(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ בִּנְגִינֹת מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף שִׁיר: (ב) נוֹדָע בִּיהוּדָה אֱלֹקִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל גָּדוֹל שְׁמוֹ:
(1) For the musician, with musical accompaniment, a mizmor by Asaph, a song of joy. (2) G-d is known in Yehudah; throughout Yisrael His Name is great.
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 076 – Miracle at the Gates
In this mizmor Asaph presents his prophetic vision of the great victory that was to take place at the gates of Yerushalayim during the reign of Chizkiyahu, the King of Yehudah. He speaks of the miraculous victory against Sancheiriv as an expression Hashem’s anger at the wickedness of the enemy and Hashem’s pity upon the enemy’s suffering victims.
The confrontation with the enemy is described as something that happened at night when they were asleep. The enemy warriors simply lost consciousness and never woke up.
Asaph points out the great fallacy of thinking that because Sancheiriv had such a powerful army, he was to be feared. The “powerful” warriors of Sancheiriv even lost the ability to control their hands. Actually, the fear of G-d excludes the fear of all other beings. If man fears G-d his conscience can be calm and at peace. Thus, a man should fear onl;y G-d.
It was a time of great fear and uncertainty throughout the Land. The Kingdom of Yisrael had recently been defeated by the armies of Ashur (Assyria) and the ten tribes of that kingdom had been driven into exile. Many of the nations in the region paid tribute to Ashur, whose kings were savage and brutal. They practiced a policy of deporting conquered peoples to distant lands, obliterating their national and cultural identity.
Chizkiyahu foolishly chose to join a regional revolt against Ashur, just when Sancheiriv came to the throne. Sanchreiriv marched agasinst the rebels, defeating one after the other. In the fourteenth year of Chizkiyahu’s reign, Sancheiriv overcame the fortified towns of Yehudah and deported tens of thousands of their residents. Many believed that the bitter fate of its sister kingdom awaited Yehudah, the holy city of Yerushalyim and the Bais HaMikdash.
However, when Chizkiyahu pleaded with the prophet Yeshayahu to offer a prayer for the survival of Yerushalayim, Yeshayahu responded with Hashem’s promise to save the city. This is what happened and so that night an angel of Hashem killed 185,000 warriors while they were asleep. (See Yeshayahu 37:36) As a result, despite his overwhelming forces, Sancheiriv abandoned his siege of the city and withdrew from Yehudah in disgrace.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. INTRODUCTION. Asaph opens the mizmor by announcing the great military victory that took place at the gates of Yerushalayim. He alludes to its being the capital of Yehudah, and describes it as the designated location of the Shechinah, G-d’s earthly presence.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ בִּנְגִינֹת מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף שִׁיר: (ב) נוֹדָע בִּיהוּדָה אֱלֹקִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל גָּדוֹל שְׁמוֹ: (ג) וַיְהִי בְשָׁלֵם סֻכּוֹ וּמְעוֹנָתוֹ בְצִיּוֹן: (ד) שָׁמָּה שִׁבַּר רִשְׁפֵי־קָשֶׁת מָגֵן וְחֶרֶב וּמִלְחָמָה סֶלָה:
(1) For the musician, with musical accompaniment, a mizmor by Asaph, a song of joy. (2) G-d is known in Yehudah; throughout Yisrael His Name is great. (3) His abode was [designated to be] in Yerushalayim, and His dwelling is in Tzion. (4) There He broke the flying arrows of [Sancheiriv’s] bow, [his] shield and sword, and [his ability to wage] war. Selah.
PART 2. A MIRACULOUS VICTORY. Asaph now sings in praise of Hashem for the miraculous victory that took place when a seemingly invincible army succumbed to a spiritual force aroused by Hashem’s judgment.
(ה) נָאוֹר אַתָּה אַדִּיר מֵהַרְרֵי־טָרֶף: (ו) אֶשְׁתּוֹלְלוּ אַבִּירֵי לֵב נָמוּ שְׁנָתָם וְלֹא־מָצְאוּ כָל־אַנְשֵׁי־חַיִל יְדֵיהֶם: (ז) מִגַּעֲרָתְךָ אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב נִרְדָּם וְרֶכֶב וָסוּס: (ח) אַתָּה נוֹרָא אַתָּה וּמִי־יַעֲמֹד לְפָנֶיךָ מֵאָז אַפֶּךָ: (ט) מִשָּׁמַיִם הִשְׁמַעְתָּ דִּין אֶרֶץ יָרְאָה וְשָׁקָטָה: (י) בְּקוּם־לַמִּשְׁפָּט אֱלֹקִים לְהוֹשִׁיעַ כָּל־עַנְוֵי־אֶרֶץ סֶלָה:
(5) [Hashem] You are resplendent, more powerful than [armies that are like beasts] of prey [emerging from the] mountains. (6) The warriors of soaring courage became bereft of reason. They drifted off into their sleep [of death]. All the mighty warriors could not find [the strength of] their hands [to do battle]. (7) At Your rebuke, O G-d of Yaakov, chariot and horse lay stunned. (8) You are the One to be feared, it is You! You are the One to be feared. Who can stand before You when You are enraged? (9) From heaven You pronounced judgment and the fearful Land calmed down. (10) For G-d arose to execute judgment, to save all the humble of the Land, Selah.
PART 3. CONCLUSION. Asaph concludes the mizmor by reviewing the effect of this miracle. Sancheiriv had acted in fierce anger, thinking he could defeat the power of Hashem with his mighty army. But his very rage provoked the judgment of Hashem and created an object lesson for all the nations of the region. They learned that it is a mistake to fear a human tyrant, when the true Source of Awesome power is Hashem. Paying tribute to wicked princes and kings will inevitably be curtailed and replaced with recognition and service to the one G-d.
(יא) כִּי־חֲמַת אָדָם תּוֹדֶךָּ שְׁאֵרִית חֵמֹת תַּחְגֹּר: (יב) נִדֲרוּ וְשַׁלְּמוּ לַה’ אֱלֹקֵיכֶם כָּל־סְבִיבָיו יוֹבִילוּ שַׁי לַמּוֹרָא: (יג) יִבְצֹר רוּחַ נְגִידִים נוֹרָא לְמַלְכֵי־אָרֶץ:
(11) For the rage of man acknowledges You [by provoking heavenly judgment, so that You] restrain the remnant of their rage. (12) [As for my fellow Jews:] make vows to Hashem, your G-d and fulfill them. [As for the nations in the region:] all who are around Him, bring [your] tribute to the Awesome One. (13) He curbs the arrogance of princes and arouses awe in the kings of the earth.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. INTRODUCTION
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ בִּנְגִינֹת מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף שִׁיר:
This song has been for the musician — לַמְנַצֵּחַ , to be performed with musical accompaniment — בִּנְגִינוֹת . It is a mizmor — –מִזְמוֹר composed by Asaph — לְאָסָף , in the form of a song of joy — שִׁיר , immortalizing the defeat of Sancheiriv at the gates of Yerushalayim during the reign of Chizkiyahu (see Melachim II 19).
(ב) נוֹדָע בִּיהוּדָה אֱלֹקִים
בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל גָּדוֹל שְׁמוֹ:
G-d is especially known to the Jewish people in the core province of Yehudah — נוֹדָע בִּיהוּדָה אֱלקִים , where Yerushalyim is situated. But throughout the territories of Yisrael His Name is recognized as great — בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל גָּדוֹל שְׁמוֹ .
(ג) וַיְהִי בְשָׁלֵם סֻכּוֹ
His holy abode, the Temple, was designated to be in Yerushalayim — וַיְהִי בְשָׁלֵם סֻכּוֹ – when it was known by its ancient name of Shalem. And that place became His permanent dwelling in Tzion — וּמְעוֹנָתוֹ בְצִיּוֹן , the name that designates Yerushalayim as the source of Divine law for all mankind.
(ד) שָׁמָּה שִׁבַּר רִשְׁפֵי קָשֶׁת מָגֵן
וְחֶרֶב וּמִלְחָמָה סֶלָה:
There in Yerushalayim Hashem broke the flying arrows of Sancheiriv’s bow — שָׁמָּה שִׁבַּר רִשְׁפֵי־קָשֶׁת . He also broke his shield, his sword — מָגֵן וְחֶרֶב , and even his ability to wage war — וּמִלְחָמָה , Selah — סֶלָה .
PART 2. A MIRACULOUS VICTORY
(ה) נָאוֹר אַתָּה
אַדִּיר מֵהַרְרֵי טָרֶף:
Hashem, You are now clearly recognized and resplendent in the light of Your glory — נָאוֹר אַתָּה , more powerful than armies that are like beasts of prey emerging from the mountains — אַדִּיר מֵהַרְרֵי־טָרֶף – in the dark of night.
(ו) אֶשְׁתּוֹלְלוּ אַבִּירֵי לֵב
נָמוּ שְׁנָתָם וְלֹא מָצְאוּ כָל אַנְשֵׁי חַיִל יְדֵיהֶם:
The warriors of soaring courage became bereft of reason — אֶשְׁתּוֹלְלוּ אַבִּירֵי לֵב .” Death came to them while they slept and they drifted off into their sleep of death — נָמוּ שְׁנָתָם . All the mighty warriors could not find the strength of their hands to do battle — וְלֹא־מָצְאוּ כָל־אַנְשֵׁי־חַיִל יְדֵיהֶם . They were effectively paralyzed and unable to act.
(ז) מִגַּעֲרָתְךָ אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב
נִרְדָּם וְרֶכֶב וָסוּס:
At Your rebuke, O G-d of Yaakov — מִגַּעֲרָתְךָ אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב , the warrior with his chariot and horse lay stunned — נִרְדָּם וְרֶכֶב וָסוּס .
(ח) אַתָּה נוֹרָא אַתָּה
וּמִי יַעֲמֹד לְפָנֶיךָ מֵאָז אַפֶּךָ:
You are the One to be feared — אַתָּה נוֹרָא , it is You — אַתָּה ! Who can stand before You when You are enraged — וּמִי־יַעֲמֹד לְפָנֶיךָ מֵאָז אַפֶּךָ ?
(ט) מִשָּׁמַיִם הִשְׁמַעְתָּ דִּין
אֶרֶץ יָרְאָה וְשָׁקָטָה:
From heaven You pronounced judgment — מִשָּׁמַיִם הִשְׁמַעְתָּ דִּין , as revealed in the prophecies of Yeshayahu. Then, when the prophecies were fulfilled, the Land, which had been agitated by their fear of Sancheiriv and his armies, calmed down — אֶרֶץ יָרְאָה וְשָׁקָטָה .
(י) בְּקוּם לַמִּשְׁפָּט אֱלֹקִים
לְהוֹשִׁיעַ כָּל עַנְוֵי אֶרֶץ סֶלָה:
For G-d arose to execute judgment — בְּקוּם־לַמִּשְׁפָּט אֱלקִים , to save all the humble and oppressed people of the Land, Selah — לְהוֹשִׁיעַ כָּל־עַנְוֵי־אֶרֶץ סֶלָה .
PART 3. CONCLUSION
(יא) כִּי חֲמַת אָדָם תּוֹדֶךָּ
שְׁאֵרִית חֵמֹת תַּחְגֹּר:
For the rage of wicked man provokes heavenly judgment so that his anger is proven false and thereby the anger itself acknowledges You — כִּי־חֲמַת אָדָם תּוֹדֶךָּ . Thus, as a result of Your judgment, all the nations have learned their lesson and rejoice for You restrain the remnant of their rage and arrogance — שְׁאֵרִית חֵמֹת תַּחְגֹּר , and peace returns to the world.
(יב) נִדֲרוּ וְשַׁלְּמוּ לַה‘ אֱלֹקֵיכֶם
כָּל סְבִיבָיו יוֹבִילוּ שַׁי לַמּוֹרָא:
In celebration and loving gratitude for this miraculous yeshuah, let all Jews make vows to Hashem, your G-d and then fulfill them — נִדֲרוּ וְשַׁלְּמוּ לַה’ אֱלֹקֵיכֶם . As for the nations in the region, all who are around Him — כָּל־סְבִיבָיו , – all who have been giving tribute to Sancheiriv, let them now bring their tribute to the Awesome One — כָּל־סְבִיבָיו יוֹבִילוּ שַׁי לַמּוֹרָא – for He is the true Source of all awe.
(יג) יִבְצֹר רוּחַ נְגִידִים
נוֹרָא לְמַלְכֵי אָרֶץ:
He curbs the arrogance of princes — יִבְצֹר רוּחַ נְגִידִים – and arouses awe in the kings of the earth — נוֹרָא לְמַלְכֵי־אָרֶץ .
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א – מלבי”ם, המאירי
ב – אבן עזרא, מלבי”ם
ג – רד”ק, אבן יחייא
ד – רש”י, אבן עזרא, מלבי”ם, המאירי
ה – רד”ק, מצודות, מלבי”ם, המאירי, בן־רמוך,
ו – רד”ק, מצודות, רשר”ה
ז – מצודות, אבן יחייא, רשר”ה
ח – רש”י, אבן עזרא, רשר”ה
ט – רש”י, מלבי”ם
י – רד”ק,
יא – רש”י, מצודות, ספורנו
יב – רד”ק, מצודות, מלבי”ם, המאירי, ספורנו
יג – רש”י, מצודות