Psalm 80

Psalm 80


To the leader:I on Lilies, a Covenant.II Of Asaph.III A Psalm.IV

Notes on superscript

I “leader” = natsach. Properly, something that glitters from a distance. So, something that stands out, excels, has status/standing (such as a chief musician or superintendent of Temple services). This can also mean to be permanent or enduring.
II “Lilies, a Covenant” = Shushan Eduth. 2x in OT. From shushan (lily, Shoshan, or Shoshannah; other flowers that look like lilies, architecture decoration in the shape of a lily, a musical tune, or trumpets due to the similar appearance); {perhaps from sus (to rejoice, be glad; properly, to be bright or cheerful)} + eduth (testimony, ordinance, decree, warning, or witness); {from ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve)}. This is perhaps “lily of testimony.” It might be the name of a song tune to be used when singing this psalm.
III “Asaph” = Asaph. From asaph (to gather, assemble, bring, take away, destroy, or remove). This is Asaph, meaning “gatherer” or “collector.” It is a personal name.
IV “Psalm” = mizmor. From zamar (making music; used specially of music to worship God; music with singing, singing praise, singing psalms); may be from zamar (to trim or prune). This is a melody or a psalm.

1 Give ear,V O ShepherdVI of Israel,VII

Notes on verse 1a

V “give ear” = azan. Perhaps from ozen (ear, hearing, audience, show; properly, broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape). Properly, this is to expand or broaden one’s ear i.e. listen intently, pay attention, heed.
VI “Shepherd” = ra’ah. This is to tend a flock, pasture, or graze. It can mean to rule or to associate with someone. Figuratively, it can be ruler or teacher.
VII “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.

    you who leadVIII JosephIX like a flock!X
You who are enthronedXI upon the cherubim,XII shine forthXIII

Notes on verse 1b

VIII “lead” = nahag. This is to drive as in driving flocks, but also driving in animal or vehicle like a chariot. It can mean to carry away, lead, drive away, proceed, or guide. It can also relate to behavior and what one is accustomed to.
IX “Joseph” = Yoseph. From yasaph (to add, increase, continue, exceed). This is Joseph, meaning “he increases” or “let him add.”
X “flock” = tson. This is a flock of sheep and goats.
XI “enthroned” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
XII “cherubim” = kerub. Perhaps related to Akkadian (“to bless” or “one who blesses”). This is a cherub – perhaps a class of angels. See
XIII “shine forth” = yapha. 8x in OT. This is to shine out beams, look favorably.

    beforeXIV EphraimXV and BenjaminXVI and Manasseh.XVII

Notes on verse 2a

XIV “before” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
XV “Ephraim” = Ephrayim. From the same as epher (ashes or dust – properly something strewn) OR from parah (to grow, increase, be fruitful in a literal or figurative sense). This is Ephraim, one of Joseph’s sons, his descendants, and their land.
XVI “Benjamin” = Binyamin. From ben (son, age, child); {from banah (to build)} + from yamin (right hand or side; that which is stronger or more agile; the south); {perhaps yamam (to go or choose the right, use the right hand; to be physically fit or firm)}. This is Benjamin, meaning “son of the right hand.” It could refer to Benjamin himself, his offspring, their tribe, or their territory.
XVII “Manasseh” = Menashsheh. From nashah (to forget, neglect, remove, deprive). This is Manasseh, literally “causing to forget.” It is Manasseh, his tribe, or the lands of the tribe.

Stir upXVIII your might,XIX
    and comeXX to saveXXI us!

Notes on verse 2b

XVIII “stir up” = ur. This is to arise, lift, exult, or stir. It is to wake in a literal or figurative sense.
XIX “might” = geburah. From gabar (to be strong or mighty; to prevail or be insolent). This is force in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be strength, power, courage, triumph, victory, or mastery.
XX “come” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
XXI “save” = yeshuah. From yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue, be safe. Properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. Used causatively, it means to free). This is salvation, deliverance, health, victory, prosperity.

RestoreXXII us, O God;XXIII
    let your faceXXIV shine,XXV that we may be saved.XXVI

Notes on verse 3

XXII “restore” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
XXIII “God” = Elohim. Related to “Israel” in v1. See note VII above.
XXIV “face” = paneh. Same as “before” in v2. See note XIV above.
XXV “let…shine” = or. This is to light, shine, set on fire – to be luminous in a literal or figurative sense.
XXVI “saved” = yasha. Related to “save” in v2. See note XXI above.

O LordXXVII God of hosts,XXVIII
    how long will you be angryXXIX with your people’sXXX prayers?XXXI

Notes on verse 4

XXVII “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
XXVIII “hosts” = tsaba. From tsaba (to wage war, serve, assemble, fight, perform, muster, wait on). This is a large group of persons (used figuratively for a group of things). It implies a campaign literally as with army, war, warfare, battle, company, soldiers. Can also be used figuratively for hardship or for worship.
XXIX “be angry” = ashan. 6x in OT. From ashan (to smoke or burn in a literal or figurative sense; to be angry). This is smoke, vapor, dust, or anger.
XXX “people’s” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
XXXI “prayers” = tephillah. From palal (to judge for oneself or in an official capacity; to pray or make supplication, to entreat). This is prayer or intercession. It can also be a hymn.

You have fedXXXII them with the breadXXXIII of tears,XXXIV
    and given them tears to drinkXXXV in full measure.XXXVI

Notes on verse 5

XXXII “fed” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
XXXIII “bread” = lechem. From lacham (to eat, feed on). This is bread, food, loaf. It can refer to food more generally for people or for animals.
XXXIV “tears” = dimah. From dema (juice, liquor); from dama (to weep). This is tears from weeping.
XXXV “given…to drink” = shaqah. This is to give water to, to cause to drink – to irrigate, drown. It can be used for watering plants or giving water to flocks.
XXXVI “full measure” = shaliysh. 17x in OT. From shalosh (three, fork, triad). This is literally a third. So, it could refer to some kind of musical instrument like a triangle or a lute with three strings. It could also refer to a triple measure. Additionally, it could be a highly ranked person like a captain, lord, or prince.

You makeXXXVII us the scornXXXVIII of our neighbors;XXXIX
    our enemiesXL laughXLI among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved.XLII

Notes on verses 6-7

XXXVII “make” = sum. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
XXXVIII “scorn” = madon. 17x in OT. From din (to judge, defend, dispute, govern, quarrel, plead). This is contention, strife, quarrel.
XXXIX “neighbors” = shaken. From shakan (to settle down in the sense of residing somewhere or staying there permanently; to abide or continue). This is resident or neighbor. It is related to mishkan, the Hebrew word for “tabernacle.”
XL “enemies” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.
XLI “laugh” = laag. 19x in OT. This is to mock, deride, or laugh. It can also mean to stammer or speak incomprehensibly as though one were imitating a foreigner. So, it can be scorn or mock.
XLII “saved” = yasha. Same as “saved” in v3. See note XXVI above.

8 You broughtXLIII a vineXLIV out of Egypt;XLV
    you drove outXLVI the nationsXLVII and plantedXLVIII it.

Notes on verse 8

XLIII “brought” = nasa. This is properly pulling up as when one pulls up tent pegs or stakes. This would imply striking tents in order to start a journey. So this could be bring, pullout, set out, journey, or cause to go away.
XLIV “vine” = gephen. Root may mean to twine or bend. So, it is a vine, particularly referring to grapes.
XLV “Egypt” = Mitsrayim. Perhaps from matsor (besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment; something hemmed in; a siege or distress or fastness); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is Egypt.
XLVI “drove out” = garash. This is to cast out or expel. It can be to exile someone or to divorce them.
XLVII “nations” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.
XLVIII “planted” = nata. To fix or fasten, establish or plant. This is planting in a literal or figurative sense.

You cleared the groundXLIX forL it;
    it took deepLI rootLII and filledLIII the land.LIV

Notes on verse 9

XLIX “cleared the ground” = panah. Related to “before” in v2. See note XIV above.
L “for” = paneh. Same as “before” in v2. See note XIV above.
LI “took deep” = sharash. 8x in OT. From shoresh (a root, depth, line, heel, bottom; root in a literal or figurative sense). This is to root into soil or uproot.
LII “root” = shoresh. Related to “took deep” in v9. See note LI above.
LIII “filled” = male. This is fill, satisfy, replenish, accomplish, fulfill, confirm, or consecrate. It is fill in a literal or figurative sense.
LIV “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

10 The mountainsLV were coveredLVI with its shade,LVII
   the mightyLVIII cedarsLIX with its branches;LX

Notes on verse 10

LV “mountains” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
LVI “covered” = kasah. This is to cover, conceal, overwhelm. It is to cover as clothes do or to hide a secret.
LVII “shade” = tsel. From tsalal (to be or become dark, shade; this is the shade as during twilight or shadow as associated with something opaque). This is shade in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be shadow, shade, protection, shelter, or defense.
LVIII “mighty” = el. Related to “Israel” in v1 & “God” in v3. See note VII above.
LIX “cedars” = erez. Perhaps from araz (made from cedar; to be firm, strong). This is cedar or a cedar tree as strong.
LX “branches” = anaph. 7x in OT. This is a branch or bough – something that covers.

11 it sent outLXI its branchesLXII to the sea,LXIII
    and its shootsLXIV to the River.LXV

Notes on verse 11

LXI “sent out” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
LXII “branches” = qatsiyr. From qatsar (to cut down, be short, reap, curtail; used especially for harvesting grass or grain; figuratively, to be discouraged or grieve). This is branch, harvest, one who harvests. Properly, this means severed, reaped. It is the crop being harvested, the time of harvest or the one who harvests. It can also be a bough.
LXIII “sea” = yam. Root may mean to roar. This is the sea, often referring to the Mediterranean. It comes from the root in the sense of the roar of crashing surf. This word is sometimes used for rivers or other sources of water. It can mean to the west or to the south.
LXIV “shoots” = yoneqeth. 6x in OT. From yoneq (sapling, sucker); from yanaq (to suckle or to nurse; a nursing mother or for her suckling child.) This is a young shoot or twig.
LXV “River” = nahar. From nahar (to flow, sparkle, be cheerful). This is a stream, river, or flood. Particularly used for the Nile or Euphrates. Figuratively, this can mean prosperity.

12 Why then have you broken downLXVI its walls,LXVII
    so that all who pass alongLXVIII the wayLXIX pluckLXX its fruit?

Notes on verse 12

LXVI “broken down” = parats. This is to make a breach, burst out, compel, disperse. It is to break out literally or figuratively.
LXVII “walls” = gader. 11x in OT. From gadar (to build a wall or wall off, mason, repair, hedge, enclose; to wall in or wall around). This is any kind of enclosure – wall, fence, or hedge.
LXVIII “pass along” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
LXIX “way” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
LXX “pluck” = arah. 2x in OT. This is to gather or pluck.

13 The boarLXXI from the forestLXXII ravagesLXXIII it,
    and all that moveLXXIV in the fieldLXXV feed onLXXVI it.

Notes on verse 13

LXXI “boar” = chazir. 7x in OT. May come from a word meaning enclose. This is pig or boar.
LXXII “forest” = ya’ar. This is honeycomb, forest, thicket. Root may mean thick with green growth. It is a forest as a place where one would find honeycomb.
LXXIII “ravages” = kirsem. 1x in OT. From kasam (to shear, trim). This is to eat away, tear off.
LXXIV “all that move” = ziyz. 3x in OT. This is moving things like animals, abundance, a full chest.
LXXV “field” = sadeh. This is literally field, ground, soil, or land. It can be used to mean wild like a wild animal.
LXXVI “feed on” = ra’ah. Same as “Shepherd” in v1. See note VI above.

14 Turn again,LXXVII O God of hosts;
    LXXVIIIlook downLXXIX from heaven,LXXX and see;LXXXI
have regardLXXXII for this vine,

Notes on verse 14

LXXVII “turn again” = shub. Same as “restore” in v3. See note XXII above.
LXXVIII {untranslated} = na. This particle is used for requests or for urging. It can be we pray, now, I ask you, oh. This is the same “na” in “hosanna.”
LXXIX “look down” = nabat. This is to behold, look at intently, consider, or scan. It can mean to have respect or regard someone favorably.
LXXX “heaven” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.
LXXXI “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
LXXXII “have regard” = paqad. This is to attend to or visit – can be used for a friendly or violent encounter. So, it can be to oversee, care for, avenge, or charge.

15     the stockLXXXIII that your right handLXXXIV planted.LXXXV

Notes on verse 15

LXXXIII “stock” = kannah. 1x in OT. From the same as ken (gnat, manner); from kanan (vineyard, plant). This is a shoot or plant set in a place..
LXXXIV “right hand” = yamin. Related to “Benjamin” in v2. See note XVI above.
LXXXV Some manuscripts add the same as v17b, “the one whom you made strong for yourself” = al + ben + amets. Ben is related to “Benjamin” in v2. See note XVI above. Amets is to be strong, stout, alert, or bold, It can also mean harden, make firm, be courageous or mighty, fortify, or establish. It can refer to physical alertness or mental courage or steadfastness.

16 They have burnedLXXXVI it with fire,LXXXVII they have cut it down;LXXXVIII
    may they perishLXXXIX at the rebukeXC of your countenance.XCI

Notes on verse 16

LXXXVI “burned” = saraph. This is to burn or kindle. This is the root that “seraphim” comes from.
LXXXVII “fire” = esh. This is fire, burning, flaming, hot. It is fire in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXXVIII “cut…down” = kasach. 2x in OT. This is to cut off, down, or up.
LXXXIX “perish” = abad. To wander off, lose self. This implies to perish, destroy, die, vanish, or be broken or corrupt.
XC “rebuke” = gearah. 15x in OT. From gaar (to rebuke, corrupt, or chide). This is a rebuke, reproof, or threat.
XCI “countenance” = paneh. Same as “before” in v2. See note XIV above.

17 But let your handXCII beXCIII upon the oneXCIV at your right hand,
    the oneXCV whom you made strongXCVI for yourself.

Notes on verse 17

XCII “hand” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
XCIII “be” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v4. See note XXVII above.
XCIV “one” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
XCV “one” = ben + adam. Literally, “son of humanity.” Ben is the same as {untranslated} in v15. See note LXXXV above. Adam is perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
XCVI “made strong” = amets. Same as {untranslated} in v15. See note LXXXV above.

18 Then we will never turn backXCVII from you;
    give us life,XCVIII and we will callXCIX on your name.C
19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved.CI

Notes on verses 18-19

XCVII “turn back” = sug. 14x in OT. This is to turn back, aside, or away. Properly, it means to flinch, which implies moving away or going back. Literally it can mean retreat or figuratively it can mean backslide i.e. apostatize.
XCVIII “give…life” = chayah. This is to live or keep alive in a literal or figurative sense. So, it an be revive, nourish, or save.
XCIX “call” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
C “name” = shem. Related to “make” in v6. May be from sum (see note XXXVII above). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
CI “saved” = yasha. Same as “saved” in v3. See note XXVI above.

Image credit: “Ocean of Sorrow” by Javad Alizadeh, 2010.

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