(א) שִׁיר מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף: (ב) אֱלֹקִים אַל דֳּמִי לָךְ אַל תֶּחֱרַשׁ וְאַל תִּשְׁקֹט אֵ־ל:
(1) A song, a mizmor by Asaph. (2) O G-d of judgment! Don’t stop [Your help]; don’t be still and don’t be inactive; O G-d of power!
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 083 – Under Attack
The prophet Asaph composed this mizmor to earn Hashem’s sympathy and active support in a situation where the Jewish nation is surrounded by enemies, conspiring to destroy it. Aspects of this situation have occurred at various times throughout history and the mizmor is written in such a way as to have universal applicability. However, many commentators associate it with the time of the King Yehoshafat, who was also mentioned in conjunction with the previous mizmor (082).
The mizmor has four parts, in the first of which the urgency of the danger is laid out. In the second part, Asaph appeals to Hashem to come to our aid as He did in times past, using the period of the Shoftim (Judges) as a model. In the third and fourth parts Asaph pleads with Hashem to grant us both military and moral victory over our enemies.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. SURROUNDED BY ENEMIES. Asaph appeals for help by outlining the danger that Yisrael is now facing. He speaks of enemy nations both near and far, as well as in every direction of the compass. They have one thing in common — a vicious hatred for the Jewish people. They would like nothing better to completely annihilate the national existence of Yisrael and take their Land. Asaph ascribes this hatred to their abiding hatred for the idea of one G-d that has been introduced into the world through the agency of Yisrael.
In the last three verses of this part Asaph mentions many of the enemies which conspired together to attack Yisrael at various times. Although Yisrael did not necessarily have to face them all at the same time, their sheer number is indicative of Yisrael’s dependence upon Hashem.
(א) שִׁיר מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף: (ב) אֱלֹקִים אַל דֳּמִי לָךְ אַל תֶּחֱרַשׁ וְאַל תִּשְׁקֹט אֵ־ל: (ג) כִּי הִנֵּה אוֹיְבֶיךָ יֶהֱמָיוּן וּמְשַׂנְאֶיךָ נָשְׂאוּ רֹאשׁ: (ד) עַל עַמְּךָ יַעֲרִימוּ סוֹד וְיִתְיָעֲצוּ עַל צְפוּנֶיךָ: (ה) אָמְרוּ לְכוּ וְנַכְחִידֵם מִגּוֹי וְלֹא יִזָּכֵר שֵׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹד: (ו) כִּי נוֹעֲצוּ לֵב יַחְדָּו עָלֶיךָ בְּרִית יִכְרֹתוּ: (ז) אָהֳלֵי אֱדוֹם וְיִשְׁמְעֵאלִים מוֹאָב וְהַגְרִים: (ח) גְּבָל וְעַמּוֹן וַעֲמָלֵק פְּלֶשֶׁת עִם יֹשְׁבֵי צוֹר: (ט) גַּם אַשּׁוּר נִלְוָה עִמָּם הָיוּ זְרוֹעַ לִבְנֵי לוֹט סֶלָה:
(1) A song, a mizmor by Asaph. (2) O G-d of judgment! Don’t stop [Your help]; don’t be still and don’t be inactive; O G-d of power! (3) For behold, Your foes are agitating [to destroy us] and those who hate You have lifted their head. (4) They have been covertly plotting against Your people; they have conspired against Your treasured ones. (5) They say: “Come, let us annihilate them as a nation so the name of Yisrael will never again be mentioned.” (6) For they have conspired together with one mind; they have made a pact against You. (7) [They are] the tents of Edom, the Yishmaelim, Moav, and the descendants of Hagar. (8) Geval, Ammon, Amalek, Pleshes, with the inhabitants of Tzor. (9) Even Ashur joined with them; they became the strong arm of Lot’s sons.
PART 2. VICTORIES OF THE SHOFTIM. Asaph pleads for Hashem’s help in general terms, using examples of His crucial role during the time of the Shoftim (Judges) when Yisrael faced some of the enemies mentioned in the previous part of the mizmor. Despite the fact that the Jewish people were often unworthy, Hashem came to their aid and the enemies were defeated. The specific Shoftim who were involved in these examples were Gideon and Devorah.
(י) עֲשֵׂה לָהֶם כְּמִדְיָן כְּסִיסְרָא כְיָבִין בְּנַחַל קִישׁוֹן: (יא) נִשְׁמְדוּ בְעֵין דֹּאר הָיוּ דֹמֶן לָאֲדָמָה: (יב) שִׁיתֵמוֹ נְדִיבֵמוֹ כְּעֹרֵב וְכִזְאֵב וּכְזֶבַח וּכְצַלְמֻנָּע כָּל נְסִיכֵמוֹ: (יג) אֲשֶׁר אָמְרוּ נִירֲשָׁה לָּנוּ אֵת נְאוֹת אֱלֹקִים:
(10) Do to them as [You did] to Midian, to Sisera, to Yavin at Kishon Brook. (11) They were totally defeated at Ein-dor, becoming like fertilizer for the soil. (12) Deal with their nobles as [You did with] Orev and Zeev, and all their princes as [You did with] Zevach and Tzalmunna. (13) For they said, “Let us take possession of the pleasant habitations of G-d.”
PART 3. A PLEA FOR MILITARY VICTORY. Asaph now uses poetic language to call upon Hashem’s help. He uses the metphors of wind and fire to describe the hoped for military victory that will subdue the enemies of Yisrael.
(יד) אֱלֹקַי שִׁיתֵמוֹ כַגַּלְגַּל כְּקַשׁ לִפְנֵי רוּחַ: (טו) כְּאֵשׁ תִּבְעַר יָעַר וּכְלֶהָבָה תְּלַהֵט הָרִים: (טז) כֵּן תִּרְדְּפֵם בְּסַעֲרֶךָ וּבְסוּפָתְךָ תְבַהֲלֵם:
(14) My G-d, make them be like whirling seed carriers, like straw before the wind, … (15) like a fire burning the forest, like a flame that sets mountains ablaze. (16) So pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with Your whirlwind.
PART 4. A PLEA FOR MORAL VICTORY. Having anticipated military success, Asaph concludes the mizmor with a plea for Hashem to make the enemies of Yisrael see the error of their ways. Military victory by force of arms is not enough. He wants the enemies to recognize the truth of Hashem in the world and feel shame at having opposed Yisrael for so long.
(יז) מַלֵּא פְנֵיהֶם קָלוֹן וִיבַקְשׁוּ שִׁמְךָ ה’: (יח) יֵבֹשׁוּ וְיִבָּהֲלוּ עֲדֵי עַד וְיַחְפְּרוּ וְיֹאבֵדוּ: (יט) וְיֵדְעוּ כִּי אַתָּה שִׁמְךָ ה’ לְבַדֶּךָ עֶלְיוֹן עַל כָּל הָאָרֶץ:
(17) Fill their faces with shame; then they will seek Your Name, Hashem. (18) Let them be shamed and terrified for as long as they live; then they will be disgraced and they will perish. (19) Then they [who remain] will know that You Whose Name alone is Hashem are the Most High over all the earth.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. SURROUNDED BY ENEMIES.
(א) שִׁיר מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף:
Although this mizmor is an appeal for protection in time of danger, it is also a song of joy — שִׁיר because it recalls the defeat of Yisrael’s enemies in times past. See Part 2.) The mizmor — מִזְמוֹר was composed by Asaph — לְאָסָף .
(ב) אֱלֹקִים אַל דֳּמִי לָךְ
אַל תֶּחֱרַשׁ וְאַל תִּשְׁקֹט אֵ־ל:
O G-d of judgment — אֱלֹקִים ! At this time of our great distress don’t stop Your continuing support of Yisrael — אַל דֳּמִי לָךְ . Don’t be still and don’t be inactive in the face of our danger — אַל תֶּחֱרַשׁ וְאַל תִּשְׁקֹט , O G-d of power — אֵ־ל !
(ג) כִּי הִנֵּה אוֹיְבֶיךָ יֶהֱמָיוּן
וּמְשַׂנְאֶיךָ נָשְׂאוּ רֹאשׁ:
For behold, Your foes are agitating to destroy us — כִּי הִנֵּה אוֹיְבֶיךָ יֶהֱמָיוּן and those who hate You have lifted their head — וּמְשַׂנְאֶיךָ נָשְׂאוּ רֹאשׁ . They are filled with self-importance and have adopted renewed plans to vanquish us. Although their hatred is for us, they are really Your enemies and we face them as Your representatives.
(ד) עַל עַמְּךָ יַעֲרִימוּ סוֹד
וְיִתְיָעֲצוּ עַל צְפוּנֶיךָ:
They have been covertly plotting against Yisrael because we are Your people — עַל עַמְּךָ יַעֲרִימוּ סוֹד . Overcoming their differences and their mutual distrust they have cooperated to conspire against Your treasured ones — וְיִתְיָעֲצוּ עַל צְפוּנֶיךָ , with the calculated aim of severing Your relationship with Yisrael.
(ה) אָמְרוּ לְכוּ וְנַכְחִידֵם מִגּוֹי
וְלֹא יִזָּכֵר שֵׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹד:
They say to one another — אָמְרוּ , “Come, let us annihilate them as a nation — לְכוּ וְנַכְחִידֵם מִגּוֹי , so the name of Yisrael with its special relations to Hashem will never again be mentioned — וְלֹא יִזָּכֵר שֵׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹד !” Their ultimate intent is to do away with belief in Hashem.
(ו) כִּי נוֹעֲצוּ לֵב יַחְדָּו
עָלֶיךָ בְּרִית יִכְרֹתוּ:
For they have conspired together with one mind — כִּי נוֹעֲצוּ לֵב יַחְדָּו ; they have made a pact against You, Hashem — עָלֶיךָ בְּרִית יִכְרֹתוּ to erase the memory of Your Name in conjunction with that of Yisrael.
(ז) אָהֳלֵי אֱדוֹם וְיִשְׁמְעֵאלִים
They include those who dwell in the tents of Edom — אָהֳלֵי אֱדוֹם , the descendants of Yitchak’s son Esav, and the Yishmaelim the descendants of Avraham’s son Yishmael — וְיִשְׁמְעֵאלִים ; Moav — מוֹאָב among the descendants of Lot; and the nations who were the descendants of Hagar — וְהַגְרִים , Avraham’s second wife and the mother of Yishmael. She subsequently remarried and had additional sons with another husband.
(ח) גְּבָל וְעַמּוֹן וַעֲמָלֵק
פְּלֶשֶׁת עִם יֹשְׁבֵי צוֹר:
In addition there are: Geval — גְּבָל (a nation of Phoenician builders allied with Tzor, mentioned in Yechezkel 27:9 and I Melachim 5:32); Ammon — וְעַמּוֹן (descended from Lot); Amalek — וַעֲמָלֵק (descended from Esav); Pleshes — פְּלֶשֶׁת (the land of the Plishtim), with the inhabitants of Tzor — עִם יֹשְׁבֵי צוֹר (a major Phoenician city).
(ט) גַּם אַשּׁוּר נִלְוָה עִמָּם
הָיוּ זְרוֹעַ לִבְנֵי לוֹט סֶלָה:
Even Ashur (Assyria), which was relatively distant from Eretz Yisrael, joined with them — גַּם אַשּׁוּר נִלְוָה עִמָּם ; they became the strong arm of Lot’s sons (Amon and Moav), which were closer to us, Selah — הָיוּ זְרוֹעַ לִבְנֵי לוֹט סֶלָה .
PART 2. VICTORIES FOR THE SHOFTIM.
(י) עֲשֵׂה לָהֶם כְּמִדְיָן כְּסִיסְרָא
כְיָבִין בְּנַחַל קִישׁוֹן:
Do to them as You did to Midian through the agency of Gideon (Shoftim 7:22) — עֲשֵׂה לָהֶם כְּמִדְיָן . Do to them as you did to General Sisera of Canaan through the agency of Devorah and Barak — כְּסִיסְרָא and as you did to their King Yavin at Kishon Brook — כְיָבִין בְּנַחַל קִישׁוֹן . Those who fled from Sisera’s camp were miraculously drowned in the Kishon brook. In these battles Hashem threw the enemy into a panic and gave the victory to Yisrael. Although the people were unworthy they cried out to Hashem and showed a willingness to change. (See ibid. 4:12-24, 5:8-33 and 7:22.)
(יא) נִשְׁמְדוּ בְעֵין דֹּאר
הָיוּ דֹמֶן לָאֲדָמָה:
They were totally defeated in another battle at Ein-dor — נִשְׁמְדוּ בְעֵין דֹּאר ; their corpses were never buried and so they became like fertilizer for the soil — הָיוּ דֹמֶן לָאֲדָמָה .
(יב) שִׁיתֵמוֹ נְדִיבֵמוֹ כְּעֹרֵב וְכִזְאֵב
וּכְזֶבַח וּכְצַלְמֻנָּע כָּל נְסִיכֵמוֹ:
Hashem, deal with their nobles as You did with Orev and Zeev — שִׁיתֵמוֹ נְדִיבֵמוֹ כְּעֹרֵב וְכִזְאֵב , nobles of Midian who were quickly killed by Gideon’s army (ibid. 7:25). And deal with all their princes as You did with Zevach and Tzalmunna — וּכְזֶבַח וּכְצַלְמֻנָּע כָּל נְסִיכֵמוֹ , who were also leaders of Midian and were killed by Gideon himself at the end of the campaign (ibid. 8:21).
(יג) אֲשֶׁר אָמְרוּ
נִירֲשָׁה לָּנוּ אֵת נְאוֹת אֱלֹקִים:
For all of these nations conspired to invade us, saying — אֲשֶׁר אָמְרוּ , “Let us take possession of — נִירֲשָׁה לָּנוּ the Land of Yisrael whose blessed mountains and plains must surely be the pleasant habitations of G-d — אֵת נְאוֹת אֱלֹקִים .”
PART 3. A PLEA FOR MILITARY VICTORY.
(יד) אֱלֹקַי שִׁיתֵמוֹ כַגַּלְגַּל
כְּקַשׁ לִפְנֵי רוּחַ:
My G-d — אֱלֹקַי , let them have no rest in our land. Make them be like whirling seed carriers — שִׁיתֵמוֹ כַגַּלְגַּל , like straw that is carried before the wind — כְּקַשׁ לִפְנֵי רוּחַ .
(טו) כְּאֵשׁ תִּבְעַר יָעַר
וּכְלֶהָבָה תְּלַהֵט הָרִים:
Let them be like a fire burning the forest — כְּאֵשׁ תִּבְעַר יָעַר . Just as one tree quickly ignites the next in a dense forest, so may the enemy kill one another quickly in their confusion. Let them be like a wind-blown flame that sets mountains ablaze — וּכְלֶהָבָה תְּלַהֵט הָרִים .
(טז) כֵּן תִּרְדְּפֵם בְּסַעֲרֶךָ
So pursue them with Your swift-moving tempest — כֵּן תִּרְדְּפֵם בְּסַעֲרֶךָ and terrify them with Your intense whirlwind — וּבְסוּפָתְךָ תְבַהֲלֵ that is continually changing direction.
PART 4. A PLEA FOR MORAL VICTORY.
(יז) מַלֵּא פְנֵיהֶם קָלוֹן
וִיבַקְשׁוּ שִׁמְךָ ה’:
Fill their faces with shame as they are embarrassed at their arrogance for thinking they could dispossess Yisrael from its land — מַלֵּא פְנֵיהֶם קָלוֹן , then they will sincerely regret their actions and seek Your Name, Hashem — וִיבַקְשׁוּ שִׁמְךָ ה’ .
(יח) יֵבֹשׁוּ וְיִבָּהֲלוּ עֲדֵי עַד
If they do not fully acknowledge their sins, their insincere regrets will not be accepted. Then let them be shamed and terrified for as long as they live — יֵבֹשׁוּ וְיִבָּהֲלוּ עֲדֵי עַד , then they will be disgraced and they will perish — וְיַחְפְּרוּ וְיֹאבֵדוּ .
(יט) וְיֵדְעוּ כִּי אַתָּה שִׁמְךָ ה’ לְבַדֶּךָ
עֶלְיוֹן עַל כָּל הָאָרֶץ:
Then those who remain of Yisrael and the nations will know that You — וְיֵדְעוּ כִּי אַתָּה Whose Name alone is Hashem — שִׁמְךָ ה’ , are the Most High over all the earth — לְבַדֶּךָ עֶלְיוֹן עַל כָּל הָאָרֶץ . They will know that they must seek refuge with You if they are to have any future and they will realize, that such renewed future can be theirs only if they render You homage without reservations.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses in this mizmor are listed below.
א – רד”ק
ב – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, מצודות, מלבי”ם
ג – רד”ק, רשר”ה, נר לרגלי
ד- מלבי”ם, המאירי, בן רמוך, ספורנו, נר לרגלי
ה – אבן עזרא, מלבי”ם , המאירי
ו – רש”י
ז – רד”ק, מצודות
ח – נר לרגלי
ט – רד”ק, המאירי
י – רש”י, רד”ק, מלבי”ם
יא – רש”י, מצודות, בן רמוך
יב – רד”ק, נר לרגלי
יג – רש”י, המאירי, נר לרגלי
יד – רש”י, מצודות, נר לרגלי
טו – רד”ק, מצודות, אבן יחייא
טז – מלבי”ם, נר לרגלי
יז – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, מלבי”ם, רשר”ה
יח – אבן יחייא
יט – בן רמוך, אבן יחייא