C. G. (Claude Goldsmid) Montefiore.

The Bible for home reading online

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meaning and character has not gone nearly so far as in that of
the later law-book.

Moreover, as the same high authority points out, the religious
superiority of the later writer shows itself also in its freer, more
optimistic spirit. The stories of the earlier chronicle reveal


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a peculiar sombre eamestneBs; God is unwilling to allow man
to come too near him : there is a distinct indication of the heathen
idea of the divine jealousy. In the later law-book all this has
quite disappeared ; * here man no longer feels himself under
a curse^ but allied to God and free, as lord of nature.'

§ 20. That loftier conception of man as lord over nature, which
Prof. Wellhausen sees reflected in the later law-book, finds poetical
expression in a beautiful psalm.

Lord our Lord,

How glorious is thy name in all the earthy

Who hast set thy majesty upon the heavens !

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou
founded a power

Because of thine enemies,

That thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider thy heavens^ the work of thy fingera.

The moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained ;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him ?

And the son of man^ that thou visitest him ?

For thou hast made him but little lower than the angels^

And hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy
hands ;

Thou hast put all things under his feet :

All sheep and oxen,

Yea, and the beasts of the field ;

The birds of the air^ and the fish of the sea,

And whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

O Lord our Lord,

How glorious is thy name in all the earth !

The words ^ out of the mouth ' down to ' the avenger * are not
very clear. They probably mean that the praises of humble
Israelites are a power which will at last silence and quench the
unbelief of the heathen.

§ a I. We have heard of God's relation to outward nature in the
stories of creation and the flood. Let us now, before ending our
book, hear of that relation from a more poetical and also (as
I think) more religious point of view, in some few chosen lyrics
of the Psalter. (Of the Psalter itself and how it was formed I shall
have more to say in my second volume.)


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Here is vrhai Pro£ Cfaeyne calls 'a stonn piece' — ^a noble
specimen of pandlelism and a poetical gem of purest ray/ The
thunder is poetically regaided as the voice <tf Ghod.

Give unto the Lord, O ye angels.

Give unto the Lord glory and strength.

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name;

Worship the Lord in holy array.

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters :

The God of glory thundereth :

The Lord is upon great waters.

The voice of the Lord in power !

The voice of the Lord in majesty !

The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars ;

Yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

He maketh them also to skip like a calf;

Lebanon and Sirion like a young antelope.

The voice of the Lord cleaveth out the names of fire ;

The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness ;

The Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord pierceth the oaks^

And fltrippeth the forests bare ;

While in his palace all are saying. Glory.

The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood ;

Yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever.

The Lord will give strength unto his people ;

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

A 'sea piece' may match the 'storm piece'; but in the sea
piece the * stream s ' are probably symboUcaL They typify the
turbulent nations, who (because to the Psalmist the enemies of
Israel are dangerously near to being identical with the enemies of
God) vainly hurl their onset against the world-ruler s throne.

The Lord hath become King, he hath clothed himself with
majesty ;

The Lord hath clothed himself, he hath girded himself
with strength :

He hath made fast the world, that it cannot be moved.

Thy throne is established of old :

Thou art from everlasting.

The streams have lifted up, O Lord,

The streams have lifted up their voice;

The streams lift up their roaring.


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Than the voices of many waters^
Mighty waters^ breakers of the sea^
More mighty is the Lord on high.
Thy testimonies are very faithful :
Holiness becometh thine house^

Lord^ for ever.

To pure Hebrew monotheism the heavens told only the glory of
their Creator, as in the following psalm fragment.

The heavens declare the glory of God ;

And the firmament telleth his handywork.

Day unto day poureth out speech^

And night unto night proclaimeth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language^

Their voice cannot be heard.

Their voice is gone out through all the earthy

And their words to the end of the world.

In them hath he set a tent for the sun^

Who is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.

And rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

From one end of the heavens is his going forth.

And his circuit unto the ends of it :

And there is nothing hid from his heat.

The pious Hebrew looks for help not from Nature, but from
Nature's Ruler and Lord.

1 lift up mine eyes unto the hills :
From whence cometh my help ?
My help cometh from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved :

He that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel

Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper :

The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand*

The sun shall not smite thee by day,

Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall keep thee from all evil :

He shall keep thy soul.

The Lord shall keep thy going out and thy coming in

From this time forth, and even for evermore.


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§ 22. Sometimes (as in many passages of the Second Isaudi)
Nature is called upon to take part in the rejoicing of Israel, and
in its praise of him who is the common Qod both of Nature and of
Man. What great triumph of Israel and Israel's cause the next
two psalms celebrate is not certain. It may be the return from
Babylon ; it may be the successful issue of the Maccabean revolt of
which we shall hear in the second volume.

O sing unto the Lord a new song :

Sing unto the Lord, all the earth.

Sing unto the Lord, bless his name ;

Proclaim his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the heathen.

His wonders among all peoples.

For the Jjord is great, and greatly to be praised :

He is to be feared above all gods.

For all the gods of the nations are things of nought :

But the Lord made the heavens.

Splendour and majesty are before him :

Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Give unto the Lord, O ye families of the peoples.

Give unto the Lord glory and strength.

Give unto the Lord the glory due uitto his name :

Bring an offering, and come into his courts.

O worship the Lord in holy adornment :

Fear before him, all the earth.

Say among the nations. The Lord hath become king;

He hath made fast the world that it shall not be moved :

He shall judge the peoples righteously.

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;

Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.

Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein :

Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the
Lord : for he cometh.

For he cometh to judge the earth ;

He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the
peoples with his truth.

O sing unto the Lord a new song ;
For he hath done marvellous things :
His right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the

The Lord hath made known his salvation :


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His righteousness hath he revealed in the sight of the

He hath remembered his lovingkindness and his faithful-
ness unto the house of Israel :

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord^ all the earth :

Make a loud noise^ and rejoice^ and sing praise.

Sing unto the Lord with the harp ;

With the harp^ and the sound of song.

With trumpets and sound of cornet

Make a joyful noise before the Lord^ the King.

Let the sea roar^ and the fulness thereof ;

The world, and they that dwell therein.

Let the floods clap their hands :

Let the hills be joyful together before the Lord; for he
Cometh to judge the earth :

With righteousness shall he judge the world.

And the peoples with equity.

Praise ye the Lord :
For it is good to sing praises unto him.
Praise is comely unto our God.
The Lord buildeth up Jerusalem :
He gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.
He healeth the broken in heart.
And bindeth up their wounds.
He telleth the number of the stars ;
He calleth them all by their names.
Great is our Lord, and of great power :
His understanding is infinite.
The Lord lifteth up the meek :
He casteth the wicked down to the ground.
Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving ;
Sing praise upon the harp unto our God.
He covereth the heaven with clouds.
He prepareth rain for the earth.
He maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.
He giveth to the beast its food.
And to the young ravens which cry.
He delighteth not in the strength of the horse :
He taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.



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The Lord taketb pleasure in them that fear him^

In those that hope in his mercy.

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem ;

Praise thy God, O Zion.

For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates ;

He hath blessed thy children within thee.

He maketh peace in thy borders.

And fiUeth thee with the finest of the wheat.

He sendeth forth his commandment to the earth :

His word runneth very swiftly.

He giveth snow like wool :

He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.

He casteth forth his ice like morsels :

Who can stand before his cold ?

He sendeth out his word, and melteth them :

He causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.

He sheweth his word unto Jacob,

His statutes alid his judgements unto Israel.

He hath not dealt so with any nation :

He hath not made known to them his judgements.

Praise ye the Lord.

Praise ye the Lord.

Praise ye the Lord from the heavens :

Praise him in the heights.

Praise ye him, all his angels :

Praise ye him, all his hosts.

Praise ye him, sun and moon :

Praise him, all ye stars of light.

Praise him, ye heavens of heavens.

And ye waters that are above the heavens*

Let them praise the name of the Lord :

For he commanded, and they were created.

He hath also stablished them for ever and ever :

He hath made a decree which they cannot overstep.

Praise the Lord from the earth.

Ye sea-monsters and all deeps :

Fire and hail ; snow and vapours ;

Stormy wind fulfilling his word :

Mountains and all hills ;

Fruitful trees and all cedars :

Beasts and all cattle ;


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Creeping things and winged birds :

Kings of the earth and all peoples ;

Princes^ and all judges of the earth :

Both young men and maidens ;

Old men and children :

Let them praise the name of the Lord :

For his name alone is exalted ;

His glory is above the earth and heaven.

And he hath raised up a horn for his people^

To the praise of all his loving ones;

Even of the children of Israel, the people near unto him.

Praise ye the Lord.

§ 23. A later Jewish writer expanded this last psalm into the
following beautiful song of praise. This song is not in the Bible,
though perchance it was not written many years after the Biblical
period had closed. We have it only in Greek, (in a collection
of religious and historical writings known as tlie Apocrypha), but
it may have been^ and probably was, originally written in Hebrew.

O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever*
O ye heavens, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye angels of the Lord, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye waters that are above the heavens, bless ye the

Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye hosts of the Lord, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye sun and moon, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye stars of heaven, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O every shower and dew, bless ye the Lord.
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye winds, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye fire and warmth, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye cold and heat, bless ye the Lord :

Qq 9


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Praise and ^xalt him above all for ever.
O ye dew^ and storms of snow^ bless ye the Lord :
Praise aiid exalt him above all for ever.
O ye nights and days^ bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye light and darkness, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye ice and cold, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye frost and snow, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye lightnings and clouds, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O let the earth bless the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye mountains and hills, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye things that grow on the earth, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye fountains, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye seas and rivers, bless ye the Lord :
Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye sea-monsters, and all that move in the waters, bless
ye the Lord :

Praise and exalt him above all for ever.

O all ye birds of the air, bless ye the Lord :

Praise and exalt him above all for ever.

O all ye beasts and cattle, bless ye the Lord :

Praise and exalt him above all for ever.

O ye children of men, bless ye the Lord :

Praise and exalt him above all for ever.

O Israel, bless ye the Lord :

Praise and exalt him above all for ever.

O ye priests of the Lord, bless ye the Lord :

Praise and exalt him above all for ever.

O ye ministers of the Lord, bless ye the Lord :

Praise and exalt him above all for ever.

O ye spirits and souls of the righteous, bless ye the Lord :

Praise and exalt him above all for ever.

O ye holy and humble in heart, bless ye the Lord :

Praise and exalt him above all for ever.


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§ 24. The following psalm is ' a song of praise, composed in the
spring, when the pastures were already green, the meadows clothed
with flocks, and the valleys covered with swelling com. Not long
before a great national deliverance had probably occurred, but this
is not directly mentioned. The most prominent blessings in the
psalmist's mind are the early and the latter rain/ Beautiful as
the psalm is, it is also by no means easy, but I fear I must leave
its difficulties unexplained, for this book does not supply the place
of a commentary.

Praise is fitting for thee^ O God, in Sion :

And unto thee men pay their vows.

O thou that hearest prayer.

Unto thee doth all flesh come«

Iniquities had overcome us ;

But thou pardonest our transgressions.

Happy is the man whom thou choosest.

And causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in
thy courts :

That we may be satisfied with the goodness of thy house.

Even of thy holy temple.

By terrible deeds of righteousness dost thou answer us,

O God of our salvation ;

Who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and
of the nations that are afar :

Who by thy strength settest fast the mountains ;

Being girded with power :

Who stillest the noise of the seas.

The noise of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples ;

So that they who dwell in the uttermost parts are afraid at
thy tokens :

Thou makest the risings of the morning and evening to

Thou hast visited the earth, and watered it :

Thou greatly enrichest it with

The river of God, which is full of water :

Thou preparest it for the com ;

Thou waterest the furrows thereof abundantly; thou
crushest its clods :

Thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the
springing thereof.

Thou hast crowned the year of thy goodness;

And thy paths drop fatness.


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Yea, the pastures of the prairie do drop ;
And the hills gird themselves with joy.
The meadows are clothed with flocks ;
The valleys are covered with corn ;
They shout for joy, they also sing.

§ 25. We have already seen how the praise of God is manifested
both by his relation to Man (and more especially to Israel) and by
his relation to Nature. There are two iamous psalms, of which
the first deals with the former aspect of God, the second with the
latter. These two psalms are very probably by one and the same
author. The second is perhaps the most beautiful of all the
'nature' psalms now included in the Psalter. Note that the
conception of man in the first psalm seems sadder than that in
the psalm quoted on p. 589. In this psalm, as in very many
others, the speaker is not an individual ; the * I ' is the personified
community, or the people of Israel. The psalm is national or

Bless the Lord, O my soul :
And all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all his benefits :
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities.
And healeth all thy diseases ;
Who redeemeth thy life from the pit,
And crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender
mercies ;

Who satisfieth thy soul with good things.

So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The Lord executeth righteousness

And judgement for all that are oppressed.

He made known his ways unto Moses,

His acts unto the children of IsraeL

The Lord is merciful and gracious,

Slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

He will not always chide :

Neither vrill he keep his anger for ever.

He hath not dealt with us after our sins ;

Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

For as the heaven is high above the earth.

So great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

As far as the east is from the west.


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So far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Like as a father pitieth his children,

So the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

For he knoweth our frame ;

He remembereth that we are dust.

As for man, his days are as grass :

As a flower of the fields so he flourisheth.

For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone ;

And the place thereof shall know it no more.

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to ever-
lasting upon them that fear him^

And his righteousness unto children's children ;

To such as keep his covenant^

And to those that remember his commandments to do

The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens ;

And his kingdom ruleth over all.

Bless the Lord, ye his angels^

That excel in strength, that do his commandments.

Hearkening unto the voice of his word.

Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts ;

Ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.

Bless the Lord, all his works

In all places of his dominion :

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

In the next psalm note the poet's use of the later creation story.
After God has formed the earth with its hills and valleys, they are
at first still covered with the waters of the great primaeval deep,
which ' stand above the mountains/ At the word of the creator the
hills emerge, and the valleys become visible at the bottom.

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

O Lord my God, thou art very great ;

Thou art clothed with splendour and majesty.

Thou coverest thyself with light as with a garment :

Thou stretchest out the heavens like a curtain :

Thou layest the beams of thy chambers in the waters :

Thou makest the clouds thy chariot :

Thou walkest upon the wings of the wind :

Thou makest winds thy messengers ;

Flaming fire thy ministers.

Thou hast fixed the foundations of the earth.


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That it should not be moved for ever.
Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment :
The waters stood above the mountains.
At thy rebuke they fled ;

At the voice of thy thunder they hasted away —
The mountains rose, the valleys sank —
Unto the place which thou hadst founded for them.
Thou didst set a bound that they may not pass over;
That they turn not again to cover the earth.
He sendeth forth springs into the valleys^
They flow between the hills.
They give drink to every beast of the field :
The wild asses quench their thirst.
The trees of the Lord are full ;
The cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted.
There the birds make their nests :
As for the stork, the fir trees are her house.
Upon them the birds of the heaven have their habitation^
They sing among the branches.
He watereth the hills from his upper chambers :
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of his works.
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle.
And herb for the service of man :
That he may bring forth food out of the earth ;
And wine that maketh glad the heart of man.
And oil to make his face to shine.
And bread which strengtheneth man^s heart.
The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats;
And the rocks for the conies.
He appointed the moon for set seasons :
The sun knoweth his going down.
Thou makest darkness, and it is night :
Wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.
The young lions roar after their prey.
And seek their food from God.
The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together.
And lay them down in their dens.

Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the

O Lord, how manifold are thy works !
In wisdom hast thou made them all :
The earth is full of thy creatures.


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So is this great and wide sea^

Wherein are things creeping innumerable^

Both small and great beasts.

There go the ships :

There is leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

These wait all upon thee,

That thou mayest give them their food in due season.

That thou givest them they gather :

Thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.

Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled :

Thou takest away their breath, they die.

And return to their dust.

Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created :

And thou renewest the face of the earth.

May the glory of the Lord endure for ever :

May the Lord rejoice in his works.

He who looketh on the earth, and it trembleth :

Who toucheth the mountains, and they smoke.

I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live :

I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

May my meditation be pleasant unto him :

I will be glad in the Lord.

May the sinners be consumed out of the earthy

And may the wicked be no more.

Bless thou the Lord, O my soul.

Praise ye the Lord.

The words 'may sinners be consumed out of the earth' is a
correct translation of the Hebrew. But nevertheless, with a small
change of vocalization, the word 'sinners' could also be read as
' sins/ and on this is based a familiar and beautiful story in the
Talmud. ' There dwelt near Rabbi Meir some wicked persons who
caused him much annoyance. He prayed to God that they might
die. But his wife Beruria said to him : " How canst thou act thus ?
It says in the Psalms, ' Tetamu Chataxm* Does it say, Choteim^
' may the sinners be consumed f ' No, it says Chataim, ' may sins
be consumed.* And, moreover, look at the conclusion of the verse,
' and the wicked shall be no more.' As soon as sin is consumed,
the wicked will be no more. Therefore do thou pray for those
men that they may repent, and then the wicked will be no more."
Babbi Meir did so, and they repented of their sin.' The Stoic
moralist Seneca said the same thing, with epigrammatic brevity:
Ees optima est non iceUratos exttirpare, ud scdera.


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§ 26. It is intereeting to find many of the ideas in this glorious
psalm anticipated in a very old Egyptian hymn to the sun god,
Amon-Ra. But the polytheism and mythology of the Egyptian
writer makes much of his work seem foolish and antiquated in our
eyes, whereas the Hebrew psalmist in his pure and simple mono-
theism will never become * out of date/ I will quote here some of

Online LibraryC. G. (Claude Goldsmid) MontefioreThe Bible for home reading → online text (page 60 of 63)