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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 133



Verse 1

1. This verse states the theme of the psalmbrotherly loveand the behold calls our attention to it.

Verse 2

2. Precious ointment—Hebrew, Good oil. The allusion is to the consecration of Aaron, Leviticus 8. The purest olive oil was used, perfumed with costly spices, Exodus 30:22-33. It was good or “precious” because it was pure, highly aromatic, and holy; it was unlawful to use it for any but holy or ritualistic purposes.

Upon the head—As the representative of the entire man. Thus was all consecrating oil used, whether on kings or priests. Thus, also, by the imposition of hands upon the head were priestly and other consecrations made, both in the Old and New Testaments. Thus the Spirit descended upon the head at Pentecost, and thus God applied his seal to the forehead of his own, Revelation 7:3. The particle of comparison indicates a resemblance between brotherly love and unity and the holy anointing of Aaron. The point of the comparison is not in the purity, or fragrance, or copiousness, or holiness, of the oil, separately considered, but in these combined, uniting with them the significance of the holy act of consecration. Nothing was more sacred in the Jewish service than the holy oil. Itself an emblem of purity and fragrance, its consecrating use conferred the highest honour and sanctity.

Skirts of his garments—Hebrew, The mouth of his garments; that is, the aperture, or opening about the neck, translated “collar,” Job 30:18, and “hole,” or opening at the top, Exodus 28:32. The oil dropped from Aaron’s head to his beard, and from his beard to the neck band of his garment. Thus the whole body was consecrated, and thus the oil of consecrating grace descends from Christ, the Head, to all the members of the Church, his mystical body.

Verse 3

3. As the dew of Hermon—There can be no doubt that the copiousness and the refreshing effect of oriental dews are here referred to, but why Hermon and Zion are specially mentioned is not so clear. The Hebrew simply reads: “As the dew of Hermon which descends (literally, is descending) upon the mountains of Zion.” This indicates some meteorological effect of the dews or vapours of Hermon upon the moisture and climate of the southern country. Thus Van de Velde, quoted by Moll: “Sitting here at the foot of Hermon, I was able to understand how the particles of water which ascend from its wood-crowned peaks and its gorges filled with perpetual snow, after they have been rarefied by the beams of the sun. and the atmosphere has been moistened by them, fall in the evening in the form of a heavy dew upon the lower mountains which lie around it as its projecting ridges. In no part of the whole country is such a heavy dew observed as that which falls in the districts near Hermon.” Thus Stanley: “If Zion be here Jerusalem, the sense must be that the beneficial effect of the cool vapours of the lofty Hermon were felt even to the dry and distant mountains of Judea.” That Zion here is the Zion of Jerusalem, is confirmed by the next clause, “for there [at Zion] the Lord commanded the blessing,” etc. The common English version adds, after “Hermon,” the words “and as the dew,” as if two independent descents of dew were intended. But this is against the grammatical construction, and against the metaphor. It was “the dew of Hermon” which “descended upon Zion,” and the oil upon the head of Aaron which descended upon his beard and garments, which constituted the basis of the figure. Thus, when the oil of grace and love should be poured upon the northern tribes, especially Ephraim, (with whom the chief causes of alienation existed,) it would descend upon and refresh Zion and the southern tribes, and thus give national and spiritual unity. So, also, when the representative heads of the Church, especially the sons of Aaron, shall be endued with the baptismal anointing, it shall descend in its gracious effects upon the lesser orders and members.


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 133:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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