Saturday, September 29, 2012
Mourning destruction of the temple and other psalms
In this psalm, Asaph thanks God for sparing the people and directing His wrath upon the wood and stones (of the Temple). Still he cries bitterly, mourning the immense destruction: The place where the High Priest alone was allowed to enter-and only on Yom Kippur-is now so desolate that foxes stroll through it!
1. A psalm by Asaph. O God, nations have entered Your inheritance, they defiled Your Holy Sanctuary; they turned Jerusalem into heaps of rubble. 2. They have rendered the corpses of Your servants as food for the birds of heaven, the flesh of Your pious ones for the beasts of the earth. 3. They spilled their blood like water around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury [them]. 4. We became the object of disgrace to our neighbors, ridicule and scorn to those around us. 5. Until when, O Lord! Will You be angry forever? Will Your jealousy burn like fire? 6. Pour Your wrath upon the nations that do not know You, upon the kingdoms that do not call Your Name, 7. for they devoured Jacob and desolated His abode. 8. Do not recall our former sins; let Your mercies come swiftly towards us, for we have fallen very low. 9. Help us, God of our deliverance, for the sake of the glory of Your Name; save us and pardon our sins for the sake of Your Name. 10. Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Let there be known among the nations, before our eyes, the retribution of the spilled blood of Your servants. 11. Let the groan of the prisoner come before You; liberate those condemned to death, as befits the greatness of Your strength. 12. Repay our neighbors sevenfold into their bosom, for the disgrace with which they reviled You, O Lord. 13. And we, Your people, the flock of Your pasture, will thank You forever; for all generations we will recount Your praise.
An awe-inspiring prayer imploring God to draw near to us as in days of old.
1. For the Conductor, on the shoshanim, 1 a testimony by Asaph, a psalm. 2. Listen, O Shepherd of Israel, Who leads Joseph like sheep. Appear, You Who is enthroned upon the cherubim. 3. Arouse Your might before Ephraim, Benjamin and Menashe, for it is upon You to save us. 4. Return us, O God; cause Your countenance to shine, that we may be saved. 5. O Lord, God of Hosts, until when will You fume at the prayer of Your people? 6. You fed them bread of tears, and gave them tears to drink in great measure. 7. You have made us an object of strife to our neighbors; our enemies mock to themselves. 8. Return us, O God of Hosts; cause Your countenance to shine, that we may be saved. 9. You brought a vine out of Egypt; You drove out nations and planted it. 10. You cleared space before it; it took root and filled the land. 11. Mountains were covered by its shade, and its branches became mighty cedars. 12. It sent forth its branches till the sea, and its tender shoots to the river. 13. Why did You breach its fences, so that every passerby plucked its fruit? 14. The boars of the forest ravage it, and the creepers of the field feed upon it. 15. O God of Hosts, please return! Look down from heaven and see, and be mindful of this vine, 16. and of the foundation which Your right hand has planted, and the son whom You strengthened for Yourself. 17. It is burned by fire, cut down; they perish at the rebuke of Your Presence. 18. Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, upon the son of man whom You strengthened for Yourself. 19. Then we will not withdraw from You; revive us, and we will proclaim Your Name. 20. O Lord, God of Hosts, return us; cause Your countenance to shine that we may be saved.
This psalm was chanted in the Holy Temple on Rosh Hashanah, a day on which many miracles were wrought for Israel.
1. For the Conductor, upon the gittit,1 by Asaph. 2. Sing joyously to God, our strength; sound the shofar to the God of Jacob. 3. Raise your voice in song, sound the drum, the pleasant harp, and the lyre. 4. Blow the shofar on the New Month, on the designated day of our Holy Day; 5. for it is a decree for Israel, a ruling of the God of Jacob. 6. He ordained it as a precept for Joseph when he went forth over the land of Egypt; I heard a language which I did not know. 7. I have taken his shoulder from the burden; his hands were removed from the pot.2 8. In distress you called and I delivered you; [you called] in secret, and I answered you with thunderous wonders; I tested you at the waters of Merivah, Selah. 9. Hear, My people, and I will admonish you; Israel, if you would only listen to Me! 10. You shall have no alien god within you, nor shall you bow down to a foreign deity. 11. I am the Lord your God who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open wide your mouth, [state all your desires,] and I shall grant them. 12. But My people did not heed My voice; Israel did not want [to listen to] Me. 13. So I sent them away for the willfulness of their heart, for following their [evil] design. 14. If only My people would listen to Me, if Israel would only walk in My ways, 15. then I would quickly subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their oppressors. 16. Those who hate the Lord would shrivel before Him, and the time [of their retribution] shall be forever. 17. I would feed him [Israel] with the finest of wheat, and sate you with honey from the rock. Chapter 82
This psalm admonishes those judges who feign ignorance of the law, dealing unjustly with the pauper or the orphan, while coddling the rich and pocketing their bribes.
1. A psalm by Asaph. God stands in the council of judges; among the judges He renders judgment: 2. How long will you judge wickedly, ever showing partiality toward the evildoers? 3. Render justice to the needy and the orphan; deal righteously with the poor and the destitute. 4. Rescue the needy and the pauper; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. 5. But they do not know, nor do they understand; they go about in darkness, [therefore] all the foundations of the earth tremble. 6. I said that you are angels, supernal beings, all of you; 7. but you will die as mortals, you will fall like any prince. 8. Arise, O God, judge the earth, for You possess all the nations.