Chapter 73

1A song of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, to the pure of heart.   אמִזְמ֗וֹר לְאָ֫סָ֥ף אַ֚ךְ ט֖וֹב לְיִשְׂרָאֵ֥ל אֱלֹהִ֗ים לְבָרֵ֥י לֵבָֽב:
A song of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, etc.: Since the topic of this psalm deals with the troubles that befall Israel, he commences it in this manner. And this is the meaning: Although I cry out and am dismayed at Israel’s troubles, I knew that the Holy One, blessed be He, is good to them, and that He brings evil upon them for their own good, in order to give them merit in the life of the world to come.  
2But as for me, my feet had almost turned away, in an instant my steps would have been swept away.   בוַֽאֲנִ֗י כִּ֖מְעַט נָטָ֣יוּ (כתיב נָטָ֣ויּ) רַגְלָ֑י כְּ֜אַ֗יִן שֻׁפְּכ֥וּ (כתיב שֻׁפְּכֻ֥ה) אֲשֻׁרָֽי:
But as for me: before I laid this to my heart.  
my feet had almost turned away: and my steps swept away to turn away from following the Omnipresent.  
3For I envied the perverse; I would see the tranquility of the wicked.   גכִּֽי־קִנֵּ֥אתִי בַֽהוֹלְלִ֑ים שְׁל֖וֹם רְשָׁעִ֣ים אֶרְאֶֽה:
For I envied the perverse: Those who pervert their ways, whose tranquility I would see.  
the perverse: Heb. בהוללים, mixed, as (Isa. 1:22): “your wine is diluted (מהול) with water.”  
4For there are no fetters to their death, and their health is sound.   דכִּ֚י אֵ֖ין חַרְצֻבּ֥וֹת לְמוֹתָ֗ם וּבָרִ֥יא אוּלָֽם:
For there are no fetters to their death: Heb. חרצבות, an expression of tying, as (Isa. 58:6): “to undo the fetters (חרצבות) of wickedness,” meaning the locks of the fetters with which they bind the poor. Here, too, there are no pains to their death. Those who die among them die healthy, [strong as] a palace, without pains. But our Rabbis explained חַרְצֻבּוֹת as an abbreviation, meaning that they are not (שאין) frightened (חרדין) or saddened (עצבין) by the day of death (Shab. 31b). Another explanation: that the Holy One, blessed be He, does not delay (מאחר) their desire (צביונם).  
5In the toil of mortal man they are not, neither are they plagued with mankind.   הבַּֽעֲמַ֣ל אֱנ֣וֹשׁ אֵינֵ֑מוֹ וְעִם־אָ֜דָ֗ם לֹ֣א יְנֻגָּֽעוּ:
6Therefore, they wear pride as a necklace; the robbery that they commit envelops their hips.   ולָכֵן עֲנָקַ֣תְמוֹ גַֽאֲוָ֑ה יַֽעֲטָף־שִׁ֜֗ית חָמָ֥ס לָֽמוֹ:
Therefore, they wear pride as a necklace: Because of this, pride adorns them as a necklace, insofar as it ascends upon his neck.  
the robbery that they commit envelopes their hips: The robbery they commit makes them fat, enveloping their buttocks and hips with thickness of fat and flesh.  
7Because of their fat, their eyes bulge; they surpassed the imaginings of their heart.   זיָצָ֣א מֵחֵ֣לֶב עֵינֵ֑מוֹ עָֽ֜בְר֗וּ מַשְׂכִּיּ֥וֹת לֵבָֽב:
Because of their fat, their eyes bulge: Their eyes bulge because of the abundant fat, for in an emaciated person, the eyes are sunken.  
they surpassed the imaginings of their heart: More than what their heart hopes for and awaits, came to them. In the attainment of their hand, they surpassed the desire of their heart.  
8They consume, and speak wickedly about oppression; they speak about the Most High.   חיָמִ֚יקוּ | וִֽידַבְּר֣וּ בְרָ֣ע עֹ֑שֶׁק מִמָּר֥וֹם יְדַבֵּֽרוּ:
They consume: their neighbors.  
and speak wickedly about oppression: To oppress the needy.  
they speak about the Most High: e.g. Pharaoh, Sennacherib, and Nebuchadnezzar. [Pharaoh said] (Exod. 5:2): “Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?” [Sennacherib said] (Isa. 36:20), “Who are they among all the gods of the lands…?” [Nebuchadnezzar said] (Isa. 14:14), “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds.” That is the meaning of: “They have set their mouth against Heaven.”  
9They have set their mouth against Heaven, and their tongue walks through the earth.   טשַׁתּ֣וּ בַשָּׁמַ֣יִם פִּיהֶ֑ם וּ֜לְשׁוֹנָ֗ם תִּֽהֲלַ֥ךְ בָּאָֽרֶץ:
10Therefore, His people will return here, and the waters of the full [stream] are drain water to them.   ילָכֵ֗ן יָשׁ֣וּב (כתיב יָשׁ֣יּב) עַמּ֣וֹ הֲלֹ֑ם וּמֵ֥י מָ֜לֵ֗א יִמָּ֥צוּ לָֽמוֹ:
Therefore, His people will return here: Since His people sees that the way of the wicked prospers, they will return on the way of the wicked, to adopt their ways.  
here: Heb. הלם, as (Jud. 18:3): “Who brought you here (הלום) ?” [Equivalent to] פֹּה.  
and the waters of the full are drain water to them: And the waters of the full streamthey are words of Torahare considered by them as water that drains out, and they despise them.  
11And they say, "How does God know, and is there knowledge in the Most High?"   יאוְאָֽמְר֗וּ אֵיכָ֥ה יָֽדַע־אֵ֑ל וְיֵ֖שׁ דֵּעָ֣ה בְעֶלְיֽוֹן:
And they say, “How does God know”: How can we say that there is knowledge in the Holy One, blessed be He, and that His Torah is true?  
12Behold these are wicked, yet they are tranquil in the world and have increased wealth.   יבהִנֵּה־אֵ֥לֶּה רְשָׁעִ֑ים וְשַׁלְוֵ֥י ע֜וֹלָ֗ם הִשְׂגּוּ־חָֽיִל:
Behold these are wicked: They [are wicked] and transgress His Torah; yet they are tranquil in the world and increase power and wealth.  
they are tranquil in the world: An expression of tranquility.  
have increased: Heb. השגו, have increased. Menachem (p. 72) explains: יָשוּב עַמו ֹהֲלוֹם, the wicked will return to crush (להלם) the people of the Holy One, blessed be He. The first interpretation I learned from the words of Rabbi Meir the son of Isaac, the cantor, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing.  
13But for nought I cleansed my heart and bathed my hands with cleanliness.   יגאַךְ־רִ֖יק זִכִּ֣יתִי לְבָבִ֑י וָֽאֶרְחַ֖ץ בְּנִקָּי֣וֹן כַּפָּֽי:
But for nought I cleansed my heart: All this refers back to: “And they say, ‘How does God know?’ ” They also say, “But for nothing and in vain we keep the commandments of the Holy One, blessed be He, for behold, we are plagued all the days.”  
14And I was plagued all the days, and my chastisement was every morning.   ידוָֽאֱהִ֣י נָ֖גוּעַ כָּל־הַיּ֑וֹם וְ֜תֽוֹכַחְתִּ֗י לַבְּקָרִֽים:
and my chastisement: appears all day; constantly, from morning to morning, new troubles are renewed.  
15If I said, "I shall tell it as it is," behold I have made the generation of Your children into traitors.   טואִם־אָ֖מַרְתִּי אֲסַפְּרָ֣ה כְמ֑וֹ הִנֵּ֚ה ד֖וֹר בָּנֶ֣יךָ בָגָֽדְתִּי:
If I said, “I shall tell it as it is”: Said Asaph, “If I said in my heart to tell everything as it is, all that His people say about this.”  
behold I have made the generation of Your children into traitors: That is to say that I would make them into traitors and wicked men.  
16And when I ponder to know this, it is iniquity in my eyes.   טזוַֽאֲחַשְּׁבָה לָדַ֣עַת זֹ֑את עָמָ֖ל ה֣וּא (כתיב ה֣יּא) בְעֵינָֽי:
And when I ponder: in my heart.  
to know this: what the manner of the Holy One, blessed be He, is.  
So it is iniquity in my eyes: This manner appeared to me as iniquity and not justice.  
17Until I came to the sanctuaries of God, and I understood their end.   יזעַד־אָב֥וֹא אֶל־מִקְדְּשֵׁי־אֵ֑ל אָ֜בִ֗ינָה לְאַֽחֲרִיתָֽם:
Until: I came to the sanctuaries of God, which are in Jerusalem, and saw what happened to Sennacherib. Then I understood the end of the wicked, that it is to destruction. Then I said, “All the good that comes to them is only slippery places; for the Holy One, blessed be He, makes their way slippery, that it should be easy and smooth, so that they should not put their heart to return to Him, and they should perish.”  
18Only in slippery places do You set them; You cast them down to ruin.   יחאַ֣ךְ בַּֽ֖חֲלָקוֹת תָּשִׁ֣ית לָ֑מוֹ הִ֜פַּלְתָּ֗ם לְמַשּׁוּאֽוֹת:
Only in slippery places do You set them: All the goodness that comes to them, for ultimately, You cast them down to ruin.  
19How they became desolate instantly! They were completely consumed by terrors.   יטאֵ֚יךְ הָי֣וּ לְשַׁמָּ֣ה כְרָ֑גַע סָ֥פוּ תַ֜֗מּוּ מִן־בַּלָּהֽוֹת:
by terrors: By demons.  
20As a dream without awakening; O Lord, in the city You will despise their form.   ככַּֽחֲל֥וֹם מֵֽהָקִ֑יץ אֲ֜דֹנָי בָּעִ֚יר | צַלְמָ֬ם תִּבְזֶֽה:
As a dream without awakening: As a sleep without end (without awakening), which is an eternal sleep, so did they have (Isa. 37:36): “And an angel of the Lord went forth and slew… of the camp of Assyria.”  
O Lord, in the city You will despise their form: In Jerusalem, with which they dealt evilly, there the form of their image was despised, and they were all burnt.  
21For my heart was in ferment, and my mind was on edge.   כאכִּֽי־יִתְחַמֵּ֥ץ לְבָבִ֑י וְ֜כִלְיוֹתַ֗י אֶשְׁתּוֹנָֽן:
For my heart was in ferment: Before I saw this downfall with the holy spirit, my heart was in ferment because the way of the wicked prospered, and my mind was on edge (אשתונן), an expression of a sharpened sword (שנון). When it is reflexive, the “tav” is placed in the middle of the radical, as is the case of every word whose radical commences with “shin.”  
22But I was brutish and I did not know; I was [as] a beast with You.   כבוַֽאֲנִי־בַ֖עַר וְלֹ֣א אֵדָ֑ע בְּ֜הֵמ֗וֹת הָיִ֥יתִי עִמָּֽךְ:
But I: was brutish, and I did not know what this manner was, and I was as a beast with You.  
23Yet I was constantly with You; You grasped my right hand.   כגוַֽאֲנִ֣י תָמִ֣יד עִמָּ֑ךְ אָ֜חַ֗זְתָּ בְּיַ֣ד יְמִינִֽי:
Yet I: Although I saw all this constantly, I was with You, and I did not move from fear of You.  
You grasped my right hand: to strengthen me in Your fear when my feet are about to turn from Your way, as it is stated above (verse 2): “my feet had almost turned away.”  
24With Your counsel You led me, and after[wards], You took me [for] glory.   כדבַּֽעֲצָֽתְךָ֥ תַנְחֵ֑נִי וְאַ֖חַר כָּב֣וֹד תִּקָּחֵֽנִי:
You led me: Heb. תנחני, [like] נחיתני, You led me.  
and after[wards], You took me [for] glory: If the cantillation sign were on כָּבוֹד, its interpretation would be: After You bestowed upon Sennacherib all the glory You had allotted to him, You will take me to You. You have performed wondrous miracles for Israel and have destroyed Sennacherib. Now that the cantillation sign is on ואחר, this is its interpretation: (and afterwards,) You took me to glory; You drew me to You for glory and beauty.  
25For whom do I have in heaven, and I desired no one with You on earth.   כהמִי־לִ֥י בַשָּׁמָ֑יִם וְעִמְּךָ֖ לֹֽא־חָפַ֣צְתִּי בָאָֽרֶץ:
For whom do I have in heaven: [Was there] any angel that I chose for me as a god? I chose only You.  
26My flesh and my heart yearn; God is the rock of my heart and my portion forever.   כוכָּלָ֥ה שְׁאֵרִ֗י וּלְבָ֫בִ֥י צוּר־לְבָבִ֥י וְחֶלְקִ֗י אֱלֹהִ֥ים לְעוֹלָֽם:
My flesh… yearn: My flesh and my heart yearn for You.  
yearn: Heb. כלה, an expression of desire, as (119:81): “My soul yearned (כלתה) for Your salvation.”  
27For behold, those who have distanced themselves from You will perish; You have cut off anyone who strays from You.   כזכִּֽי־הִנֵּ֣ה רְחֵקֶ֣יךָ יֹאבֵ֑דוּ הִ֜צְמַ֗תָּה כָּל־זוֹנֶ֥ה מִמֶּֽךָּ:
who strays from You: Who separates himself from You.  
28But as for me-God's nearness is my good; I have placed my refuge in the Lord God, to tell all Your mission.   כחוַֽאֲנִ֚י | קִרְבַ֥ת אֱלֹהִ֗ים לִ֫י ט֥וֹב שַׁתִּ֚י | בַּֽאדֹנָ֣י יֱהֹוִ֣ה מַחְסִּ֑י לְ֜סַפֵּ֗ר כָּל־מַלְאֲכוֹתֶֽיךָ:
Your mission: Your message; the holy spirit that comes into my heart to say it.