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Mizmor 094 (The Return of Justice)
(א) אֵ־ל נְקָמוֹת ה’ אֵ־ל נְקָמוֹת הוֹפִיעַ: (ב) הִנָּשֵׂא שֹׁפֵט הָאָרֶץ הָשֵׁב גְּמוּל עַל־גֵּאִים:
(1) Hashem, [You are the] G-d of vengeance. O G-d of vengeance, shine forth. (2) Rise up, O Judge of the earth. Repay the arrogant.
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 094 (The Return of Justice)
This is the fifth in the series of 11 mizmorim that were originally composed by Moshe Rabbeinu and subsequently incorporated into Tehilim by David. It was designed to be sung in the Bais HaMikdash as the Song of the Day for the fourth day of the week.
Just as the fourth day of the week turns its direction towards the peace of Shabbos, the singer calls upon Hashem to turn the tide of history and bring an end to the freedom that has been granted to the perpetrators of evil.
The mizmor begins with a call from the Jewish people crying out to Hashem for justice (Part 1). The singer, representing his people, proceeds like a prosecuting attorney denouncing the crimes of the wicked who have not only been persecuting the Jewish people but harming innocent victims everywhere (Part 2). He then addresses the perpetrators directly, making his case by showing them how foolish they are in thinking thety can get away with what they have been doing (Part 3). The singer now turns to the victims of oppression, consoling the Jewish people and reminding them that even their suffering has served a constructive purpose (Part 4). That will all become clear when justice is finally restored to the world, as it surely will.
As the mizmor proceeds, the confidence of the singer is gradually building up that the yeshuah is coming. And so it is time for gratitude to Hashem (Part 5) as the Jewish people realize their own despondency has contributed to their suffering. Their renewed confidence in total victory against their corrupt enemies brings the mizmor to and end (Part 6).
This ending is actually a lead-in to the next mizmor (095), which is a song of joy and praise to Hashem ( לְכוּ נְרַנְּנָה לַה‘ ). That mizmor introduces the evening service ( קַבָּלַת שַׁבָּת ) that is used to welcome the onset of Shabbos each week. Accordingly, the first three pesukim of that mizmor have been added to the end of Mizmor 094 to complete the Song of the Day for the fourth day of the week. And so as the thoughts of Jews throughout the world begin to focus on the coming Shabbos of peace and serenity, they sweeten the mood of justice and bitter revenge by turning to positive thoughts of coming closer to their Creator in gratitude and joy.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. CALL FOR JUSTICE. The people in exile are crying out to Hashem: You are the King and Master of the world. You have it in your power to impose Your justice upon Your enemies. Do so now and take vengeance against the arrogant resha’im who have challenged You. They are taking advantage of Your patience and confirming their illusions of being in control.
(א) אֵ־ל נְקָמוֹת ה’ אֵ־ל נְקָמוֹת הוֹפִיעַ: (ב) הִנָּשֵׂא שֹׁפֵט הָאָרֶץ הָשֵׁב גְּמוּל עַל־גֵּאִים: (ג) עַד־מָתַי רְשָׁעִים ה’ עַד־מָתַי רְשָׁעִים יַעֲלֹזוּ: (ד) יַבִּיעוּ יְדַבְּרוּ עָתָק יִתְאַמְּרוּ כָּל־פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן:
(1) Hashem, [You are the] G-d of vengeance. O G-d of vengeance, shine forth. (2) Rise up, O Judge of the earth. Repay the arrogant. (3) Until when will the wicked … Until when will the wicked rejoice? (4) [How long will] they speak shamelessly, declare [their] intent to do harm, and promote themselves, all doers of iniquity?
PART 2. DENUNCIATION OF THE WICKED. The singer cries out to awaken the anger of Hashem against the wicked who persecute the Jewish people and vulnerable people everywhere. By doing so, the wicked impugn the honor of Hashem, for He has forever associated His Name with His people. The enemies of Yisrael foolishly think Hashem’s endless patience is a sign that He does not know or care what happens to the victims so they are free to do as they please.
(ה) עַמְּךָ ה’ יְדַכְּאוּ וְנַחֲלָתְךָ יְעַנּוּ: (ו) אַלְמָנָה וְגֵר יַהֲרֹגוּ וִיתוֹמִים יְרַצֵּחוּ:
(ז) וַיֹּאמְרוּ לֹא יִרְאֶה־יָּהּ וְלֹא־יָבִין אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב:
(5) [It is] Your nation, Hashem, they [seek to] crush. They afflict Your heritage. (6) They kill the widow and the stranger, and murder the orphans. (7) They are saying, “G-d will not see, nor will the G-d of Yaacov understand.”
PART 3. MAKING THE CASE. The singer addresses the foolish nations and demonstrates to them how mistaken they have been in going against the will of the Creator. They have been grossly underestimating Him in thinking that they can get away with what they have been doing.
(ח) בִּינוּ בֹּעֲרִים בָּעָם וּכְסִילִים מָתַי תַּשְׂכִּילוּ: (ט) הֲנֹטַע אֹזֶן הֲלֹא יִשְׁמָע אִם־יֹצֵר עַיִן הֲלֹא יַבִּיט: (י) הֲיֹסֵר גּוֹיִם הֲלֹא יוֹכִיחַ הַמְלַמֵּד אָדָם דָּעַת: (יא) ה’ יֹדֵעַ מַחְשְׁבוֹת אָדָם כִּי־הֵמָּה הָבֶל:
(8) Consider, you ignorant among the people; and you fools, when will you use your intelligence? (9) He Who implants the ear, will He not hear? He Who forms the eye, will He not see? (10) He Who disciplines nations, will He not rebuke? It is He Who teaches man knowledge. (11) [And so surely] Hashem knows the thoughts of man, that they are of no consequence.
PART 4. CONSOLING THE VICTIM. The singer consoles the righteous people who are being mocked by the oppressors for accepting their suffering willingly. He argues that the suffering was for a constructive purpose and that this will have been demonstrated when justice is restored to the benefit of the righteous.
(יב) אַשְׁרֵי׀ הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר־תְּיַסְּרֶנּוּ יָּהּ וּמִתּוֹרָתְךָ תְלַמְּדֶנּוּ: (יג) לְהַשְׁקִיט לוֹ מִימֵי רָע עַד יִכָּרֶה לָרָשָׁע שָׁחַת: (יד) כִּי׀ לֹא־יִטֹּשׁ ה’ עַמּוֹ וְנַחֲלָתוֹ לֹא יַעֲזֹב: (טו) כִּי־עַד־צֶדֶק יָשׁוּב מִשְׁפָּט וְאַחֲרָיו כָּל־יִשְׁרֵי־לֵב:
(12) Fortunate is the man whom You discipline, O Hashem, and whom You teach from your Torah. (13) To relieve him from the days of adversity while a pit is dug for the wicked. (14) For Hashem will not forsake His people, nor will He abandon His legacy. (15) But justice will again revert to righteousness and then all the upright in heart will rally to it.
PART 5. A TIME FOR GRATITUDE. The singer expresses the gratitude of the Jewish people for the help that they know Hashem will bring. While still at the edge of despair, they have caught themselves up short with the realization that Hashem has not abandoned them. The Galus seems endless, but it will surely come to an end.
(טז) מִי־יָקוּם לִי עִם־מְרֵעִים מִי־יִתְיַצֵּב לִי עִם־פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן: (יז) לוּלֵי ה’ עֶזְרָתָה לִּי כִּמְעַט׀ שָׁכְנָה דוּמָה נַפְשִׁי: (יח) אִם־אָמַרְתִּי מָטָה רַגְלִי חַסְדְּךָ ה’ יִסְעָדֵנִי: (יט) בְּרֹב שַׂרְעַפַּי בְּקִרְבִּי תַּנְחוּמֶיךָ יְשַׁעַשְׁעוּ נַפְשִׁי:
(16) Who was there to rise up for me against evildoers? Who will stand up for me against wrongdoers? (17) Were Hashem not my help, my soul would almost be residing in the silence [of the grave]. (18) Whenever I thought, “My foot has given way,” Your kindness, Hashem, supported me. (19) When my forebodings increased within me, Your comforting words cheered my soul.
PART 6. CONFIDENCE RESTORED. The mizmor ends with the singer’s expression of confidence that the corrupt forces of evil in the world are no match for the integrity of truth. They will surely be defeated by their own lies and viciousness, which will be turned against them, so that their punishment will be absolute. They wanted to destroy the Jewish people, but instead they will forever cut off and obliterated.
(כ) הַיְחָבְרְךָ כִּסֵּא הַוּוֹת יֹצֵר עָמָל עֲלֵי־חֹק: (כא) יָגוֹדּוּ עַל־נֶפֶשׁ צַדִּיק וְדָם נָקִי יַרְשִׁיעוּ: (כב) וַיְהִי ה’ לִי לְמִשְׂגָּב וֵאלֹהַי לְצוּר מַחְסִי: (כג) וַיָּשֶׁב עֲלֵיהֶם׀ אֶת־אוֹנָם וּבְרָעָתָם יַצְמִיתֵם יַצְמִיתֵם ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ:
(20) Can [the wicked kings who sit on] the throne of destruction be associated with You, those who frame vice into law? (21) They join forces against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the blood of the innocent. (22) But Hashem is my bastion, and my G-d is the Rock of my refuge. (23) He will turn their own violence back upon them; and with their own evil He will cut them off; Hashem, our G-d, will cut them off.
Learning the Mizmor
(א) אֵ־ל נְקָמוֹת ה’ 
אֵ־ל נְקָמוֹת הוֹפִיַע:
You have always been the G-d of mercy, Hashem, but You have demonstrated that You are also the G-d of vengeance — אֵ־ל נְקָמוֹת ה’ Who imposes justice again and again upon our oppressors. O G-d of vengeance, shine forth now  אֵ־ל נְקָמוֹת הוֹפִיַע and judge the wicked!
(ב) הִנָּשֵׂא שֹׁפֵט הָאָרֶץ 
הָשֵׁב גְּמוּל עַל גֵּאִים:
Rise up, O Judge of the earth — הִנָּשֵׂא שֹׁפֵט הָאָרֶץ . Repay the arrogant — הָשֵׁב גְּמוּל עַל־גֵּאִים with the retribution that they deserve and bring them down from their illusions of pride. Reveal Your greatness and let them know that You do not hide Yourself in the face of the wicked.
(ג) עַד מָתַי רְשָׁעִים ה’ 
עַד מָתַי רְשָׁעִים יַעֲלֹזוּ:
Hashem, the Galus is lasting so long and the wicked are under the impression they are in control! Until when will the wicked be allowed to take advantage of Your patience and desecrate Your Name…, O Hashem  עַד־מָתַי רְשָׁעִים ה’ ; until when will the wicked be allowed to rejoice  עַד־מָתַי רְשָׁעִים יַעֲלֹזוּ over the suffering of Yisrael?
(ד) יַבִּיעוּ יְדַבְּרוּ עָתָק
יִתְאַמְּרוּ כָּל פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן:
How long will they speak shamelessly  יַבִּיעוּ They act as though they have been empowered and authorized to destroy us. How long will they declare their intent to do harm  יְדַבְּרוּ עָתָק How long will they promote themselves while challenging G-d, all those doers of iniquity  יִתְאַמְּרוּ כָּל־פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן They take pride in their being able to do as they please, for their apparent power seems to confirm the rightness of their twisted ideas.
(ה) עַמְּךָ ה’ יְדַכְּאוּ 
וְנַחֲלָתְךָ יְעַנּוּ:
And who is the object of their hatred? It is Your nation, Hashem, that they seek to crush  עַמְּךָ ה’ יְדַכְּאוּ the very people who subordinate their lives to You. The wicked hate them for doing Your will. They seek to afflict the nation that is Your heritage  וְנַחֲלָתְךָ יְעַנּוּ , to humiliating painBecause Your nation is eternally associated with You, the wicked torment them to provoke You.
(ו) אַלְמָנָה וְגֵר יַהֲרֹגוּ
וִיתוֹמִים יְרַצֵּחוּ:
But it is not only the Jewish people as a whole that they abuse, they especially persecute the weak and vulnerable. They kill the widow and the stranger in their midst  אַלְמָנָה וְגֵר יַהֲרֹגוּ , and murder the orphans  וִיתוֹמִים יְרַצֵּחוּ , all those who are unable to defend themselves.
(ז) וַיֹּאמְרוּ לֹא יִרְאֶה יָּ־הּ 
וְלֹא יָבִין אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב:
All the while they are saying  וַיֹּאמְרוּ , “G-d will not see  לֹא יִרְאֶה יָּ־הּ , nor will the G-d of Yaacov understand  וְלֹא־יָבִין אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב for they think He does not concern Himself with the affairs of mankind. They interpret His tolerance of wickedness in the world as a sign that He does not care or is unable to do anything about it.”
(ח) בִּינוּ בֹּעֲרִים בָּעָם 
וּכְסִילִים מָתַי תַּשְׂכִּילוּ:
Consider, you who behave as though you are the ignorant among the people  בִּינוּ בֹּעֲרִים בָּעָם And as for you who behave like fools, when will you use your intelligence  וּכְסִילִים מָתַי תַּשְׂכִּילוּ How can you deny your knowledge of Hashem, when the evidence is everywhere? Don’t you realize you will ultimately have to pay the price of your crimes?
(ט) הֲנֹטַע אֹזֶן הֲלֹא יִשְׁמָע 
אִם יֹצֵר עַיִן הֲלֹא יַבִּיט:
If you had taken the time to think about it, you would realize that He Who implants the ear  הֲנֹטַע אֹזֶן , will He not hear  הֲלֹא יִשְׁמָע the lies you have been speaking about Hashem and His nation ? He Who forms the eye  אִם־יֹצֵר עַיִן , will He not see  הֲלֹא יַבִּיט Although He makes no use of eyes or ears, He is surely aware of the harm you are doing.
(י) הֲיֹסֵר גּוֹיִם הֲלֹא יוֹכִיחַ 
הַמְלַמֵּד אָדָם דָּעַת:
He Who disciplines nations  הֲיֹסֵר גּוֹיִם and has done so in the events of the Flood, the Tower of Bavel, and the destruction of Sedom, will He not rebuke individuals who displease Him  הֲלֹא יוֹכִיחַ ? It is He Who teaches man knowledge  הַמְלַמֵּד אָדָם דָּעַת So He must surely know man’s thoughts.
(יא) ה’ יֹדֵעַ מַחְשְׁבוֹת אָדָם 
כִּי הֵמָּה הָבֶל:
You foolish people think He does not understand your thoughts or actions, but Hashem knows the thoughts of man  ה’ יֹדֵעַ מַחְשְׁבוֹת אָדָם , that they are of no consequence  כִּי־הֵמָּה הָבֶל for they cannot be translated into deeds unless He wishes it.
(יב) אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר תְּיַסְּרֶנּוּ יָּ־הּ 
וּמִתּוֹרָתְךָ תְלַמְּדֶנּוּ:
Fortunate is the righteous man whom You discipline to encourage him to observe Your mitzvos, O Hashem  אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר־תְּיַסְּרֶנּוּ יָּ־הּ , and whom You teach from your Torah  וּמִתּוֹרָתְךָ תְלַמְּדֶנּוּ to endure the discipline for his ultimate good. The same strength of character which enables him to master his yetzer hara, enables him to endure suffering gracefully. It is a discipline to which Hashem subjects only those of His children who are capable of improvement and ennoblement.
(יג) לְהַשְׁקִיט לוֹ מִימֵי רָע 
עַד יִכָּרֶה לָרָשָׁע שָׁחַת:
You discipline the righteous to relieve him and protect him from unnecessary suffering in the days of adversity  לְהַשְׁקִיט לוֹ מִימֵי רָע , while a pit is dug for the wicked  עַד יִכָּרֶה לָרָשָׁע שָׁחַת When the wicked are facing their well-deserved deserved punishment, the righteous will be at peace.
(יד) כִּי לֹא יִטֹּשׁ ה’ עַמּוֹ 
וְנַחֲלָתוֹ לֹא יַעֲזֹב:
For although Hashem discplines Yisrael, it is done with love and He will not forsake His people  כִּי לֹא־יִטֹּשׁ ה’ עַמּוֹ , nor will He abandon His legacy  וְנַחֲלָתוֹ לֹא יַעֲזֹב which bears His Name. Yisrael is the one nation that has remained faithful to Hiom throughout the ages. Without them, whom can Hashem rely on? And so the time will surely come when He will redeem them.
(טו) כִּי עַד צֶדֶק יָשׁוּב מִשְׁפָּט 
וְאַחֲרָיו כָּל יִשְׁרֵי לֵב:
When the righteou suffer it seems as though justice has failed them. But justice will again revert to righteousness  כִּי־עַד־צֶדֶק יָשׁוּב מִשְׁפָּט so that the righteous will get the benefit of Jashem’s justice and they will no longer need to endure persecution and affliction; and then all the upright in heart will rally to righteousness  וְאַחֲרָיו כָּל יִשְׁרֵי לֵב for its truth will have been demonstrated and all temptations to wickedness will have been banished from their hearts. Then the process of disciplining them will no longer be necessary.
(טז) מִי יָקוּם לִי עִם מְרֵעִים 
מִי יִתְיַצֵּב לִי עִם פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן:
The Jewish nation speaks out: Even in the midst of suffering it is evident that Hashem is helping us. Were it not for Hashem, who was there to rise up for me against evildoers  מִי יָקוּם לִי עִם מְרֵעִים in the land of my enemies? Who was there to stand up for me against wrongdoers  מִי יִתְיַצֵּב לִי עִם פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן ? I could not have done on my own because I didn’t have the strength.
(יז) לוּלֵי ה’ עֶזְרָתָה לִּי 
כִּמְעַט שָׁכְנָה דוּמָה נַפְשִׁי:
Were Hashem not my help  לוּלֵי ה’ עֶזְרָתָה לִּי , my soul would almost be residing in the silence of the grave  כִּמְעַט שָׁכְנָה דוּמָה נַפְשִׁי It would have meant the loss of my my opportunity to fulfill my mission in this world, doing mitzvos and good deeds.
(יח) אִם אָמַרְתִּי מָטָה רַגְלִי 
חַסְדְּךָ ה’ יִסְעָדֵנִי:
At those times when I thought that I was about to succumb to the travails of exile You enabled me to keep going. Whenever I thought, “My foot has given way  אִם אָמַרְתִּי מָטָה רַגְלִי ,” I knew that Your kindness, Hashem, would support me  חַסְדְּךָ ה’ יִסְעָדֵנִי .
(יט) בְּרֹב שַׂרְעַפַּי בְּקִרְבִּי 
תַּנְחוּמֶיךָ יְשַׁעַשְׁעוּ נַפְשִׁי:
When my forebodings increased within me  בְּרֹב שַׂרְעַפַּי בְּקִרְבִּי because of the length of the Galus and those anxieties prevented my from devoting myself to Your Torah, Your comforting words, expressed through Your prophets, cheered my soul  תַּנְחוּמֶיךָ יְשַׁעַשְׁעוּ נַפְשִׁי .
(כ) הַיְחָבְרְךָ כִּסֵּא הַוּוֹת 
יֹצֵר עָמָל עֲלֵי חֹק:
I know that Your assurances given to me through Your prophets are authentic and true for You are the true Judge and Your throne is the throne of truth. Can the wicked kings who sit on the throne of libel and falsehood be associated with You  הַיְחָבְרְךָ כִּסֵּא הַוּוֹת ? — those who frame vice into law  יֹצֵר עָמָל עֲלֵי־חֹק ?
(כא) יָגוֹדּוּ עַל נֶפֶשׁ צַדִּיק 
וְדָם נָקִי יַרְשִׁיעוּ:
They join forces against the soul of the righteous  יָגוֹדּוּ עַל־נֶפֶשׁ צַדִּיק justifying the crimes of the wicked and condemning the blood of the innocent  וְדָם נָקִי יַרְשִׁיעוּ through their perverted laws and corrupt governments. They prtetend to be acting with justice, whereas their behavior is dishonest and immoral.
(כב) וַיְהִי ה’ לִי לְמִשְׂגָּב 
וֵאלֹקַי לְצוּר מַחְסִי:
But Hashem is my bastion  וַיְהִי ה’ לִי לְמִשְׂגָּב , and my G-d is the Rock of my refuge  וֵאלֹקַי לְצוּר מַחְסִי He maintains the integrity of truth and is not shaken by their lies and their threats. I rely on Him to protrect me and they cannot touch me.
(כג) וַיָּשֶׁב עֲלֵיהֶם אֶת אוֹנָם
וּבְרָעָתָם יַצְמִיתֵם יַצְמִיתֵם ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ:
Not only will He save me, He will turn their own violence back upon them  וַיָּשֶׁב עֲלֵיהֶם אֶת־אוֹנָם , and with their own evil He will cut them off  וּבְרָעָתָם יַצְמִיתֵם so that they will be punished by the other nations for their crimes. Hashem, our G-d, will surely cut them off  יַצְמִיתֵם ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ so that nothing will be left of them.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses in this mizmor are listed below.
א – רש”י, אבן עזרא, בן־רמוך, אבן יחייא
ב – רד”ק, נר לרגלי
ג – רד”ק
ד – רש”י, רד”ק, אבן יחייא, נר לרגלי
ה – רד”ק, נר לרגלי
ו – המאירי
ז – מצודות, מלבים
ח – המאירי, נר לרגלי
ט – רד”ק, נר לרגלי
י – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, בן־רמוך, ספורנו
יא – אבן עזרא, רד”ק,
יב – רש”י, אבן עזרא, רד”ק, בן־רמוך ,רשר”ה
יג – רד”ק
יד – רד”ק, נר לרגלי
טו – רד”ק, נר לרגלי, רשר”ה
טז – רד”ק, מצודות, נר לרגלי 
יז – מצודות, נר לרגלי
יח – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, ספורנו
יט – רד”ק, ספורנו
כ – רד”ק , ספורנו, נר לרגלי
כא – רש”י, ספורנו
כב – ספורנו, נר לרגלי
כג – רש”י, בן־רמוך, ספורנו