68:14 When the sovereign judge 1 scatters kings, 2
let it snow 3 on Zalmon!
68:30 Sound your battle cry 4 against the wild beast of the reeds, 5
and the nations that assemble like a herd of calves led by bulls! 6
They humble themselves 7 and offer gold and silver as tribute. 8
1 tn The divine name used here is שַׁדַּי (“Shaddai”). Shaddai/El Shaddai is the sovereign king/judge of the world who grants life, blesses and kills, and judges. In Genesis he blesses the patriarchs with fertility and promises numerous descendants. Outside Genesis he both blesses (protects) and takes away life and/or happiness.
2 tn The Hebrew text adds “in it.” The third feminine singular pronominal suffix may refer back to God’s community/dwelling place (v. 10).
3 tn The verb form appears to be a Hiphil jussive from שָׁלַג (shalag), which is usually understood as a denominative verb from שֶׁלֶג (sheleg, “snow”) with an indefinite subject. The form could be taken as a preterite, in which case one might translate, “when the sovereign judge scattered kings, it snowed on Zalmon” (cf. NIV, NRSV). The point of the image is unclear. Perhaps “snow” suggests fertility and blessing (see v. 9 and Isa 55:10), or the image of a snow-capped mountain suggests grandeur.
sn Zalmon was apparently a mountain in the region, perhaps the one mentioned in Judg 9:46 as being in the vicinity of Shechem.
4 tn The Hebrew verb גָּעַר (ga’ar) is often understood to mean “rebuke.” In some cases it is apparent that scolding or threatening is in view (see Gen 37:10; Ruth 2:16; Zech 3:2). However, in militaristic contexts such as Ps 68 this translation is inadequate, for the verb refers in this setting to the warrior’s battle cry, which terrifies and paralyzes the enemy. See A. Caquot, TDOT 3:53, and note the use of the verb in Ps 106:9 and Nah 1:4, as well as the related noun in Job 26:11; Pss 18:15; 76:6; 104:7; Isa 50:2; 51:20; 66:15.
5 sn The wild beast of the reeds probably refers to a hippopotamus, which in turn symbolizes the nation of Egypt.
6 tn Heb “an assembly of bulls, with calves of the nations.”
7 tn Heb “humbling himself.” The verb form is a Hitpael participle from the root רָפַס (rafas, “to trample”). The Hitpael of this verb appears only here and in Prov 6:3, where it seems to mean, “humble oneself,” a nuance that fits nicely in this context. The apparent subject is “wild beast” or “assembly,” though both of these nouns are grammatically feminine, while the participle is a masculine form. Perhaps one should emend the participial form to a masculine plural (מִתְרַפִּם, mitrapim) and understand “bulls” or “calves” as the subject.
8 tc Heb “with pieces [?] of silver.” The meaning of the Hebrew term רַצֵּי (ratsey) is unclear. It is probably best to emend the text to בֶּצֶר וְכָסֶף (betser vÿkhasef, “[with] gold and silver”).
9 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
10 tn The verb בָּזַר (bazar) is an alternative form of פָּזַר (pazar, “scatter”).