Psalm 87:4
I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.
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(4) This verse may be paraphrased

I will mention to my intimates Rahab and Babylon; (I will say) look at Philistia and Tyre—yes, and even Ethiopia. So-and-so was born there.

The last clause is literally this was born there, and on its reference the whole meaning of the verse and the whole intention of the psalm turn. Now immediately after the mention of a place, there must surely refer to that place, and not to a place mentioned in the previous verse and there too addressed as in the second person. The demonstrative this, is evidently used in a general way. (Comp. the fuller form, Judges 18:4, &c.) The poet begins his special addition to the praises of Zion, by enumerating various renowned nations much in the same way as Horace’s

“Laudabunt alii claram Rhodon, aut Mitylenen.”

only instead of leaving them as a theme to others he tells us what he himself in ordinary conversation might say of these places, and of the estimation in which their natives were held. It is hardly possible to escape from the conclusion that the Palestinian Jew is here implying his superiority to those of his race who were born abroad, a spirit shown so strongly in the relations of the Hebrews to the Hellenistic Jews in the New Testament.

Rahab undoubtedly stands for Egypt, but the exact origin of the term and of its connection with Egypt is much disputed. Most probably it is a term (possibly Coptic) for some large sea or river monster symbolic of Egypt. (Comp. the word “dragons,” Psalm 74:13, and see Job 9:13; Job 26:12.)

Ethiopia—Heb., Khûsh (in Authorised Version Cush). (See Genesis 10:6 : 2Kings 19:9.)

There is no need with our explanation to look for emblematic reasons for the choice of names in this verse—as Egypt for antiquity; Babylon, strength; Tyre, wealth, &c. There is no one of the districts where Jews of the Dispersion might not have been found, but no doubt in his enumeration the poet takes care to mention countries near and far, as Philistia and Ethiopia. There appears, however, to have been a district in Babylonia known to the Hebrews as Khûsh (Lenormant, Origines de l’Histoire; and see a paper on the site of Eden, in the Nineteenth Century for October, 1882). The parallelism would be improved by this reference here.

Psalm 87:4. I will make mention — Hebrew, אזכיר, azchir, I will record, or, cause to be remembered, Rahab — That is, Egypt, so called, Psalm 89:10; Isaiah 51:9, but whether from its pride, or natural strength, both which the word signifies, is not material; and Babylon — I will reckon upon the inhabitants of Egypt and Babylon, though most alienated from the profession of the truth, yea, even on all the church’s enemies, as those that shall become members of it. For under these two, and Philistia, he seems to comprehend all the enemies of God’s people, of whom he prophesies that they should be not only reconciled, but united to them. To them that know me — Or with, or among them, that is, with or among those that truly, affectionately, and practically know me; so as to love, serve, and obey me. I will reckon these nations among the number of those that shall be converted; or, among my worshippers, subjects, and children; they seem to be God’s words, foretelling that he would account, and cause these Gentiles to be recorded as his people, when they should receive the gospel of Christ, as truly as Israel was his people, and would own them as born in Zion, that is, born again there, and entitled to all its privileges as freely as true-born Israelites. That though they had been strangers and foreigners, they should become fellow-citizens with the saints, Ephesians 2:17. Thus Isaiah 19:23-25, The Lord shall say, Blessed be Egypt, my people, and Assyria, the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance. Behold — Take notice of it, as a thing new, and strange, and delightful. Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia — That is, the nations on every side of them, for Philistia was on the west, Tyre on the north, and Ethiopia, or Arabia, (which rather seems to be intended by the word Cush, here,) on the south. So that those nearest to them, and those more remote from them, are here mentioned, as converts to the gospel church: this man was born there — Or, in her, as it is Psalm 87:5, namely, born by adoption and regeneration, John 1:12; John 3:7; Galatians 3:26; 1 Peter 1:23; that is, the Gentiles, from all countries, shall be brought into the church of God, and be accounted genuine members thereof.

87:4-7 The church of Christ is more glorious and excellent than the nations of the earth. In the records of heaven, the meanest of those who are born again stand registered. When God renders to every man according to his works, he shall observe who enjoyed the privileges of his sanctuary. To them much was given, and of them much will be required. Let those that dwell in Zion, mark this, and live up to their profession. Zion's songs shall be sung with joy and triumph. The springs of the joy of a carnal worldling are in wealth and pleasure; but of a gracious soul, in the word of God and prayer. All grace and consolation are derived from Christ, through his ordinances, to the souls of believers.I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon ... - The word Rahab here refers to Egypt. See Isaiah 51:9. It is also applied to Egypt in Psalm 89:10. The reason why the name was given to Egypt is not certainly known. The Hebrew word properly means fierceness, insolence, pride; and it may have been given to Egypt by the Hebrews on account of its haughtiness, pride, and insolence. It has been supposed by some (Jablonski, Opusc. i. 228) that the name is of Egyptian origin, but this has not been clearly made out. (Gesenius, Lexicon) Egypt, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia, are mentioned here as among the best known nations and cities of the world; as places where it would commonly be regarded as an honor to have been born. The meaning is, "I will refer to these as places well-known and distinguished; I will refer to the honor of having been born there; but great as is such an honor, the honor of having been born in Zion is far above that; it conveys the idea of a much higher distinction; it should be more sacredly cherished as among those things on which men value themselves." The word "I" here seems to have reference to the psalmist, and not to God. The psalmist is mentioning what to him would seem to have a claim to the highest honor.

Philistia - The western portion of Palestine, from which the whole country was afterward named. See the notes at Psalm 60:8; compare Psalm 108:9; Isaiah 14:29, Isaiah 14:31. "And Tyre." See Psalm 45:12, note; Isaiah 23:1, note.

With Ethiopia - Hebrew, Cush. The reference here is probably to the southern portion of Arabia. See Psalm 68:31, note; Isaiah 18:1, note.

This man was born there - That is, It would be said of individuals that they were born in one of those places, and it would be regarded as an honor thus to have been born. People would pride themselves on the fact that they were born there, and the world would hold them in esteem on that account. This refers to a very natural, and a very common feeling among people. We can, of course, claim no credit, and deserve no real honor, on account of the place where we happen to have been born; but the fact that one has been born in a place distinguished for its advantages and its fame, - in a place where liberty, religion, and the arts have flourishcd - in a place renowned for its public spirit, and for producing illustrious people, - may be properly accounted as an occasion for gratitude, and as a stimulus to high and honorable efforts, and may thus be made an important auxiliary to virtue, patriotism, and piety.

4. This is what is spoken by God.

to them … me—literally, "for My knowers," they are true worshippers (Ps 36:10; Isa 19:21). These are mentioned as specimens.

this—that is, nation

was born there—Of each it is said, "This was born," or is a native of Zion, spiritually.

I will make mention, i.e. I will reckon or account them in the number of my children and subjects.

Rahab, i.e. Egypt, so called, Psalm 89:10 Isaiah 51:9, but whether from its pride, or natural strength, or figure, or shape, is not material.

And Babylon: under these two and Philistia, the old and constant enemies of Israel, he seems to understand all the keenest enemies of the Israel or church of God, who shall now be not only reconciled, but united to them; which also was foretold under the similitude of the wolf’s dwelling with the lamb, &c., Isaiah 11:6. To them; or, with or among them, as the prefix lamed is frequently used.

That know me, to wit, truly, clearly, affectionately, and practically, so as to love, serve, and obey me, as this phrase is very frequently used in Scripture. And upon this account, not only heathens, but wicked Israelites, are said not to know God, as 1 Samuel 2:12, and oft elsewhere.

Behold; take notice of it as a thing new, and strange, and comfortable.

Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; the nations on every side of them; for Tyrus was on the north, Ethiopia or Arabia (for that seems rather to be meant by Cush, as hath been before observed) on the south, those nearest to them, and those more remote from them, that lived in the uttermost parts of the earth, as this very land is called, Matthew 12:42. This man was born there; or, saying, This man, &c., for this cohereth with the first words thus, I will make mention of Rahab, &c., saying, This man (i.e. these men or people now mentioned, the singular number put collectively for the plural; and the Scripture oft speaks of a nation as of one man, as Psalm 25:22 130:8) was born there, or in her, as it is expressed, Psalm 87:5, to wit, in Zion; born by adoption and regeneration. See John 1:12 3:3,7 Ga 3:26 4:26 1 Peter 1:23. The Gentiles shall be ingrafted into the Jewish church, and into all their privileges.

I will make mention of Rahab,.... Not of Rahab the harlot, as Jerom and others of the ancients (y) interpret it; for the letters of both words are not the same in Hebrew; though mention is made of her in the Gospel, and Gospel times, in the genealogy of Christ, and by two of the apostles, Matthew 1:5, but of Egypt; and so the Targum interprets it, which is so called, as it is in Psalm 89:10 either from the pride of its inhabitants, the word having in it the sense of pride and haughtiness, and these being naturally proud and haughty, as Philo (z) the Jew observes; or from some city of this name in it; or rather this respects that part of Egypt called Delta, which was in the form of a pear; which "raab", or "rib", in the Egyptian language, signifies; in the midst of which was the city of Athribis of Ptolemy (a), which has its name from hence, and signifies the heart of a pear; and still this part of the country is called Errifia, as Leo Africanus (b) relates, and is here put for the whole country: the passage respects the conversion of it, and are the words of God foretelling it, and of which mention is made in Isaiah 19:18 and had its accomplishment, at least in part, on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:10 and will be further accomplished in the latter day, when the people that now inhabit that country shall be converted, which will be when the kingdoms of this world become Christ's: and Babylon; the country of the Assyrians and Chaldeans, of which Babylon was the metropolis: mention is made of the conversion of these in Isaiah 19:24 and which also was fulfilled, in part, on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:9 and in Babylon there was a church, in the times of the Apostle Peter, 1 Peter 5:13 these the Lord promises that he would make mention of:

to them that know me; says he, that so they might expect their conversion, and take notice of them, and receive them, when converted;

or among them that know me (c); that is, I will make mention of them, as such that know me, and belong to that number; even such that love the Lord, believe in him, own and confess him, and yield obedience to him, and whom he takes into communion and fellowship with himself, and makes his friends, familiars, and acquaintance:

behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; where also will be many converts, regenerate persons, and such as know the Lord; of which there has been a partial accomplishment already; of Philistia, see Acts 8:40, for Azotus, or Ashdod, was a city of the Philistines; and of Tyre, see Psalm 45:12 and of Ethiopia, and its conversion, mention is made in Psalm 68:31, and the Ethiopian eunuch is one instance of it, Acts 8:27 of all which there will be abundance of instances in the latter day; and thus, as the church is commended from her foundation, from the superlative love the Lord bears to her, and the glorious things spoken of her; so from the number of her converts in different nations, in which her glory in Gospel times would greatly lie; see Isaiah 49:18,

this man was born there; not any particular man; any single individual, famous for piety, wisdom, wealth, or power; as if it suggested that now and then such a person might be born in the above countries; whereas in Zion there were frequently many such persons born: nor is it to be understood of the Messiah, that should come out of Zion, as if that was the reason why multitudes from the above places should flock thither, because of the birth of this illustrious Person: the Targum understands it of a great personage, a king; and paraphrases it,

"a king is educated there;''

but it designs many persons in each of those countries that should be born again, of water, and of the Spirit, of the incorruptible seed of grace, by the ministry of the word; who, because they should be regenerated by means of the Gospel preached in Zion, therefore are said to be born there; and besides, being born again, they are admitted members of Zion, and to all the privileges of Zion, as true born Israelites; and are brought up there, are nourished with the sincere milk of the word, and nursed with the breasts of Gospel ordinances there administered; and so Zion, or Jerusalem, the Gospel church, is truly the mother of them all, Galatians 4:26.

(y) Aug. Euthymius, Theodoret, & alii, in Amama, Antibarbar. Bibl. I. 3. p. 820. (z) De Agricultura, p. 196. (a) Geograph. l. 4. c. 5. (b) Descriptio Africae, l. 8. c. 2.((c) "inter scientes me", Vatablus, Gejerus, Schmidt; "apud noscentes me", Junius & Tremellius; "apud familiares meos", Piscator; "apud notos meos", Amama.

I will make mention of {c} Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; {d} this man was born there.

(c) That is, Egypt and these other countries will come to the knowledge of God.

(d) It will be said of him who is regenerate and come to the Church, that he is as one who was born in the Church.

4. God Himself is the speaker (cp. Psalm 60:6 ff.). I will make mention of, solemnly and publicly acknowledge, Rahab and Babylon, as among them that know me, that own Me as their God and worship Me. Cp. Psalm 36:10; Psalm 9:10; Psalm 5:11; Isaiah 19:21. Rahab[48] is a nickname for Egypt (Isaiah 30:7; Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 89:10). It may have been the name of some mythological sea-monster (Job 26:12; Job 9:13, R.V.) chosen as an emblem of Egypt (cp. Isaiah 51:9), or it may simply mean ‘Arrogance.’ Its use here is significant: the ferocious monster is tamed; the blustering antagonist is reconciled.

[48] It may be noted that this name is differently spelt in Hebrew from Rahab in Joshua 22:1 ff., and is derived from a different root. This is Răhăb, that Râchâb.

Behold &c.] God points as it were to each of these nations in succession and says, This one was born there, namely in Zion. By this divine edict each of them is invested with the full rights and privileges of citizenship as though they had been born in Zion.

It is God’s purpose to reconcile all nations to Himself. Egypt, the world-power of the South, the ancient and hereditary enemy of God’s people; Babylon, the world-power of the North, the cruel oppressor of later times; warlike Philistia, by which Israel had so often been harassed; proud Tyre, the haughty representative of commerce and wealth; distant Ethiopia, famous for its stalwart warriors (Isaiah 18:7);—all will be brought to recognise Jehovah as their God; all shall be incorporated into the commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12). The thought is the same as that of Isaiah 19:24-25, though it is expressed in different language.

4–6. The nations of the world shall be enrolled as Zion’s children; and Zion shall be glorified by this accession of unnumbered fresh citizens.

Verses 4-6. - The Almighty is introduced as making a revelation to the psalmist. He will cause the Gentiles to flock into his Church, even those who have been hitherto the most bitter enemies of Israel (ver. 4), and will place these strangers on a par with such as have belonged to his Church from their birth (vers. 4, 5, 6), admitting them to every blessing and every privilege. The Church, thus augmented, shall be taken under his own protection, and "established," or placed on a sure footing, forever. Compare our Lord's promise to St. Peter," On this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). Verse 4. - I will make mention of Rahab; i.e. of Egypt. The context requires this meaning, which is found also in Psalm 89:10 and in Isaiah 51:9. Literally "Rahab" means "pride, arrogance." And Babylon. The fitting counterpart of Egypt, equally antagonistic to Israel, and equally lifted up with pride and presumption. To them that know me; rather, among them that know me; i.e. as belonging to them, included in their number (comp. Isaiah 19:21, "And the Lord shall be known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day;" and see also Psalm 72:11, 17; Psalm 82:8; Isaiah 66:23). Behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia. Other hostile nations (comp. Psalm 83:7; 2 Chronicles 12:3; 2 Chronicles 14:9-13). This man was horn there. There is no "man" in the original, and it is better to understand "nation;" this, that, and the other nation - all those mentioned, and others - are grafted into Zion, and have a second birth there. Psalm 87:4The poet is absorbed in the contemplation of the glory of a matter which he begins to celebrate, without naming it. Whether we render it: His founded, or (since מיסּד and מוּסּד are both used elsewhere as part. pass.): His foundation (after the form מלוּכה, poetically for יסוד, a founding, then that which is set fast equals a foundation), the meaning remains the same; but the more definite statement of the object with שׁערי ציּון is more easily connected with what precedes by regarding it as a participle. The suffix refers to Jahve, and it is Zion, whose praise is a favourite theme of the Korahitic songs, that is intended. We cannot tell by looking to the accents whether the clause is to be taken as a substantival clause (His founded city is upon the holy mountains) or not. Since, however, the expression is not יסוּדתו היא בהררי־קדשׁ, יסודתו בהררי קדשׁ is an object placed first in advance (which the antithesis to the other dwellings of Jacob would admit of), and in Psalm 87:2 a new synonymous object is subordinated to אהב by a similar turn of the discourse to Jeremiah 13:27; Jeremiah 6:2 (Hitzig). By altering the division of the verses as Hupfeld and Hofmann do (His foundation or founded city upon the holy mountains doth Jahve love), Psalm 87:2 is decapitated. Even now the God-founded city (surrounded on three sides by deep valleys), whose firm and visible foundation is the outward manifestation of its imperishable inner nature, rises aloft above all the other dwelling-places of Israel. Jahve stands in a lasting, faithful, loving relationship (אהב, not 3 praet. אהב) to the gates of Zion. These gates are named as a periphrasis for Zion, because they bound the circuit of the city, and any one who loves a city delights to go frequently through its gates; and they are perhaps mentioned in prospect of the fulness of the heathen that shall enter into them. In Psalm 87:3 the lxx correctly, and at the same time in harmony with the syntax, renders: Δεδοξασμένα ἐλαλήθη περὶ σοῦ. The construction of a plural subject with a singular predicate is a syntax common in other instances also, whether the subject is conceived of as a unity in the form of the plural (e.g., Psalm 66:3; Psalm 119:137; Isaiah 16:8), or is individualized in the pursuance of the thought (as is the case most likely in Genesis 27:29, cf. Psalm 12:3); here the glorious things are conceived of as the sum-total of such. The operation of the construction of the active (Ew. 295, b) is not probable here in connection with the participle. בּ beside דּבּר may signify the place or the instrument, substance and object of the speech (e.g., Psalm 119:46), but also the person against whom the words are spoken (e.g., Psalm 50:20), or concerning whom they are uttered (as the words of the suitor to the father or the relatives of the maiden, 1 Samuel 25:39; Sol 8:8; cf. on the construction, 1 Samuel 19:3). The poet, without doubt, here refers to the words of promise concerning the eternal continuance and future glory of Jerusalem: Glorious things are spoken, i.e., exist as spoken, in reference to thee, O thou city of God, city of His choice and of His love.

The glorious contents of the promise are now unfolded, and that with the most vivid directness: Jahve Himself takes up the discourse, and declares the gracious, glorious, world-wide mission of His chosen and beloved city: it shall become the birth-place of all nations. Rahab is Egypt, as in Psalm 89:11; Isaiah 30:7; Isaiah 51:9, the southern worldly power, and Babylon the northern. הזכּיר, as frequently, of loud (Jeremiah 4:16) and honourable public mention or commemoration, Psalm 45:18. It does not signify "to record or register in writing;" for the official name מזכּיר, which is cited in support of this meaning, designates the historian of the empire as one who keeps in remembrance the memorable events of the history of his time. It is therefore impossible, with Hofmann, to render: I will add Rahab and Babylon to those who know me. In general ל is not used to point out to whom the addition is made as belonging to them, but for what purpose, or as what (cf. 2 Samuel 5:3; Isaiah 4:3), these kingdoms, hitherto hostile towards God and His people, shall be declared: Jahve completes what He Himself has brought about, inasmuch as He publicly and solemnly declares them to be those who know Him, i.e., those who experimentally (vid., Psalm 36:11) know Him as their God. Accordingly, it is clear that זה ילּד־שׁם is also meant to refer to the conversion of the other three nations to whom the finger of God points with הנּה, viz., the war-loving Philistia, the rich and proud Tyre, and the adventurous and powerful Ethiopia (Isaiah 18:1-7). זה does not refer to the individuals, nor to the sum-total of these nations, but to nation after nation (cf. זה העם, Isaiah 23:13), by fixing the eye upon each one separately. And שׁם refers to Zion. The words of Jahve, which come in without any intermediary preparation, stand in the closest connection with the language of the poet and seer. Zion appears elsewhere as the mother who brings forth Israel again as a numerous people (Isaiah 66:7; Psalm 54:1-3): it is the children of the dispersion (diaspora) which Zion regains in Isaiah 60:4.; here, however, it is the nations which are born in Zion. The poet does not combine with it the idea of being born again in the depth of its New Testament meaning; he means, however, that the nations will attain a right of citizenship in Zion (πολιτεία τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, Ephesians 2:12) as in their second mother-city, that they will therefore at any rate experience a spiritual change which, regarded from the New Testament point of view, is the new birth out of water and the Spirit.

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