(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל־יְדוּתוּן לְאָסָף מִזְמוֹר: (ב) קוֹלִי אֶל־אֱלֹקִים וְאֶצְעָקָה קוֹלִי אֶל־אֱלֹקִים וְהַאֲזִין אֵלָי:
(1) For the musician, on the yedusun [instrument], a mizmor by Asaph. (2) [I lift up] my voice to G-d and cry out. [I lift up] my voice to G-d and He will hear me.
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 077 – A Cry for Geulah
In this mizmor the prophet Asaph foresaw that there would come a time such as the present when the Jewish people would be scattered around the world in a seemingly endless Galus (Exile). The mizmor is a tefillah for Hashem to bring the Geulah (Redemption).
The mizmor begins with a heart-rending cry of anguish as the singer desperately calls out to Hashem and tells of his suffering. He then briefly turns his attention to faint memories of the distant past when music could be heard in the Bais Hamikdash. But the ancient memories make the present even harder to bear because no end date for the Galus has been announced. And so the singer poses a rhetorical question. Will there be an end to this suffering?
Having asked the question, the singer immediately comes to the realization that the nation’s lack of spiritual commitment is at fault and therein lies the key to the Geulah.
The mizmor concludes with a vivid and dramatic portrayal of the high point of the first national Geulah, the splitting of the sea, which culminated the exodus from Mitzrayim. By temporarily suspending the laws of nature, Hashem demonstrated that He is in total control of the world. Just as He was fully capable of redeeming His people when the time was right, so He will surely do so again.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. MY ANGUISH. Asaph opens the mizmor with a cry of anguish that expresses the suffering that each Jew feels throughout the long night of Galus.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל־[ידיתון] יְדוּתוּן לְאָסָף מִזְמוֹר: (ב) קוֹלִי אֶל־אֱלֹקִים וְאֶצְעָקָה קוֹלִי אֶל־אֱלֹקִים וְהַאֲזִין אֵלָי: (ג) בְּיוֹם צָרָתִי אֲדֹ־נָי דָּרָשְׁתִּי יָדִי לַיְלָה נִגְּרָה וְלֹא תָפוּג מֵאֲנָה הִנָּחֵם נַפְשִׁי: (ד) אֶזְכְּרָה אֱלֹקִים וְאֶהֱמָיָה אָשִׂיחָה וְתִתְעַטֵּף רוּחִי סֶלָה: (ה) אָחַזְתָּ שְׁמֻרוֹת עֵינָי נִפְעַמְתִּי וְלֹא אֲדַבֵּר:
(1) For the musician, on the yedusun [instrument], a mizmor by Asaph. (2) [I lift up] my voice to G-d and cry out. [I lift up] my voice to G-d and He will hear me. (3) On the day of my distress, I sought Hashem [because of] my suffering; my eyes flowed without respite [through the] night. My soul rejected consolation. (4) I call to mind [the judgement of] G-d and I moan. I speak and my spirit grows faint. Selah. (5) You are holding up my [sleepless] eyelids. I am crushed; I cannot speak.
PART 2. MY MEMORIES. Turning away from the unbearable present, the singer’s mind turns to a recollection of the glorious past of Yisrael, when the music of praise to Hasahem was heard in the Bais HaMikdash.
(ו) חִשַּׁבְתִּי יָמִים מִקֶּדֶם שְׁנוֹת עוֹלָמִים: (ז) אֶזְכְּרָה נְגִינָתִי בַּלָּיְלָה עִם־לְבָבִי אָשִׂיחָה וַיְחַפֵּשׂ רוּחִי:
(6) My thoughts turn to days of old, years long past. (7) In the night I recall my music. In my heart I reflect and my spirit searches.
PART 3. MY QUESTION. The paradox of a glorious past and and a painful present provokes the singer to pose a rhetorical question of Hashem’s intentions. Surely there must come a day when the bitterness of the present is replaced by a bright future! Surely Hashem will not let matters continue as they are!
(ח) הַלְעוֹלָמִים יִזְנַח אֲדֹ־נָי וְלֹא־יֹסִיף לִרְצוֹת עוֹד: (ט) הֶאָפֵס לָנֶצַח חַסְדּוֹ גָּמַר אֹמֶר לְדֹר וָדֹר: (י) הֲשָׁכַח חַנּוֹת אֵ־ל אִם־קָפַץ בְּאַף רַחֲמָיו סֶלָה:
(8) Will Hashem abandon [me] for ever, never again to show favor? (9) Has His kindness ceased forever? Has He sealed His edict for all generations? (10) Has G-d forgotten how to be merciful? Has He stifled His compassion in anger? Selah.
PART 4. MY ANSWER. Having meditated upon his question Asaph begins to grasp an explanation of the present situation, offering hope for the future. The suffering that the nation is experiencing is a harsh but necessary cure for the spiritual sickness that has led the people to weaken their devotion to G-d. By reflecting upon this the people will look to Him once more, and will acknowledge that everything that happens in the world is an expressioon of His purpose.
(יא) וָאֹמַר חַלּוֹתִי הִיא שְׁנוֹת יְמִין עֶלְיוֹן: (יב) [אזכיר] אֶזְכּוֹר מַעַלְלֵי־יָהּ כִּי־אֶזְכְּרָה מִקֶּדֶם פִּלְאֶךָ: (יג) וְהָגִיתִי בְכָל־פָּעֳלֶךָ וּבַעֲלִילוֹתֶיךָ אָשִׂיחָה: (יד) אֱלֹקִים בַּקֹּדֶשׁ דַּרְכֶּךָ מִי־אֵ־ל גָּדוֹל כֵּאלֹקִים: (טו) אַתָּה הָאֵ־ל עֹשֵׂה פֶלֶא הוֹדַעְתָּ בָעַמִּים עֻזֶּךָ:
(11) [Then] I realized, “It is my spiritual sickness, this change of the right hand of the Most High. (12) I recall the works of G-d when I remember Your ancient wonders. (13) I will reflect upon all that You have done and I will speak about Your deeds. (14) O G-d, Your way is based on holiness. What power is as great as G-d? (15) You are the G-d, doing wonders. You make known Your might among the peoples.
PART 5. LESSON OF THE PAST. Asaph concludes the mizmor with a vivid and dramatic recreation of the climactic scene at the splitting of the Sea when Hashem revealed His overwhelming power to all of mankind, friend and foe alike. Asaph wants every person to take this lesson to heart and commit to the path of righteousness that Hashem has been urging all these years. Hashem will then once again provide Yisrael with leaders like Moshe and Aharon to usher in the Geulah.
(טז) גָּאַלְתָּ בִּזְרוֹעַ עַמֶּךָ בְּנֵי־יַעֲקֹב וְיוֹסֵף סֶלָה: (יז) רָאוּךָ מַּיִם אֱלֹקִים רָאוּךָ מַּיִם יָחִילוּ אַף יִרְגְּזוּ תְהֹמוֹת: (יח) זֹרְמוּ מַיִם עָבוֹת קוֹל נָתְנוּ שְׁחָקִים אַף־חֲצָצֶיךָ יִתְהַלָּכוּ:
(יט) קוֹל רַעַמְךָ בַּגַּלְגַּל הֵאִירוּ בְרָקִים תֵּבֵל רָגְזָה וַתִּרְעַשׁ הָאָרֶץ: (כ) בַּיָּם דַּרְכֶּךָ [ושביליך] וּשְׁבִילְךָ בְּמַיִם רַבִּים וְעִקְּבוֹתֶיךָ לֹא נֹדָעוּ: (כא) נָחִיתָ כַצֹּאן עַמֶּךָ בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן:
(16) With Your powerful strength, You redeemed Your nation, the sons of Yaakov and Yosef, Selah. (17) the waters of the Sea of Reeds saw You, O G-d — רָאוּךָ מַּיִם אֱלֹקִים . The waters saw You and were terrified. Even the depths trembled. (18) The clouds streamed water. The heavens sounded forth, even Your arrows [of lightnin]g went forth. (19) The rumble of Your thunder was in the whirling wind. Lightning lit up the world. The earth trembled and roared. (20) Your way was through the sea and Your path went through the mighty waters. Your footsteps could not be discovered. (21) You led Your nation like a flock by the hand of Moshe and Aharon.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. MY ANGUISH
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל יְדוּתוּן לְאָסָף מִזְמוֹר:
This song has been prepared for the musician — לַמְנַצֵּחַ , to be performed on the yedusun instrument — עַל־יְדוּתוּן . It is a mizmor — –מִזְמוֹר composed by Asaph — לְאָסָף . Asaph presented the mizmor in the form of a tefillah being said by the Jewish nation during a long and bitter Galus at some point in the future.
(ב) קוֹלִי אֶל אֱלֹקִים וְאֶצְעָקָה
קוֹלִי אֶל אֱלֹקִים וְהַאֲזִין אֵלָי:
I lift up my voice to G-d and cry out with all my heart — קוֹלִי אֶל־אֱלֹקִים וְאֶצְעָקָה . My voice is only to G-d — קוֹלִי אֶל־אֱלֹקִים , and so He will surely listen to me — וְהַאֲזִין אֵלָי – even though I may not receive an immediate answer to my plea. For He sees my misery and knows of my sufferings.
(ג) בְּיוֹם צָרָתִי אֲדֹ־נָי דָּרָשְׁתִּי יָדִי
לַיְלָה נִגְּרָה וְלֹא תָפוּג
מֵאֲנָה הִנָּחֵם נַפְשִׁי:
On the day of my distress, I sought Hashem — בְּיוֹם צָרָתִי אֲדֹ־נָי דָּרָשְׁתִּי – asking Him to help me understand how I have failed Him and aroused His anger against me. Because of my suffering — יָדִי – my eyes flowed without respite even at night — לַיְלָה נִגְּרָה וְלֹא תָפוּג , which is ordinarily a time of rest. Throughout the long night of the Galus — my soul rejected consolation — מֵאֲנָה הִנָּחֵם נַפְשִׁי .
(ד) אֶזְכְּרָה אֱלֹקִים וְאֶהֱמָיָה
אָשִׂיחָה וְתִתְעַטֵּף רוּחִי סֶלָה:
When I call to mind the judgment of G-d upon me — אֶזְכְּרָה אֱלֹקִים , I moan — וְאֶהֱמָיָה — because I am reminded of my sins. I speak — אָשִׂיחָה —of His kindnesses to me in the past and my spirit grows faint — וְתִתְעַטֵּף רוּחִי — in regret that I am no longer in His favor, Selah — סֶלָה .
(ה) אָחַזְתָּ שְׁמֻרוֹת עֵינָי
נִפְעַמְתִּי וְלֹא אֲדַבֵּר:
I feel as though You are holding up my eyelids — אָחַזְתָּ שְׁמֻרוֹת עֵינָי and I stare out sleeplessly into the night. I am so crushed that I cannot speak — נִפְעַמְתִּי וְלֹא אֲדַבֵּר .
PART 2. MY MEMORIES
(ו) חִשַּׁבְתִּי יָמִים מִקֶּדֶם
Now, in the midst of this bitter Galus, my thoughts turn to days of old — חִשַּׁבְתִּי יָמִים מִקֶּדֶם , to seek comfort by recollecting the kindnesses that You performed with my ancestors in years long past — שְׁנוֹת עוֹלָמִים .
(ז) אֶזְכְּרָה נְגִינָתִי בַּלָּיְלָה
עִם לְבָבִי אָשִׂיחָה וַיְחַפֵּשׂ רוּחִי:
In this dark night of Galus I recall my music — אֶזְכְּרָה נְגִינָתִי בַּלָּיְלָה , which I performed in the Bais HaMikdash. In my heart I reflect — עִם־לְבָבִי אָשִׂיחָה , and my spirit searches — וַיְחַפֵּשׂ רוּחִי . I commune with my heart — עִם־לְבָבִי אָשִׂיחָה , and my spirit searches — וַיְחַפֵּשׂ רוּחִי as I try to understand why Hashem has not yet brought the Geulah.
PART 3. MY QUESTION
(ח) הַלְעוֹלָמִים יִזְנַח אֲדֹ־נָי
וְלֹא יֹסִיף לִרְצוֹת עוֹד:
Will Hashem abandon me for ever — הַלְעוֹלָמִים יִזְנַח אֲדֹ־נָי , never again to show favor to me — וְלֹא־יֹסִיף לִרְצוֹת עוֹד ? How can this be? In the past, after a period of anger He always relented and took me back into His favor. Has He changed His way?
(ט) הֶאָפֵס לָנֶצַח חַסְדּוֹ,
גָּמַר אֹמֶר לְדֹר וָדֹר:
Has His kindness ceased forever — הֶאָפֵס לָנֶצַח חַסְדּוֹ ? Was his promise to us intended only for certain generations ? Has He sealed His edict for all generations — גָּמַר אֹמֶר לְדֹר וָדֹר , never again to relent for his wrath?
(י) הֲשָׁכַח חַנּוֹת אֵ־ל
אִם קָפַץ בְּאַף רַחֲמָיו סֶלָה:
Has G-d forgotten how to be merciful — הֲשָׁכַח חַנּוֹת אֵ־ל ? He has clearly stated that He does remember, as it says “I recall for you the kindness of your youth” (Yirmiyahu 2:3). Has He now stifled His compassion in anger — אִם־קָפַץ בְּאַף רַחֲמָיו ? Selah — סֶלָה .
PART 4. MY ANSWER
(יא) וָאֹמַר חַלּוֹתִי הִיא
שְׁנוֹת יְמִין עֶלְיוֹן:
After examining all the alternatives which might explain this long Exile, I realized, “It is my fault, my own spiritual sickness — וָאֹמַר חַלּוֹתִי הִיא – that is the cause of this seeming change of the right hand of the Most High — שְׁנוֹת יְמִין עֶלְיוֹן , as it says, “He has withdrawn His right hand” (Eichah 2:3), although previously, it had been described as “glorious in power” (Shemos 15:6). Whereas G-d remains Most High, it is we who have been affected. Even if the Shechinah is in exile, it remains Most High.
(יב) אֶזְכּוֹר [אזכיר] מַעַלְלֵי יָ־הּ
כִּי אֶזְכְּרָה מִקֶּדֶם פִּלְאֶךָ:
Although I am suffering from this seemingly endless Galus, I seek to console myself and comfort my people. And so I recall the works of G-d — אֶזְכּוֹר מַעַלְלֵי־יָהּ , which reflect Your qualities of kindness and truth throughout all eternity. I especially reminded of these things when I remember Your ancient wonders — כִּי־אֶזְכְּרָה מִקֶּדֶם פִּלְאֶךָ in which you demonstrated your power to change the laws of nature.
(יג) וְהָגִיתִי בְכָל פָּעֳלֶךָ
I will reflect upon all that You have done for us in the past — וְהָגִיתִי בְכָל־פָּעֳלֶךָ , starting with Creation and continuing through the release from slavery in Mitzrayim and I will speak to others about Your elaborate deeds — וּבַעֲלִילוֹתֶיךָ אָשִׂיחָה so that all will see how You guide the history of the world with justiice.
(יד) אֱלֹקִים בַּקֹּדֶשׁ דַּרְכֶּךָ
מִי אֵ־ל גָּדוֹל כֵּאלֹקִים:
The thought that comes to mind when I contemplate your deeds O G-d, Your way is based on concepts of holiness — אֱלֹקִים בַּקֹּדֶשׁ דַּרְכֶּךָ , to achieve the spiritual and physical welfare of your creatures and to do justice for all. To implement Your goals You draw upon unlimited power. What power is as great as G-d — מִי־אֵ־ל גָּדוֹל כֵּאלֹקִים ? But no expression of Your power is ever an end unto itself. All of Your way is towards the absolute good.
(טו) אַתָּה הָאֵ־ל עֹשֵׂה פֶלֶא
הוֹדַעְתָּ בָעַמִּים עֻזֶּךָ:
You are not simply one power among many; You are the one sole true and absolute Power. You are the one G-d — אַתָּה הָאֵ־ל . And to demonstrate this truth You do wonders — עֹשֵׂה פֶלֶא for the world to see. You demonstrate that Your Kingdom is not just ion the heavens, but here on earth. Through Your spectacular miracles You make known Your invincible might among the peoples — הוֹדַעְתָּ בָעַמִּים עֻזֶּךָ . Thus, they learn to see You as the one sole unfettered and absolute Power, upon Whose will the existence of all things depends. The miraculous exodus from
PART 5. LESSON OF THE PAST
(טז) גָּאַלְתָּ בִּזְרוֹעַ עַמֶּךָ
בְּנֵי יַעֲקֹב וְיוֹסֵף סֶלָה:
With Your powerful strength [Your outstretched arm] You redeemed Your nation — גָּאַלְתָּ בִּזְרוֹעַ עַמֶּךָ , the sons of Yaakov and Yosef, Selah — בְּנֵי־יַעֲקֹב וְיוֹסֵף סֶלָה . Yaakov fathered a nation of 12 tribes and by giving them sustenance in Mitzrayim Yosef projected their continuity into future generations. And by redeeming them from Mitzrayim through miracles that overrode the laws of nature, You provided all of mankind with a testimony to the Creation of the world.
(יז) רָאוּךָ מַּיִם אֱלֹקִים
רָאוּךָ מַּיִם יָחִילוּ אַף יִרְגְּזוּ תְהֹמוֹת:
When Your fierce judgement against the resha’im was revealed to the world in Mitzrayim, it was as though the waters of the Sea of Reeds saw You, O G-d — רָאוּךָ מַּיִם אֱלֹקִים . The waters saw You and were terrified — רָאוּךָ מַּיִם יָחִילוּ of being in the presence of such power. Even the depths trembled — אַף יִרְגְּזוּ תְהֹמוֹת – and were split apart.
(יח) זֹרְמוּ מַיִם עָבוֹת
קוֹל נָתְנוּ שְׁחָקִים
אַף חֲצָצֶיךָ יִתְהַלָּכוּ:
The clouds streamed water — זֹרְמוּ מַיִם עָבוֹת . Heavy rains poured down on the warriors of Mitzrayim inundating them as they attempted to cross the sea. The heavens sounded forth with frightening thunder — קוֹל נָתְנוּ שְׁחָקִים , even Your arrows of lightning went forth — אַף־חֲצָצֶיךָ יִתְהַלָּכוּ .
(יט) קוֹל רַעַמְךָ בַּגַּלְגַּל
הֵאִירוּ בְרָקִים תֵּבֵל
רָגְזָה וַתִּרְעַשׁ הָאָרֶץ:
The rumble of Your thunder was in the whirling wind — קוֹל רַעַמְךָ בַּגַּלְגַּל . Lightning flashed and lit up the world — הֵאִירוּ בְרָקִים תֵּבֵל , the earth trembled and roared — רָגְזָה וַתִּרְעַשׁ הָאָרֶץ , shaken to its very foundations.
(כ) בַּיָּם דַּרְכֶּךָ וּשְׁבִילְךָ בְּמַיִם רַבִּים
וְעִקְּבוֹתֶיךָ לֹא נֹדָעוּ:
Your way was through the sea — בַּיָּם דַּרְכֶּךָ , and Your path went through the mighty waters — וּשְׁבִילְךָ בְּמַיִם רַבִּים . But You accomplished what You set out to do, Your footsteps could not be discovered — וְעִקְּבוֹתֶיךָ לֹא נֹדָעוּ because the sea returned immediately to cover the track and all of nature reverted to its ordinary routine, without showing the least trace of the agitation and upheaval it had just experienced. This was a lesson to mankind that everything that happens in the world is Hashem’s doing, even though there is no fingerprint or track.
(כא) נָחִיתָ כַצֹּאן עַמֶּךָ
בְּיַד מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן:
You led Your nation like a flock [of sheep] — נָחִיתָ כַצֹּאן עַמֶּךָ by the hand of Moshe and Aharon — בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן . Just as the shepherd provides for all the needs of his flock so did Hashem provide for His nation, even giving them the leaders appropriate to the mission. Surely, Hashem will again provide leaders since Yisrael is no less deserving of redemption than the nation that came out of Mitzrayim.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א – מצודות, המאירי, אבן יחייא
ב – רד”ק
ג – רש”י, רד”ק, בן רמוך, נר לרגלי, מאיר טוב
ד – נר לרגל,
ה – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, מצודות, ספורנו, רשר”ה
ו – רש”י
ז – רש”י, מלבי”ם
ח – רד”ק, מלבי”ם
ט – רש”י, רד”ק, מלבי”ם
י – רש”י, מלבי”ם
יא – רש”י, מלבי”ם, רשר”ה, נר לרגלי
יב – המאירי, נר לרגלי
יג – רש”י, מצודות, אבן יחייא, נר לרגלי
יד – רשר”ה, לרגלי
טו – רד”ק, מלבי”ם, המאירי, רשר”ה
טז – רד”ק, מצודות, אבן יחייא
יז – רד”ק
יח – אבן עזרא, מצודות, בן־רמוך,
יט – מצודות
כ – רש”י, אבן עזרא, מלבי”ם
כא – רד”ק, המאירי