalm 80:3 (cf. Psalm 80:16), called אישׁ ימינך, as being the people which Jahve has preferred before others, and has placed at His right hand

(Note: Pinsker punctuates thus: Let Thy hand be upon the man, Thy right hand upon the son of man, whom, etc.; but the impression that ימינך and אמצתה לך coincide is so strong, that no one of the old interpreters (from the lxx and Targum onwards) has been able to free himself from it.)

continued...

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