(א) ה’ מָלָךְ יִרְגְּזוּ עַמִּים יֹשֵׁב כְּרוּבִים תָּנוּט הָאָרֶץ:
(1) Hashem reigns. Let the people tremble. Let the earth quake before Him Who is enthroned upon the Cheruvim.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 1]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 099 (Contemplating Holiness)
This is the tenth in the series of 11 mizmorim that were originally composed by Moshe Rabbeinu and subsequently incorporated into Tehilim by David. Like the previous mizmorim, the mizmor paints a picture of a promised future, but it also contemplates the infinite variety of ways in which Hashem allows Himself to be perceived by mankind. That perception extends from the lowly image of an accessible footstool and the minute space between two Cheruvim to the soaring grandeur of a distant mountain peak.
The mizmor consists of three parts, all of which are united by a common theme of Hashem’s holiness as King of the World, the King of Justice, and the King of His people. Each of the three parts ends with a declaration of His holiness.
The last part speaks of the high standards maintained by the leaders of the Jewish people, especially Moshe, Aharon, and Shmuel. But even they are held to account for their slightest misstep, despite the fact that Hashem responds to their supplications that the people be forgiven their sins.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. THE KING OF ALL THE WORLD. The first three pesukim celebrate the world-wide recognition of Hashem’s Kingship and His holiness that radiates out from the rebuilt Bais Hamikdash in Tzion.
(א) ה’ מָלָךְ יִרְגְּזוּ עַמִּים יֹשֵׁב כְּרוּבִים תָּנוּט הָאָרֶץ: (ב) ה’ בְּצִיּוֹן גָּדוֹל וְרָם הוּא עַל־כָּל־הָעַמִּים: (ג) יוֹדוּ שִׁמְךָ גָּדוֹל וְנוֹרָא קָדוֹשׁ הוּא:
(1) Hashem reigns. Let the people tremble. Let the earth quake before Him Who is enthroned upon the Cheruvim [in the Bais Hamikdash]. (2) Hashem is great and exalted above all the peoples. (3) Let them gratefully praise Yoyr great and awesome Name . He is holy!
PART 2. THE KING OF JUSTICE. The next two pesukim celebrate qualities that especially distinguish Hashem from earthly kings. These are His justice and His holiness. His justice, enforced by His might, is based on the integrity of His fairness. His holiness is most evident in the Bais Hamikdash, which is symbolically His footstool on earth.
(ד) וְעֹז מֶלֶךְ מִשְׁפָּט אָהֵב אַתָּה כּוֹנַנְתָּ מֵישָׁרִים מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה בְּיַעֲקֹב׀ אַתָּה עָשִׂיתָ: (ה) רוֹמְמוּ ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ וְהִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לַהֲדֹם רַגְלָיו קָדוֹשׁ הוּא:
(4) Mighty is the King Who loves justice. You founded fairness. You have treated Yaakov with justice and caring goodness.
PART 3. THE KING AND HIS PEOPLE. The remaining four pesukim address the relationship between Hashem, the Jewish people and their righteous leaders. The Jewish people were blessed with righteous leaders who served Hashem with total integrity. Of special note were Moshe, Aharon, and Shmuel. These saintly men were the beloved of Hashem and He responded to their tefillos when they interceded for their people. However, although Hashem forgives sin, He does not compromise the high standards of holiness which we must all aspire to.
(ו) מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן בְּכֹהֲנָיו וּשְׁמוּאֵל בְּקֹרְאֵי שְׁמוֹ קֹרִאים אֶל־ה’ וְהוּא יַעֲנֵם: (ז) בְּעַמּוּד עָנָן יְדַבֵּר אֲלֵיהֶם שָׁמְרוּ עֵדֹתָיו וְחֹק נָתַן־לָמוֹ: (ח) ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ אַתָּה עֲנִיתָם אֵ־ל נֹשֵׂא הָיִיתָ לָהֶם וְנֹקֵם עַל־עֲלִילוֹתָם: (ט) רוֹמְמוּ ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ וְהִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לְהַר קָדְשׁוֹ כִּי־קָדוֹשׁ ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ:
(6) Moshe and Aharon were among His Kohanim, and Shmuel was among those who call His Name. They called upon Hashem and He answered them. (7) He spoke to them in a pillar of cloud. They obeyed His testimonies and the statutes that He gave them. (8) Hashem, our G-d, You answered them. You were a forgiving G-d because of them, while [still] avenging their misdeeds. (9) Exalt Hashem, our G-d and bow at His holy mountain; for Hashem our G-d is holy.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. THE KING OF ALL THE WORLD.
(א) ה’ מָלָךְ יִרְגְּזוּ עַמִּים
יֹשֵׁב כְּרוּבִים תָּנוּט הָאָרֶץ:
Hashem reigns — ה’ מָלָךְ : Let the peoples tremble — יִרְגְּזוּ עַמִּים at the downfall of empires during the wars preceding the Geulah. Let the earth quake before Him Who is enthroned upon the Cheruvim— יֹשֵׁב כְּרוּבִים תָּנוּט הָאָרֶץ for the Shechinah has returned to the Bais Hamikdash.
(ב) ה’ בְּצִיּוֹן גָּדוֹל
וְרָם הוּא עַל כָּל הָעַמִּים:
And so Hashem is recognized as great and accessible to all, with the Shechinah resident in Tzion — but He is exalted above all the peoples — וְרָם הוּא עַל־כָּל־הָעַמִּים .
(ג) יוֹדוּ שִׁמְךָ גָּדוֹל וְנוֹרָא
Even if they are distant from Your holiness, let all nations gratefully praise what they are able to grasp of the qualities inherent in Your great and awesome Name — יוֹדוּ שִׁמְךָ גָּדוֹל וְנוֹרָא . But they will recognize that He is holy — קָדוֹשׁ הוּא independent of any human comprehension!
PART 2. THE KING OF JUSTICE.
(ד) וְעֹז מֶלֶךְ מִשְׁפָּט אָהֵב
אַתָּה כּוֹנַנְתָּ מֵישָׁרִים
מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה בְּיַעֲקֹב אַתָּה עָשִׂיתָ:
Mighty is the King, Who loves and enforces justice — וְעֹז מֶלֶךְ מִשְׁפָּט אָהֵב as reflected in the Laws which He gave Yisrael. You founded fairness — אַתָּה כּוֹנַנְתָּ מֵישָׁרִים and made it the basis of the Torah for all Your Laws are consistent and fair, instead of the laws of human kings which are often corrupt and self-serving. You have treated Yaakov with justice and caring goodness — מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה בְּיַעֲקֹב אַתָּה עָשִׂיתָ .
(ה) רוֹמְמוּ ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ
וְהִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לַהֲדֹם רַגְלָיו קָדוֹשׁ הוּא:
All the world, exalt Hashem, our G-d — רוֹמְמוּ ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ , and bow toward His Bais Hamikdash, which is His footstool — וְהִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לַהֲדֹם רַגְלָיו . For He is holy — קָדוֹשׁ הוּא and His holiness is especially revealed in the Bais HaMikdash!
PART 3. THE KING AND HIS PEOPLE.
(ו) מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן בְּכֹהֲנָיו
וּשְׁמוּאֵל בְּקֹרְאֵי שְׁמוֹ קֹרִאים אֶל ה’ וְהוּא יַעֲנֵם:
Moshe and Aharon were among His Kohanim — מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן בְּכֹהֲנָיו , (Kohanim are desgnated individuals who exert influence through teaching, personal example and symbolic acts. Moshe officiated as a Kohen Gadol during the seven days of the inauguration of the Mishkan.) And Shmuel, possibly the greatest navi after Moshe, was among those who call His Name — וּשְׁמוּאֵל בְּקֹרְאֵי שְׁמוֹ . They called upon Hashem in supplication to ask Hashem’s forgiveness for the people and He answered them — קֹרִאים אֶל־ה’ וְהוּא יַעֲנֵם .
(ז) בְּעַמּוּד עָנָן יְדַבֵּר אֲלֵיהֶם
שָׁמְרוּ עֵדֹתָיו וְחֹק נָתַן לָמוֹ:
He spoke to those righteous leaders in a pillar of cloud — בְּעַמּוּד עָנָן יְדַבֵּר אֲלֵיהֶם . They kept His testimonies and the statutes that He entrusted to them — שָׁמְרוּ עֵדֹתָיו וְחֹק נָתַן־לָמוֹ . The leaders faithfully taught all of Hashem’s Torah to the people. The testimonies represent the laws appointed by God to further the knowledge of Him and the cause of moral en- noblement; and the statutes represent those for the regulation of everyday, practical life.
(ח) ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ אַתָּה עֲנִיתָם
אֵ־ל נֹשֵׂא הָיִיתָ לָהֶם וְנֹקֵם עַל עֲלִילוֹתָם:
Hashem, our G-d, You answered them — ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ אַתָּה עֲנִיתָם . You were a forgiving G-d because of them — אֵ־ל נֹשֵׂא הָיִיתָ לָהֶם , while still avenging their misdeeds — וְנֹקֵם עַל־עֲלִילוֹתָם . You held our leaders to a high standard, so that you held them to account for their slightest misstep so that even Moshe was not permitted to enter Eretz Yisrael.
(ט) רוֹמְמוּ ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ
וְהִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לְהַר קָדְשׁוֹ
כִּי קָדוֹשׁ ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ:
Exalt Hashem, our G-d — רוֹמְמוּ ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ , and bow at the Bais Hamikdash on His holy mountain, the symbol of His eternal holiness — וְהִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לְהַר קָדְשׁוֹ ; for Hashem our G-d is holy — כִּי־קָדוֹשׁ ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ . His holiness is demonstrated by the high standards He sets for tthose who are close to Him. The holy mountain symbolizes the height of kedushah that each person should aspire to.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses in this mizmor are listed below.
א – רד”ק, המאירי
ב – אבן עזרא, מלבי”ם
ג – רד”ק, מלבי”ם, ספורנו
ד – רד”ק, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ה – רד”ק, בן רמוך
ו – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, ספורנו, רשר”ה, נר לרגלי
ז – רש”י, רשר”ה
ח – רש”י, מצודות, ספורנו, נר לרגלי
ט – רש”י, המאירי, בן רמוך