Psalm 68:17
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.

King James Bible
The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.

American Standard Version
The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands upon thousands; The Lord is among them, as in'sinai, in the sanctuary.

Douay-Rheims Bible
The chariot of God is attended by ten thousands; thousands of them that rejoice: the Lord is among them in Sina, in the holy place.

English Revised Version
The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands upon thousands: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the sanctuary.

Webster's Bible Translation
The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.

Psalm 68:17 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

The futures that now follow are no longer to be understood as referring to previous history; they no longer alternate with preterites. Moreover the transition to the language of address in Psalm 68:14 shows that the poet here looks forth from his present time and circumstances into the future; and the introduction of the divine name אדני, after Elohim has been used eleven times, is an indication of a new commencement. The prosperous condition in which God places His church by giving it the hostile powers of the world as a spoil is depicted. The noun אמר, never occurring in the genitival relationship, and never with a suffix, because the specific character of the form would be thereby obliterated, always denotes an important utterance, more particularly God's word of promise (Psalm 77:9), or His word of power (Habakkuk 3:9), which is represented elsewhere as a mighty voice of thunder (Psalm 68:34, Isaiah 30:30), or a trumpet-blast (Zechariah 9:14); in the present instance it is the word of power by which the Lord suddenly changes the condition of His oppressed church. The entirely new state of things which this omnipotent behest as it were conjures into existence is presented to the mind in v. 12b: the women who proclaim the tidings of victory - a great host. Victory and triumph follow upon God's אמר, as upon His creative יהי. The deliverance of Israel from the army of Pharaoh, the deliverance out of the hand of Jabin by the defeat of Sisera, the victory of Jephthah over the Ammonites, and the victorious single combat of David with Goliath were celebrated by singing women. God's decisive word shall also go forth this time, and of the evangelists, like Miriam (Mirjam) and Deborah, there shall be a great host.

Psalm 68:12 describes the subject of this triumphant exultation. Hupfeld regards Psalm 68:13-15 as the song of victory itself, the fragment of an ancient triumphal ode (epinikion) reproduced here; but there is nothing standing in the way that should forbid our here regarding these verses as a direct continuation of Psalm 68:12. The "hosts" are the numerous well-equipped armies which the kings of the heathen lead forth to the battle against the people of God. The unusual expression "kings of hosts" sounds very much like an ironically disparaging antithesis to the customary "Jahve of Hosts" (Bttcher). He, the Lord, interposes, and they are obliged to flee, staggering as they go, to retreat, and that, as the anadiplosis (cf. Judges 5:7; Judges 19:20) depicts, far away, in every direction. The fut. energicum with its ultima-accentuation gives intensity to the pictorial expression. The victors then turn homewards laden with rich spoils. נות בּית, here in a collective sense, is the wife who stays at home (Judges 5:24) while the husband goes forth to battle. It is not: the ornament (נוה as in Jeremiah 6:2) of the house, which Luther, with the lxx, Vulgate, and Syriac, adopts in his version,

(Note: "Hausehre," says he, is the housewife or matron as being the adornment of the house; vid., F. Dietrich, Frau und Dame, a lecture bearing upon the history of language (1864), S. 13.)

but: the dweller or homely one (cf. נות, a dwelling-lace, Job 8:6) of the house, ἡ οἰκουρός. The dividing of the spoil elsewhere belongs to the victors; what is meant here is the distribution of the portions of the spoil that have fallen to the individual victors, the further distribution of which is left for the housewife (Judges 5:30., 2 Samuel 1:24). Ewald now recognises in Psalm 68:14. the words of an ancient song of victory; but v. 13b is unsuitable to introduce them. The language of address in Psalm 68:14 is the poet's own, and he here describes the condition of the people who are victorious by the help of their God, and who again dwell peaceably in the land after the war. אם passes out of the hypothetical signification into the temporal, as e.g., in Job 14:14 (vid., on Psalm 59:16). The lying down among the sheep-folds (שׁפתּים equals משׁפּתים, cf. שׁפט, משׁפּט, the staked-in folds or pens consisting of hurdles standing two by two over against one another) is an emblem of thriving peace, which (like Psalm 68:8, Psalm 68:28) points back to Deborah's song, Judges 5:16, cf. Genesis 49:14. Just such a time is now also before Israel, a time of peaceful prosperity enhanced by rich spoils. Everything shall glitter and gleam with silver and gold. Israel is God's turtle-dove, Psalm 74:19, cf. Psalm 56:1, Hosea 7:11; Hosea 11:11. Hence the new circumstances of ease and comfort are likened to the varied hues of a dove disporting itself in the sun. Its wings are as though overlaid with silver (נחפּה, not 3. praet, but part. fem. Niph. as predicate to כּנפי, cf. 1 Samuel 4:15; Micah 4:11; Micah 1:9; Ew. 317 a), therefore like silver wings (cf. Ovid, Metam. ii.:537: Niveis argentea pennis Ales); and its pinions with gold-green,

(Note: Ewald remarks, "Arabian poets also call the dove Arab. 'l-wrq'â, the greenish yellow, golden gleaming one, vid., Kosegarten, Chrestom. p. 156, 5." But this Arabic poetical word for the dove signifies rather the ash-green, whity blackish one. Nevertheless the signification greenish for the Hebrew ירקרק is established. Bartenoro, on Negaim xi. 4, calls the colour of the wings of the peacock ירקרק; and I am here reminded of what Wetzstein once told me, that, according to an Arab proverb, the surface of good coffee ought to be "like the neck of the dove," i.e., so oily that it gleams like the eye of a peacock. A way for the transition from green to grey in aurak as the name of a colour is already, however, opened up in post-biblical Hebrew, when to frighten any one is expressed by פנים הוריק, Genesis Rabba, 47a. The intermediate notions that of fawn colour, i.e., yellowish grey. In the Talmud the plumage of the full-grown dove is called זהוב and צהוב, Chullin, 22b.)

and that, as the reduplicated form implies, with the iridescent or glistening hue of the finest gold (חרוּץ, not dull, but shining gold).

Side by side with this bold simile there appears in v. 15 an equally bold but contrastive figure, which, turning a step or two backward, likewise vividly illustrates the results of their God-given victory. The suffix of בּהּ refers to the land of Israel, as in Isaiah 8:21; Isaiah 65:9. צלמום, according to the usage of the language so far as it is now preserved to us, is not a common noun: deep darkness (Targum equals צלמות), it is the name of a mountain in Ephraim, the trees of which Abimelech transported in order to set fire to the tower of Shechem (Judges 9:48.). The Talmudic literature was acquainted with a river taking its rise there, and also somewhat frequently mentions a locality bearing a similar name to that of the mountain. The mention of this mountain may in a general way be rendered intelligible by the consideration that, like Shiloh (Genesis 49:10), it is situated about in the centre of the Holy Land.

(Note: In Tosifta Para, ch. viii., a river of the name of יורדת הצלמון is mentioned, the waters of which might not be used in preparing the water of expiation (מי חטאת), because they were dried up at the time of the war, and thereby hastened the defeat of Israel (viz., the overthrow of Barcochba). Grtz "Geschichte der Juden, iv. 157, 459f.) sees in it the Nahar Arsuf, which flows down the mountains of Ephraim past Bethar into the Mediterranean. The village of Zalmon occurs in the Mishna, Jebamoth xvi. 6, and frequently. The Jerusalem Gemara (Maaseroth i. 1) gives pre-eminence to the carob-trees of Zalmona side by side with those of Shitta and Gadara.)

השׁליג signifies to bring forth snow, or even, like Arab. aṯlj, to become snow-white; this Hiph. is not a word descriptive of colour, like הלבּין. Since the protasis is בּפרשׂ, and not בּפרשׂך, תּשׁלג is intended to be impersonal (cf. Psalm 50:3; Amos 4:7, Mich. Psalm 3:6); and the voluntative form is explained from its use in apodoses of hypothetical protases (Ges. 128, 2). It indicates the issue to which, on the supposition of the other, it must and shall come. The words are therefore to be rendered: then it snows on Zalmon; and the snowing is either an emblem of the glistening spoil that falls into their hands in such abundance, or it is a figure of the becoming white, whether from bleached bones (cf. Virgil, Aen. v. 865: albi ossibus scopuli; xii. 36: campi ossibus albent; Ovid, Fasti i.:558: humanis ossibus albet humus) or even from the naked corpses (2 Samuel 1:19, על־בּמותיך חלל). Whether we consider the point of comparison to lie in the spoil being abundant as the flakes of snow, and like to the dazzling snow in brilliancy, or in the white pallid corpses, at any rate בּצלמון is not equivalent to כּבצלמון, but what follows "when the Almighty scatters kings therein" is illustrated by Zalmon itself. In the one case Zalmon is represented as the battle-ground (cf. Psalm 110:6), in the other (which better corresponds to the nature of a wooded mountain) as a place of concealment. The protasis בפרשׂ וגו favours the latter; for פּרשׂ signifies to spread wide apart, to cause a compact whole - and the host of "the kings" is conceived of as such - to fly far asunder into many parts (Zechariah 2:10, cf. the Niph. in Ezekiel 17:21). The hostile host disperses in all directions, and Zalmon glitters, as it were with snow, from the spoil that is dropped by those who flee. Homer also (Iliad, xix. 357-361) likens the mass of assembled helmets, shields, armour, and lances to the spectacle of a dense fall of snow. In this passage of the Psalm before us still more than in Homer it is the spectacle of the fallen and far seen glistening snow that also is brought into the comparison, and not merely that which is falling and that which covers everything (vid., Iliad, xii. 277ff.). The figure is the pendant of the figure of the dove.

(Note: Wetzstein gives a different explanation (Reise in den beiden Trachonen und um das Haura equals ngebirge in the Zeitscheift fr allgem. Erdkunde, 1859, S. 198). "Then fell snow on Zalmon, i.e., the mountain clothed itself in a bright garment of light in celebration of this joyous event. Any one who has been in Palestine knows how very refreshing is the spectacle of the distant mountain-top capped with snow. The beauty of this poetical figure is enhanced by the fact that Zalmon (Arab. ḏlmân), according to its etymology, signifies a mountain range dark and dusky, either from shade, forest, or black rock. The last would well suit the mountains of Haurn, among which Ptolemaeus (p. 365 and 370, Ed. Wilberg) mentions a mountain (according to one of the various readings) Ἀσαλμάνος.")

Psalm 68:17 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

chariots

Psalm 18:10 And he rode on a cherub, and did fly: yes, he did fly on the wings of the wind.

Deuteronomy 33:2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir to them; he shined forth from mount Paran...

2 Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire...

2 Kings 6:16,17 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them...

Ezekiel 1:15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel on the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.

Daniel 7:10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered to him...

Matthew 26:53 Think you that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

Revelation 5:11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders...

Revelation 9:16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

thousands. or, many thousands
as in Sinai

Exodus 3:5 And he said, Draw not near here: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place where on you stand is holy ground.

Exodus 19:22,23 And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth on them...

Cross References
Deuteronomy 33:2
He said, "The LORD came from Sinai and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran; he came from the ten thousands of holy ones, with flaming fire at his right hand.

2 Kings 6:17
Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see." So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Isaiah 66:15
"For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.

Daniel 7:10
A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.

Habakkuk 3:8
Was your wrath against the rivers, O LORD? Was your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea, when you rode on your horses, on your chariot of salvation?

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