In this week’s study from Tehillim / Psalms 126:1-6, the psalm opens saying, א שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת בְּשׁוּב יְהֹוָה אֶת-שִׁיבַת צִיּוֹן הָיִינוּ כְּחֹלְמִים: A Song of Ascents. 126:1 When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream. (NASB) When held captive, is it but a dream to long for deliverance? The Lord is powerful to overcome strongholds, and it does not matter who stands against us when we have the Lord God in heaven on our side. The psalmist states, ב אָז יִמָּלֵא שְֹחוֹק פִּינוּ וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה אָז יֹאמְרוּ בַגּוֹיִם הִגְדִּיל יְהֹוָה לַעֲשֹוֹת עִם-אֵלֶּה: 126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ (NASB) This sounds like Devarim / Deuteronomy 4:7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? (NASB) The Lord is great in His mercy to deliver His people. This brings great joy to His people, and is the meaning of the joy of the Lord. The psalm continues saying, ג הִגְדִּיל יְהֹוָה לַעֲשֹוֹת עִמָּנוּ הָיִינוּ שְֹמֵחִים: ד שׁוּבָה יְהֹוָה אֶת-שְׁבִותֵנוּ [שְׁבִיתֵנוּ] כַּאֲפִיקִים בַּנֶּגֶב: ה הַזֹּרְעִים בְּדִמְעָה בְּרִנָּה יִקְצֹרוּ: 126:3 The Lord has done great things for us; We are glad. 126:4 Restore our captivity, O Lord, As the streams in the South. 126:5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. (NASB) The Aramaic Targum states, 126:3 The Lord has done great good to us; we are joyful. 126:4 O Lord, make our exiles return, like a land that is made habitable when fountains of water flow during drought. 126:5 Those who sow with tears will harvest with praise. (EMC) The interpretation of the psalm is asking the Lord to restore the people to the land. Restoration to the land is a part of the promises of God. The psalm concludes saying, ו הָלוֹךְ יֵלֵךְ | וּבָכֹה נֹשֵֹא מֶשֶׁךְ-הַזָּרַע בֹּא-יָבוֹא בְרִנָּה נֹשֵֹא אֲלֻמֹּתָיו: 126:6 He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. (NASB) The one who sows requires a place to sow the seed. The Land of Israel is the ideal place for His people. Considering the Word of God, the seed of truth may be sown anywhere!
עברית Hebrew ארמי Aramaic ελληνικός Greek
ספר תהלים פרק קכו
א שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת בְּשׁוּב יְהֹוָה אֶת-שִׁיבַת צִיּוֹן הָיִינוּ כְּחֹלְמִים: ב אָז יִמָּלֵא שְֹחוֹק פִּינוּ וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה אָז יֹאמְרוּ בַגּוֹיִם הִגְדִּיל יְהֹוָה לַעֲשֹוֹת עִם-אֵלֶּה: ג הִגְדִּיל יְהֹוָה לַעֲשֹוֹת עִמָּנוּ הָיִינוּ שְֹמֵחִים: ד שׁוּבָה יְהֹוָה אֶת-שְׁבִותֵנוּ [שְׁבִיתֵנוּ] כַּאֲפִיקִים בַּנֶּגֶב: ה הַזֹּרְעִים בְּדִמְעָה בְּרִנָּה יִקְצֹרוּ: ו הָלוֹךְ יֵלֵךְ | וּבָכֹה נֹשֵֹא מֶשֶׁךְ-הַזָּרַע בֹּא-יָבוֹא בְרִנָּה נֹשֵֹא אֲלֻמֹּתָיו:
סםר טוביה פרק קכו
א שירא דאיתאמר על מסקיין מסוקין דתהומא כד יתיב יהוה ית גלוות ציון הוינא״נהוי דמיין היך מרעיא דאיתסיין היך מרעיא דאתסיאו ממרעיהון׃ ב הכדין אדין יתמלי פומנא חוכא ולישננא תושבחא בייע לתושבחתא הידין יימרון בעמיא בעממיא אסגי יהוה למעבד טבא עם אילין׃ ג אסגי יהוה למעבד טבא עמנא הוינא חדין׃ ד אתיב יהוה ית גלוותן היך היך כמה דמיתבא דמתיתבא ארעא כד נבעין מפקני מיא בבצורתא׃ ה ועמא דזרעין בדמעתא בשבחתא יחצדון בביע בחדוה יקצרון׃ ו מהלכא יהלך בבכותא תורא דמסובר ניגדא דבר זרעא מיתא ייתי בתושבחא כד יסובר איסרתוי ורעי חזיז מן תלמא׃
126:1 ᾠδὴ τῶν ἀναβαθμῶν ἐν τῷ ἐπιστρέψαι κύριον τὴν αἰχμαλωσίαν Σιων ἐγενήθημεν ὡς παρακεκλημένοι 126:2 τότε ἐπλήσθη χαρᾶς τὸ στόμα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ γλῶσσα ἡμῶν ἀγαλλιάσεως τότε ἐροῦσιν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἐμεγάλυνεν κύριος τοῦ ποιῆσαι μετ᾽ αὐτῶν 126:3 ἐμεγάλυνεν κύριος τοῦ ποιῆσαι μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ἐγενήθημεν εὐφραινόμενοι 126:4 ἐπίστρεψον κύριε τὴν αἰχμαλωσίαν ἡμῶν ὡς χειμάρρους ἐν τῷ νότῳ 126:5 οἱ σπείροντες ἐν δάκρυσιν ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει θεριοῦσιν 126:6 πορευόμενοι ἐπορεύοντο καὶ ἔκλαιον αἴροντες τὰ σπέρματα αὐτῶν ἐρχόμενοι δὲ ἥξουσιν ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει αἴροντες τὰ δράγματα αὐτῶν
Tehillim Psalms 126
A Song of Ascents. 126:1 When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream. 126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ 126:3 The Lord has done great things for us; We are glad. 126:4 Restore our captivity, O Lord, As the streams in the South. 126:5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. 126:6 He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. (NASB)
Toviyah Psalms 126
126:1 A song that was uttered on the ascents of the abyss. When the Lord makes the exiles of Zion return, we were like the sick who were healed. 126:2 Then will our mouths be full of laughter, and our tongue with praise; then will they say among the Gentiles, “The Lord has done great good to these.” 126:3 The Lord has done great good to us; we are joyful. 126:4 O Lord, make our exiles return, like a land that is made habitable when fountains of water flow during drought. 126:5 Those who sow with tears will harvest with praise. 126:6. He will surely go with weeping; the ox that bears a load of seed will surely come with praise, when he bears his sheaves and grazes on the young growth from the furrow. (EMC)
Psalmoi Psalms 126
A Song of Degrees. 126:1 When the Lord turned the captivity of Sion, we became as comforted ones. 126:2 Then was our mouth filled with joy, and our tongue with exultation: then would they say among the Gentiles, 126:3 The Lord has done great things among them. The Lord has done great things for us, we became joyful. 126:4 Turn, O Lord, our captivity, as the steams in the south. 126:5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. 126:6 They went on and wept as they cast their seeds; but they shall surely come with exultation, bringing their sheaves with them. (LXX)
In this week’s study from Tehillim / Psalms 126:1-6, the psalm opens saying, א שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת בְּשׁוּב יְהֹוָה אֶת-שִׁיבַת צִיּוֹן הָיִינוּ כְּחֹלְמִים: A Song of Ascents. 126:1 When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream. (NASB) When held captive, is it but a dream to long for deliverance? Many men throughout the Scriptures went through trials in their lives. Job lost everything including his health yet he continued to trust in the God of Israel. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers then sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. Both Job and Joseph could have been angry with God and said “WHY ME?” Rather than question God in an accusatory manner, they chose to daily put their trust in the Lord. Sometimes the Lord brings us to rock bottom so that we may be more dependent on Him and lean on Him. As we think upon these things, we are reminded of the life of Joseph, and has return to the Promised Land. After having wrestled with God, his name was changed, and he limped forward as he moved. With each step he drew closer to his brother Esau and he became more and more terrified. His fear led to causing him to send everyone else across the river and stay behind alone. Did he want to pray himself? Was his fear so great that he could not bring himself to cross the river into the Land? We are not suer, however, in the years previous, he had twice cheated his brother. First he swindled Esau from his birthright for a bowl of stew. Later he tricked his blind father into giving him Esau’s blessing. He learned from his mother that Esau had been angry and vowed revenge, so Jacob had fled to another land, traveling hundreds of miles to stay with relatives in Mesopotamia. The brothers had not seen each other for 20 years. The Torah tells us that Esau was a mighty hunter, a rough and tough guy who knew how to kill. Jacob on the other hand was a shepherd. In a face to face fight with Esau, Jacob would have most likely lost and he knew this and so fear had gripped his heart. As Jacob entered into the Promised Land, he heard that Esau was approaching with 400 men (assuming they were armed), he was scared and divided his family up into groups with gifts for Esau. He had a family full of women and children. He had flocks and herds and shepherds. He had a handful of armed guards to protect the livestock from predators, but he did not have an army. He did however have the Lord God Almighty on his side, but his fear led him to believe there was no escape. If Esau made good on his threat, they would be like lambs to the slaughter. It is because of all of these things that Jacob remained on the other side of the river to pray meeting with God and wrestling with the Lord for his life. We are told in the Scriptures that a stranger came and fought him where they struggled until daybreak, when something strange had occurred. The opponent touched the socket of his thigh, dislocating it. All Jacob could do was keep holding on to the man. He demanded a blessing, from one so obviously powerful, and the man changed his name to Israel, meaning “he strives with God.” The Lord humbled Jacob by striking his hip making him limp and forcing him to place all of his faith and trust in the Lord. What we learn from this story of Jacob is that he had prayed for deliverance, and the Lord God had weakened him further. Jacob then chose to divide his family and send gifts to Esau bowing down in honor, respect, and homage to his brother. All he could do was be submissive and hope the best trusting in the Lord. Esau runs to his brother, after 20 years, and embraces him, hugs, and kisses him. This is an important story as it is related to Tehillim / Psalms 126:1 When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream. (NASB) When we are taken captive, when we are on the ropes, and believe there is no hope without anything else to do, we pray! When we do pray for the Lord God to rescue us, protect us, deliver us, the situation seems to get worse. Is this what happened to Jacob, his situation got worse, his hip was dislocated so he could hardly walk? Consider another situation, when Moshe went to Pharaoh and the result, Pharaoh stopped giving them straw to make bricks (Shemot / Exodus 5). Or even of Gideon when the Lord reduced his army from 32,000 to 300 men (Judges 6-7). The Lord says to Gideon in Judges 7:2 “The people who are with you are too many for me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘my own power has delivered me.’” The Lord delivered his people so there would be no doubts about who it was that delivered them. It is not the size, the strength, intellect, zeal, money, or any other human resource that saves. The Lord is powerful to overcome strongholds, and it does not matter who stands against us when we have the Lord God in heaven on our side. The point is will we live by faith no matter what happens, even if the circumstances seem to get worse. The same concept is found in relation to sin. Sin (disobedience) seems to be an insurmountable enemy. And while God never tempts anyone to sin (James 1:13), he does put his people in places and situations where temptation and hardship are inevitable. This is the concept put forward by Yeshua when he said that he sends his disciples out “as sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16). Note that throughout the Tanach and the Apostolic Writings, we are told that God’s people are never safe from the threat of temptation and the realities of suffering. Yeshua said in fact that we will be persecuted for his name’s sake (Matthew 10:22) Yeshua tells us that persecutions and sufferings are coming. The reason is we are surrounded by people and nations who do not know God or his ways, who call evil good and good evil, and who want us to do the same. It is not as if we have enough tendency to sin within ourselves, but we are also enticed by others as well. It is at this point that our faith seems to be stretched to its limit, just as was going on with Jacob, Israel and Moshe, and Gideon, etc. When things seem to go from bad to worse, we must contend with the fact that while God is good, life is hard. When we think our faith cannot be stretched any further, the Lord allows some other injury, and something worse happens. And then I must limp toward that which I fear, hoping in the Lord God of Israel who allows me to be weakened, so that He is glorified. As we understand these things, will we continue in the faith when such things happen, will we believe the God of Abraham who promises good to us, or will we believe only what we can grasp and accomplish? Will we walk by faith, or by sight? The Lord God has a purpose for us just as he did for Job, Joseph, Jacob, Moshe, and Gideon, etc. This purpose is alluded to in the commentary Tur HaAroch on Bereshit / Genesis 32:26 Part 2.
Tur HaAroch, Bereshit / Genesis 32:26 Part 22
ויגע בכף ירכו, “he ‘touched’ his thigh-joint.” He intended thereby to cause Yaakov to fall to the ground, in the manner of two people wrestling, when each one attempts to first force his opponent to the ground. Some commentators claim that the angel tried to inflict a disabling blow on Yaakov, one that would disqualify him from performing service on the altar, as a penalty for his having taken the birth right from Esau, i.e. Esau’s privilege to perform such service for G’d. on the altar. Prior to the building of the Tabernacle all such service was performed by the firstborn of each Jewish household.
Tur HaAroch comments upon when Jacob wrestled with the angel and the angel saw he could not get free from Jacob’s grip and so touched his hip and dislocated his hip joint so the struggle would be more painful. It is interesting how when under pain or duress, we are more willing to seek the Lord as opposed to when we are not in pain or duress. The reason being is the circumstance is out of our control and we need someone who is all powerful and who has the capability to help. Here Yaakov (Jacob) was struggling with what he was to do in returning to the Promised Land. He struggled with whether he would even return. His reservations is demonstrated by his sending everyone else over and he himself remaining. The Lord inflicted him so his perspective would change. I am sure he was thinking about how he could physically overcome Esau if they had met face to face. The Lord inflicting his hip (dislocation) so he would have trouble walking in pain, he would have to rely wholly upon the Lord in heaven to take care of the relationship with his brother. Tur HaAroch states, “Some commentators claim that the angel tried to inflict a disabling blow on Yaakov, one that would disqualify him from performing service on the altar…” Note how unrepentant sin has the capability to disqualify us from performing services unto the Lord. The reason being sin can lead us away from the Lord, away from His ways, and to rely upon our own understanding in which the Lord states that the ways of man lead to death (Mishley / Proverbs 14:12), this is why we are not to lean on our own understanding. The concepts we receive from Jacob’s life is when we choose to serve the Lord, suffering may come as the Lord prunes and refines our lives to be conformed unto the likeness of His Son Yeshua the Messiah. (Romans 8:29)
The psalmist states, ב אָז יִמָּלֵא שְֹחוֹק פִּינוּ וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה אָז יֹאמְרוּ בַגּוֹיִם הִגְדִּיל יְהֹוָה לַעֲשֹוֹת עִם-אֵלֶּה: 126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ (NASB) This sounds like Devarim / Deuteronomy 4:7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? (NASB) The Lord is great in His mercy to deliver His people. This brings great joy to His people, and is the meaning of the joy of the Lord. The rabbis interpret this to say the following according to the Talmud Bavli Berakhot 31a Part 4.
In a similar vein, Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: One is forbidden to fill his mouth with mirth in this world, as long as we are in exile (ge’onim), as it is stated: “When the Lord returns the captivity of Zion we will be as dreamers” (Psalms 126:1). Only “then will our mouths fill with laughter and our lips with song” (Psalms 126:2). When will that joyous era arrive? When “they will say among nations, the Lord has done great things with these” (Psalms 126:2). They said about Reish Lakish that throughout his life he did not fill his mouth with laughter in this world once he heard this statement from his teacher, Rabbi Yoḥanan.
The rabbis speak of being joyful always in this life. The only exception is when we are in exile are we to fill our mouth with mirth. When the people are returned to the Land from their captivity, then our mouths will be filled with laughter and our lips filled with song (Tehillim / Psalms 126:2). The Apostle Paul wrote of the following in Philippians 4:6-13:
4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. 4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 4:10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NASB)
Paul speaks of complete trust in the Lord saying that it is possible to be contented and happy in the midst of our troubles. He says the key to doing so is to set our hearts and minds upon what is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy, and to do as Paul had done in order for the God of peace to be with us. Paul says this is the way the Lord has renewed him, and it is the way the Lord will renew us as well. The rabbis say the following in Midrash Tanchuma Beshlach 10:7.
Then sang Moses. At times the word then refers to events that happened in the past, and at other times it refers to events that are to transpire in the future. The word then refers to past events in the following verses: Then began man to call upon the name of the Lord (Gen. 4:26), Then she said: “A bridegroom of blood” (Exod. 4:26), Then sang Israel this song (Num. 21:17), Then Solomon spoke (I Kings 18:12). All of these refer to past events. Instances in which the word then alludes to future events are: Then thou shalt see (Isa. 60:5), Then shall thy light break forth (ibid. 58:8), Then shall the lame man leap as a hart (ibid. 35:6), Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened (ibid., v. 5), Then shall the virgin rejoice (Jer. 31:13), Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing (Ps. 126:2), and Then said they among the nations (ibid.). All these allude to future events. From this we learn that the concept of the resurrection of the dead is derived from the Torah.
The rabbis refer to the Word of God, how the Word makes reference to both past and future events. Remembering what the Lord has done for us brings joy to our hearts and lives. In the Tanach, the Scriptures speak of God’s people experiencing periods of time when they have no joy. For example, Job wished he had never been born (Job 3:11). David prayed to be taken away to a place where he would not have to deal with reality (Tehillim / Psalm 55:6-8). Elijah after defeating 450 prophets of Baal with fire called down from heaven (1 Kings 18:16-46), fled into the desert and asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19:3-5). With these things in mind, it is evident that one way to experience joy in our lives is to focus upon the Lord in His Word. This helps us to stop dwelling on our difficulties or those things that are robbing us of our contentment. Taking this approach does not cause us to deny our discontent or negative emotions, but that we are to persevere in our faith and faithfulness in the Lord. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians about joy having written this epistle from prison. Philippians 4:4-8 provides us with guidelines for experiencing joy in lives saying, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! . . . The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Yeshua also gave instructions on being joyful in John 15 saying that we are to abide in Him and obey His commands. We can take joy in walking in God’s Ways and thereby remaining in His love. Yeshua said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:9-11). According to Paul, the key to joy is living in obedience to God. Another way to experience joy is through community. The Lord God gave Elijah rest and then sent a man, Elisha, to help him (1 Kings 19:19-21). This gives us the example and importance of finding friends that can build us up, pray for us, we can share our troubles with, our hurts and pains with (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). The author of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 10:19-25 saying, “Brothers and sisters . . . let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” This illustrates our need for others and why we are not called to be islands but a nation and community of faithful people.
The psalm continues saying, ג הִגְדִּיל יְהֹוָה לַעֲשֹוֹת עִמָּנוּ הָיִינוּ שְֹמֵחִים: ד שׁוּבָה יְהֹוָה אֶת-שְׁבִותֵנוּ [שְׁבִיתֵנוּ] כַּאֲפִיקִים בַּנֶּגֶב: ה הַזֹּרְעִים בְּדִמְעָה בְּרִנָּה יִקְצֹרוּ: 126:3 The Lord has done great things for us; We are glad. 126:4 Restore our captivity, O Lord, As the streams in the South. 126:5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. (NASB) The Aramaic Targum states, 126:3 The Lord has done great good to us; we are joyful. 126:4 O Lord, make our exiles return, like a land that is made habitable when fountains of water flow during drought. 126:5 Those who sow with tears will harvest with praise. (EMC) The interpretation of the psalm is asking the Lord to restore the people to the land. Restoration to the land is a part of the promises of God. Because of the mercy of God, we can approach Him confidently in prayer (Hebrews 10:19). The author of Hebrews says the following:
10:15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, 10:16 ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, And on their mind I will write them,’ He then says, 10:17 ‘And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ 10:18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. 10:19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 10:20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 10:21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 10:22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 10:24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near. 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 10:27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. 10:28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 10:29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 10:30 For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ 10:31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (NASB)
The author of Hebrews speaks of the Lord writing His Laws upon our heart (Jeremiah 31). This is referring to the Lord enabling us to walk in obedience to His Word for His glory and because we have been forgiven of our past lawlessness. He says for those who neglect their salvation and forgiveness by continuing in sin by setting aside the Torah, there is no forgiveness of sins. This illustrates how important the Torah is in our lives, because it is related to our faithfulness before God. This is why the author of Hebrews speaks of faithfulness before the faith chapter in Hebrews 11. It is because of the mercy of God that we are able to approach Him. We are cleansed from sin (Hebrews 10:22) and so we are to walk in newness of life according to the commands and not in sin. It is in this way that we are joined in community with other believers. Our brothers and sisters in the faith hold firm to the faith trusting in the Lord and encouraging each other to live for the Lord according to His Word. It is in this way that Joy is made manifest in the lives of God’s people because it is the fruit of the Spirit and a gift from God in our lives. We receive this gift when we focus on the truth of the Lord, commune with Him through prayer, and remain in His Word applying His Word to our lives.
The psalm concludes saying, ו הָלוֹךְ יֵלֵךְ | וּבָכֹה נֹשֵֹא מֶשֶׁךְ-הַזָּרַע בֹּא-יָבוֹא בְרִנָּה נֹשֵֹא אֲלֻמֹּתָיו: 126:6 He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. (NASB) The one who sows requires a place to sow the seed. The Land of Israel is the ideal place for His people. Considering the Word of God, the seed of truth may be sown anywhere! The rabbis state the following in the Talmud Bavli Taanit 5a:7.
Talmud Bavli Taanit 5a:7
And with regard to that generation the verse says: “They who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy. Though he goes on his way weeping, who bears the measure of seed, he shall come home with joy, bearing his sheaves” (Psalms 126:6). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the expression: “Though he goes on his way weeping, who bears the measure of seed”? Rabbi Yehuda said: An ox, when it plowed at that time, it went on its way weeping and lamenting its labor; and yet upon its return, through the same furrow, it was able to eat the young shoots [ḥaziz] of crops that had already sprouted from the furrow. And this is the meaning of the phrase: “He shall come home with songs of joy.”
The rabbis say this refers to a generation of peoples as those who sow in tears and reaping songs of joy. The explanation is to the ox who plows who doesn’t know any better, laments his labor in plowing the field. Later on the ox reaps what was sown. This speaks as if the ox does not understand what he is doing, but later reaps the reward of his labor. Notice how the this sounds similar to the parable of the sower in the Apostolic Writings.
13:1 That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 13:2 And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. 13:3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, ‘Behold, the sower went out to sow; 13:4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 13:5 ‘Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 13:6 ‘But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 13:7 ‘Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 13:8 ‘And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 13:9 ‘He who has ears, let him hear.’ 13:10 And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ 13:11 Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 13:12 ‘For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13:13 ‘Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 13:14 ‘In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; 13:15 For the heart of this people has become dull, With their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes, Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.’ 13:16 ‘But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 13:17 ‘For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it (NASB)
Yeshua does not speak of the sower laboring and lamenting the sowing of seed; however, the parable does describe the sower as not understanding what he is doing by the illustration of the seed falling upon rocky places, the road side, and also on good soil. The idea is the sower should have been more careful where he sowed the seed. If he would have taken more care, he could have reaped a greater reward. The point is we send out the word of truth (seed) into the world, which is composed of both the righteous and the unrighteous. It is the Lord God our Father in heaven who causes the seed to grow. We trust in him to provide the growth and provision.
The Midrash on Parashat Vayera speaks of our Psalm this week in the following way.
Midrash Tanchuma Buber, Vayera 39:1
(Gen. 22:1:) NOW IT CAME TO PASS AFTER THESE THINGS, <THAT GOD TESTED ABRAHAM>. This text is related (to Ps. 126:6): THOUGH HE GOES AWAY WEEPING, BEARING HIS SEED BAG, HE SHALL SURELY COME BACK BEARING HIS SHEAVES WITH REJOICING. THOUGH HE GOES AWAY: This refers to Abraham in the hour that the Holy One tested him and said to him (in Gen. 22:2): PLEASE TAKE <YOUR SON … AND OFFER HIM … AS A BURNT OFFERING>. Even though he was weeping in his heart, he told him with his mouth (in vs. 1): HERE I AM. When? When BEARING HIS SEED BAG. Thus it is stated (in Gen. 21:12): FOR IN ISAAC SHALL SEED BE SUMMONED FOR YOU. (Ps. 126:6:) HE SHALL COME BACK WITH REJOICING, BEARING HIS SHEAVES. (Cf. Gen. 22:19:) SO ABRAHAM RETURNED UNTO HIS YOUNG MEN. What caused him to receive a reward? <It was> because he kept silent and made himself like a one who is dumb, as stated (in Ps. 38:14 ): LIKE ONE WHO IS DEAF I DO NOT HEAR, [AND LIKE ONE WHO IS DUMB (‘LM) HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH]. Then he had an excuse for saying to him: Yesterday you said to me (in Gen. 21:12): FOR IN ISAAC SHALL SEED BE SUMMONED FOR YOU; but now you are telling me to slaughter him. Still, he did not say anything but kept silent. Ergo (in Ps. 126:6): HE SHALL COME BACK WITH REJOICING, BEARING HIS SHEAVES (rt.: ‘LM).
Here the rabbis speak of being faithful to the Lord and the greatness of the reward that follows which brings rejoicing and happiness. The story of Abraham draws in the concept of the covenant promises that were found in the Seed of Abraham (Isaac and his children), where the Lord tested Abraham’s faith, and he remained faithful to obey the Lord. When we are faithful to go forth, to do the will of God, our joy is complete. These things illustrate the Chasidic concept of tzaddikism where the merit and favor of a single righteous person can be extended to others. Note how this is illustrated in the sowing of God’s Word into the hearts of others. Just as Yeshua stated, 13:8 ‘And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. (NASB) The Word of God goes forth and produces a good thing in the hearts of the people, to produce good fruit (righteousness), salvation (faith) and obedience (faithfulness). Similarly, on the basis of God’s gracious favor for one man (see Shemot / Exodus 33), the entire nation of Israel received the forgiveness of sin and a restoration of relationship with the Almighty. On the merit of one righteous man’s standing with God, all Israel was granted standing with God. This is the basic mechanism of the gospel message that is coupled to the message of the Torah, the Word of God that is sown in the hearts of men.
The Midrashic commentary continues to say the following:
Midrash Tanchuma, Vayigash 10:1
And he sent Judah before him (Gen. 46:28). Scripture states elsewhere: Behold, I send My messenger, and he shall clear the way before Me (Mal. 3:1). Observe that every misfortune that occurred to Joseph likewise befell Zion. It is written of Joseph: and Israel loved Joseph more than all his children (Gen. 38:3), and of Zion it is written: God loves the gates of Zion (Ps. 87:2). Concerning Joseph it is stated: And they hated him (Gen. 37:8), and about Zion: She hath uttered her voice against Me, therefore I have hated her (Jer. 12:8). With reference to Joseph it is said: For behold, we are binding sheaves (Gen. 37:7), and in regard to Zion: Ye shall come home with song, bearing sheaves (Ps. 126:6). It is written of Joseph: Shalt thou indeed rule over us? (Gen. 36:8), and of Zion: That sayeth unto Zion: “Thy God reigneth” (Isa. 52:7). Joseph: And Joseph dreamed a dream (Gen. 37:5), and Zion: When the Lord brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like unto them that dream (Ps. 126:1). Joseph: Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down to thee? (Gen. 37:10), Zion: They shall bow down to thee with their face to the earth (Isa. 49:23). Joseph: And his brothers envied him (Gen. 37:11), Zion: I am jealous of Zion with great jealousy (Zech. 8:2). Joseph: Go now, see whether it is well with thy brethren (Gen. 37:14), Zion: Seek the peace of the city (Jer. 29:7). Joseph: They saw him from afar off (Gen. 37:18), Zion: Remember the Lord from afar off (Jer. 51:50). Joseph: And before he came near unto them they conspired (Gen. 37:18), Zion: They hold crafty converse against the people (Ps. 83:4). Joseph: And they stripped Joseph of his coat (Gen. 37:23), Zion: They shall strip thee of thy clothes (Ezek. 23:26). Joseph: They took him and cast him into the pit (Gen. 37:24), Zion: They have cut off my life in the dungeon (Lam. 3:53). Joseph: And the pit was empty (Gen. 37:24), Zion: And in the pit there was no water (Jer. 38:6). Joseph: And they sat down to eat bread (Gen. 37:25), Zion: We have given the hand to Egypt, and to Assyria, to have bread enough (Lam. 5:6). Joseph: And they drew near and lifted up Joseph (Gen. 37:28), Zion: Ebed-Melech the Cushite drew him up (Jer. 38:13). Joseph: And Jacob rent his garments (Gen. 37:34), Zion: And in that day did the Lord, the God of hosts, call to the weeping (Isa. 22:12). Joseph: All his sons and all his daughters rose to comfort him (Gen. 37:35), Zion: Strain not to comfort me (Isa. 22:4). Joseph: And the Midianites sold him into Egypt (Gen. 37:36), Zion: The children also of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the sons of the Jevanim (Joel 4:6).
The Midrash speaks of a conversation between Joseph and Zion and the righteousness of Joseph who lives to serve the Lord and obey His word. Because he does such things, we are told the enemy comes to kill, destroy, and sell us into slavery if he gets the chance. This is connected to the idea when we serve the Lord, we are not always given a supply of milk and honey. Life is hard, and Yeshua warned us over and over again to be on guard because we will be persecuted for his name sake.
Matthew 5:11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. (NASB)
Matthew 10:22 You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. (NASB)
Matthew 24:9 Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. (NASB)
Our devotion to the Lord does not cause us to receive a get out of jail free ticket. We can expect persecution and tribulation from wicked men. We may also expect tribulation under the Lord’s pruning hand. This is illustrated by the unrighteous sitting down and eating bread, whereas we are handed over for destruction. Our faith and faithfulness are designed to be a testimony to this world on behalf of the Lord God in heaven and Yeshua His Messiah. When we persevere and maintain the faith in the midst of trials and persecutions, we are bearing the testimony of God for all to see. This perseverance is what the Lord is looking for in our lives. Our perseverance is for the glory of God! Let’s Pray!
The Rabbinic Commentary (Midrash) on Tehillim / Psalms 126 has 8 parts. Reading through the Midrash we will be looking at Part 2, 4, 6, and 8. Let’s begin by outlining Midrash Tehillim Chapter 126, Part 2, 4, 6, and 8
Outline of Midrash Tehillim / Psalms, Chapter 126, Part 2, 4, 6, and 8
- The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying, “Honi the Circle-drawer, the son of Honi the Circle-drawer’s son, lived about the time of destruction of the Temple.”
- The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “One day, he went out to the mountain to be with his workmen.”
- The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis speak of the this man who sleeps 70 years and is alive during the existence of both Temples in Jerusalem.
- The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), speaking of what has changed from one era to the next?
- The Concluding phrase says, “When he came into the city, it did shine. And so, thinking of himself, he quoted the verse, When the Lord brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like unto them that dream.”
- The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying, “Rabbi Jeremiah, sitting in the presence of Rabbi Ze’era and seeing that Rabbi Ze’era was overly cheerful, said to him, Is it not written For all sorrow there will be reward? (Mishley / Proverbs 14:23).”
- The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Rabbi Ze’era answered, I wear Tefillin. Mar, the son of Rabina, made a wedding feast for his son, and he saw that the Rabbis were becoming overly merry.”
- The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis speak one becoming overly joyful.
- The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), illustrating the need to be of sober mind and not overly merry.
- The Concluding phrase says, “The intention of these words, however, is to prove that no man had ever approached her with a wicked thought, as is proved by the verse The rod of the wicked will not rest upon the lot of the righteous.”
- The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying, “Turn our captivity, O Lord (Tehillim / Psalms 126:4).”
- The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Rabbi Isaac taught, A day of heavy rain is as consequential as the in-gathering of Israel, as is said Turn our capacity, O Lord, as the streams in the dry land (Tehillim / Palms 126:4). ”
- The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis speak of the rains as the blessing of God, and the arid ground as being the consequences of sin that led to the exile of Israel from the Land.
- The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), looking forward to the restoration of the people to the land.
- The Concluding phrase says, “By ‘afikim, streams, is clearly meant streaming rain, as in the verse, And the streams (‘afike) of the sea appeared (2 Samuel 22:16).”
- The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying, “A different interpretation, They that sow in tears, etc. Alludes to Jacob, who, being afraid, wept as he sowed his father’s blessings, saying, My father peradventure will feel me (Bereshit / Genesis 27:12).”
- The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Will reap in joy also alludes to Jacob, to whom it was said, So God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fat places of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine (Bereshit / Genesis 27:28).”
- The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis say the interpretation of the verse in the psalm is related to Jacob and his sowing the blessings of his father Isaac.
- The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), sowing the blessings leads to sorrows, which leads to entering into God’s promises.
- The Concluding phrase says, “And will doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him alludes to Jacob’s bringing back with him sheaves of young men and young women.”
Midrash Tehillim 126, Part 2 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying, “Honi the Circle-drawer, the son of Honi the Circle-drawer’s son, lived about the time of destruction of the Temple.” The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “One day, he went out to the mountain to be with his workmen.” Honi ha-M’agel (חוני המעגל, Honi the Circle-drawer) was a Jewish scholar of the 1st century BC, prior to the age of the tannaim, the scholars from whose teachings the Mishnah was derived. During the 1st century BC, a variety of religious movements and splinter groups developed amongst the Jews in Judea. A number of individuals claimed to be miracle workers in the tradition of Elijah and Elisha, the ancient Jewish prophets. The Talmud provides some examples of such Jewish miracle workers, one of whom is Honi ha-Ma’agel, who was famous for his ability to successfully pray for rain. (Mishnah Ta’anit 3:8) According to Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews, Honi met his end in the context of conflict between the Hasmonean brothers Hyrcanus II, backed by the Pharisees and advised by Antipater the Idumaean, and Aristobulus II, backed by the Sadducees. Around 63 BC, Honi was captured by the followers of Hyrcanus besieging Jerusalem and was asked to pray for the demise of their opponents. Honi, however, prayed: “Lord of the universe, as the besieged and the besiegers both belong to Your people, I beseech You not to answer the evil prayers of either.” After this, the followers of Hyrcanus stoned him to death. (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 14.2.1 21)
The Entire Midrash states the following.
מדרש תהלים פרק קכו סימן ב
ב חוני המעגל בר בריה דחוני המעגל הוה סמוך לחורבנא דבי מקדשא נפק לטורא לגביה פועלוי עד דיתיב תמן נחית מטרא על למערתא נם ודמך ליה ועביד שקיעה שנתיה שבעין שנין עד דחרב מקדשא ואיתבני [דמן תניינות] לסוף [שבעין שנין] אתער משנתיה [חזה] הוה עלמא מחלף, דהוה זיתים עבידא כרמים, כרמים הוה עבידא זרעים, עלל למדינתא אמר לון מה קלא בעלמא, אמרין ליה [ולית את ידע מה קלא בעלמא אמר לון לא, אמרין ליה] ומאן את, אמר לון אנא חוני המעגל אנא, אמרו ליה שמעין אנן כד הוה חוני המעגל עלל לעיריה הוה מנהרא, עלל ונהרת, קרא על גרמיה בשוב ה׳ את שיבת ציון היינו כחולמים.
Midrash Tehillim 126, Part 2
2. Honi the Circle-drawer, the son of Honi the Circle-drawer’s son, lived about the time of destruction of the Temple. One day, he went out to the mountain to be with his workmen. While he was sitting there, Rain began to come down, and so he went into a cave where he dozed off and fell asleep. He sank into a slumber which lasted for seventy years during which the Temple was destroyed and rebuilt. At the end of the seventy years, when he awoke from his sleep, he saw that the world had changed, Where olive groves had been, vineyards were growing, and towards the city and asked, What is new in the world? And they answered, do you not know what is new in the world? No, he said, Then they asked him, who are you? And he said, I am Honi the Circle-drawer. Whereupon they replied, We have heard it said that whenever Honi the Circle-drawer came into a city, it shown. When he came into the city, it did shine. And so, thinking of himself, he quoted the verse, When the Lord brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like unto them that dream.
The rabbis speak of a miracle, Honi the Circle-drawer went into a cave, fell asleep, and did not wake up until 70 years later. The idea is that he lived during both Temple periods, the first and the second Temples. The idea is “At the end of the seventy years, when he awoke from his sleep, he saw that the world had changed, Where olive groves had been, vineyards were growing, and towards the city and asked, What is new in the world?” Honi woke up, and the first thing he noticed were differences in the fruit of the land. Note how he did not comment first upon the magnificence of the Temple and its construction where the first Temple was great, and the second Temple was but a shadow of the first. He focuses upon the fruit of the land and then asks someone living there what is new in this world. The Midrash on Kohelet Rabbah teaches us saying, “When God created the first man he took him and showed him all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him, ‘See my works, how beautiful and praiseworthy they are. And everything that I created, I created it for you. Be careful not to spoil or destroy my world–for if you do, there will be nobody after you to repair it.’” This Midrash singles out the trees of the Garden of Eden–rather than the Garden of Eden itself, in order to represent the natural world, the work of the Creator. Note how Trees are at the pinnacle of the plant world, which transforms the earth from a barren and lifeless place into an environment capable of supporting other forms of life such as animals and humans. In the Midrashic description, formerly, the region surrounding the Temple was olive groves and now there are vineyards. There is a significance to this comparison. Olive trees begin to produce olives when they are between six and 10 years old, and they reach their peak at about 40 to 50 years. Many continue to produce an abundance of olives even when they are hundreds of years old. When the trunk becomes large and old, the branches are trimmed off, leaving what appears to be a dead stump. But the next year, fresh shoots spring from the old stump, and soon a new and vigorous growth of branches again produces an abundance of olives. Note the significance of this illustration because this phenomenon provided some of the rich imagery that we find in the Scriptures. For example, Job compared human beings to the olive tree and noted that the olive tree did not die when cut down but sprang again to life, unlike people, who die and are gone (Job 14:7-9). The children of God’s people are compared to the many small shoots that spring continually from the root system of the tree, ensuring the continued existence of the faithful family (Tehillim / Psalms 128:3). The Lord God Almighty uses the metaphor of an olive tree to describe his relationship to his people. He planted them as a farmer would plant a beautiful olive tree (Jeremiah 11:16-17, Tehillim / Psalms. 52:8), but he said he would cut them down because the fruit they bore was directed to the worship of Baal (Jeremiah 11:17). (See Matthew 3:10, 7:19, and Isaiah 5:1-7) After the Lord allowed his people to be “cut down,” they appeared to be nothing but a dead stump. But the Lord and those who were faithful led to new shoots (people) coming out of that stump. Note also what we read of the shoot of Jesse’s stump. This was a special shoot because God’s Spirit rested on him (Isaiah 11:1-2). This shoot was Yeshua the Messiah, who was a citizen of Nazareth (meaning “branch” See Matthew 2:21-23). Many other prophecies also described the Messiah as a branch or a shoot, probably drawing on the image of the olive tree (Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15, Zechariah 3:8, 6:12). Yeshua is the shoot from a stump in the olive grove of Israel. His fruit is obedience and faithfulness and he calls us to the same. This is the picture of God’s people and the Messiah as an olive tree. Paul wrote of the cultivated olive shoot and the wild olive shoot being grafted into the root system. It is in this way the Lord grafts in the Gentiles into the family of God (Israel). This provides the basis for Paul to remind the Gentiles of their Jewish roots, and affirming the covenant promises of God which are continued in love and concern for his Jewish tree, and warn people that since God had removed natural branches for not bearing fruit, how easy it would be for him to remove ones that had been grafted on (Romans 11:11-24). This provides us with an excellent object lesson, for those who are not Jewish to be warned of pride and arrogance. Sadly, replacement theology (pride and arrogance) become the mainstay of Christian doctrine leaving the Jewish branch, teachings, and interpretations. Remember, according to the Scriptures, the Lord did not invite Jews to become Gentiles, but invited the Gentiles to join themselves with Israel His people. The Olive tree is the reminder of this. Itis interesting how in the midrash, during the first Temple period there were olive groves, and during the second, there were only vineyards instead. The fruit that produces light to the world (the oil) and before God was gone. The olive tree reminds us of God’s love and his expectation that all his branches bear fruit in abundance and produce an oil for fuel the light of righteousness and truth that goes into the world for all to see.
Midrash Tehillim 126 Part 2 concludes saying, “When he came into the city, it did shine. And so, thinking of himself, he quoted the verse, When the Lord brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like unto them that dream.” We can be as those who dream, just as the midrash states of the city shining. We are to serve the Lord, but we are to not just dream about serving the Lord, we are to take our dreams and make them a reality. This is the purpose of the Torah, to put our faith into action before God and men!
Midrash Tehillim 126, Part 4 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying, “Rabbi Jeremiah, sitting in the presence of Rabbi Ze’era and seeing that Rabbi Ze’era was overly cheerful, said to him, Is it not written For all sorrow there will be reward? (Mishley / Proverbs 14:23).” The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Rabbi Ze’era answered, I wear Tefillin. Mar, the son of Rabina, made a wedding feast for his son, and he saw that the Rabbis were becoming overly merry.” The entire midrash states the following:
מדרש תהלים פרק קכו סימן ד
ד רבי ירמיה הוה יתיב קמיה דרבי זעירא, חזא דהוה בדח טובא, אמר ליה בכל עצב יהיה מותר (משלי יד כג), [כתיב], א״ל תפילין מנחנא. (מר בריה דרבא) [מר בריה דרבינא] עבד הילולא לבריה חזא להו לרבנן דהוו קא בדחי טובא, אייתי כסא (דמן קרא) [דמוקרא] בת ארבע מאה זוזי ותבר קמייהו ואתעציבו, רב אשי עבד הילולא לבריה חזא לרבנן דקא בדחי טובא, אייתי כסא דזוגיתא חיורתי ותבר קמייהו ואתעציבו.
Midrash Tehillim 126, Part 4
4. Rabbi Jeremiah, sitting in the presence of Rabbi Ze’era and seeing that Rabbi Ze’era was overly cheerful, said to him, Is it not written For all sorrow there will be reward? (Mishley / Proverbs 14:23). Rabbi Ze’era answered, I wear Tefillin. Mar, the son of Rabina, made a wedding feast for his son, and he saw that the Rabbis were becoming overly merry. He seized a costly goblet worth four hundred silver coins and broke it before their eyes, and the Rabbis became solemn again. Rabbi Ashi, too, made a wedding feast for his son, and seeing that the Rabbis were overly merry, he seized a goblet of white crystal and broke it before their eyes, so that the Rabbis become solemn again.
The rabbis speak of one becoming overly joyful. Rabbi Jeremiah says for sorrow there is a reward. If one was joyful, would that not be the reward of the Lord? Our rewards do not have to be monetary, but to have a contentment in our hearts for what the Lord has given us, and to be at peace. The author of the book of Hebrews speaks of the God of peace is the One in whom we serve. This God of peace is the One who raised Yeshua up from the grave in power, and is the One who equips us with all that we need to do His will. Note how he says this doing of His will is pleasing in His sight.
13:20 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 13:21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (NASB)
The author of Hebrews speaks of the God of peace, the resurrection, the shepherd, the blood of the covenant, and Yeshua. Philippians 4:7 refers to “the peace of God which transcends all understanding.” It is this peace that causes us to be at peace with all men in this world, to have a rested soul and spirit, and to be able to be contented in our daily lives. Most of Paul’s letters began with the words “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This peace of God is a state of quietness of spirit that transcends our circumstances. This peace is described in Scripture as a gift from God which is consistent with His character (1 Thessalonians 5:23, Galatians 6:16, 1 Peter 1:2, Hebrews 13:20). The author of Hebrews speaks of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as being the God of peace. Therefore, to know God is to be lifted up in His peace. The closer we draw near to Him, the more of His presence and peace we can enjoy (James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. NASB). Note how James speaks of drawing near to the Lord, cleansing our hands and purifying our hearts are all something that we do! God gives us clear instructions about how to draw near to Him. Tehillim / Psalm 24:3-4 states, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” Scripture is also clear that we cannot make ourselves clean enough or pure enough to earn the presence of the Lord (Romans 3:10 and 3:23). So how do we draw near enough to experience His peace? Notice what Yeshua wrote saying, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). We enter into the presence of the Lord through faith in His Son, in His word, and in prayer (John 14:6). Our sins are forgiven because Yeshua paid the price for them. Believing and having faith in this is what enables us to be at peace with God, and our living our lives for the Lord, causes our conscious, our inner soul (being) to be at peace with the Lord doing what He wants, just as the author of Hebrews writes, “to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight,” in which he says “through Yeshua” meaning that it is by the power we are given to overcome sin in and through our faith in Yeshua leading to faithfulness that demonstrates our nearness to the Lord .(Romans 4:5, 5:1, and 1 John 4:10). The initial peace that comes from having our consciences wiped clean grows as we get to know the Lord God better through the commands. (Hebrews 10:22) The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:2 saying, “May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.” (NLT) The way we grow in our understanding of the Lord is in studying the Word of God and its application to our lives, walking in the footsteps of the Messiah. It is in this way that we learn of the depths and riches of God’s love toward us, of His mercy to forgive us, (Ephesians 3:18-19, Romans 8:38-39). It is in this way that the mind and spirit have rest and peace in His power and wisdom. We learn and understand that He makes all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28) and we learn that His purposes will be accomplished (Tehillim / Psalm 33:11, Proverbs 19:21, Isaiah 45:9 and 46:9–11).
Midrash Tehillim 126 Part 4 concludes saying, “The intention of these words, however, is to prove that no man had ever approached her with a wicked thought, as is proved by the verse The rod of the wicked will not rest upon the lot of the righteous.” The rabbis connect sorrows to the wearing of Tefillin. The obligation of tefillin, as expounded by the Mishnah, is mentioned four times in the Torah, twice when recalling The Exodus from Egypt, and twice in the Shema passages from Devarim / Deuteronomy.
Shemot / Exodus 13:9
13:9 And it shall be for a sign for you upon your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand did the LORD bring you out of Egypt. (NASB)
Shemot / Exodus 13:16
13:16 And it shall be for a sign upon your hand, and as totafot between your eyes; for with a mighty hand did the LORD bring us forth out of Egypt. (NASB)
Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:8
6:8 And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm, and they shall be as totafot between your eyes. (NASB)
Devarim / Deuteronomy 11:18
11:18 You shall put these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall tie them for a sign upon your arm, and they shall be as totafot between your eyes. (NASB)
The tefillin are to serve as a reminder of God’s intervention at the time of the Exodus from Egypt. Maimonides describes the sanctity of tefillin and writes that “as long as the tefillin are on the head and on the arm of a man, he is modest and God-fearing and will not be attracted by hilarity or idle talk; he will have no evil thoughts, but will devote all his thoughts to truth and righteousness.” The Sefer ha-Chinuch (14th century) adds that the purpose of tefillin is to help subjugate a person’s worldly desires and encourage spiritual development. Joseph Caro (16th century) explains that tefillin are placed on the arm adjacent to the heart and on the head above the brain to demonstrate that these two major organs are willing to perform the service of God. (Tefillin, Mezuzah, ve’Sefer Torah ch 5-6.) So the point is the one who wears tefillin is seeking the will of God in the morning to start his day, and the rest of the day will be marked by this deed, to live in righteousness, holiness, and justice, which may have the consequence of sorrow as the world does not seek these things of God. See what was said in Part 1 of this study in relation to sorrows and the righteous.
Midrash Tehillim 126 Part 6 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying, “Turn our captivity, O Lord (Tehillim / Psalms 126:4).” The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Rabbi Isaac taught, A day of heavy rain is as consequential as the in-gathering of Israel, as is said Turn our capacity, O Lord, as the streams in the dry land (Tehillim / Palms 126:4). ” The entire midrash states the following:
מדרש תהלים פרק קכו סימן ו
ו שובה ה׳ את שביתנו. א״ר יצחק גדול יום הגשמים כקיבוץ גליות, שנאמר שובה ה׳ את שביתנו כאפיקים בנגב, ואין אפיקים אלא מטר, שנאמר ויראו אפיקי ים (ש״ב שמואל ב׳ כב טז).
Midrash Tehillim 126, Part 6
6. Turn our captivity, O Lord (Tehillim / Psalms 126:4). Rabbi Isaac taught, A day of heavy rain is as consequential as the in-gathering of Israel, as is said Turn our capacity, O Lord, as the streams in the dry land (Tehillim / Palms 126:4). By ‘afikim, streams, is clearly meant streaming rain, as in the verse, And the streams (‘afike) of the sea appeared (2 Samuel 22:16).
The rabbis parallel the captivity, the carrying away to Babylon, to living in a dry and parched land. Philo of Alexsandria (20 BCE – 50 CE) was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, in the Roman province of Egypt. Philo used philosophical allegory to harmonize the Jewish scripture, mainly the Torah, with Greek philosophy. He states the following:
Philo of Alexsandria, The Special laws II:
(188) Immediately after comes the festival of the sacred moon; in which it is the custom to play the trumpet in the temple at the same moment that the sacrifices are offered. From which practice this is called the true feast of trumpets, and there are two reasons for it, one peculiar to the nation, and the other common to all mankind. Peculiar to the nation, as being a commemoration of that most marvellous, wonderful, and miraculous event that took place when the holy oracles of the law were given; (189) for then the voice of a trumpet sounded from heaven, which it is natural to suppose reached to the very extremities of the universe, so that so wondrous a sound attracted all who were present, making them consider, as it is probable, that such mighty events were signs betokening some great things to be accomplished. (190) And what more great or more beneficial thing could come to men than laws affecting the whole race? And what was common to all mankind was this: the trumpet is the instrument of war, sounding both when commanding the charge and the retreat. … There is also another kind of war, ordained of God, when nature is at variance with itself, its different parts attacking one another. (191) And by both these kinds of war the things on earth are injured. They are injured by the enemies, by the cutting down of trees, and by conflagrations; and also by natural injuries, such as droughts, heavy rains, lightning from heaven, snow and cold; the usual harmony of the seasons of the year being transformed into a want of all concord. (192) On this account it is that the law has given this festival the name of a warlike instrument, in order to show the proper gratitude to God as the giver of peace, who has abolished all seditions in cities, and in all parts of the universe, and has produced plenty and prosperity, not allowing a single spark that could tend to the destruction of the crops to be kindled into flame.
Philo speaks of the power of God during the giving of the Torah at Sinai. He says the trumpets that sounded were wondrous to announce the Lord’s presence which is synonymous to the giving of His Torah, and that the trumpet is an instrument of war, of advancing and retreating during times of war. He then speaks of a different kind of war when nature itself is at variance with itself and describes this as “the enemies, by the cutting down of trees, and by conflagrations; and also by natural injuries, such as droughts, heavy rains, lightning from heaven, snow and cold; the usual harmony of the seasons of the year being transformed into a want of all concord.” Here the rains are described as conflicting natural processes the Lord has established which is paralleled to the time of war. There is a difference between the peaceful rains as described in Parashat Bekhukotai, Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3-27:34, of the blessings of rain, as opposed to the rains that come in storms that destroy crops (the heavy rains). Ein Yaakov has the following to say concerning the heavy rains.
Ein Yaakov (Glick Edition) 22:2:5
R. Juda said in the name of Rab : “What is the meaning of the passage (Deut. 32, 2) My doctrine shall drop as the rain ? This refers to the westerly winds which come from the hind part of the world; my speech shall distill as the dew; this refers to the northerly wind, which causes gold to become cheap (it brings hunger, and that renders gold cheap) and so the verse reads (Is. 46, 6) Those that lavish gold out of the bag; as heavy rains upon the grass, refers to the easterly wind that makes storms in the world ; and as showers upon herbs, refers to the southerly wind, which brings beneficent rain and causes the growth of grasses.” We are taught in a Baraitha that R. Eliezer says: “The world (Ib. b) is like a balcony (without a fourth wall) ; and when the sun arrives in the evening at the north west corner, it is diverted by this wind and ascends above the sky.” R. Joshua says: “The world is like a tent (which is fenced on all sides), and when the sun arrives in the evening at the northwest corner, it turns around and returns beyond the sky; as it is said (Eccl. 1, 6) Going toward the south, and turning around toward the north, the wind moveth around about continually; and around its circles doth the wind return again; i.e., toward the south during the day ; and toward the north during the night. Moveth round about, etc.; i.e. it faces east and west, so that sometimes, when the days are long, it goes through them, and when the days are short, it goes around them.” R. Juda, aforementioned, therefore is in accordance with R. Eliezer. (Job. 37, 9) Out of his chamber cometh the whirlwind. This refers to the southern wind; and that of the north, the cold, refers to the northern wind. From the breathing of God ice is given, refers to the westerly wind; and the broad waters become solid, refers to the easterly wind. But did not the master say that the south wind brings beneficent rain, etc? This presents no difficulty : If the rain comes slowly, it makes the grass grow ; but if it comes down in torrents, it does harm. R. Chisda said : “What is the meaning of the passage (Ib., ib. 22) The golden light that cometh out of the north? This refers to the northerly wind, which makes gold cheap, as it is written (Is. 46, 6) Those that lavish gold out of the bag.” Raphram b. Papa, in the name of R. Chisda, said: “Since the Temple was destroyed, the southerly wind has never brought rain, as it is written (Is. 9, 9) And he snatcheth on the right hand, and is yet hungry; and he eateth on the left hand, and is not yet satisfied; and it is also written (Ps. 89, 13) The north and the south — these hast Thou created.” etc. Raphram b. Papa said further in the name of R. Chisda: “Since the Temple was destroyed, the rains do not come from the good treasure; as it is said (Deut. 28, 12) The Lord will open unto thee His good treasure, the heaven, to give the rain of thy land, etc., i.e., when Israel did the will of the Omnipotent, and Israel was in his own land, the rain came from the good treasure; and now that Israel is no more in his own land, the rain does not come from the good treasure.”
Ein Yaakov speaks on Parashat Haazinu saying that doctrine is as the rain that falls from heaven. He speaks of the rains that bring benefit for God’s people, even the heavy rains that come are for the benefit of man. He parallels the wind that comes from the north, east, south, and west to the various natural processes, such as dew, rain, heavy rain, ice (snow), to making gold cheap, and to the destruction of the Temple. There seems to be a deeper underlying meaning in the rabbinic commentary, that speaks of the beneficiary factors of rain and the storms that come for the purpose of teaching man something. When disasters or calamity comes, we are to seek the Lord for His help to deliver us from our troubles. Midrash Tehillim 126 Part 6 concludes saying, “By ‘afikim, streams, is clearly meant streaming rain, as in the verse, And the streams (‘afike) of the sea appeared (2 Samuel 22:16).” The Lord delivering His people are paralleled to His causing refreshing waters to come in a desert place. This is the way the Lord works in our lives, even in the midst of troubles, He is our life giving waters. Yeshua said in John 7:37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” (NASB) Here he spoke of himself being the source of life giving waters. The reason this is because of who he is, and what he has done for us giving us eternal life. When we trust in him, the Lord puts in our hearts a flowing river in which we draw upon in serving Him, loving others, and loving our enemies.
Midrash Tehillim 126 Part 8 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying, “A different interpretation, They that sow in tears, etc. Alludes to Jacob, who, being afraid, wept as he sowed his father’s blessings, saying, My father peradventure will feel me (Bereshit / Genesis 27:12).” The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Will reap in joy also alludes to Jacob, to whom it was said, So God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fat places of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine (Bereshit / Genesis 27:28).” The entire midrash states the following:
מדרש תהלים פרק קכו סימן ח
ח ד״א הזורעים בדמעה. זה יעקב, שזרע את הברכות בדמעה [אולי ימושני אבי (בראשית כז יב)]. ברנה יקצורו. ויתן לך האלהים [מטל השמים ומשמני הארץ ורוב דגן ותירוש (שם שם בראשית כ״ז כח)]. הלוך ילך ובכה. וישא את קולו ויבך (שם בראשית כט יא). נושא משך הזרע. שמשך השבטים מחרן. בא יבא ברנה נושא אלומותיו. (אנא) [אתא] טעין עולמין ועולמיתא.
Midrash Tehillim 126, Part 8
8. A different interpretation, They that sow in tears, etc. Alludes to Jacob, who, being afraid, wept as he sowed his father’s blessings, saying, My father peradventure will feel me (Bereshit / Genesis 27:12). Will reap in joy also alludes to Jacob, to whom it was said, So God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fat places of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine (Bereshit / Genesis 27:28). And He that goes and weeps (Tehillim / Psalms 126:6) alludes to Jacob, of whom it was said, And Jacob lifted up his voice and wept (Bereshit / Genesis 29:11). And Bearing precious seed (Tehillim / Psalms 126:6) alludes to Jacob’s bearing the tribes of Haran. And will doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him alludes to Jacob’s bringing back with him sheaves of young men and young women.
The interpretation is that Jacob sowed his father’s blessings in tears. Does living in the blessing of God result in sorrows? Mishley / Proverbs 10:22 states, “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it.” (NASB) Solomon did not experience sorrows when living in the blessings of God. When sorrows come, even though he was sad, Jacob demonstrated his faith and faithfulness remained as an example for us. This provides for us the example how we may glorify the God of Israel through our sadness. Our sadness is either the direct or indirect result of sin (Tehillim / Psalms 90:10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away. NASB) The Psalms are filled with David pouring out his heart to the Lord. Like David we too pour out our heart to the Lord because of sadness. David concludes that the Lord is always faithful and our trust is to be in the Lord because He will never fail us. “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.” (Tehillim / Psalm 13:5-6) In Tehillim / Psalm 13, David rejoices in his lot as a follower of the one, true God, including a “delightful inheritance” (13:6), and gladness, rejoicing and security (13:9), while those who reject Him and follow other gods will find an increase of sorrows (13:3). David experienced an increase in sorrow when he walked outside of God’s blessing due to his sins saying, “For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.” (Tehillim / Psalm 31:10) In Tehillim / Psalms 32, David again rejoices in the mercy of God who forgives those who come to Him in repentance. Note how Yeshua taught in the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-24, which shows us how we are to deal with sadness that is the result of our sins. Yeshua says repentance is the end result, we are to be characterized by being a people of repentance who have the conviction of sin, confession of sin to God and others who are affected by the sin, that is coupled to the desire and attempt to make restitution, and turning from the sinful ways and pursuing godliness. Our sin should lead to godly sorrow which quickly turns into repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10) This is how David lived his life, and is why it is said of him that he lived a faithful life unto the Lord, even though he sinned and failed multiple times during his lifetime. David’s sorrow turns to multiplied blessing saying, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” (Tehillim / Psalm 32:1-2) This concept of the “spirit of deceit,” is an important one because it leads to who we are on the inside, at heart, and our motivations for what we do. In Tehillim / Psalms 32:10, David sums up the matter of sadness and sorrow due to sin saying, “Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.”
As stated earlier, for the most part, sadness is the result of sin in our lives, whether committed by ourselves or others. For example, Job was one who experienced great sorrow and sadness, through no fault of his own. His wealth and ten children were all taken from him at one time, leaving him sitting on an ash heap covered in boils and sores (Job 1-3). To add to his misery, his three “friends” came to comfort him by accusing him of sinning against God. Why else, they reasoned, would a man find himself in such circumstances? But as the Lord God revealed to Job and his friends, sometimes the Lord causes or allows circumstances that lead to sorrow and sadness in our lives for His holy purposes. And sometimes, too, the Lord does not even explain His reasons to us. (see Job 38-42)
Midrash Tehillim 126 Part 8 concludes saying, “And Bearing precious seed (Tehillim / Psalms 126:6) alludes to Jacob’s bearing the tribes of Haran. And will doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him alludes to Jacob’s bringing back with him sheaves of young men and young women.” The midrash speaks of Jacob bearing with the people of Haran who were jealous due to the Lord’s great blessing upon his life. Jacob rejoiced in the blessing of God, but was sorrowful due to the way others treated him. David tells us, “As for God, His way is perfect.” (Tehillim / Psalm 18:30) Since the Lord God’s ways are “perfect,” we can trust whatever He does and whatever He allows is also perfect for our lives. This may seem counterintuitive to us, but these things happen for our edification, to build us up, and to mold us after the image of the Messiah Yeshua. Isaiah said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) Though our thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and though we may not understand why the Lord does or allows the things to be done to us, we can know the Lord is working in our lives as we remain in faith and faithfulness to Him! According to the Scriptures, we know the Lord God’s perfect will includes sadness and sorrow for His children. Having this understanding, we can rejoice in that He never tests us beyond our ability to bear it and always provides the way out from under the burden of sorrow that we bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13) As Yeshua led for our example, being exceedingly sorrowful before the cross, we be assured that through hardships and times of sadness, the Lord God uses adversity, the Lord is molding us into His image. (Romans 8:29, Hebrews 12:10) Just as the midrash states, Jacob sowed his fathers blessing in tears, life among sinful humanity in this world will never be perfect, we know that God is faithful and that when Yeshua returns, sorrow will be replaced with rejoicing (Isaiah 35:10). In the meantime however, we use our sorrow to glorify God (1 Peter 1:6-7) and rest in the peace that He has established in our hearts, for His glory! Let’s Pray!