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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 118

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

Verses 1-29

CXVIII. A Hymn for Festal Procession to Zion.— The old tradition that different parts were appropriated to different voices is right in substance, though the statement of the Targum that in Psalms 118:23-29 single parts should be assigned to the Temple builders, to the sons of Jesse, the tribe of Judah, Samuel, David, is fantastic enough. The Talmud (quoted by Stä rk) takes a more reasonable view. According to it Psalms 118:1-19 was sung by the pilgrims not yet arrived; Psalms 118:20-27 by the priests and scribes who welcomed them; Psalms 118:28 by the pilgrims; Psa 118:30 by the whole procession. It is at all events clear that Psalms 118:19 must have been sung before the entrance to the Temple, Psalms 118:27 b at the altar, and that “ the day which Yahweh has made” is the day on which a victory was commemorated. It is another question how far we can distinguish the different singers and the parts they take. Psalms 118:1-4 may, on plausible grounds, be attributed to different voices. We may also find in the change from singular to plural an indication of change in the singers, but it is impossible to recover the original arrangement in detail.

Psalms 118:1-4 . General introduction. The LXX rightly place the “ Hallelujah” at the beginning of this Ps., not at the end of Psalms 117.

Psalms 118:5-18 . Distress and deliverance.

Psalms 118:13 . Read with LXX, “ Hard was I pushed that I might fall,” i.e. pushed till I was on the point of falling.

Psalms 118:17 f. The singer, possibly a solo singer, looks back on all the peril and pain of the campaign and is grateful for his deliverance.

Psalms 118:19-24 . The demand to enter the Temple. The exaltation of the victor.

Psalms 118:20 . Render “ The righteous” [and only they] “ may enter into it.”

Psalms 118:22 . What formerly appeared worthless has proved itself strong and glorious.

Psalms 118:24 . The day of Yahweh’ s victory may be that of victory over Nicanor in 161 B.C. ( 1Ma_7:4 ff ., p. 607).

Psalms 118:25-29 . Prayer for continued help. Here it is the priests who chant the welcome.

Psalms 118:27 b defies interpretation. RV is contrary to Jewish ritual. So is the explanation which takes the verb in a pregnant sense, “ Bind the victim [and lead it] to the horns of the altar,” for the priest presented the blood at the altar but the animal was not brought there. Another explanation is attractive. “ Wreathe ye the dance with thick bows even reaching to the horns of the altar.” But this primitive use, or supposed primitive use, of the word translated “ sacrifice” is not supported by usage, and is most unlikely in a Ps. admittedly late.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Psalms 118". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/psalms-118.html. 1919.
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