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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
Psalms 135

 

 

Introduction

Four-Voiced Hallelujah to the God of Israel, the God of Gods

Psalms 135 is here and there (vid., Tפsefפth Pesachim 117 a ) taken together with Psalms 134:1-3 as one Psalm. The combining of Ps 115 with Psalms 114:1-8 is a misapprehension caused by the inscriptionless character of Ps 115, whereas Ps 135 and Psalms 134:1-3 certainly stand in connection with one another. For the Hallelujah Psalms 135 is, as the mutual relation between the beginning and close of Psalms 134:1-3 shows, a Psalm-song expanded out of this shorter hymn, that is in part drawn from Ps 115.

It is a Psalm in the mosaic style. Even the Latin poet Lucilius transfers the figure of mosaic-work to style, when he says: quam lepide lexeis compostae ut tesserulae omnes ... In the case of Psalms 135 it is not the first time that we have met with this kind of style. We have already had a glimpse of it in Psalms 97:1-12 and Psalms 98:1-9. These Psalms were composed more especially of deutero-Isaianic passages, whereas Psalms 135 takes its tesserulae out of the Law, Prophets, and Psalms.


Verses 1-4

The beginning is taken from Psalms 134:1; Psalms 135:2 recalls Psalms 116:19 (cf. Psalms 92:14); and Psalms 135:4 is an echo of Deuteronomy 7:6. The servants of Jahve to whom the summons is addressed, are not, as in Psalms 134:1., His official servants in particular, but according to Psalms 135:2 , where the courts, in the plural, are allotted to them as their standing-place, and according to Psalms 135:19-20, those who fear Him as a body. The threefold Jahve at the beginning is then repeated in Jāh ( הללוּ־יהּ , cf. note 1 to PsPsalms 104:35), Jahve , and Jāh . The subject of כּי נעים is by no means Jahve (Hupfeld), whom they did not dare to call נעים in the Old Testament, but either the Name, according to Ps 54:8 (Luther, Hitzig), or, which is favoured by Psalms 147:1 (cf. Proverbs 22:18), the praising of His Name (Appolinaris: ἐπεὶ τόδε καλὸν ἀείδειν ): His Name to praise is a delightful employ, which is incumbent on Israel as the people of His choice and of His possession.


Verses 5-7

The praise itself now begins. כּי in Psalms 135:4 set forth the ground of the pleasant duty, and the כי that begins this strophe confirms that which warrants the summons out of the riches of the material existing for such a hymn of praise. Worthy is He to be praised, for Israel knows full well that He who hath chosen it is the God of gods. The beginning is taken from Psalms 115:3, and Psalms 135:7 from Jeremiah 10:13 (Psalms 51:16). Heaven, earth, and water are the three kingdoms of created things, as in Exodus 20:4. נשׂיא signifies that which is lifted up, ascended; here, as in Jeremiah, a cloud. The meaning of בּרקים למּטר עשׂה is not: He makes lightnings into rain, i.e., resolves them as it were into rain, which is unnatural; but either according to Zechariah 10:1 : He produces lightnings in behalf of rain, in order that the rain may pour down in consequence of the thunder and lightning, or poetically: He makes lightnings for the rain, so that the rain is announced (Apollinaris) and accompanied by them. Instead of מוצא (cf. Psalms 78:16; Psalms 105:43), which does not admit of the retreating of the tone, the expression is מוצא , the ground-form of the part. Hiph . for plurals like מחצרים , מחלמים , מעזרים , perhaps not without being influenced by the ויּוצא in Jeremiah, for it is not מוצא from מצא that signifies “producing,” but מוציא = מפיק . The metaphor of the treasuries is like Job 38:22. What is intended is the fulness of divine power, in which lie the grounds of the origin and the impulses of all things in nature.


Verse 8-9

Worthy is He to be praised, for He is the Redeemer out of Egypt. בּתוככי as in Psalms 116:19, cf. Psalms 105:27.


Verses 10-12

Worthy is He to be praised, for He is the Conqueror of the Land of Promise. in connection with Psalms 135:10 one is reminded of Deuteronomy 4:38; Deuteronomy 7:1; Deuteronomy 9:1; Deuteronomy 11:23; Joshua 23:9. גּוים רבּים are here not many, but great peoples (cf. גּדלים in Psalms 136:17), since the parallel word עצוּמים is by no means intended of a powerful number, but of powerful might (cf. Isaiah 53:12). As to the rest also, the poet follows the Book of Deuteronomy: viz., לכל ממלכות as in Deuteronomy 3:21, and נתן נחלה as in Deuteronomy 4:38 and other passages. It is all Deuteronomic with the exception of the שׁ , and the ל e in Psalms 135:11 as the nota accus . (as in Psalms 136:19., cf. Psalms 69:6; Psalms 116:16; Psalms 129:3); the construction of הרג is just as Aramaizing in Job 5:2; 2 Samuel 3:30 (where 2 Samuel 3:30-31, like 2 Samuel 3:36-37, are a later explanatory addition). The הרג alternating with הכּה is, next to the two kings, also referred to the kingdoms of Canaan, viz., their inhabitants. Og was also an Amoritish king, Deuteronomy 3:8.


Verse 13-14

This God who rules so praiseworthily in the universe and in the history of Israel is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. Just as Psalms 135:13 (cf. Psalms 102:13) is taken from Exodus 3:15, so Psalms 135:14 is taken from Deuteronomy 32:36, cf. Psalms 90:13, and vid., on Hebrews 10:30-31.


Verses 15-18

For the good of His proved church He ever proves Himself to be the Living God, whereas idols and idol-worshippers are vain - throughout following Psalms 115:4-8, but with some abridgments. Here only the אף used as a particle recalls what is said there of the organ of smell ( אף ) of the idols that smells not, just as the רוּח which is here (as in Jeremiah 10:14) denied to the idols recalls the הריח denied to them there. It is to be rendered: also there is not a being of breath, i.e., there is no breath at all, not a trace thereof, in their mouth. It is different in 1 Samuel 21:9, where אין ישׁ (not אין ) is meant to be equivalent to the Aramaic אין אית , num ( an ) est ; אין is North-Palestinian, and equivalent to the interrogatory אם (after which the Targum renders אלּוּ אית ).


Verses 19-21

A call to the praise of Jahve, who is exalted above the gods of the nations, addressed to Israel as a whole, rounds off the Psalm by recurring to its beginning. The threefold call in Psalms 115:9-11; Psalms 118:2-4, is rendered fourfold here by the introduction of the house of the Levites, and the wishing of a blessing in Psalms 134:3 is turned into an ascription of praise. Zion, whence Jahve's self-attestation, so rich in power and loving-kindness, is spread abroad, is also to be the place whence His glorious attestation by the mouth of men is spread abroad. History has realized this.

 


Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Psalms 135:4". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/psalms-135.html. 1854-1889.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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