on Psalms 22 :16
For dogs have compassed me - This may refer to the Gentiles, the Roman soldiers, and others by whom our Lord was surrounded in his trial, and at his cross.
They pierced my hands and my feet - The other sufferings David, as a type of our Lord, might pass through; but the piercing of the hands and feet was peculiar to our Lord; therefore, this verse may pass for a direct revelavion. Our Lord's hands and feet were pierced when he was nailed to the cross, David's never were pierced.
But there is a various reading here which is of great importance. Instead of כארו caaru, they pierced, which is what is called the kethib, or marginal reading, and which our translators have followed; the keri or textual reading is כארי caari, as a lion. In support of each reading there are both MSS. and eminent critics. The Chaldee has, "Biting as a lion my hands and my feet;" but the Syriac, Vulgate, Septuagint, Ethiopic, and Arabic read, "they pierced or digged;" and in the Anglo-Saxon the words translate: "They dalve (digged) hands mine, and feet mine."
The Complutensian Polyglot has כארו caaru, they digged or pierced, in the text; for which it gives כרה carah, to cut, dig, or penetrate, in the margin, as the root whence כארו is derived. But the Polyglots of Potken, Antwerp, Paris. and London, have כארי caari in the text; and כארו caaru is referred to in the margin; and this is the case with the most correct Hebrew Bibles. The whole difference here lies between י yod and ו vau. which might easily be mistaken for each other; the former making like a lion; the latter, they pierced. The latter is to me most evidently the true reading.
on Psalms 22 :16
For dogs have compassed me - Men who resemble dogs; harsh, snarling, fierce, ferocious. See Philippians 3:2, note; and Revelation 22:15, note. No one can doubt that this is applicable to the Redeemer.
The assembly of the wicked have enclosed me - That is, they have surrounded me; they have come around me on all sides so that I might not escape. So they surrounded the Redeemer in the garden of Gethsemane when they arrested him and bound him; so they surrounded him when on his trial before the Sanhedrin and before Pilate; and so they surrounded him on the cross.
They pierced my hands and my feet - This passage is attended with more difficulty than perhaps any other part of the psalm. It is remarkable that it is nowhere quoted or referred to in the New Testament as applicable to the Saviour; and it is no less remarkable that there is no express statement in the actual history of the crucifixion that either the hands or the feet of the Saviour were pierced, or that he was nailed to the cross at all. This was not necessarily implied in the idea of crucifixion, for the hands and the feet were sometimes merely bound to the cross by cords, and the sufferer was allowed to linger on the cross thus suspended until he died from mere exhaustion. There can be no doubt, however, that the common mode of crucifixion was to nail the hands to the transverse beam of the cross, and the feet to the upright part of it. See the description of the crucifixion in the notes at Matthew 27:31-32. Thus, Tertullian, speaking of the sufferings of Christ, and applying this passage to his death, says that "this was the special or proper - "propria" - severity of the cross." Adv. Marcionem, iii. 19, ed. Wurtz, I. p. 403. See Hengstenberg's Christology, 1,139. The great difficulty in this passage is in the word rendered in our version, "they pierced" - כארי kâ'ăriy. It occurs only in one other place, Isaiah 38:13, where it means as a lion. This would undoubtedly be the most natural interpretation of the word here, unless there were good reasons for setting it aside; and not a few have endeavored to show that this is the true rendering. According to this interpretation, the passage would mean, "As lions, they (that is, my enemies) surround (gape upon) my hands and my feet; that is, they threaten to tear my limbs to pieces." Gesenius, Lexicon. This interpretation is also that of Aben Ezra, Ewald, Paulus, and others. But, whatever may be the true explanation, there are very serious objections to this one.
(a) It is difficult to make sense of the passage if this is adopted. The preceding word, rendered in our version "enclosed," can mean only "surrounded" or "encompassed," and it is difficult to see how it could be said that a lion could "surround" or "encompass" "the hands and the feet." At all events, such an interpretation would be harsh and unusual.
(b) According to this interpretation the word "me" - "enclosed me" - would be superfluous; since the idea would be, "they enclose or surround my hands and my feet."
(c) All the ancient interpreters have taken the word here to be a verb, and in all the ancient versions it is rendered as if it were a verb.
Even in the Masorah Parva it is said that the word here is to be taken in a different sense from what it has in Isaiah 38:13, where it plainly means a lion. Gesenius admits that all the ancient interpreters have taken this as a verb, and says that it is "certainly possible" that it may be so. He says that it may be regarded as a participle formed in the Aramaic manner (from כוּר kûr), and in the plural number for כארים kâ'ăriym, and says that in this way it would be properly rendered, "piercing, my hands and my feet;" that is, as he says, "my enemies, who are understood in the dogs." From such high authority, and from the uniform mode of interpreting the word among the ancients, it may be regarded as morally certain that the word is a verb, and that it is not to be rendered, as in Isaiah 38:13, "as a lion." The material question is, What does the verb mean? The verb - כוּר kûr - properly means "to dig, to bore through, to pierce."
Thus used, according to Gesenius, it would mean "piercing;" and if the word used here is a verb, he supposes that it would refer to the enemies of David as wounding him, or piercing him, "with darts and weapons." He maintains that it is applicable to David literally, and he sees no reason to refer it to the Messiah. But, if so, it is natural to ask why "the hands" and "the feet" are mentioned. Certainly it is not usual for darts and spears thrown by an enemy to injure the hands or the feet particularly; nor is it customary to refer to the hands or the feet when describing the effects produced by the use of those weapons. If the reference were to the enemies of David as wounding him with darts and spears, it would be much more natural to refer to the body in general, without specifying any of the particular members of the body. DeWette renders it "fesseln" - "they bind my hands and my feet."
He remarks, however, in a note, that according to the ancient versions, and the codices of Kennicott and DeRossi, it means durchbohren - bore through. Aquila, Symmachus, and Jerome in five codices, says he, render it bind. The Septuagint renders it ὥρυξαν ōruxan - "they pierced." The Latin Vulgate the same, "foderunt." See the Syriac. For these reasons it seems to me that the common rendering is the true one, and that the meaning is, that, in some proper sense, the enemies here referred to "pierced or bored through" the hands and the feet of the sufferer. Evidently this could not be literally applied to David, for there is not the least authority for supposing that this ever happened to him; nor, as has been shown, was such a thing probable. A casual dart, or the stroke of a spear, might indeed strike the hand or the foot; but it would be unusual and remarkable if they should strike those members of the body and leave the other parts uninjured, so as to make this a matter for special notice; and even if they did strike those parts, it would be every way unlikely that they would "pierce them, or bore them through."
Such an event would be so improbable that we may assume that it did not occur, unless there was the most decisive evidence of the fact. Nor is there the least probability that the enemies of David would pierce his hands and feet deliberately and of design. I say nothing in regard to the fact that they never had him in their possession so that they could do it; it is sufficient to say that this was not a mode of punishing one who was taken captive in war. Conquerors killed their captives; they made them pass under yokes; they put them under saws and harrows of iron (compare 2 Samuel 12:31; 1 Chronicles 20:3); but there is not the slightest evidence that they ever tortured captives in war by piercing the hands and the feet. But, as has been remarked above, there is every reason to believe that this was the ordinary mode of crucifixion. I conclude, therefore, that this must have had original reference to the Messiah. It is no objection to the interpretation that this passage is not expressly referred to as having been fulfilled in the Redeemer, for there are undoubtedly many passages in the prophets which refer to the Messiah, which are not formally applied to him in the New Testament. To make it certain that the prophecy referred to him, and was fulfilled in him, it is not necessary that we should find on record an actual application of the passage to him. All that is necessary in the case is, that it should be a prophecy; that it should have been spoken before the event; and that to him it should be fairly applicable.
on Psalms 22 :16
22:16 Dogs - So he calls his enemies for their insatiable greediness, and implacable fierceness against him. Pierced - These words cannot with any probability be applied to David, but were properly and literally verified in Christ.