Psalm 83#sn Psalm 83. The psalmist asks God to deliver Israel from the attacks of foreign nations. Recalling how God defeated Israel’s enemies in the days of Deborah and Gideon, he prays that the hostile nations would be humiliated.
A song, a psalm of Asaph.
1 O God, do not be silent!
Do not ignore us!#tn Heb “do not be deaf.” Do not be inactive, O God!
2 For look, your enemies are making a commotion;
those who hate you are hostile.#tn Heb “lift up [their] head[s].” The phrase “lift up [the] head” here means “to threaten; to be hostile,” as in Judg 8:28.
3 They carefully plot#tn Heb “they make crafty a plot.” against your people,
and make plans to harm#tn Heb “and consult together against.” the ones you cherish.#tn The passive participle of the Hebrew verb צָפַן (tsafan, “to hide”) is used here in the sense of “treasured; cherished.”
4 They say, “Come on, let’s annihilate them so they are no longer a nation!#tn Heb “we will cause them to disappear from [being] a nation.”
Then the name of Israel will be remembered no more.”
5 Yes,#tn Or “for.” they devise a unified strategy;#tn Heb “they consult [with] a heart together.”
they form an alliance#tn Heb “cut a covenant.” against you.
6 It includes#tn The words “it includes” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites,#sn The Hagrites are also mentioned in 1 Chr 5:10, 19-20.
7 Gebal,#sn Some identify Gebal with the Phoenician coastal city of Byblos (see Ezek 27:9, where the name is spelled differently), though others locate this site south of the Dead Sea (see BDB 148 s.v. גְּבַל; HALOT 174 s.v. גְּבַל). Ammon, and Amalek,
Philistia and the inhabitants of Tyre.#map For location see Map1-A2; Map2-G2; Map4-A1; JP3-F3; JP4-F3.
8 Even Assyria has allied with them,
lending its strength to the descendants of Lot.#tn Heb “they are an arm for the sons of Lot.” The “arm” is here a symbol of military might.sn The descendants of Lot were the Moabites and Ammonites. (Selah)
9 Do to them as you did to Midian#tn Heb “do to them like Midian.” –
as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the Kishon River!#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).
10 They were destroyed at Endor;#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.)
their corpses were like manure#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. on the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,#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).
and all their rulers like Zebah and Zalmunna,#sn Zebah and Zalmunna were the Midianite kings. Gideon captured them and executed them (Judg 8:1-21).
12 who said,#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.” “Let’s take over#tn Heb “let’s take possession for ourselves.” the pastures of God!”
13 O my God, make them like dead thistles,#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.
like dead weeds blown away by#tn Heb “before.” the wind!
14 Like the fire that burns down the forest,
or the flames that consume the mountainsides,#sn The imagery of fire and flames suggests unrelenting, destructive judgment.
15 chase them with your gale winds,
and terrify#tn The two imperfect verbal forms in v. 15 express the psalmist’s wish or prayer. them with your windstorm.
16 Cover#tn Heb “fill.” their faces with shame,
so they might seek#tn After the preceding imperative, the prefixed verbal form with prefixed vav (ו) indicates purpose or result (“then they will seek”). you,#tn Heb “your name,” which stands here for God’s person. O Lord.
17 May they be humiliated and continually terrified!#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.
May they die in shame!#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 Then they will know#tn After the preceding jussives (v. 17), the prefixed verbal form with prefixed vav (ו) indicates purpose (“so that they may know”) or result. that you alone are the Lord,#tn Heb “that you, your name [is] the Lord, you alone.”
the sovereign king#tn Traditionally “the Most High.” over all the earth.