on Psalms 68 :13
Though ye have lien among the pots - The prophet is supposed here to address the tribes of Reuben and Gad, who remained in their inheritances, occupied with agricultural, maritime, and domestic affairs, when the other tribes were obliged to go against Jabin, and the other Canaanitish kings. Ye have been thus occupied, while your brethren sustained a desperate campaign; but while you are inglorious, they obtained the most splendid victory, and dwell under those rich tents which they have taken from the enemy; coverings of the most beautiful colors, adorned with gold and silver. The words בירקרק חרוץ birakrak charuts, native gold, so exceedingly and splendidly yellow as to approach to greenness - from ירק yarak, to be green; and the doubling of the last syllable denotes an exeess in the denomination - excessively green - blistering green. The Targum gives us a curious paraphrase of this and the following verse: "If ye, O ye kings, slept among your halls, the congregation of Israel, which is like a dove covered with the clouds of glory, divided the prey of the Egyptians, purified silver, and coffers full of the finest gold. And when it stretched out its hands in prayer over the sea, the Almighty cast down kingdoms; and for its sake cooled hell like snow, and snatched it from the shadow of death." Perhaps the Romanists got some idea of purgatory here. For the sake of the righteous, the flames of hell are extinguished!
on Psalms 68 :13
Though ye have lien among the pots - There are few passages in the Bible more difficult of interpretation than this verse and the following. Our translators seem to have supposed that the whole refers to the ark, considered as having been neglected, or as having been suffered to remain among the common vessels of the tabernacle, until it became like those vessels in appearance - that is, until its brilliancy had become tarnished by neglect, or by want of being cleaned and furbished - yet that it would be again like the wings of a dove covered with silver, as it had been formerly, and pure like the whitest snow. But it is not certain, if it is probable, that this is the meaning. Prof. Alexander renders it, "When ye lie down between the borders (ye shall be like) the wings of a dove covered with silver;" that is, "when the land had rest," or was restored to a state of tranquility.
DeWette renders it, "When ye rest between the cattle-stalls:" expressing the same idea, that of quiet repose as among the herds of cattle lying calmly down to rest. The Septuagint renders it, "Though you may have slept in kitchens." The words rendered" Though ye have lien" mean literally, "If you have lain," alluding to some act or state of lying down quietly or calmly. The verb is in the plural number, but it is not quite clear what it refers to. There is apparently much confusion of number in the passage. The word rendered "pots" - שׁפתים shephathayim - in the dual form, occurs only in this place and in Ezekiel 40:43, where it is translated hooks (margin, end-irons, or the two hearth-stones). Gesenius renders it here "stalls," that is, folds for cattle, and supposes that in Ezekiel it denotes places in the temple-court, where the victims for sacrifice were fastened. Tholuck renders it, "When you shall again rest within your stone-borders (that is, within the limits of your own country, or within your own borders), ye shall be like the wings of a dove." For other interpretations of the passage, see Rosenmuller in loc. I confess that none of these explanations of the passage seem to me to be satisfactory, and that I cannot understand it. The wonder is not, however, that, in a book so large as the Bible, and written in a remote age, and in a language which has long ceased to be a spoken language, there should be here and there a passage which cannot now be made clear, but that there should be so few of that description. There is no ancient book that has not more difficulties of this kind than the Hebrew Scriptures:
Yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver ... - The phrase "yet shall ye be" is not in the original. The image here is simply one of beauty. The allusion is to the changeable colors of the plumage of a dove, now seeming to be bright silver, and then, as the rays of light fall on it in another direction, to be yellow as gold. If the allusion is to the ark, considered as having been laid aside among the ordinary vessels of the tabernacle, and having become dark and dingy by neglect, then the meaning would be, that, when restored to its proper place, and with the proper degree of attention and care bestowed upon it, it would become a most beautiful object. If the allusion is to the people of the land considered either as lying down in dishonor, as if among filth, or as lying down calmly and quietly as the beasts do in their stalls, or as peacefully reposing within their natural limits or borders, then the meaning would be, that the spectacle would be most beautiful. The varied tints of loveliness in the land - the gardens, the farms, the flowers, the fruits, the vineyards, the orchards, the villages, the towns, the cheerful homes - would be like the dove - the emblem of calmness - so beautiful in the variety and the changeableness of its plumage. The comparison of a beautiful and variegated country with a dove is not a very obvious one, and yet, in this view, it would not be wholly unnatural. It is not easy always to vindicate philosophically the images used in poetry; nor is it always easy for a Western mind to see the reasons of the images employed by an Oriental poet. It seems probable that the comparison of the land (considered as thus variegated in its beauty) with the changing beauties of the plumage of the dove is the idea intended to be conveyed by this verse; but it is not easy to make it out on strictly exegetical or philological principles.
on Psalms 68 :13