2 Samuel 22:11-12

22:11 He mounted a winged angel and flew;

he glided on the wings of the wind.

22:12 He shrouded himself in darkness,

in thick rain clouds.

2 Samuel 22:14

22:14 The Lord thundered from the sky;

the sovereign One shouted loudly.

tn Or “rode upon.”

tn Heb “a cherub” (so KJV, NAB, NRSV); NIV “the cherubim” (plural); TEV “his winged creature”; CEV “flying creatures.”

sn A winged angel. Cherubs, as depicted in the Old Testament, possess both human and animal (lion, ox, and eagle) characteristics (see Ezek 1:10; 10:14, 21; 41:18). They are pictured as winged creatures (Exod 25:20; 37:9; 1 Kgs 6:24-27; Ezek 10:8, 19) and serve as the very throne of God when the ark of the covenant is in view (Pss 80:1; 99:1; see Num 7:89; 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; 2 Kgs 19:15). The picture of the Lord seated on the cherubs suggests they might be used by him as a vehicle, a function they carry out in Ezek 1:22-28 (the “living creatures” mentioned here are identified as cherubs in Ezek 10:20). In Ps 18:10 the image of a cherub serves to personify the wind (see the next line).

tc The translation follows very many medieval Hebrew mss in reading וַיֵּדֶא (vayyÿde’, “and he glided”; cf. NIV “soared”; NCV “raced”) rather than MT וַיֵּרָא (vayyera’, “and he appeared,” so NASB, CEV). See as well the Syriac Peshitta, Targum, Vulgate, and the parallel version in Ps 18:10, which preserves the original reading (see the note there).

sn The wings of the wind. Verse 10 may depict the Lord mounting a cherub, which is in turn propelled by the wind current. Another option is that two different vehicles (a cherub and the wind) are envisioned. A third option is that the wind is personified as a cherub. For a discussion of ancient Near Eastern parallels to the imagery in v. 10, see M. Weinfeld, “‘Rider of the Clouds’ and ‘Gatherer of the Clouds’,” JANESCU 5 (1973): 422-24.

tc Heb “he made darkness around him coverings.” The parallel text in Ps 18:11 reads “he made darkness his hiding place around him, his covering.” 2 Sam 22:12 omits “his hiding place” and pluralizes “covering.” Ps 18:11 may include a conflation of synonyms (“his hiding place” and “his covering” ) or 2 Sam 22:12 may be the result of haplography/homoioarcton. Note that three successive words in Ps 18:11 begin with the letter ס (samek): סִתְרוֹ סְבִיבוֹתָיו סֻכָּתוֹ (sitro sÿvyvotav sukkato).

tc Heb “a sieve of water, clouds of clouds.” The form חַשְׁרַת (khashrat) is a construct of חַשְׁרָה (khashrah, “sieve”), which occurs only here in the OT. A cognate Ugaritic noun means “sieve,” and a related verb חשׁר (“to sift”) is attested in postbiblical Hebrew and Aramaic (see HALOT 363 s.v. *חשׁר). The phrase חַשְׁרַת־מַיִם (khashrat-mayim) means literally “a sieve of water.” It pictures the rain clouds as a sieve through which the rain falls to the ground. (See F. M. Cross and D. N. Freedman, Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry, 146, note 33.)

tn The shortened theme vowel indicates that the prefixed verbal form is a preterite.

tn Heb “the Most High.” This divine title (עֶלְיוֹן, ’elyon) pictures God as the exalted ruler of the universe who vindicates the innocent and judges the wicked. See especially Ps 47:2.

tn Heb “offered his voice.” In this poetic narrative context the prefixed verbal form is best understood as a preterite indicating past tense, not an imperfect. Note the preterite form in the preceding line. The text of Ps 18:13 adds at this point, “hail and coals of fire.” These words are probably accidentally added from v. 12b; they do not appear in 2 Sam 22:14.

sn Thunder is a common motif in Old Testament theophanies and in ancient Near Eastern portrayals of the storm god and warring kings. See R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 179-83.