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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 78

 

 

Introduction

BOOK II.—PSS. XLII.-LXXII.

Psalms 42-83 are Elohistic, i.e. they use the word God (Elohim) and avoid the proper name Yahweh, probably from motives of reverence. Here and there, however, the name Yahweh has crept into the text by a natural slip of the scribes.


Verses 1-72

LXXVIII. The Lesson of Israel's History.—The northern tribes have been perverse from the first. Their wickedness has culminated in the schismatical religion of the Samaritans. God, on the contrary, has chosen Zion, the sanctuary of Judah. The Ps. must have been written before John Hyrcanus (134 B.C.) destroyed the Samaritan shrine on Mt. Gerizim (p. 608).

Psalms 78:1-11. Introduction.

Psalms 78:2. parable: rather "poem."—dark sayings: rather enigmas in the history of Israel and Judah which the Psalmist explains.

Psalms 78:4. Point with LXX, "It was not hid from their children: they told it for the generation that was," etc.

Psalms 78:5. testimony: i.e. the Law which bears witness to the Divine will.

Psalms 78:9. Correct from Psalms 78:57, "The children of Ephraim, like a deceitful bow, turned back, etc. They were like mercenaries who fled when danger came" (cf. Hosea 7:16). The Psalmist would find a plausible support for his theory in the Book of Judges, a North-Israelite production, and concerned with Israel's, not Judah's sins.

Psalms 78:12-39 dwells chiefly on God's wonderful work on His people's behalf, though it also relates instances of their perversity and God's merciful forgiveness.

Psalms 78:12. Zoan: Tanis (Isaiah 19:11*). It was at the NE. corner of Egypt.

Psalms 78:25. Manna was the ordinary food of the "strong," i.e. angels (see Ps. 10:3, 20).

Psalms 78:30. They were as yet in full enjoyment of the flesh; they were not tired or sick of it.

Psalms 78:33. in vanity: i.e. in aimless wanderings through the desert.

Psalms 78:40-58. Israel's constant apostasy despite all that God had done for them, especially by punishing their enemies in Egypt and by destroying the Canaanites.

Psalms 78:48. hail: read, "pestilence."

Psalms 78:49 f. Here the Psalmist adds to the story as told in Exodus. The "band of evil angels," and the general plague, are not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.

Psalms 78:51. Ham: a name for Egypt in late Pss. (Psalms 105:23*). Egypt was the greatest of Ham's sons.

Psalms 78:54. Follow mg.

Psalms 78:55 b. Read, "and allotted their (the Canaanites') inheritance by line" (cf. Isaiah 37:17).

Psalms 78:59-72. Shiloh replaced by Jerusalem. The Kingdom of David.

Psalms 78:59. Israel in the old language included the central and northern tribes, as distinct from Judah, though after the captivity of the northern nation, Judah adopted the now vacant name. Shiloh was the great shrine and was destroyed, we know not how, probably by the Philistines (see 1 Samuel 7:1*, Jeremiah 7:12-14*, Jeremiah 26:6-9).

Psalms 78:64. Read with LXX, "No lament was made for their widows."

Psalms 78:65 b. Translate with LXX, "like a mighty man who had been overpowered by wine." The Ephraimites and the other tribes associated with him are the "adversaries": God has been patient with them too long: now He rises, as from sleep or wine, to punish the Samaritans, who in their rejection of the shrine at Jerusalem upheld the old evil tradition. But the sequence of thought is far from clear.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Psalms 78:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/psalms-78.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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