(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ אַל־תַּשְׁחֵת מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף שִׁיר:
(1) For the musician, [based on the theme] “Let there not be destruction”, a mizmor by Asaph, a song of joy.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 0]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 075 – The Horn of Pride
Continuing the theme of the previous mizmor, the prophet Asaph foresees a time during the final stages of Galus (Exile) when the Jewish people are disturbed by a sense of impending tragedy and the fear of complete destruction. Addressing the confusion and uncertainty of this time, Asaph offers a plea for the survival of the nation and the glorious coming of the Geulah (Redemption). At the same time he expresses thanks to the Creator for what He has done for us in the past and he visualizes the stern message that mankind must absorb during this period in which the world is being judged.
Despite the harsh conditions that Asaph foresees, this mizmor is presented as a song of joy because of the prophet’s confidence that the righteous will be vindicated and the enemies of our people will receive their retribution.
In addressing the sins of our enemies, Asaph focuses on the overarching sin of pride, which is symbolized by the horn of a bull. The bull raises his horns to express his sense of power. This reflects the fallacy that causes people to think they have control over their own fate and that they are free to disregard moral and ethical principles.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. INTRODUCTION. Asaph opens the mizmor by declaring his theme, a plea that Yisrael not be destroyed in the global turmoil that is anticipated when the Galus comes to its long-awaited end. Asaph strengthens this brief plea with a redoubled expression of gratitude to Hashem for maintaining His closeness to us, despite the turbulent times we have gone through.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ אַל־תַּשְׁחֵת מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף שִׁיר: (ב) הוֹדִינוּ לְּךָ אֱלֹקִים הוֹדִינוּ וְקָרוֹב שְׁמֶךָ סִפְּרוּ נִפְלְאוֹתֶיךָ:
(1) For the musician, [based on the theme] “Let there not be destruction”, a mizmor by Asaph, a song of joy. (2) We thank You, O G-d, we thank You. Your Name is near [to us]. Your wonders have declared [Your presence].
PART 2. ANNOUNCING JUDGMENT. Asaph now declares in the Name of Hashem, that the Geulah will be accompanied with an awesome period of judgement. All of mankind will then be overwhelmed with the fear of what may happen if full retribution is exacted for their sins.
(ג) כִּי אֶקַּח מוֹעֵד אֲנִי מֵישָׁרִים אֶשְׁפֹּט: (ד) נְמֹגִים אֶרֶץ וְכָל־יֹשְׁבֶיהָ אָנֹכִי תִכַּנְתִּי עַמּוּדֶיהָ סֶּלָה:
(3) [Hashem says:] When I seize the appointed time, I will judge the world with fairness. (4) The earth and all its inhabitants will melt [in awe, realizing] it was I Who [created the world and] established its pillars, Selah.
PART 3. MISPLACED PRIDE. Hashem is now quoted as charging mankind with the sin of pride, the pride that prevents people from acknowledging a greater Power. That pride is symbolized by the bull that raises its horns in a show of defiance. Such pride is misplaced because its is unwarranted. Man is a created being and everything that he achieves depends upon being enabled by his Creator. The decision as to whether or not a man will achieve greatness is in the hand of Hashem.
Part 3 concludes with the symbol of a full wine cup in the hand of Hashem. The wine cup represents the fate of a human being. Just as wine can have positive and negative effects in human life, the fate of a person can be positive or negative, depending upon how he conducts his life. He may be drinking a cup of blessing or a cup of retribution.
(ה) אָמַרְתִּי לַהוֹלְלִים אַל־תָּהֹלּוּ וְלָרְשָׁעִים אַל־תָּרִימוּ קָרֶן: (ו) אַל־תָּרִימוּ לַמָּרוֹם קַרְנְכֶם תְּדַבְּרוּ בְצַוָּאר עָתָק: (ז) כִּי לֹא מִמּוֹצָא וּמִמַּעֲרָב וְלֹא מִמִּדְבַּר הָרִים: (ח) כִּי־אֱלֹקִים שֹׁפֵט זֶה יַשְׁפִּיל וְזֶה יָרִים: (ט) כִּי כוֹס בְּיַד־ה’ וְיַיִן חָמַר מָלֵא מֶסֶךְ וַיַּגֵּר מִזֶּה אַךְ־שְׁמָרֶיהָ יִמְצוּ יִשְׁתּוּ כֹּל רִשְׁעֵי־אָרֶץ:
(5) [Hashem continues:] I have told the frivolous fools, “Don’t indulge in your frivolities.” And I have told the wicked, “Don’t raise your horn of pride. (6) Don’t raise your horn of pride heavenward, speaking insolently with a haughty neck.” [Asaph adds:] (7) For greatness does not come from the [eastern] sunrise, nor from the [western] sunset, and not from the [southern] wilderness. (8) For G-d gives judgment. He brings down this one and raises up that one. (9) For there is a cup [of fate] in Hashem’s hand, containing red wine, fully mixed. He pours from it. All the wicked of the earth [are made to drink], draining it to the dregs.
PART 4. CONCLUSION. Asaph recognizes that the important lesson of the previous verses may not be heeded. However, he declares his intention to continue calling people’s attention to it. The Geulah will surely come and those who stand guilty of their crimes against Yisrael will be made to pay.
(י) וַאֲנִי אַגִּיד לְעֹלָם אֲזַמְּרָה לֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב: (יא) וְכָל־קַרְנֵי רְשָׁעִים אֲגַדֵּעַ תְּרוֹמַמְנָה קַרְנוֹת צַדִּיק:
(10) [Asaph says:] But as for me, I will declare [this truth] forever. I will sing [praises] to the G-d of Yaakov. (11) [Hashem responds:] “And I will cut down all the horns of pride of the wicked, and the horns of pride of the righteous [as they return from Galus] will be exalted.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. INTRODUCTION
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ אַל תַּשְׁחֵת
A mizmor prepared for the musician — לַמְנַצֵּחַ , based on the theme, “Let there not be destruction” — אַל תַּשְׁחֵת . This theme expresses Asaph’s plea that Hashem not let destruction spread in the world as a result of spiritual, moral and social corruption.
מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף שִׁיר:
This mizmor, composed by Asaph — שִׁיר מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף , ends up as a song of joy — שִׁיר , reflecting a growing confidence that Hashem will surely intervene and restore lawful order on earth.
(ב) הוֹדִינוּ לְּךָ אֱלֹקִים הוֹדִינוּ וְקָרוֹב שְׁמֶךָ
We thank You, O G-d for the good — וֹדִינוּ לְּךָ אֱלֹקִים , we thank You for the bad — הוֹדִינוּ – because we know that it is meant to purify us. In either case, Your Name is near — וְקָרוֹב שְׁמֶךָ to us. Your wonders have declared it — סִפְּרוּ נִפְלְאוֹתֶיךָ – for they have told the world of Your presence.
PART 2. ANNOUNCING JUDGMENT
(ג) כִּי אֶקַּח מוֹעֵד
אֲנִי מֵישָׁרִים אֶשְׁפֹּט:
Hashem is telling the world: “When I seize the appointed time — כִּי אֶקַּח מוֹעֵד of the Geulah, it will not be because I need the time to prepare, it will be a calculated act of judgment, allowing time for Yisrael to do teshuvah. I will judge the world with fairness — אֲנִי מֵישָׁרִים אֶשְׁפֹּט .”
(ד) נְמֹגִים אֶרֶץ וְכָל יֹשְׁבֶיהָ
אָנֹכִי תִכַּנְתִּי עַמּוּדֶיהָ סֶּלָה:
“When they see that day of judgment and the retribution that I take against the sinful nations, the hearts of the earth and all its inhabitants will melt — נְמֹגִים אֶרֶץ וְכָל־יֹשְׁבֶיהָ , in fear and awe. The wicked people will then realize that it was I Who created the world and established its pillars, Selah — אָנֹכִי תִכַּנְתִּי עַמּוּדֶיהָ סֶּלָה . The earth stands by My will and can dissolve at My will. “
PART 3. MISPLACED PRIDE
(ה) אָמַרְתִּי לַהוֹלְלִים
אַל תָּהֹלּוּ וְלָרְשָׁעִים אַל תָּרִימוּ קָרֶן:
“I have told the frivolous fools — אָמַרְתִּי לַהוֹלְלִים , who are immersed in the physical pleasures of this world, ‘Don’t indulge in your frivolities’ — אַל־תָּהֹלּוּ . And I have said to the wicked — וְלָרְשָׁעִים , “Don’t raise your horn of pride and arrogance — אַל־תָּרִימוּ קָרֶן . It is not your to own abilities nor to your lucky stars, but to Hashem that you owe gratitude for the good things in life.”
(ו) אַל תָּרִימוּ לַמָּרוֹם קַרְנְכֶם
תְּדַבְּרוּ בְצַוָּאר עָתָק:
Don’t raise your horn of pride heavenward against Hashem — אַל־תָּרִימוּ לַמָּרוֹם קַרְנְכֶם by trampling His laws underfoot. Don’t speak insolently with a haughty neck — תְּדַבְּרוּ בְצַוָּאר עָתָק .
(ז) כִּי לֹא מִמּוֹצָא וּמִמַּעֲרָב
וְלֹא מִמִּדְבַּר הָרִים:
Don’t think that you can achieve your prideful ambition from some part of the earth while rejecting your Creator in Heaven. For neither from the eastern sunrise nor from the western sunset — כִּי לֹא מִמּוֹצָא וּמִמַּעֲרָב , nor from the southern wilderness comes greatness — וְלֹא מִמִּדְבַּר הָרִים .
(ח) כִּי אֱלֹקִים שֹׁפֵט
זֶה יַשְׁפִּיל וְזֶה יָרִים:
For it is G-d Who gives judgment — כִּי־אֱלֹקִים שֹׁפֵט . He brings down this one and raises up that one — זֶה יַשְׁפִּיל וְזֶה יָרִים – and He does so in accordance with our deeds.
(ט) כִּי כוֹס בְּיַד ה‘
וְיַיִן חָמַר מָלֵא מֶסֶךְ וַיַּגֵּר מִזֶּה
אַךְ שְׁמָרֶיהָ יִמְצוּ יִשְׁתּוּ כֹּל רִשְׁעֵי אָרֶץ:
For there is a cup of fate in Hashem’s hand — כִּי כוֹס בְּיַד־ה’ , containing the red wine of retribution and discipline fully mixed with the waters of mercy — וְיַיִן חָמַר מָלֵא מֶסֶךְ . He pours from it — וַיַּגֵּר מִזֶּה to render justice to each individual. All the wicked of the earth are made to drink, draining it to the dregs — אַךְ־שְׁמָרֶיהָ יִמְצוּ יִשְׁתּוּ כֹּל רִשְׁעֵי־אָרֶץ .
PART 4. CONCLUSION
(י) וַאֲנִי אַגִּיד לְעֹלָם
אֲזַמְּרָה לֵאלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב:
[Asaph says:] “The wicked may refuse to accept my message, but as for me, I will declare it forever — וַאֲנִי אַגִּיד לְעֹלָם . I will take the wine as a cup of blessing and I will sing praises over it to the G-d of Yaakov — אֲזַמְּרָה לֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב !”
(יא) וְכָל קַרְנֵי רְשָׁעִים אֲגַדֵּעַ
תְּרוֹמַמְנָה קַרְנוֹת צַדִּיק:
[Hashem responds:] “And eventually I will cut down all the horns of pride of the wicked — וְכָל־קַרְנֵי רְשָׁעִים אֲגַדֵּעַ because of their accumulated sins. Then the horns of pride of the righteous as they return from Galus will be exalted — תְּרוֹמַמְנָה קַרְנוֹת צַדִּיק !
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א – רש”י, רד”ק מצודות, בן־רמוך, באר אברהם, רשר”ה
ב – רש”י, רשר”ה, נר לרגלי
ג – רד”ק, המאירי, ספורנו, אבן יחייא
ד – רד”ק, המאירי
ה – רד”ק, אבן יחייא, באר אברהם
ו – רד”ק, מצודות, מלבי”ם
ז – רש”י, רד”ק, מצודות, רשר”ה
ח – אלשיך, מצודות, אבן יחייא
ט – רד”ק, אלשיך, מצודות, רשר”ה
י – אבן עזרא, אלשיך, מלבי”ם
יא – רד”ק, אלשיך, רשר”ה