|THE PSALM-TITLES, AND WORDS EMPLOYED IN THEM. Appendix 65 To The Companion Bible. PAGE 1|
From what is written, in the preceding Appendix (64), it will be seen that, though the words "Psalm-Titles" are used here in this Appendix in their ordinary traditional sense, our understanding of them must be seriously modified; all the words used in them, and explained below, occur in the sub-scription of the preceding Psalm, and belong to that Psalm. It is there we have placed them in The Companion Bible, and it is in those Psalms that we have to look for their elucidation and find the key to the meaning of the words.¹
Commentators who revered the Word of God have struggled to find some logical, spiritual, or mystical meaning in these "titles"; while modern critics do not seem able to rise beyond musical instruments and terminology, or "catch-words" of popular songs or tunes.
The Teaching, which is deep and grand beyond all conception, they fritter down to some commonplace reference; while the Text, which is clear, they mystify with their puerile guesses and vain imaginations.
We look for something more worthy of this work of the Holy Spirit of God; something more worthy indeed of the Bible, regarding it merely as a literary production. We look for something more dignified than a "tom-tom" or a "catch-word", and we shall find it.
The words used in these sub-scriptions (which no commentator of any repute regards as other than integral parts of Holy Writ, being numbered, and forming as they do the first verse of each Psalm in the Hebrew text, and actually quoted as Scripture in the New Testament) refer to momentous truths, and not to musical terms; to teaching, and not to tunes; to instruction, and not to instruments; to sense, and not to sound. They are for those who have a heart for music, and not merely an ear for music; they are for Enochs who walk with God, and not for Tubal-Cains who handle the harp and the organ. They pertain to the things of the Spirit, and not to "things made with hands".
We shall present these words and expressions in the spelling, and in the order in which the Bible reader will look for them in this Appendix, namely, in alphabetical order.
We may first note here that thirty-four Psalms have no title at all, and are without super-scription or sub-scription: namely, Psalms 1, 2, 10, 33, 43, 71, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 104, 105, 106, 107, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 135, 136, 137, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150. The words in the super-scriptions and sub-scriptions are as follows, and are given in the spelling of the Authorized Version to which English readers are accustomed.
I. AIJELETH-SHAHAR (The Day-Dawn).This title, which in the versions has stood in the super-scription of Psalm 22, now finds its proper place and stands (in The Companion Bible) as the sub-scription to Psalm 21.
The meaning given both in Authorized Version and Revised Version is "the hind of the morning".
The Jewish commentators, Rashi (A.D. 1040-1145, Troyes) and Kimchi (A.D. 1160-1232, Narbonne) render it "a hind fair as the morning". Luther rendered it "the hind early chased". The Targum has it "the morning sacrifice".
The moment we regard it in the light of Psalm 21 instead of Psalm 22, a new field of inquiry presents itself.
The expression is a Figure of speech common in the East, and frequently met with in Arabian poetry.
It is used of the Day-Dawn, in which the beams of light from the rising sun are seen shooting up (like horns) above the horizon before the sun actually appears. It is used in Psalm 21 of the rays of Messiah's coming glory, and tells of the dawn of His approaching coronation which is the one great subject of Psalm 21. See the Structure and notes.
It is the same DAY-DAWN that forms the theme of David's "last words". See the notes on 2Samuel 23:1-5 and Psalm 72, with the Structures and notes there; and compare 2Peter 1:19.
¹ These facts have been discovered, and admirably set forth by Dr. J. W. Thirtle, in his two works on this subject, namely, The Titles of the Psalms: their Nature and Meaning explained (1904), and Old Testament Problems (1907). Both published by Henry Frowde, Oxford Bible Warehouse, London.
II. AL ALAMOTH (relating to maidens).
There is no dispute or question as to the meaning of these words: 'Al = relating to, or concerning, or connected with. 'Al has a wide range of meaning, and we may select the one which lends itself best to the context. As to 'Alamoth (feminine plural), there is a consensus of opinion that it can mean only damsels or maidens. 'Almah occurs (in singular and plural) seven times in the Hebrew Old Testament, and is rendered "virgin" in Genesis 24:43. Song 1:3; 6:8. Isaiah 7:14; "maid" in Exodus 2:8. Proverbs 30:19; and "damsel" in Psalm 68:25. The proper word for virgin is bethulah (Genesis 24:16, etc.), while 'almah denotes a young woman of marriageable age, still under the care of others. Every bethulah is an 'almah, but not every 'almah is, necessarily, a bethulah.¹
In the plural, therefore, 'alamoth can mean only maidens. There is no need to think about music, or to restrict the use of the word here to "a maidens' choir", standing, as it now must stand, as the sub-scription to Psalm 45, and not as the super-scription of Psalm 46. There is no connection between "maidens" and Psalm 46, but there are many points in the subject-matter of Psalm 45 which link it on to that Psalm. There are references to the "king's daughter", and "honorable women" (verse 9). It is a "daughter" that is addressed as the bride (verse 10). There is the "daughter of Tyre" (verse 12); "the king's daughter" (verse 13); and "the virgins her companions" (verse 14).
There are special reasons, therefore, in the subject-matter of Psalm 45, which connect it with that Psalm; and make it very appropriate that, even if the Psalms were intended to be sung by maidens, such singing need not be connected with the Temple or its services. There was processional singing in the open air. And in 1Chronicles 15 we have just the occasion for the use of the word in this connection. In the procession in which the Ark was carried up from the house of Obededom to Zion three bodies of singers are mentioned: (1) the Levites (verses 16-19), (2) the maidens (verse 20); and (3) the sheminith or men-singers (see Number XIX, below) who brought up the rear of the procession (verse 21). This is the very order which is mentioned in Psalm 68: (1) the singers going before (1Chronicles 15:16-19); (2) the players on instruments following after (verse 22); in the midst, "the damsels (the 'Alamoth) playing with timbrels" (verse 20). Psalm 68 begins with the words of Numbers 10:35, which prescribes the formula for the setting forth of the Ark. The "goings" of Psalm 68:24 refer to the great going up of the Ark to Zion. The company of those who published the word of Jehovah (verse 11) is feminine plural, and the reference is not to Exodus 15:20 or 1Samuel 18:6, but to 1Chronicles 15:20. From all this it is clear that this Psalm (68) must be carried back to as early a date as 951-950 B.C., instead of being assigned to the later dates of 537 B.C. or 167 B.C. as demanded by modern criticism.
III. AL-TASCHITH = Destroy not.There are four Psalms which have this sub-scription, namely 56, 57, 58, and 74 (not Psalms 57, 58, 59, and 75, which in all the versions have it as the super-scription).
The first three are David's, the forth is by Asaph.
Two by David (56 and 57) are each connected with a crisis in his life, while the third belongs to a peculiar time of trouble.
There is no dispute as to the meaning of the word.
It is rendered by Authorized Version and Revised Version as "Destroy not". It is a cry of distress, a cry at a crisis. But this cry is found, in the Psalms to which we have placed it, as a sub-scription, and not in the others where it has formerly stood as a super-scription.
Such a cry has been made by Moses at a great crisis (Exodus 32:11-14, compare Deuteronomy 9:25), and by David (2Samuel 24:16, 17) where we have the same Hebrew word (shahath). David acted on the injunction of Deuteronomy 4:30, 31; the reason being "for Jehovah thy God is a MERCIFUL God, He will not forsake thee, neither DESTROY thee". This is why Psalms 56 and 57 begin "Be merciful".
¹ The Greek word parthenos, in Matthew 1:23, shows that the 'almah of Isaiah 7:14 must have been a virgin. The Septuagint also renders 'almah by parthenos in Isaiah 7:14.
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For further references to this sub-scription, compare Psalms 56:1, 9, 10, 11; 57:1-3, 6, 7; 58:3, 6, 7, 11, and 74:1-3, 10, 11, 18-20, 22, 23. Psalm 74 is prophetic of the latter days (spoken of in Deuteronomy 4:30) when "Destroy not" will be an appeal suited to "the day of Jacob's trouble".
David was a prophet (Acts 2:30), and spake of things yet future; why should not some Psalms speak prophetically and proleptically of Zion before it was built, and of the Exile before it took place, instead of being styled "post-Exilic" by the modern critics?
GITTITH = Winepresses
There is no doubt about Gittith meaning winepresses; from Gath (Judges 6:11. Nehemiah 13:15. Isaiah 63:2. Lamentations 1:15), not the "vat" which receives the juice from the "press" (which is yekeb, Numbers 18:27, 30. Deuteronomy 15:14, etc.). The word speaks of the autumn, just as Shoshannim, Number XX below (lilies), speaks of the spring. Hence Shoshannim (flowers) is associated with the Spring Festival (the Passover), as Gittoth (fruit) is associated with the Autumn Festival (Tabernacles). The Passover told of Jehovah's goodness in Divine redemption; the Feast of Tabernacles told of Jehovah's goodness in Divine keeping. A study of the three Gittith Psalms (7, 80, and 83) in this connection will yield instruction and profit, and remove all the perplexity involved in associating the word with the subject-matter of Psalms 8, 81, and 84, with which it has no connection.
There will be no longer need to be troubled with such guesses as "Gittite instruments" or "Gittite guards", or "Levites of Gath-rimmon", which are as meaningless as they are irrelevant. See further under Shoshannim (Number XX, below).
V. HIGGAION.As this word occurs in the Text, see Appendix 66. I.
VI. JEDUTHUN.JEDUTHUN was one of the three directors (or the "chief Musicians") of the Temple worship (1Chronicles 16:41, 42; 25:1-6; 2Chronicles 5:12; 35:15). The three sons of Aaron were thus represented by the three men whose names occur in this category. JEDUTHUN was a descendant of MERARI (1Chronicles 26:10); while ASAPH was a descendant of GERSHOM; and HEMAN of KOHATH. JEDUTHUN seems to have had another name, "ETHAN" (1Chronicles 15:17, 19, compared with 16:41, 42; 25:1, 3, 6, and 2Chronicles 35:15). That there was an "Ethan", a Merarite, is seen from 1Chronicles 6:44; 15:17.
Since he is associated with those two men, it is going out of one's way to create a difficulty by supposing Jeduthun to be "a musical instrument", or the "name of a tune" (Revised Version margin) or of a "measure".
In 2Chronicles 35:15 he is called "the king's seer"; and in 1Chronicles 25:1 it was the duty of these three men "to prophesy" and "to confess, and to praise Jehovah" (verse 3). This was according to the king's order (verse 6).
There are three Psalms connected with JEDUTHUN (38, 61 and 76), and they will be found to fulfill these conditions.
By comparing these Psalms as set out in The Companion Bible, the confusion, caused by two of these Psalms appearing to have the names of two different authors, vanishes. The sub-scription of each Psalm now stands "To the chief Musician—Jeduthun."
JONATH-ELEM-RECHOKIM = The
There is a general agreement that this Title means "Relating to the dove in the distant terebinths (or oaks)".
David is the "dove". He is far away in the distant woods, moaning over the trouble that has come upon him through the rebellion of Absalom, recorded in 2Samuel 15-19.
There is no reference to a dove in Psalm 56, but there is in Psalm 55:6. In verse 2 he says, "I mourn in my complaint, and moan" (Revised Version). In Isaiah 38:14, Hezekiah, in trouble equally great, says "I did moan as a dove" (the same words as in Psalm 55:17 (Revised Version). Compare Ezekiel 7:16, where we have it again). David speaks further concerning this moaning in Psalm 55:4-8; also in verses 16, 17. The desertion of Ahithophel at this crisis is alluded to in verses 12-14. All Psalms of, or "relating to David", refer to the true David; so we may compare David's desertion with Christ's betrayal, and the end of Ahithophel (2Samuel 17:23) with the end of Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:5-8. Acts 1:18, 19).
VIII. LEANNOTH.See number X, below.
The Septuagint translators could make nothing of the words (there being no vowel points); so they simply transliterated the word, spelling it maeleth, which has no meaning whatever. AQUILA, a reviser of the Septuagint (about A.D. 160), supplied different vowels, and read the Hebrew as though it meant choreia, dancing. He must have taken the Hebrew Mecholoth to mean dancing (or, by the plural of majesty, the great dancing). SYMMACHUS, another reviser of the Septuagint (about A.D. 193-211), follows AQUILA.
This rendering, which takes the Hebrew as being Mecholoth (instead of Mahalath), at once connects Psalm 52 with 1Samuel 18:6, 7, the occasion being celebrated and known afterward as "the great dancing". Twice, later in David's life, this event is referred to as a landmark in David's history (1Samuel 21:11; 29:5). If we read Psalm 52, we shall note the references to Doeg's mischievous tongue (in verses 1-4); to David's assertion (1Samuel 17:37) in verse 5; to David's words, "all this assembly shall know" (1Samuel 17:47); in verses 6, 7 "the righteous also shall see and fear". The victory is ascribed to God in verse 9, as it is in 1Samuel 17:37. When we read these remarkable references, we shall not heed the modern critics' talk about "catchwords of an older song", or the "name of a tune called 'Sickness'", or "the name of a choir at Abel-meholah".
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These words are found as the sub-scription to Psalm 87 in The Companion Bible (not as the super-scription or title to Psalm 88 over which it stands in all other Bibles and Versions).
As Mecholoth means dancing (see Number IX above), so all are agreed that Leannoth means shoutings (and, with the plural of majesty, the great shouting). (Compare Exodus 15:20, 21; 32:17, 18. Numbers 21:17. 1Samuel 18:6, 7. Ezra 3:11). So that the combined words "The Great Shouting and Dancing" give us the subject-matter of Psalm 87.
We have only to read the Psalm in the light of 1Samuel 6:14, 15 to see the obvious connection with David's bringing the Ark to Zion. In verse 2 there is a distinct allusion to the other places where the Ark had found a temporary dwelling, Shiloh (1Samuel 1:3; 2:14; 3:21. Psalm 78:60); Beth-shemesh (1Samuel 6:13); Kirjath-jearim (1Samuel 7:1); Gibeah (2Samuel 6:3, 4); the house of Obed-edom (verses 10-12). But none of these was the dwelling-place Jehovah had chosen. Hence, Zion is celebrated as "the Mount Zion which He loved".
Unlike the "Michtam" Psalms (which are all by David, see Number XII below), these are by various authors.
Six are by David (32, 52, 53, 54, 55, and 142).
Three are by the sons of Korah (42, 44, and 45).
Two are by Asaph (74 and 78).
One is by Heman the Ezrahite (88).
One is by Ethan the Ezrahite (89).
Maschil is from sakal, to look at, scrutinize, to look well into anything (1Samuel 18:30); hence the noun will mean understanding arising from deep consideration (Proverbs 13:15. Nehemiah 8:8). The Septuagint rendering is suneseos = understanding and eis sunesin = for understanding. It is the Old English verb to skill.
The first of these Psalms (32) gives the basis of all true instruction and understanding. In verse 8 it is given:
"I will instruct thee
And teach thee in the way thou shouldest go . . .
Be not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding".
Or Psalm 44:1, "We have heard", etc.; or 45:10, "Hearken, O daughter, and incline thine ear", etc.
The idea "to play skillfully" seems trivial in comparison with such "instruction" as this.
See the Structure of "the Exodus Book" (or the Second Book) of Psalms (page 759), where, in Group F 1-F 5, God's People speak to Him as Israel's Redeemer; and His work as telling of His death and resurrection.
The word Michtam is from Katam, to cut in, or engrave, as in Jeremiah 2:22, "thine iniquity is graven before me" (not "marked", as in Authorized Version and Revised Version).
The Septuagint renders it stelographia = a sculptured writing. Hence stele = a sepulchral monument, on account of the inscription graven on it.
The word, therefore, points to a graven and therefore a permanent writing; graven on account of its importance (compare Job 19:24). What that importance is can be gathered only from the Michtam Psalms themselves.
The Authorized Version and Revised Version derive the word from Kethem gold, either from its being precious, or hidden away.
This meaning is not far out; but it lacks the raison d'etre for this importance, which the other derivation gives in connecting it with death and resurrection.
The Michtam Psalms are all pervaded by the common characteristic of being Personal, Direct, and more or less Private.
The reference is to David's Son and David's Lord; and especially to His death and resurrection; or to a deliverance from imminent danger, or death, or even from the grave itself. See Psalms 16:10, 11; 56:13; 57:3; 58:10, 11; 59:16; 60:5, 12. It is David who, "being a prophet" (Acts 2:25-31), knew that God "would raise up Messiah to sit on his throne". Hence this is the truth engraven in the first of these Michtam Psalms (16).
This, in The Companion Bible, stands now as the sub-scription of Psalm 8, and not as the super-scription or title of Psalm 9, as in other Bibles and Versions. All are agreed that muth can mean only death. As to the other word labben, the matter is not so simple. For ben means son, but there is nothing about a "son" in either Psalm (8 or 9): and, as it must relate (like the other Titles) to subject-matter, and not to the name of a "song", or a "tune", or a "musical instrument", there must be another explanation of ben. Now ben may be beyn, written what is called "defective", that is to say, without the full sign for its vowel (which is very often found in Hebrew). In that case it would mean the separator, and thus be related to bayin = "between" which is the dual form of this word in the designation of Goliath in 1Samuel 17:4, 23, "the man between [the two hosts" of Israel and the Philistines], or "the duellist". Hence, labben ("for the son") may be read labbeyn, "for the duellist" or "the champion", or "the one standing between". Indeed, this is exactly how the words are given in the ancient Jewish commentary called the Targum: "To praise; relating to the death of the man who went between the camps". That is to say, the champion, as he is called in 1Samuel 17:4, 23.¹
Read in this light, Psalm 8 stands out with quite a new signification, seeing it relates to "the death of the champion", Goliath of Gath.
We may compare with this Psalm 144, which in the Septuagint version has this remarkable title, "by David, concerning Goliath": in verse 3 of which Psalm we have the very words of Psalm 8:4. And in verse 10 the words, "Who delivereth David His servant from the hateful sword": that is, of Goliath.
XIV. NEGINAH.See "Neginoth", Number XV below, of which it is the singular.
XV. NEGINOTH (Smitings).This word, in The Companion Bible, stands in the sub-scriptions of eight Psalms, that is, 3, 5, 53, 54, 60 (singular), 66, 75, and Habakkuk 3. (Not in the super-scriptions of Psalms 4, 6, 54, 55, 61 (singular with 'al instead of Beth), 67, and 76).
"Neginoth" is from nagan, to strike, or smite. Hence it has hitherto been associated with the striking of the strings of some musical instrument! But why should the striking be connected with strings? Is there no other kind of smiting known? Why may it not refer to the stroke of affliction, or smiting with words? Indeed, it is so associated in Lamentations 3:63: "I am he whom they smite [with their words]". In all these Neginoth Psalms there is the note of deliverance from personal smitings. See 3:2; 5:6; 53:1; 54:3; 60:3, 5, 11; 66:10-12; 75:4, 5. We have the verb again in 77:7, "I call to remembrance my song", or my stroke of affliction. So in Isaiah 38:20, "We will sing, or make songs", or, we will make songs concerning my stroke, or afflictions. In Habakkuk 3:19 we may, in the same way, understand it as "relating to my smitings", that is to say, those referred to in verse 16.
The word is Nehiloth, which has been taken from halal, to bore; but, even then, human imagination does not seem able to rise higher than the boring of holes to make a flute!
The Septuagint has "concerning her that inherits". AQUILA in his revision (A.D. 160) has "Division of Inheritances". SYMMACHUS (A.D. 193-211) has "Allotments"; while the Latin Versions have similar renderings. This shows that they must have had before them the consonants N, H, L, TH, with the vowel-points NehaLoTH which gives the intelligible meaning, inheritances, or the great inheritance. In Psalm 4 this reference is quite clear. Jehovah was the inheritance of His People (Psalm 16:5; compare 73:26; 119:57; 142:5. Jeremiah 10:16. Lamentations 3:24). Hence, in Psalm 4:6, the question is asked, "Who will show us [what] good [is]"? And the answer which follows is "Thou". For, joy in Jehovah is greater than joy in harvest.
The same truth is seen in Psalm 144. See notes on verses 11-15-, with the true answer in verse -15.
¹ The word "champion" in verse 51 is not the same word, but is gibbor. See Appendix 14. IV.
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XVII. PSALM (Hebrew Mizmor).
This word is used in the super-scriptions forty-four times in all (Psalms 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 29, 31, 38, 39, 40, 41, 47, 49, 50, 51, 62, 63, 64, 73, 77, 79, 80, 82, 84, 85, 98, 100, 101, 109, 110, 139, 140, 141, 143. Of these, twenty-one are in Book I, seven in Book II, seven in Book III, three in Book IV, and six in Book V.
Mizmor means, and is invariably rendered, "a Psalm", and occurs nowhere but in the Psalm-Titles. It differs from Shir (see below), which is "a Song": that is to say, for singing, whereas Mizmor may be for meditation, etc.
Mizmor is joined with Shir in thirteen Psalms (30, 65, 67, 68, 75, 76, 87, 92, preceding it; and 48, 66, 83, 88, 108, following it).
XVIII. SELAH. See Appendix 66. II.
XIX. SHEMINITH. (The Eighth Division.)This word occurs in the sub-scription of two Psalms (5 and 11 in The Companion Bible); not in the super-scription of Psalms 6 and 12, as in other Bibles and Versions.
There is a general agreement that it means "the eighth", and in its thirty-one occurrences it is always so rendered, except in 1Chronicles 15:21 and in these two sub-scriptions (Psalms 5 and 11), where it is transliterated "Sheminith".
The Authorized Version puts "the eighth" in the margin in all three cases. The Revised Version puts "the eighth" only in the case of the two Psalms.
Though it is agreed that the word means "eighth", it is not agreed as to what "the eighth" refers to. It varies between "the eighth mode", "the eighth (or octave) below" (that is to say, the bass), "the eighth day", or year, or "an instrument with eight strings".
The latter is out of the question, because, in 1Chronicles 15:21, those with harps are set "over the Sheminith" (as others are set "over the 'Alamoth"), and we cannot speak of certain "instruments" being "set" over others. Moreover, the Sheminith are additional to Neginoth in the sub-scription to Psalm 5.
1Chronicles 15:21 helps us to the solution. The 'Alamoth being maidens (verse 20), it would seem obvious that the Sheminith must be men (verse 21).
But what class of men? The Talmud ¹ suggests a class of true Israelites, that is to say, those circumcised on the eighth day, and thus distinguished from all other Jews or Gentiles; for other nations who practice circumcision always do so on a later day,² never on the eighth day.
As all others in the procession were, in this sense, Sheminith, and the Sheminith are distinguished from these as well as the 'Alamoth, Dr. Thirtle concludes that it must refer, as well, to a division in that procession. Everything points to divisional order in such processions (compare Exodus 25:14. Numbers 4:15; 7:9. So also in 1Chronicles 24:1; 26:1, 12). The definite article seems conclusive. In 1Chronicles 15:21 the Sheminith were to lead (Revised Version), not "to excel" (as in Authorized Version). This is its general meaning (see 1Chronicles 23:4. 2Chronicles 34:12. Ezra 3:8, 9), where it is rendered "set forward".
An examination of Psalms 5 and 11 show us that there is special emphasis on "righteous worshippers" as distinct from others. Compare 5:7, 11 with 11:1 and 7, and see the Structures of those Psalms.
XX. SHIGGAION (A crying aloud).This word occurs only in the super-scription of Psalm 7, and in the super-scription of the prayer in Habakkuk 3:1, where it is in its right place. The scope of the Psalm guides Dr. Thirtle to the choice of sha'ag, to cry aloud, in trouble, danger, or pain, and to discard shagah, which means to wander, or go astray. There is nothing in the Psalm to agree with the latter, and everything that points to the loud cry of David when he was in danger of being torn in pieces, and to the loud cries (plural) of Habakkuk: of pain in verse 16 and of praise in verse 18.
We have already seen under "GITTITH" (Number IV. above) that, as the spring and autumn were appropriately represented by flowers and fruit respectively, so lilies and winepresses were singled out from each.
¹ Yebamoth 43b. compare 53b. Yebamoth is the first of seven treatises in the third book (Nashim) which treats of the distinctive rights of men and women.
² Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews i. 12.
The Passover and Feast of Tabernacles divided the year into two fairly equal parts; the former being the spring festival and the latter the autumn.
Israel is symbolized again and again by the vine,¹ and Dr. Thirtle refers us to 2Esdras 5:23-28 (Revised Version) for the use of the lily. It is the prayer of Esdras: "O Lord That bearest rule of all the woods of the earth, and of all the trees thereof, Thou hast chosen Thy ONE VINE; and of all the lands of the world Thou hast chosen the ONE COUNTRY; and of all the flowers of the world, ONE LILY . . . ; and among all its peoples Thou hast gotten the ONE PEOPLE . . . : now, O Lord, why hast Thou given this ONE PEOPLE over unto many", etc.
Lilies and pomegranates (spring flowers and autumn fruits) were everywhere seen in the Temple (1Kings 7:20-22), and the knops (or knobs) of flowers of Exodus 25:31-34 were doubtless the same globe-like pomegranates and lilies. The Septuagint has "globes" and lilies. Compare Exodus 28:33, 34; 39:25, 26, where the "bell"-like flower is doubtless meant.
In the Jewish Prayer Book, at the Feast of Purim, Israel is spoken of as "the lily of Jacob"; and at the Feast of Dedication (Chanucha) God is praised for delivering "the standard of the lilies" (that is to say, of Israel). The Hebrew shekel had, on one side, sometimes a lamb (Passover), and, on the other side, a wine-bowl (Tabernacles).
The half-shekel had a triple lily and a wine-bowl:
Interpreters who are guided by tradition see in these lilies only "poppy heads", betokening eternal sleep! and "a round fruit" or husk from which the kernel (or spirit) has fled! Thus Babylonian and Egyptian heathenism is forced to interpret and replace Divine Biblical symbols. But we may ask in this case: "Does not the lily say, 'Here lies one of Jehovah's redeemed'? and the pomegranate, 'Here lies one safe in Jehovah's keeping'"?
Read, now, the two Shoshannim Psalms (44 and 68), and the Passover story will be seen in all its fullness and beauty.
The first of these two words refers to the Spring Festival (see under Number XXI above), the latter refers to some testimony concerning it. There is no dispute as to the 'Eduth meaning "testimony". It is one of "the ten words" found twenty-three times in Psalm 119 (see Appendix 73). But what is the "testimony" to which these two Psalms refer? It must be concerning something connected with the Spring Festival (Passover), and Dr. Thirtle sees in it the Law and the "Testimony" respecting the keeping of the Passover in the second month, when, under special circumstances, it could not be kept in the first month (see Numbers 9:10, 11, and compare 2Chronicles 30:1-3). Psalms 59 and 79 treat of enemies being then in the land, which might well have created a difficulty in keeping the Passover in the first month.
In any case, this interpretation is more reasonable, and more worthy of the dignity of the Sacred Text than the unsupported guesses as to its being the name of "a popular song", or "the name of a tune", or a choir whose President lived at Shushan.
XXIII. SONG.Is always the rendering of Shir, and denotes words that are to be sung, as distinct from Mizmor (see Number XVII above). It is joined with Mizmor thirteen times (see above). It is used by itself fifteen times (in the Songs of the degrees); and in Psalms 18 (shirah), 45 (with Maschil), and 46.
¹ Psalm 80:8. Isaiah 5:1-7; 27:2-6. Jeremiah 2:21; 12:10. Hosea 10:1, etc.
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