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Psalms 83:9-18

Context

83:9 Do to them as you did to Midian 1 

as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the Kishon River! 2 

83:10 They were destroyed at Endor; 3 

their corpses were like manure 4  on the ground.

83:11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, 5 

and all their rulers like Zebah and Zalmunna, 6 

83:12 who said, 7  “Let’s take over 8  the pastures of God!”

83:13 O my God, make them like dead thistles, 9 

like dead weeds blown away by 10  the wind!

83:14 Like the fire that burns down the forest,

or the flames that consume the mountainsides, 11 

83:15 chase them with your gale winds,

and terrify 12  them with your windstorm.

83:16 Cover 13  their faces with shame,

so they might seek 14  you, 15  O Lord.

83:17 May they be humiliated and continually terrified! 16 

May they die in shame! 17 

83:18 Then they will know 18  that you alone are the Lord, 19 

the sovereign king 20  over all the earth.

1 tn Heb “do to them like Midian.”

2 sn The psalmist alludes here to Gideon’s victory over the Midianites (see Judg 7-8) and to Barak’s victory over Jabin’s army, which was led by his general Sisera (Judg 4-5).

3 sn Endor is not mentioned in the accounts of Gideon’s or Barak’s victories, but both battles took place in the general vicinity of the town. (See Y. Aharoni and M. Avi-Yonah, The Macmillan Bible Atlas, 46, 54.) Because Sisera and Jabin are mentioned in v. 9b, many understand them to be the subject of the verbs in v. 10, though they relate v. 10 to Gideon’s victory, which is referred to in v. 9a, 11. (See, for example, Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible, 263.)

4 tn Heb “they were manure.” In addition to this passage, corpses are compared to manure in 2 Kgs 9:37; Jer 8:2; 9:21; 16:4; 25:33.

5 sn Oreb and Zeeb were the generals of the Midianite army that was defeated by Gideon. The Ephraimites captured and executed both of them and sent their heads to Gideon (Judg 7:24-25).

6 sn Zebah and Zalmunna were the Midianite kings. Gideon captured them and executed them (Judg 8:1-21).

7 tn The translation assumes that “Zebah and Zalmunna” are the antecedents of the relative pronoun (“who [said]”). Another option is to take “their nobles…all their rulers” as the antecedent and to translate, “those who say.”

8 tn Heb “let’s take possession for ourselves.”

9 tn Or “tumbleweed.” The Hebrew noun גַּלְגַּל (galgal) refers to a “wheel” or, metaphorically, to a whirling wind (see Ps 77:18). If taken in the latter sense here, one could understand the term as a metonymical reference to dust blown by a whirlwind (cf. NRSV “like whirling dust”). However, HALOT 190 s.v. II גַּלְגַּל understands the noun as a homonym referring to a “dead thistle” here and in Isa 17:13. The parallel line, which refers to קַשׁ (qash, “chaff”), favors this interpretation.

10 tn Heb “before.”

11 sn The imagery of fire and flames suggests unrelenting, destructive judgment.

12 tn The two imperfect verbal forms in v. 15 express the psalmist’s wish or prayer.

13 tn Heb “fill.”

14 tn After the preceding imperative, the prefixed verbal form with prefixed vav (ו) indicates purpose or result (“then they will seek”).

15 tn Heb “your name,” which stands here for God’s person.

16 tn Heb “and may they be terrified to perpetuity.” The Hebrew expression עֲדֵי־עַד (’adey-ad, “to perpetuity”) can mean “forevermore” (see Pss 92:7; 132:12, 14), but here it may be used hyperbolically, for the psalmist asks that the experience of judgment might lead the nations to recognize (v. 18) and even to seek (v. 16) God.

17 tn Heb “may they be ashamed and perish.” The four prefixed verbal forms in this verse are understood as jussives. The psalmist concludes his prayer with an imprecation, calling severe judgment down on his enemies. The strong language of the imprecation seems to run contrary to the positive outcome of divine judgment envisioned in v. 16b. Perhaps the language of v. 17 is overstated for effect. Another option is that v. 16b expresses an ideal, while the strong imprecation of vv. 17-18 anticipates reality. It would be nice if the defeated nations actually pursued a relationship with God, but if judgment does not bring them to that point, the psalmist asks that they be annihilated so that they might at least be forced to acknowledge God’s power.

18 tn After the preceding jussives (v. 17), the prefixed verbal form with prefixed vav (ו) indicates purpose (“so that they may know”) or result.

19 tn Heb “that you, your name [is] the Lord, you alone.”

20 tn Traditionally “the Most High.”



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