New English Translation
A song, a psalm of Asaph.
83 O God, do not be silent.
Do not ignore us.[b] Do not be inactive, O God.
2 For look, your enemies are making a commotion;
those who hate you are hostile.[c]
3 They carefully plot[d] against your people,
and make plans to harm[e] the ones you cherish.[f]
4 They say, “Come on, let’s annihilate them so they are no longer a nation.[g]
Then the name of Israel will be remembered no more.”
5 Yes,[h] they devise a unified strategy;[i]
they form an alliance[j] against you.
6 It includes[k] the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites,[l]
7 Gebal,[m] Ammon, and Amalek,
Philistia and the inhabitants of Tyre.
8 Even Assyria has allied with them,
lending its strength to the descendants of Lot.[n] (Selah)
9 Do to them as you did to Midian[o]—
as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the Kishon River.[p]
10 They were destroyed at Endor;[q]
their corpses were like manure[r] on the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,[s]
and all their rulers like Zebah and Zalmunna,[t]
12 who said,[u] “Let’s take over[v] the pastures of God.”
13 O my God, make them like dead thistles,[w]
like dead weeds blown away by[x] the wind.
14 Like the fire that burns down the forest,
or the flames that consume the mountainsides,[y]
15 chase them with your gale winds,
and terrify[z] them with your windstorm.
16 Cover[aa] their faces with shame,
so they might seek[ab] you,[ac] O Lord.
17 May they be humiliated and continually terrified.[ad]
May they die in shame.[ae]
18 Then they will know[af] that you alone are the Lord,[ag]
the Most High[ah] over all the earth.
- Psalm 83:1 sn Psalm 83. The psalmist asks God to deliver Israel from the attacks of foreign nations. Recalling how God defeated Israel’s enemies in the days of Deborah and Gideon, he prays that the hostile nations would be humiliated.
- Psalm 83:1 tn Heb “do not be deaf.”
- Psalm 83:2 tn Heb “lift up [their] head[s].” The phrase “lift up [the] head” here means “to threaten; to be hostile,” as in Judg 8:28.
- Psalm 83:3 tn Heb “they make crafty a plot.”
- Psalm 83:3 tn Heb “and consult together against.”
- Psalm 83:3 tn The passive participle of the Hebrew verb צָפַן (tsafan, “to hide”) is used here in the sense of “treasured; cherished.”
- Psalm 83:4 tn Heb “we will cause them to disappear from [being] a nation.”
- Psalm 83:5 tn Or “for.”
- Psalm 83:5 tn Heb “they consult [with] a heart together.”
- Psalm 83:5 tn Heb “cut a covenant.”
- Psalm 83:6 tn The words “it includes” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Psalm 83:6 sn The Hagrites are also mentioned in 1 Chr 5:10, 19-20.
- Psalm 83:7 sn Some identify Gebal with the Phoenician coastal city of Byblos (see Ezek 27:9, where the name is spelled differently), though others locate this site south of the Dead Sea (see BDB 148 s.v. גְּבַל; HALOT 174 s.v. גְּבַל).
- Psalm 83:8 tn Heb “they are an arm for the sons of Lot.” The “arm” is here a symbol of military might.sn The descendants of Lot were the Moabites and Ammonites.
- Psalm 83:9 tn Heb “do to them like Midian.”
- Psalm 83:9 sn The psalmist alludes here to Gideon’s victory over the Midianites (see Judg 7-8) and to Barak’s victory over Jabin’s army, which was led by his general Sisera (Judg 4-5).
- Psalm 83:10 sn Endor is not mentioned in the accounts of Gideon’s or Barak’s victories, but both battles took place in the general vicinity of the town. (See Y. Aharoni and M. Avi-Yonah, The Macmillan Bible Atlas, 46, 54.) Because Sisera and Jabin are mentioned in v. 9b, many understand them to be the subject of the verbs in v. 10, though they relate v. 10 to Gideon’s victory, which is referred to in v. 9a, 11. (See, for example, Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible, 263.)
- Psalm 83:10 tn Heb “they were manure.” In addition to this passage, corpses are compared to manure in 2 Kgs 9:37; Jer 8:2; 9:21; 16:4; 25:33.
- Psalm 83:11 sn Oreb and Zeeb were the generals of the Midianite army that was defeated by Gideon. The Ephraimites captured and executed both of them and sent their heads to Gideon (Judg 7:24-25).
- Psalm 83:11 sn Zebah and Zalmunna were the Midianite kings. Gideon captured them and executed them (Judg 8:1-21).
- Psalm 83:12 tn The translation assumes that “Zebah and Zalmunna” are the antecedents of the relative pronoun (“who [said]”). Another option is to take “their nobles…all their rulers” as the antecedent and to translate, “those who say.”
- Psalm 83:12 tn Heb “let’s take possession for ourselves.”
- Psalm 83:13 tn Or “tumbleweed.” The Hebrew noun גַּלְגַּל (galgal) refers to a “wheel” or, metaphorically, to a whirling wind (see Ps 77:18). If taken in the latter sense here, one could understand the term as a metonymical reference to dust blown by a whirlwind (cf. NRSV “like whirling dust”). However, HALOT 190 s.v. II גַּלְגַּל understands the noun as a homonym referring to a “dead thistle” here and in Isa 17:13. The parallel line, which refers to קַשׁ (qash, “chaff”), favors this interpretation.
- Psalm 83:13 tn Heb “before.”
- Psalm 83:14 sn The imagery of fire and flames suggests unrelenting, destructive judgment.
- Psalm 83:15 tn The two imperfect verbal forms in v. 15 express the psalmist’s wish or prayer.
- Psalm 83:16 tn Heb “fill.”
- Psalm 83:16 tn After the preceding imperative, the prefixed verbal form with prefixed vav (ו) indicates purpose or result (“then they will seek”).
- Psalm 83:16 tn Heb “your name,” which stands here for God’s person.
- Psalm 83:17 tn Heb “and may they be terrified to perpetuity.” The Hebrew expression עֲדֵי־עַד (ʿade ʿad, “to perpetuity”) can mean “forevermore” (see Pss 92:7; 132:12, 14), but here it may be used hyperbolically, for the psalmist asks that the experience of judgment might lead the nations to recognize (v. 18) and even to seek (v. 16) God.
- Psalm 83:17 tn Heb “may they be ashamed and perish.” The four prefixed verbal forms in this verse are understood as jussives. The psalmist concludes his prayer with an imprecation, calling severe judgment down on his enemies. The strong language of the imprecation seems to run contrary to the positive outcome of divine judgment envisioned in v. 16b. Perhaps the language of v. 17 is overstated for effect. Another option is that v. 16b expresses an ideal, while the strong imprecation of vv. 17-18 anticipates reality. It would be nice if the defeated nations actually pursued a relationship with God, but if judgment does not bring them to that point, the psalmist asks that they be annihilated so that they might at least be forced to acknowledge God’s power.
- Psalm 83:18 tn After the preceding jussives (v. 17), the prefixed verbal form with prefixed vav (ו) indicates purpose (“so that they may know”) or result.
- Psalm 83:18 tn Heb “that you, your name [is] the Lord, you alone.”
- Psalm 83:18 sn The divine title “Most High” (עֶלְיוֹן ʿelyon) pictures God as the exalted ruler of the universe who vindicates the innocent and judges the wicked. See especially Pss 7:17; 9:2; 18:13; 21:7; 47:2.