Tehillim / Psalms 90, ספר תהילים צ, Part 2, The Work of God’s Hands in Our Lives

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In this week’s study from Tehillim / Psalms 90:1-17, the Psalm opens saying, א תְּפִלָּה לְמֹשֶׁה אִישׁ-הָאֱלֹהִים אֲדֹנָי מָעוֹן אַתָּה הָיִיתָ לָּנוּ בְּדֹר וָדֹר: A prayer of Moses the man of God. 90:1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. (NASB) Moshe says the Lord Himself has been a dwelling place. Moshe continues saying, ב בְּטֶרֶם | הָרִים יֻלָּדוּ וַתְּחוֹלֵל אֶרֶץ וְתֵבֵל וּמֵעוֹלָם עַד-עוֹלָם אַתָּה אֵל: ג תָּשֵׁב אֱנוֹשׁ עַד-דַּכָּא וַתֹּאמֶר שׁוּבוּ בְנֵי-אָדָם: ד כִּי אֶלֶף שָׁנִים בְּעֵינֶיךָ כְּיוֹם אֶתְמוֹל כִּי יַעֲבֹר וְאַשְׁמוּרָה בַלָּיְלָה: ה זְרַמְתָּם שֵׁנָה יִהְיוּ בַּבֹּקֶר כֶּחָצִיר יַחֲלֹף: 90:2 Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. 90:3 You turn man back into dust And say, ‘Return, O children of men.’ 90:4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night. 90:5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. (NASB) Moshe speaks of man returning to the dust. He continues saying the Lord has placed our sins before him. ו בַּבֹּקֶר יָצִיץ וְחָלָף לָעֶרֶב יְמוֹלֵל וְיָבֵשׁ: ז כִּי-כָלִינוּ בְאַפֶּךָ וּבַחֲמָתְךָ נִבְהָלְנוּ: ח שַׁתָּ [שַׁתָּה] עֲוֹנֹתֵינוּ לְנֶגְדֶּךָ עֲלֻמֵנוּ לִמְאוֹר פָּנֶיךָ: ט כִּי כָל-יָמֵינוּ פָּנוּ בְעֶבְרָתֶךָ כִּלִּינוּ שָׁנֵינוּ כְמוֹ-הֶגֶה: י יְמֵי שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ | בָּהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת | שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן כִּי-גָז חִישׁ וַנָּעֻפָה: 90:6 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away. 90:7 For we have been consumed by Your anger And by Your wrath we have been dismayed. 90:8 You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence. 90:9 For all our days have declined in Your fury; We have finished our years like a sigh. 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) Moshe continues his Psalm saying, יא מִי-יוֹדֵעַ עֹז אַפֶּךָ וּכְיִרְאָתְךָ עֶבְרָתֶךָ: יב לִמְנוֹת יָמֵינוּ כֵּן הוֹדַע וְנָבִא לְבַב חָכְמָה: 90:11 Who understands the power of Your anger And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom. (NASB) We are told to consider what we are, created perishable, which instills fear in our hearts which lead to wisdom. The psalmist concludes his psalm saying, טז יֵרָאֶה אֶל-עֲבָדֶיךָ פָעֳלֶךָ וַהֲדָרְךָ עַל-בְּנֵיהֶם: יז וִיהִי | נֹעַם אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ עָלֵינוּ וּמַעֲשֵֹה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנָה עָלֵינוּ וּמַעֲשֵֹה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנֵהוּ: 90:16 Let Your work appear to Your servants And Your majesty to their children. 90:17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands. (NASB) Moshe concludes saying seeking the Lord to work in the lives of the people and to deliver by the power and might that He is known by: Almighty, omnipotent, mercy, grace, lovingkindness, righteousness, justice, and truth.

עברית Hebrew ארמי Aramaic ελληνικός Greek

ספר תהלים פרק צ

א תְּפִלָּה לְמֹשֶׁה אִישׁ-הָאֱלֹהִים אֲדֹנָי מָעוֹן אַתָּה הָיִיתָ לָּנוּ בְּדֹר וָדֹר: ב בְּטֶרֶם | הָרִים יֻלָּדוּ וַתְּחוֹלֵל אֶרֶץ וְתֵבֵל וּמֵעוֹלָם עַד-עוֹלָם אַתָּה אֵל: ג תָּשֵׁב אֱנוֹשׁ עַד-דַּכָּא וַתֹּאמֶר שׁוּבוּ בְנֵי-אָדָם:

סםר טוביה פרק צ

א צלותא דצלי משה נבייא דיהוה כד חבו עמא בית ישראל במדברא עני וכן אמר יהוה דמדור בית שכינתך בשמיא את הויתא לנא סעיד בכל דר ודר׃ ב כד איתגלי קדמך דעמך עתידין למחוב אתקינתא תתובא עד דלא טוריא איתנטלו ואיתבריאת ארעא ויתבי תבל ומן עלמא הדין עד עלמא דאתי את הוא אלהא׃

ΨΑΛΜΟΙ 90

90:1 προσευχὴ τοῦ Μωυσῆ ἀνθρώπου τοῦ θεοῦ κύριε καταφυγὴ ἐγενήθης ἡμῖν ἐν γενεᾷ καὶ γενεᾷ 90:2 πρὸ τοῦ ὄρη γενηθῆναι καὶ πλασθῆναι τὴν γῆν καὶ τὴν οἰκουμένην καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ αἰῶνος ἕως τοῦ αἰῶνος σὺ εἶ 90:3 μὴ ἀποστρέψῃς ἄνθρωπον εἰς ταπείνωσιν καὶ εἶπας ἐπιστρέψατε υἱοὶ ἀνθρώπων

ד כִּי אֶלֶף שָׁנִים בְּעֵינֶיךָ כְּיוֹם אֶתְמוֹל כִּי יַעֲבֹר וְאַשְׁמוּרָה בַלָּיְלָה: ה זְרַמְתָּם שֵׁנָה יִהְיוּ בַּבֹּקֶר כֶּחָצִיר יַחֲלֹף: ו בַּבֹּקֶר יָצִיץ וְחָלָף לָעֶרֶב יְמוֹלֵל וְיָבֵשׁ: ז כִּי-כָלִינוּ בְאַפֶּךָ וּבַחֲמָתְךָ נִבְהָלְנוּ: ח שַׁתָּ [שַׁתָּה] עֲוֹנֹתֵינוּ לְנֶגְדֶּךָ עֲלֻמֵנוּ לִמְאוֹר פָּנֶיךָ: ט כִּי כָל-יָמֵינוּ פָּנוּ בְעֶבְרָתֶךָ כִּלִּינוּ שָׁנֵינוּ כְמוֹ-הֶגֶה: י יְמֵי שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ | בָּהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת | שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן כִּי-גָז חִישׁ וַנָּעֻפָה: יא מִי-יוֹדֵעַ עֹז אַפֶּךָ וּכְיִרְאָתְךָ עֶבְרָתֶךָ: יב לִמְנוֹת יָמֵינוּ כֵּן הוֹדַע וְנָבִא לְבַב חָכְמָה: יג שׁוּבָה יְהֹוָה עַד-מָתָי וְהִנָּחֵם עַל-עֲבָדֶיךָ: יד שַֹבְּעֵנוּ בַבֹּקֶר חַסְדֶּךָ וּנְרַנְּנָה וְנִשְֹמְחָה בְּכָל-יָמֵינוּ: טו שַֹמְּחֵנוּ כִּימוֹת עִנִּיתָנוּ שְׁנוֹת רָאִינוּ רָעָה: טז יֵרָאֶה אֶל-עֲבָדֶיךָ פָעֳלֶךָ וַהֲדָרְךָ עַל-בְּנֵיהֶם: יז וִיהִי | נֹעַם אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ עָלֵינוּ וּמַעֲשֵֹה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנָה עָלֵינוּ וּמַעֲשֵֹה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנֵהוּ:

ג תתיב בר נש על חוביה עד מותא ואמרת תובו בני נשא׃ ד ארום אלף שנין בעינך מתחשבין קדמך חשיבין קומך היך יומא דאיתמלי ארום יעיבר והיך מטרת ליליא׃ ה ואין לא תייבין תיתי עליהון מותא היך דמכין יהון ולעלמא דאתי היך עסבא דמיתפרכא יתחלפון׃ {ת׳׳א} אשקיתון כס דלווט היך רוי בשנתיה הוון׃ ו דמיין עובדיהון היך עסבא די בצפרא יניץ ויסגי לרמשא מתמולל ומתיבש מן חורבא׃ ז ארום אשתיצנא מן תוקפך ומן רגזך חמתך איתבהלנא׃ ח שויתא חובנא לקובלך עויית טליותנא קביל נהור אפייך׃ ט ארום כל יומנא איתפניאו קדמך ברוגזך שיצינא יומי חיינא היך הבל פומא דסתווא׃ י יומי שנ{ו}תנא בעלמא הדין שובעין שנין מתאלמין ואין בגבורתא תמנן שנין וסוגעיהון ליאות ושקר לחייביא ארום עדו בסרהוביא וטייסין לצפרא לעפרא׃ יא מן הוא דידע לאתבא עושנא דתוקפך אלהין צדיקיא דדחלין מינך משדכין רוגזך׃ יב למימני יומנא מן יתכוון להודע ברם נבייא דלביה מבע מבני חוכמתא׃ יג תוב יהוה עד אימתי תסגפיננא ותוב מן בישתא די מלילתא למעבד לעבדך לעמך׃ יד שבע יתנא לעלמא דמתיל לצפרא טובך ונרנן ונחדי בכולהון יומנא׃ טו שמח יתנא היך יומין דסגיפתנא היך שניא דחמינא בישתא׃ טז יתחמי לעבדך עובדי ניסך ושיבהורך על בניהון׃ יז ויהי בסימותא דגן עדן מן קדם יהוה אלהנא ועובדי ידנא יצלחון אתקין פתגמי אוריתא עלנא ועובדי ידנא מיניה יתקנן׃

90:4 ὅτι χίλια ἔτη ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς σου ὡς ἡ ἡμέρα ἡ ἐχθές ἥτις διῆλθεν καὶ φυλακὴ ἐν νυκτί 90:5 τὰ ἐξουδενώματα αὐτῶν ἔτη ἔσονται τὸ πρωὶ ὡσεὶ χλόη παρέλθοι 90:6 τὸ πρωὶ ἀνθήσαι καὶ παρέλθοι τὸ ἑσπέρας ἀποπέσοι σκληρυνθείη καὶ ξηρανθείη 90:7 ὅτι ἐξελίπομεν ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ σου καὶ ἐν τῷ θυμῷ σου ἐταράχθημεν 90:8 ἔθου τὰς ἀνομίας ἡμῶν ἐνώπιόν σου ὁ αἰὼν ἡμῶν εἰς φωτισμὸν τοῦ προσώπου σου 90:9 ὅτι πᾶσαι αἱ ἡμέραι ἡμῶν ἐξέλιπον καὶ ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ σου ἐξελίπομεν τὰ ἔτη ἡμῶν ὡς ἀράχνην ἐμελέτων 90:10 αἱ ἡμέραι τῶν ἐτῶν ἡμῶν ἐν αὐτοῖς ἑβδομήκοντα ἔτη ἐὰν δὲ ἐν δυναστείαις ὀγδοήκοντα ἔτη καὶ τὸ πλεῖον αὐτῶν κόπος καὶ πόνος ὅτι ἐπῆλθεν πρατης ἐφ᾽ ἡμᾶς καὶ παιδευθησόμεθα 90:11 τίς γινώσκει τὸ κράτος τῆς ὀργῆς σου καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ φόβου σου τὸν θυμόν σου 90:12 ἐξαριθμήσασθαι τὴν δεξιάν σου οὕτως γνώρισον καὶ τοὺς πεπεδημένους τῇ καρδίᾳ ἐν σοφίᾳ 90:13 ἐπίστρεψον κύριε ἕως πότε καὶ παρακλήθητι ἐπὶ τοῖς δούλοις σου 90:14 ἐνεπλήσθημεν τὸ πρωὶ τοῦ ἐλέους σου καὶ ἠγαλλιασάμεθα καὶ εὐφράνθημεν ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἡμέραις ἡμῶν 90:15 εὐφράνθημεν ἀνθ᾽ ὧν ἡμερῶν ἐταπείνωσας ἡμᾶς ἐτῶν ὧν εἴδομεν κακά 90:16 καὶ ἰδὲ ἐπὶ τοὺς δούλους σου καὶ τὰ ἔργα σου καὶ ὁδήγησον τοὺς υἱοὺς αὐτῶν 90:17 καὶ ἔστω ἡ λαμπρότης κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ἐφ᾽ ἡμᾶς καὶ τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν ἡμῶν κατεύθυνον ἐφ᾽ ἡμᾶς

Tehillim / Psalms 90

A prayer of Moses the man of God. 90:1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. 90:2 Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. 90:3 You turn man back into dust And say, ‘Return, O children of men.’ 90:4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night. 90:5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. 90:6 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away. 90:7 For we have been consumed by Your anger And by Your wrath we have been dismayed. 90:8 You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence. 90:9 For all our days have declined in Your fury; We have finished our years like a sigh. 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. 90:11 Who understands the power of Your anger And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom. (NASB)

Toviyah / Psalms 90

90:1 The prayer that Moses the prophet of the Lord prayed when the people, the house of Israel, sinned in the wilderness. He raised his voice and thus he said: O Lord, the dwelling of whose presence is in heaven, you have been for us a helper in every generation. 90:2 When it was manifest in your presence that your people were going to sin, you established repentance; before ever the mountains were lifted up and the earth and the world’s inhabitants created, and from this age to the age to come, you are God. 90:3 You will return a son of man to death because of his sin; and [yet] you have said, “Repent, O sons of men.” 90:4 For a thousand years in your eyes are considered in your presence like a yesterday, for it will pass; and like a watch in the night. 90:5 And if they do not repent, death will come upon them, they will be as those who are sleeping; and in the age to come, they will disappear like crumbling grass. Another Targum: You made them drink the cup of cursing; they became like a drunken man in his sleep. 90:6 Their deeds are like grass that in the morning will spring up and multiply; in the evening it fades and dries up from the heat. 90:7 For we have been destroyed by your harshness, and by your anger we have been terrified. 90:8 You have set our sins in front of you, the iniquities of our youth before the light of your face. (EMC)

Psalmoi / Psalms 90

A Prayer of Moses the man of God. 90:1 Lord, thou hast been our refuge in all generations. 90:2 Before the mountains existed, and before the earth and the world were formed, even from age to age, Thou art. 90:3 Turn not man back to his low place, whereas thou saidst, Return, ye sons of men? 90:4 For a thousand years in thy sight are as the yesterday which is past, and as a watch in the night. 90:5 Years shall be vanity to them: let the morning pass away as grass. 90:6 In the morning let it flower, and pass away: in the evening let it droop, let it be withered and dried up. 90:7 For we have perished in thine anger, and in thy wrath we have been troubled. 90:8 Thou hast set our transgressions before thee: our age is in the light of thy countenance. 90:9 For all our days are gone, and we have passed away in thy wrath: our years have spun out their tale as a spider. 90:10 As for the days of our years, in them are seventy years; and if men should be in strength, eighty years: and the greater part of them would be labour and trouble; for weakness overtakes us, and we shall be chastened. 90:11 Who knows the power of thy wrath? 90:12 and who knows how to number his days because of the fear of thy wrath? So manifest thy right hand, and those that are instructed in wisdom in the heart. (LXX)

Tehillim / Psalms 90

90:13 Do return, O Lord; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants. 90:14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. 90:15 Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, And the years we have seen evil. 90:16 Let Your work appear to Your servants And Your majesty to their children. 90:17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands. (NASB)

Toviyah / Psalms 90

90:9 For all our days have been removed from your presence in your anger; we have completed the days of our lives like a vapor of the mouth in winter. 90:10 The days of our years in this age are seventy years, quickly passing; and if [one is] in strength, eighty years; but most of them are toil and deceit for the guilty, for they pass in haste and fly away to the morning. 90:11 Who is he who knows how to turn back the force of your harshness? – except the righteous, who fear you, appease your anger. 90:12 Who is right to teach us to number our days, except the prophet, whose heart pours forth wisdom? 90:13 Turn, O Lord – how long will you afflict us? – and turn from the harm that you commanded to do to your servants. 90:14 Satisfy us with your goodness in the age that is likened to a morning, and we will rejoice and be glad in all our days. 90:15 Gladden us like the days that you afflicted us, like the years that we saw harm. 90:16 Let the works of your miracles appear to your servants, and let your splendor be upon their sons. 90:17 And may the pleasantness of the Garden of Eden be upon us from the presence of the Lord our God, and the works of our hands will be established by him. (EMC)

Psalmoi / Psalms 90

90:13 Return, O Lord, how long? and be intreated concerning thy servants. 90:14 We have been satisfied in the morning with thy mercy; and we did exult and rejoice: 90:15 let us rejoice in all our days, in return for the days wherein thou didst afflict us, the years wherein we saw evil. 90:16 And look upon thy servants, and upon thy works; and guide their children. 90:17 And let the brightness of the Lord our God be upon us: and do thou direct for us the works of our hands. (LXX)

This week we begin Book IV of the psalms. The layout of the psalms in the MT are grouped into five separate sections. The rabbinic midrash to Psalms states that David com­posed the Psalms in five books, just as Moses wrote the five books of the Torah. Midrash Tehillim indicates David composed the psalms and laid out the psalms to parallel the five books of the Torah. In our studies David is assumed to be the author of the book of Psalms (see Talmud Bavli Bava Batra 14b,) unless otherwise stated by the title of the psalm, as we see here in Tehillim / Psalms 90 which states, “A prayer of Moses, the man of God.” Modern scholars attribute seventy two of the psalms to David where Tehillim / Psalm 90 is attributed to Moshe because it is explicitly stated according to the MT.

The Psalms consist of 5 books

Book 1 / ספר ראשון: Tehillim / Psalms 1-41

Book 2 / ספר שני: Tehillim / Psalms 42-72

Book 3 / ספר שלישי: Tehillim / Psalms 73-89

Book 4 / ספר רביעי: Tehillim / Psalms 90-106

Book 5 / ספר חמישי: Tehillim / Psalms 107-150

In this week’s study from Tehillim / Psalms 90:1-17, the Psalm opens saying, א תְּפִלָּה לְמֹשֶׁה אִישׁ-הָאֱלֹהִים אֲדֹנָי מָעוֹן אַתָּה הָיִיתָ לָּנוּ בְּדֹר וָדֹר: A prayer of Moses the man of God. 90:1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. (NASB) According to the MT, this psalm is attributed to Moshe, where Moshe says the Lord Himself has been a dwelling place for all generations. It is interesting how the MT uses the word מָעוֹן (habitation, a place in Judah) instead of the word שכן or משכן (dwelling, house, habitation), this word is used relatively infrequently in the Tanach. BDB states that this is figurative of the Lord making His abode in the midst of His people. The Aramaic Targum states, א צלותא דצלי משה נבייא דיהוה כד חבו עמא בית ישראל במדברא עני וכן אמר יהוה דמדור בית שכינתך בשמיא את הויתא לנא סעיד בכל דר ודר׃ 90:1 The prayer that Moses the prophet of the Lord prayed when the people, the house of Israel, sinned in the wilderness. He raised his voice and thus he said: O Lord, the dwelling of whose presence is in heaven, you have been for us a helper in every generation. (EMC) According to the Targum, the rabbis say this psalm is a prayer that Moshe prayed when the people sinned in the wilderness, consistent with the MT saying תְּפִלָּה לְמֹשֶׁה “a prayer of Moshe.” The Targum also uses the word שכינתך in conjunction with the house (בית), a place of dwelling the Lord is making with His people, the Targum translates that the presence of God remains in heaven. The Septuagint states, 90:1 προσευχὴ τοῦ Μωυσῆ ἀνθρώπου τοῦ θεοῦ κύριε καταφυγὴ ἐγενήθης ἡμῖν ἐν γενεᾷ καὶ γενεᾷ A Prayer of Moses the man of God. 90:1 Lord, thou hast been our refuge in all generations. (LXX) The Septuagint renders the Hebrew word מָעוֹן, as “refuge” (καταφυγἡ kataphugē) indicating that the people have taken their refuge in Him, and not the other way around. The Lord God as the refuge of His people illustrates how we as His people have throughout the generations sought the Lord in heaven for His help. It is also important to note that our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had no fixed habitation, being strangers in the land that was not theirs and then afflicted for four hundred years. The Lord as our refuge is not dependent upon our having a fixed dwelling place, but may indicate man’s restlessness in wondering this earth and God’s call for men to return to Him, to repent of their sins, and live a new life walking in His ways.

Moshe continues saying, ב בְּטֶרֶם | הָרִים יֻלָּדוּ וַתְּחוֹלֵל אֶרֶץ וְתֵבֵל וּמֵעוֹלָם עַד-עוֹלָם אַתָּה אֵל: 90:2 Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (NASB) Moshe describes the creation as the mountains and the earth being born, and draws this in context of the eternality of God. The foundations of the mountains were established by the Lord, and man is not able to move what the Lord has established in His creation. The foundation of God is drawn into parallel to His eternal nature that He is the source of all. This is further drawn into the context of the opening verse, Moshe praying and stating that the Lord has been the dwelling place of His people. Notice what context this brings to the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (NIV) What is the solid foundation that has this inscription? Notice how Paul states God’s foundation stands firm, and the Lord knows His people, and those who claim to be in fellowship calling upon the name “must” turn from wickedness. This appears to be what the Rabbis are thinking in the Targum which states, ב כד איתגלי קדמך דעמך עתידין למחוב אתקינתא תתובא עד דלא טוריא איתנטלו ואיתבריאת ארעא ויתבי תבל ומן עלמא הדין עד עלמא דאתי את הוא אלהא׃ 90:2 When it was manifest in your presence that your people were going to sin, you established repentance; before ever the mountains were lifted up and the earth and the world’s inhabitants created, and from this age to the age to come, you are God. (EMC) The rabbis say the Lord realized the people would sin, disobey His commands, and for this reason He created repentance before He created the heavens and the earth. It is in the Olam Hazeh that God has established repentance for his people in the case that they do sin. This is the interpretation of Shney Lichot on Parashat Nasso.

Shney Luchot HaBrit Nasso, Derech Chaim Tochachot Musar 22

The philological origin of the expression תשובה, is derived from Isaiah 30:15 בשובה ונחת תושעון, “Through returning and rest will you be saved.” Before G’d had begun to create the universe, He had already created the instrument called תשובה, as we know from the verse טרם הרים יולדו, “Before the mountains had been born” (Psalms 90:2). The reason is simply because G’d had been aware of how things would develop. By creating the instrument of repentance G’d created an instrument that “overrode” all things created later. This is why G’d had been able to say already to Cain: “Surely, if you do right, there is a lifting up, i.e. rehabilitation” (Genesis 4:7). This is the gist of the meaning of our sages’ statement that originally G’d had contemplated to run the universe with the attribute of Justice. When He saw that the universe would not be able to endure on that basis, He made the attribute of Mercy precede the attribute of Justice, and co-opted it to the attribute of Justice. This is what produced the instrument called סליחה, forgiveness. The act that triggers this forgiveness is repentance. It could not therefore have been created as an afterthought (Bereshit Rabbah 12).

The rabbis say that Teshuvah (תשובה) is the overriding tool of all things, which is derived from the sages saying that originally the Lord wanted to run the universe with justice, however, the world would not be able to endure that because of sin. Therefore the Lord created Mercy to precede justice. Justice would be held off until Mercy had run its course allowing a person to perform Teshuvah (תשובה) in order to receive the forgiveness of sins. And it is Teshuvah (תשובה) that leads to the forgiveness of sins. The root meaning of the word Teshuvah (תשובה) means to turn. What is it that one is turning towards? One is turning away from sin, and towards the Lord God and His holy word, conforming one’s life to righteousness, holiness, justice, and truth.

The Psalm continues saying the following, ג תָּשֵׁב אֱנוֹשׁ עַד-דַּכָּא וַתֹּאמֶר שׁוּבוּ בְנֵי-אָדָם: ד כִּי אֶלֶף שָׁנִים בְּעֵינֶיךָ כְּיוֹם אֶתְמוֹל כִּי יַעֲבֹר וְאַשְׁמוּרָה בַלָּיְלָה: ה זְרַמְתָּם שֵׁנָה יִהְיוּ בַּבֹּקֶר כֶּחָצִיר יַחֲלֹף: 90:3 You turn man back into dust And say, ‘Return, O children of men.’ 90:4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night. 90:5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. (NASB) In the context of the Lord being our habitation, and establishing repentance before the creation, Moshe reminds us of the temporary nature of man, that from dust he was made and to dust he will return (Bereshit / Genesis 3:19, Ecclesiastes 3:20, 12:7). The idea is that if man does not recognize his temporary state, and lives in unrepentance, he will die, as it says in Tehillim / Psalms 90:5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. (NASB) The Lord God is said to be not hindered by the passage of time and sin is not hidden from Him. The Targum states the following, ג תתיב בר נש על חוביה עד מותא ואמרת תובו בני נשא׃ ד ארום אלף שנין בעינך מתחשבין קדמך חשיבין קומך היך יומא דאיתמלי ארום יעיבר והיך מטרת ליליא׃ ה ואין לא תייבין תיתי עליהון מותא היך דמכין יהון ולעלמא דאתי היך עסבא דמיתפרכא יתחלפון׃ {ת׳׳א} אשקיתון כס דלווט היך רוי בשנתיה הוון׃ 90:3 You will return a son of man to death because of his sin; and [yet] you have said, “Repent, O sons of men.” 90:4 For a thousand years in your eyes are considered in your presence like a yesterday, for it will pass; and like a watch in the night. 90:5 And if they do not repent, death will come upon them, they will be as those who are sleeping; and in the age to come, they will disappear like crumbling grass. Another Targum: You made them drink the cup of cursing; they became like a drunken man in his sleep. (EMC) The rabbis believe one returns to dust as a result of sin. The Lord calls men to repentance and this is an essential part of our lives. When one lives in unrepentance, it is said that the Lord makes him drink from the cup of cursing and such a person becomes drunk until death (sleep). Sefer Habahir has the following to say.

Sefer HaBahir 5

Rabbi Reḥumai sat and expounded: What is Filled with the בִּרְכַּת (birkat), blessing, of YHWH. To the יָם (yam), west, and the south His possession (Deuteronomy 33:23)? It means that everyplace of ב (bet) is בָּרוּך (barukh), blessed, and this is: filled with the בִּרְכַּת (birkat), blessing, of YHWH. From there it gives to drink those who need it. It was from this filling that He sought advice. What is this like? A king wanted to build his palace among great cliffs. He mined into the bedrock and uncovered a great spring of living water. The king then said, “Since I have flowing water, I will plant a garden. Then I will delight in it, and so will all the world.” Therefore it is written And I was by Him an intimate, I was His delight day after day playing before Him at all times (Proverbs 8:30). Torah is saying, “For two thousand years I was in the lap of the blessed Holy One as His delight.” Therefore the verse reads: day after day [lit., יוֹם יוֹם (yom yom), a day, a day]. Each day of the blessed Holy One is a thousand years, as it is written, For a thousand years in Your eyes are like yesterday gone (Psalms 90:4 cf. BT Sanhedrin 97a).? Hence, thereafter: at times—as it is said, [playing before Him] at all times. And the rest is לְעוֹלָם (le-olam), forevermore. Thus it is said I defer My anger, and for My praise will I restrain it for you (Isaiah 48:9). What is My praise? As it is written, A David song of praise. Let me exalt You, [my God the king] (Psalms 145:1-2). Why is this praise? Because I will exalt You. And what is this exaltation? Let me bless Your name לְעוֹלָם (le-olam), forevermore (ibid.).

The Targum speaks of sin and repentance, and Sefer Habahi speaks of being filled with the blessing of God. The idea is that the blessing of God leads one to seek the Lord’s advice. A parable is told of a king seeking to build his palace, and this is paralleled to the Lord who seeks to build a place for a habitation. Note how the habitation may be in the hearts of men, the Lord is working in our lives to draw us near, to purify us, and to make a place for His delight. The parable has the king finding a spring of living water, and builds a garden to delight in. Similarly, in the Messiah Yeshua, we are told that He is able to give us a spring of living water from within, and this leads to the newness of life. This results in an everlasting rest in our lives, and an everlasting praise that springs forth from the heart as the Lord works in our lives to make us in His image.

Moshe continues saying the Lord has placed our sins before him. ו בַּבֹּקֶר יָצִיץ וְחָלָף לָעֶרֶב יְמוֹלֵל וְיָבֵשׁ: ז כִּי-כָלִינוּ בְאַפֶּךָ וּבַחֲמָתְךָ נִבְהָלְנוּ: ח שַׁתָּ [שַׁתָּה] עֲוֹנֹתֵינוּ לְנֶגְדֶּךָ עֲלֻמֵנוּ לִמְאוֹר פָּנֶיךָ: ט כִּי כָל-יָמֵינוּ פָּנוּ בְעֶבְרָתֶךָ כִּלִּינוּ שָׁנֵינוּ כְמוֹ-הֶגֶה: י יְמֵי שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ | בָּהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת | שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן כִּי-גָז חִישׁ וַנָּעֻפָה: 90:6 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away. 90:7 For we have been consumed by Your anger And by Your wrath we have been dismayed. 90:8 You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence. 90:9 For all our days have declined in Your fury; We have finished our years like a sigh. 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) Moshe speaks of the morning and the evening, how in the morning there is newness (sprouting) and in the evening there is fading (withering). This might be paralleled to the beginning of the day, the intent is to live for the Lord, but at the end of the day, the worries and temptations of this world led to something much less than was anticipated. The psalm continues with the anger of the Lord, which is the result of the sin of His people. Tehillim / Psalms 90:8 speaks of our secret sins, that there is nothing hidden from the Lord. Then Moshe says that a man’s days are numbered. The rabbinic commentary Sifra on Parashat Shemini, Mechilta d’Miluim 2:14 states the following.

Sifra, Shemini, Mechilta d’Miluim 2:14

15) What is the intent of (9:1) “And it was (on the eighth day”)? We are hereby taught that (the day of the erection of the mishkan was as joyous before Him on high as the day of the creation of heaven and earth, of which it is written (Bereshith 1:5): “And it was evening and it was morning.” And here it is written “And it was.” And when Israel finished the work of the mishkan, Moses came and blessed them, viz. (Shemoth 39:43): “And Moses saw all the work … and Moses blessed them.” With what blessing did he bless them? He said to them: “May the shechinah repose on the work of your hands. R. Meir says: He blessed them thus: “May the L rd, the G d of your fathers, add to you, such as you, a thousand times!” (Devarim 1:11), and they responded: “And may the pleasantness of the L rd our G d (His shechinah and His consolations) be upon us. And establish the work of our hands (the mishkan) upon us (that the shechinah reside therein), and the work of our hands (in our daily lives) establish it (that blessing repose upon it”). (Tehillim 90:7). And of that time it is written: “Go out and see, O daughters of Zion (children who are distinctive [“metzuyanim” (like “Zion”)] with mitzvoth), the king Shelomoh (the King who is the source of peace [shalom] with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him.” (Shir Hashirim 3:11). “his mother”: This is the tent of meeting, which was distinctive with blue and purple wool, with scarlet and with linen. “his mother”: This is none other than Israel, viz. (Isaiah 51:4): “And my nation (leumi), give ear to me.” Read it not “leumi” but “leimi” (my mother).

The Sifra commentary speaks of the Tabernacle (Mishkhan), the work of constructing the Tabernacle, and Moshe blessing the people. This is connected to the Lord blessing the people, and establishing the work of our hands in our daily lives. The Lord is involved in establishing the work of man’s hands, for the one who is willing. The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, “Change the way you have been living.” We then answer that call by striving to change our lives, and with the Lord’s help we are able to do so. This is why Tehillim / Psalms 90:6-10 speaks of man’s days being numbered by righteousness or wickedness. The numbering of days is another way of saying setting in order our lives for the glory of God. If our days are numbered living in righteousness, our days will be extended for the glory of God. If our days are numbered in wickedness, those days will be cut short. The rabbis realized this and so the Mishnah speaks of numbering the days of one’s life with the studying of the Scriptures and of the Rabbis according to Pirkei Avot 5:21.

Mishnah Pirkei Avot 5:21

He [Yehudah ben Teima] used to say: Five years [is the age] for [the study of] Scripture, Ten [is the age] for [the study of] Mishnah, Thirteen [is the age] for [observing] commandments, Fifteen [is the age] for [the study of] Talmud, Eighteen [is the age] for the [wedding] canopy, Twenty [is the age] for pursuit, Thirty [is the age] for [full] strength, Forty [is the age] for understanding, Fifty [is the age] for [giving] counsel, Sixty [is the age] for mature age, Seventy [is the age] for a hoary head, Eighty [is the age] for [superadded] strength, Ninety [is the age] for [a] bending [stature], One hundred, is [the age at which one is] as if dead, passed away, and ceased from the world.

The rabbis divide a man’s life at the beginning with the study of the Scriptures, the Mishnah (application of the Scriptures) and observing the commandments, which then proceeds to studying the Talmud. Following these things, one is ready for marriage, and working in the world (for pursuit and full strength), for wisdom (forty), aged wisdom (seventy), the abundance of years (eighty), and then one moves from this world to the next (one hundred). The point may be derived from the previous entry in the Mishnah Pirkei Avot.

Mishnah Pirkei Avot 5:20

Yehudah ben Teimah says: Be brazen like the leopard, light like the eagle, swift like the deer, and mighty like the lion to do the Will of your Father Who is in Heaven. He used to say: [the] brazen-faced [are bound] for Gehinnom (Purgatory), and [the] shamefaced [are bound] for the Garden of Eden. May it be Your Will, Lord, our God and the God of our forefathers, that Your city be rebuilt, speedily and in our days, and grant us our share in Your Torah.

The idea of ordering one’s life as described in the Mishnah Pirkei Avot 5:21, is to always remain focused upon the work of the Lord, as we see Pirkei Avot 5:20 speaks of sin, Gehinnom, and being ashamed. The rabbis request for the Lord to rebuild the city for their share in the Torah. The intent of the Torah is to live for the Lord on a daily basis, and to seek the Lord throughout our lives.

The Targum translates Tehillim / Psalms 90:6-10 in the following way, ו דמיין עובדיהון היך עסבא די בצפרא יניץ ויסגי לרמשא מתמולל ומתיבש מן חורבא׃ ז ארום אשתיצנא מן תוקפך ומן רגזך חמתך איתבהלנא׃ ח שויתא חובנא לקובלך עויית טליותנא קביל נהור אפייך׃ ט ארום כל יומנא איתפניאו קדמך ברוגזך שיצינא יומי חיינא היך הבל פומא דסתווא׃ י יומי שנ{ו}תנא בעלמא הדין שובעין שנין מתאלמין ואין בגבורתא תמנן שנין וסוגעיהון ליאות ושקר לחייביא ארום עדו בסרהוביא וטייסין לצפרא לעפרא׃ 90:6 Their deeds are like grass that in the morning will spring up and multiply; in the evening it fades and dries up from the heat. 90:7 For we have been destroyed by your harshness, and by your anger we have been terrified. 90:8 You have set our sins in front of you, the iniquities of our youth before the light of your face. 90:9 For all our days have been removed from your presence in your anger; we have completed the days of our lives like a vapor of the mouth in winter. 90:10 The days of our years in this age are seventy years, quickly passing; and if [one is] in strength, eighty years; but most of them are toil and deceit for the guilty, for they pass in haste and fly away to the morning. (EMC) The Targum translates these Scriptures in a straight forward manner speaking of the deeds of the people in the morning as opposed to the deeds in the evening, similar to our interpretation of Moshe’s words. The Targum speaks of the fleeting nature of our lives, how seventy years passed but in a moment, and how a large portion of our lives are filled with deceit and being guilty before God. The point is that there is nothing secret from the Lord, and the Spirit convicts us of sin. When we take an honest look at our lives and the intention of our hearts, we realize how we rest solely upon the mercy and grace of God. This is why it is so important to do the best that we can to continually seek to draw near to the Lord in our lives on a daily basis, and to live for Him, because there are so many things in the world that would take us away from what is most important, our service to the Lord.

Moshe continues his Psalm saying, יא מִי-יוֹדֵעַ עֹז אַפֶּךָ וּכְיִרְאָתְךָ עֶבְרָתֶךָ: יב לִמְנוֹת יָמֵינוּ כֵּן הוֹדַע וְנָבִא לְבַב חָכְמָה: 90:11 Who understands the power of Your anger And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom. (NASB) Here Moshe speaks explicitly asking the Lord to teach us to number our days and by doing so we are able to present our hearts with wisdom to the Lord. The commentary Ein Yaakov has the following to say concerning wisdom.

Ein Yaakov, Bava Batra 1:25

(Fol. 12) R. Abdimi of the City Haifa, said: “Since the destruction of the Temple, prophecy has been withheld from the prophets and has been given to the wise.” Is it then impossible for a wise man to be also a prophet ? He means to say, that although it has been withheld from prophets, it is not being withheld from the wise ones. Amemar said: “And a wise man is to be preferred to a prophet, as it is said (Ps. 90:12) Obtain a heart endowed with wisdom. And usually, who is dependent upon whom? The lesser is dependent upon the greater.” Abaye said: “This theory may be supported by the fact that one great man declares something new, and exactly the same has been said by another great man.” Raba said: “Why is it so difficult to understand such a thing? It may be that both of them are equal in wisdom. Therefore, said Raba, it happens frequently that a great man declares something new, and afterwards it is found (Ib. b) that R. Akiba b. Joseph [who is hardly his equal] has already declared so.” R. Ashi, however, objected and said: “Why is it so difficult to understand such a thing? It may happen that in this one case he was equal in wisdom to him. “But,” said R. Ashi, “I can support this from the fact that it very often occurs that a sage declares a Halacha, and afterwards the same is taught from Moses as delivered on Mount Sinai.” And yet even then, it may be by chance, just as a blind man finds his way down from the opening of a roof.

Ein Yaakov’s commentary on Bava Batra, speaks specifically on this psalm about wisdom, that following the destruction of the Temple, prophecy has been withheld from the prophets and given to the wise. The wise are said to have wisdom. Then he asks whether those who have wisdom may also be a prophet? The interpretation is that prophecy has been withheld from prophets but it has been given to the wise. The Lord speaks to those who are wise, and the wisdom is found in those who are careful to number their days, and to watch to be careful to guard their hearts, their eyes, their ears, and their hands (what they do). The Targum translates these verses to say, יא מן הוא דידע לאתבא עושנא דתוקפך אלהין צדיקיא דדחלין מינך משדכין רוגזך׃ יב למימני יומנא מן יתכוון להודע ברם נבייא דלביה מבע מבני חוכמתא׃ 90:11 Who is he who knows how to turn back the force of your harshness? – except the righteous, who fear you, appease your anger. 90:12 Who is right to teach us to number our days, except the prophet, whose heart pours forth wisdom? (EMC) The rabbis recognize the role of the prophet, the one with wisdom is who leads the people back to God’s ways turning from idolatry.

The psalm continues, יג שׁוּבָה יְהֹוָה עַד-מָתָי וְהִנָּחֵם עַל-עֲבָדֶיךָ: יד שַֹבְּעֵנוּ בַבֹּקֶר חַסְדֶּךָ וּנְרַנְּנָה וְנִשְֹמְחָה בְּכָל-יָמֵינוּ: טו שַֹמְּחֵנוּ כִּימוֹת עִנִּיתָנוּ שְׁנוֹת רָאִינוּ רָעָה: 90:13 Do return, O Lord; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants. 90:14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. 90:15 Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, And the years we have seen evil. (NASB) We are told to consider what we are, created perishable, which instills fear in our hearts which lead to wisdom and to rejoicing before the Lord. The Targum translates saying, יג תוב יהוה עד אימתי תסגפיננא ותוב מן בישתא די מלילתא למעבד לעבדך לעמך׃ יד שבע יתנא לעלמא דמתיל לצפרא טובך ונרנן ונחדי בכולהון יומנא׃ טו שמח יתנא היך יומין דסגיפתנא היך שניא דחמינא בישתא׃ 90:13 Turn, O Lord – how long will you afflict us? – and turn from the harm that you commanded to do to your servants. 90:14 Satisfy us with your goodness in the age that is likened to a morning, and we will rejoice and be glad in all our days. 90:15 Gladden us like the days that you afflicted us, like the years that we saw harm. (EMC) The rabbis translate the psalm asking the Lord to bring His goodness, similar to that of the age of what is considered morning. The morning represents a new beginning, David wrote in Tehillim / Psalms 5 of coming to the Lord in the morning and receiving the strength and the joy he needs to make it through the day against his adversaries.

Tehillim / Psalms 5:3-8

5:3 In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. 5:4 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You. 5:5 The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. 5:6 You destroy those who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. 5:7 But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house, At Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You. 5:8 O Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes; Make Your way straight before me. (NASB)

Notice how David speaks of ordering his prayer and watching the Lord work. This appears to parallel what we read here in Tehillim / Psalms 90, that we are called to order our lives for the glory of God. David acknowledges that the Lord does not like wickedness (2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” NIV) and that the Lord does not like the proud or the one who sheds blood. David asks the Lord to lead him in righteousness, and this is what we find as the ideology of Tehillim / Psalms 90, to order our ways, to seek the Lord God in heaven, and His Messiah Yeshua, to turn from wickedness, and to walk in righteousness, justice, and truth. The Targum translation of “the age of the morning” is interpreted in the following way by Ein Yaakov.

Ein Yaakov, Sanhedrin 11:54

We are taught in another Baraitha that R. Eliezer says: “The Messianic period will be forty years,” as it is written here (Deut. 8:3) And he afflicted thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and it is written there (Ps. 90:15) Cause us to rejoice as many days as those wherein Thou hast afflicted us.” [Just as their journey in the desert was forty years, so long will be the days of the Messiah.] R. Dosa, however, says: “Four hundred years, as it is said Cause us to rejoice as many days as thou hast afflicted us, and it is also written (Gen. 15:13) And they will afflict them four hundred years.” Rabbi said: “Three hundred and sixty-five years, according to the days of the Solar year, as it is said (Isa. 63:4) For the days of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of My redeemer was come.” What does the day of vengeance is in My heart mean ? R. Jochanan said: “I revealed it to My heart, but not to any other member of My body.” And R. Simon b. Lakish said : “I revealed it to My heart, but not to the ministering angels.” Abimi b. Obahu taught: “Seven thousand years will be the Messianic period for Israel, as it is said (Ib. 62, 5) And as a bridegroom is glad over the bride, so will thy God be glad over thee.” R. Juda said in the name of Samuel: “The Messianic period will be as long as it is from the day of creation till now,” as it is said (Deut. 11:21) As the days of heaven over the earth.” R. Nachman b. Isaac said: “As from the day of Noah till now,” as it is said (Is. 54, 9) For as the waters of Noah is this unto Him! as I have sworn, etc.”

Ein Yaakov recognizes that this “age of the morning” and “time of rejoicing” as being a parallel to the days of the Messiah (the Messianic period). The Messianic Period is said to be 40 years, 400 years, 365 years, and 7000 years representing the period from the day of creation until now. We see the rabbis have varying opinions and the idea is in order to interpret the meaning of the psalm which asks the Lord to bring joy and gladness for as long as there was a period (years) of evil, has led to multiple interpretations on the length of time of the Messiah. The time of the Messiah is represented in Judaism as the present day Salvation of God’s people from their enemies, and a time of peace, rejoicing, and return to God’s ways, even the nations who live in Israel will be required to obey Torah. There is both a temporal perspective of the salvation of the Messiah as well as an eternal perspective of the salvation of the Messiah, because He is the one who leads us back to the Lord.

The psalmist concludes his psalm saying, טז יֵרָאֶה אֶל-עֲבָדֶיךָ פָעֳלֶךָ וַהֲדָרְךָ עַל-בְּנֵיהֶם: יז וִיהִי | נֹעַם אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ עָלֵינוּ וּמַעֲשֵֹה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנָה עָלֵינוּ וּמַעֲשֵֹה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנֵהוּ: 90:16 Let Your work appear to Your servants And Your majesty to their children. 90:17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands. (NASB) Moshe appears to call upon Parashat Ekev in Devarim / Deuteronomy 8:16-18 in his psalm.

Devarim / Deuteronomy 8:16-18

8:16 ‘In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. 8:17 ‘Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ 8:18 ‘But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (NASB, טז הַמַּאֲכִלְךָ מָן בַּמִּדְבָּר אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדְעוּן אֲבֹתֶיךָ לְמַעַן עַנֹּתְךָ וּלְמַעַן נַסֹּתֶךָ לְהֵיטִבְךָ בְּאַחֲרִיתֶךָ: יז וְאָמַרְתָּ בִּלְבָבֶךָ כֹּחִי וְעֹצֶם יָדִי עָשָֹה לִי אֶת-הַחַיִל הַזֶּה: יח וְזָכַרְתָּ אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כִּי הוּא הַנֹּתֵן לְךָ כֹּחַ לַעֲשֹוֹת חָיִל לְמַעַן הָקִים אֶת-בְּרִיתוֹ אֲשֶׁר-נִשְׁבַּע לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ כַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה:)

The Lord’s favor is found in the success in work, where the Lord is confirming His covenant with His people by blessing us in the work of our hands. The Torah states that the strength of our hand to work and earn a living is given by God. Moshe concludes by saying our ability to see the Lord work in our lives is found in the way He works, by giving us the ability to work, to earn a living, to deliver us by overcoming sin in our lives, and the manner in which we love one another. The Lord works in the lives of His people by manner in which He is known according to the Scriptures: Almighty, omnipotent, merciful, grace, lovingkindness, righteousness, justice, and truth. This is why we are told to remember the Lord in Parashat Ekev. The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan states, “Beware that you say not in your heart, Our strength and the might of our hands have obtained us all these riches; but remember the Lord your God ; for He it is who giveth thee counsel whereby to get wealth; that He may confirm the covenant which He sware to your fathers at the time of this day. For it shall be that if you forget the fear of the Lord your God, and go after the idols of the Gentiles, to serve and worship them, I testify against you this day, you will surely perish; as the peoples which the Lord your God disperseth before you, so will you perish, because you were not obedient to the Word of the Lord your God.” The rabbis are directly illustrating the importance of remembering and the power of God to give us the ability to get wealth in order to confirm His covenant. Note how pride is to be avoided, which leads to idolatry and walking away from God’s commands leading to death.

The Targum translation of the psalm states, טז יתחמי לעבדך עובדי ניסך ושיבהורך על בניהון׃ יז ויהי בסימותא דגן עדן מן קדם יהוה אלהנא ועובדי ידנא יצלחון אתקין פתגמי אוריתא עלנא ועובדי ידנא מיניה יתקנן׃ 90:16 Let the works of your miracles appear to your servants, and let your splendor be upon their sons. 90:17 And may the pleasantness of the Garden of Eden be upon us from the presence of the Lord our God, and the works of our hands will be established by him. (EMC) God’s love and kindness for us is to empower us, to enable us to work, and this is considered a miracle. Have you ever considered your job to be a miracle and a powerful work of God in your life? Praise the Lord for the abilities that He has given us for the purpose of taking care of our families, and to use our income to bring glory to His Name! The Targum states, “And may the pleasantness of the Garden of Eden be upon us from the presence of the Lord our God, and the works of our hands will be established by him.” Do you have a pleasantness in your job, or do you complain and grumble about your work? If the Lord has given you a place to work, rejoice because this brings glory to the Lord God in heaven. Let’s Pray!

Rabbinic Commentary

The Rabbinic Commentary (Midrash) on Tehillim / Psalms 90 has 19 parts. Reading through the Midrash we will be looking at Part 4, 5, 16, 18, and 19. Let’s begin by outlining Midrash Tehillim Chapter 90, Parts 4, 5, 16, 18, and 19.

Outline of Midrash Tehillim / Psalms, Chapter 90, Part 4, 5, 16, 18, and 19

Part 4

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying, “Rabbi Eleazar taught in the name of rabbi Jose son of Zimra, None of the prophets, as they uttered their prophecies, knew that they were prophesying, except Moshe and Isaiah who did know.”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Thus Moshe said, My doctrine will drop as the rain (Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:1);
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis say the prophets did not know they were prophesying when they spoke.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis discuss how that it is possible to prophecy and not know it..
  • The Concluding phrase says, “And why were they not included in the books of the Law? Because the latter are the words of Torah, and the former are words of prophesy.”

Part 5

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying, “Another reading, A prayer of Moshe, a man, the God (Tehillim / Psalms 90:1).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “If man, how God? If God, how man?
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis ask the question, of how Moshe could descend and be considered God?
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis expand upon the mashal speaking of the Scriptures that describe men as gods to whom God has given authority to judge.
  • The Concluding phrase says, “Why was Moshe called the spouse of God? Because he was like a husband who, if he wished to avoid the vow of his wife, voids it, and if he wishes to let it stand, lets it stand, as is said, Her husband may let it stand, or her husband may make it void (Bamidbar / Numbers 30:14); for, if one dare repeat his words, Moshe commanded the Holy One blessed be He, Rise up O Lord (Bamidbar / Numbers 10:35) and Return, O Lord (Bamidbar / Numbers 10:36).”

Part 16

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying, “Who knows the power of Your anger? Even according to the fear of You, so is Your wrath (Tehillim / Psalms 90:11).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Rabbi Abba son of Kahana taught, For You are filled with wrath even against those who fear You.
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis speak of obedience to the Torah (God’s Word).
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis reason the merits of obeying Torah and the Olam Haba.
  • The Concluding phrase says, “Hence, it is said, So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Rabbi Hanina prayed, Let the thought of repentance be always before you. Return to the Lord, how long will you delay? (Tehillim / Psalms 90:13)”

Part 18

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying, “Your work appears in Your servants, and Your glory upon their children (Tehillim / Psalms 90:16).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Rabbi Berechiah said in the name of Rabbi Hiyya, Your servants refers to Abraham and to Sarah, and their children to Isaac and to Rebekah.
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis discuss the glory of God descending upon the children of God”
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis look at examples where this is true, in studying God’s word and in prayer.
  • The Concluding phrase says, “Scripture does not say, That you may look upon them, but That you may look upon Him, that is, upon the Holy One blessed be He. Hence, And Your glory upon their children.”

Part 19

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying, “And let the grace of the Lord our God be upon us (Tehillim / Psalms 90:17).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Rabbi Huna taught, The saying has it that we notice life only when we are losing it, as we notice the eye only when it becomes inflamed.
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis discuss the idea of obeying Torah and the grace of God.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis explain shomer mitzvah and khesedim within the context of the covenant relationship.
  • The Concluding phrase says, “The Holy One blessed be He, replied, Of yore the Temple having been built by the hands of mortals, was destroyed and is desolate because I removed My grace from the midst thereof, but in the time to come, I Myself will build it and cause My grace to dwell in the midst thereof, and it will never again be destroyed.”

Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 4 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying, “Rabbi Eleazar taught in the name of rabbi Jose son of Zimra, None of the prophets, as they uttered their prophecies, knew that they were prophesying, except Moshe and Isaiah who did know.” Based upon the comments from the Midrash, do you think the prophets knew they were giving a prophetic word when they spoke? The homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Thus Moshe said, My doctrine will drop as the rain (Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:1).” The entire midrash states the following:

מדרש תהלים פרק צ סימן ד

ד אמר ר׳ אלעזר בשם ר׳ יוסי בן זימרא כל הנביאים שהיו מתנבאים לא היו יודעין מה היו מתנבאין, אלא משה וישעיה הם היו יודעין, משה אמר יערף כמטר לקחי (דברים לב ב), ישעיה אמר הנה אנכי והילדים אשר נתן לי ה׳ לאותות ולמופתים בישראל (ישעיה ח יח), אמר ר׳ יהושע הכהן בר נחמיה אף אליהו היה מתנבא והיה יודע, שנאמר ודעת שפתי ברור מללו (איוב לג ג), אמר ר׳ אלעזר בשם ר׳ יוסי בן זימרא שמואל רבן של נביאים היה מתנבא ולא היה יודע, שנאמר וישלח ה׳ את ירובעל ואת בדן ואת יפתח ואת שמואל (ש״א שמואל א׳ יב יא), ואותי אינו אומר, אלא ואת שמואל, שלא היה יודע מה היה מתנבא, אמר ר׳ לוי בשם ר׳ חנינא אחד עשר מזמורים שאמר משה בטכסיס של נביאים אמרן, ולמה לא נכתבו בתורה, לפי שאלו דברי תורה ואלו דברי נבואה.

Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 4

4. Rabbi Eleazar taught in the name of rabbi Jose son of Zimra, None of the prophets, as they uttered their prophecies, knew that they were prophesying, except Moshe and Isaiah who did know. Thus Moshe said, My doctrine will drop as the rain (Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:1); and Isaiah said, Behold, I and the children of whom the Lord has given me will be for signs and for wonders in Israel (Isaiah 8:18). Rabbi Joshua the Priest son of Nehemiah maintained that Elihu also prophesied and knew he was prophesying, for he said, My lips will utter knowledge clearly (Job 33:3). Rabbi Eleazar taught in the name of rabbi Jose son of Zimra, Samuel the master of prophets, as he uttered his prophecy did not know he was prophesying, as is said, And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel (1 Samuel 12:11). Samuel did not say, The Lord sent me, but The Lord send Samuel, for he did not know that he was prophesying. Rabbi Levi taught in the name of rabbi Hanina, The eleven Psalms which Moshe composed are set down in the books of the Prophets. And why were they not included in the books of the Law? Because the latter are the words of Torah, and the former are words of prophesy.

Moshe states that his doctrine will drop as the rain, and Isaiah says that the people themselves will be as signs and wonders in Israel. Why do the rabbis consider Moshe’s doctrine as being comparable to prophecy? The Torah is referred to in the Scriptures as both the “Torah of the Lord” and as the “Torah of Moses.” The Torah was written by Moshe and gives the inheritance to the congregation of Israel, the Jewish people. The Scriptures say the purpose of Torah is to make Israel “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” The Torah is considered the source of freedom, goodness, and life, and it is identified both with wisdom and with love. Rabbi Hillel summarized the entire Torah in one sentence saying, “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow.” Rabbi Akiva said: “The fundamental principle of the Torah is the commandment, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.‘” The message of the Torah is for all mankind. According to the Rabbinic literature, before giving the Torah to Israel, the Lord God offered it to the other nations, but they refused it; and when He did give the Torah to Israel, He revealed it in the wilderness, a neutral place, which symbolizes the Lord’s desire of Torah for the 70 nations of the world, so that men of all nations would have a right to it. Throughout the Torah the Lord calls the Torah His Law (see Parashat Bekhukotai) and so within the Scriptures themselves we find the Lord God making claim to the Torah as a reference to all of Scripture being for all men and not just for Israel. The rabbis also taught the inseparability of Israel and the Torah. Pirkei Avot states that both Israel and the Torah existed in God’s mind before He created the world. Taking all of these things into consideration, this may be why the rabbis consider Moshe’s words as being equally prophetic. We do find events described in both the Torah and the book of Isaiah that eventually took place and in both cases they knew what they said was prophetic of what will take place if the people do not repent and turn from their wickedness (2 Timothy 2:19).

The rabbis provide examples in presenting their interpretation on Moshe and Isaiah. The midrash states, Rabbi Eleazar taught in the name of rabbi Jose son of Zimra, Samuel the master of prophets, as he uttered his prophecy did not know he was prophesying, as is said, And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel (1 Samuel 12:11). Samuel did not say, The Lord sent me, but The Lord send Samuel, for he did not know that he was prophesying. The only example the midrash provides is Samuel did not know he was prophesying, and he is said to be the master of the prophets. If the master did not know, then those who are minor prophets also did not know.

Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 4 concludes saying, “Rabbi Levi taught in the name of rabbi Hanina, The eleven Psalms which Moshe composed are set down in the books of the Prophets. And why were they not included in the books of the Law? Because the latter are the words of Torah, and the former are words of prophesy.” The midrash concludes the words of the Torah are prophetic. The reason being, for those who are disobedient to God’s commands, the curses will come upon them. Whereas, those who are obedient to the mitzvot (commandments) the Lord’s blessing will be given to them.

Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 5 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying, “Another reading, A prayer of Moshe, a man, the God (Tehillim / Psalms 90:1).” The homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “If man, how God? If God, how man?” The question is regarding the Torah that calls Moshe god before Pharaoh, “When Moshe stood before Pharaoh, he was as God, for it is said, See, I have set you in God’s stead to Pharaoh (Shemot / Exodus 7:1); but when Moshe fled from before Pharaoh, he was a man.” In the Torah, we are told that the Lord judges in the midst of rulers (יִשְׁפֹּֽט), where the word for ruler is to pass judgment. In the Septuagint (LXX), the Hebrew Elohim with a plural verb is implied as a reference to ἀγγέλους (angels) or to the kiterion tou Theou (“the judgment of God,” Septuagint Exodus 21:6 προσάξει αὐτὸν ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ πρὸς τὸ κριτήριον τοῦ θεοῦ). This then entered into the Latin Vulgate and the English KJV to be translated as “angels” and “judges.” Both Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon and the Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon list angels and judges as possible alternative meanings for elohim with plural verbs and adjectives. With this interpretation, judging belongs to those to whom the law has been given. James 4:12 states “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who are you that judge another?” The Torah has been given by God, and James is recognizing the origin (source) of the Torah (e.g. Him who has given the law), and is suggesting that when we judge someone else, we are functioning as a lawgiver, we are taking the place of God. The point is that our duty is to obey the Torah, and to encourage and build up our brothers and sisters to do the same, and not to be judge, jury, and executioner. The Lord God judges the rulers (those who pass judgment) and the reason being when we pass judgment, we are setting ourselves up as an example, and therefore we are held to a greater standard. Rabbi Chananel on Bereshit / Genesis 6:2 says the following:

Rabbeinu Chananel on Bereshit / Genesis 6:2:1

ויראו בני האלוהים את בנות האדם כי טובות הנה, ויקחו להם נשים מכל אשר בחרו. We have already explained that the noun אלוהים is a noun which is sometimes applied to G’d, and sometimes to certain people, and sometimes to phenomena which some people worship even though they have nothing divine about them, In Genesis 1:1 בראשית ברא אלוקים, it is clearly a reference to G’d. In Genesis 20:3 ויבא אלוהים אל אבימלך, it is a reference to an angel, seeing that he carried out a mission on behalf of G’d. In Exodus 22:8 עד האלוהים יבא דבר שניהם, it is a reference to a judge, a human being. The term is also applied to select human beings of a spiritually high level, such as when David quotes G’d in Psalms 82:6 אני אמרתי אלהים אתם, I used to say that you (man) are “divine,” (until you sinned). In our verse here, the Torah in speaking of בני האלוהים, refers to the elite of the human species at the time. In our verse it is a reference to the male elite, the judges.

The interpretation is that Elohim (אֱלֹהִים) is a reference to the one who has been sent to carry out a mission on behalf of the Lord God in heaven. This is within the context of the one who is obedient to the calling of God walking in holiness and righteousness and not living a life of sin. This is why Rabbeinu Chananel states “In our verse here, the Torah in speaking of בני האלוהים, (sons of God) refers to the elite of the human species at the time. In our verse it is a reference to the male elite, the judges.” The word Elohim (אֱלֹהִים) translated as “judges” in Shemot / Exodus 22:8-9, is to indicate that these judges are above reproach, and do not live hypocritical lives. According to the Torah, God sent Moshe to judge Egypt, and Moshe functioned as a messenger on behalf of the Lord, and He brought the plagues of Egypt and functioned as God before Pharaoh.

The midrash provides other examples saying the following:

Another comment, When Moshe was cast into the river, he was a man; but when the water turned to blood, he was as God. Another comment, When Moshe went up on high, he was a man. In the presence of God, how bright is a candle? How bright is even a torch in the presence of God? When a mortal goes up to the Holy One blessed be He, who is pure fire, and whose ministers are fire, and Moshe did go up to Him, he is a man. But after he comes down, he is called God. Or, when Moshe went up on high where they neither eat or drink, and he also did neither eat nor drink, he was called God. But when Moshe came down, and did eat and drink, he was a man.

Moshe did all of these things, and by reason of these things the rabbis interpret the meaning of Elohim in the following way:

Rabbi Abin said, From his middle and above Moshe was called God; and from his middle and below, he was a man. Rabbi Eleazar said, Moshe was God’s seneschal, for God said of him, My servant Moshe is not so, he is trusted in all My house (Bamidbar / Numbers 12:7). Or the man of God means, The man who is a judge, for it is said, He executed the righteousness of the Lord, and His ordinances with Israel (Devarim / Deuteronomy 33:21), and Moshe used to say, Let the Torah take its course. Another reading, The man against God, that is, Moshe cast doubt on the adequacy of the measure of justice, for he said, But if the Lord created a creature, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallow them up (Bamidbar / Numbers 16:30), as much as to say, If in the six days of creation the Holy One blessed be He, did already create a mouth for the earth, it is well; but if God did not create it, then let Him create a mouth for the earth now, on account of Korach and his company. Another comment, man of God means that Moshe tipped the balance for the measure of justice toward the measure of mercy. When the Holy One blessed be He, declared, I will strike them with the pestilence, and destroy them (Bamidbar / Numbers 14:12), Moshe said, Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of your grace (Bamidbar / Numbers 14:19). Directly, after this verse, it is written, I have pardoned according to your word (Bamidbar / Numbers 14:20). Another comment. Rabbi Judah son of Rabbi Simon taught in the name of Rabbi Simeon son of Lakish,

Why do you think the rabbis divide Moshe saying “From his middle and above Moshe was called God; and from his middle and below, he was a man?” Is this similar to the Christian interpretation of Yeshua as fully God and fully man? Note the context of those who are called Elohim, the meaning of being called God is found within the sense of being on a mission for the Lord, our Father in heaven, being obedient to His calling, walking according to God’s Torah, and speaking prophetically about the judgment of God. These are all of the things Yeshua the Messiah did.

Another interpretation on the meaning of being called God, is in Moshe’s role, as the rabbis say, “man of God means that Moshe tipped the balance for the measure of justice toward the measure of mercy.” The idea is that Moshe prayed for mercy so the Lord would not destroy the people. The one who is called God, does not simply take the position of judgment, but also is called to dispersing mercy and grace towards others. There are so many New Testament parallels it is amazing.

Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 5 concludes saying, “Why was Moshe called the spouse of God? Because he was like a husband who, if he wished to avoid the vow of his wife, voids it, and if he wishes to let it stand, lets it stand, as is said, Her husband may let it stand, or her husband may make it void (Bamidbar / Numbers 30:14); for, if one dare repeat his words, Moshe commanded the Holy One blessed be He, Rise up O Lord (Bamidbar / Numbers 10:35) and Return, O Lord (Bamidbar / Numbers 10:36).” The rabbis speak of Moshe being called the spouse of God, as the bride. In a similar manner, John in his book of the Revelation of God, also calls us, God’s children, the bride in reference to the bride of Christ. The midrash then goes into the discussion on the mitzvot on the husband making void a vow of his spouse (wife). In this comparison, only the Lord is able to make void a vow that Moshe had made to the Lord God in heaven. In this sense, any vow that he (Moshe) has made must be kept and cannot be broken.

Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 16 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying, “Who knows the power of Your anger? Even according to the fear of You, so is Your wrath (Tehillim / Psalms 90:11).” The homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Rabbi Abba son of Kahana taught, For You are filled with wrath even against those who fear You.” Why do the rabbis say that the Lord is filled with wrath against those who fear Him? The word “fear” occurs frequently in the Tanach, and to the modern ear it sounds like we should cringe in dread of God’s presence. We also read of “fear” in the Apostolic Writings (Acts 9:31) where the non-Jewish person who loved God is called a God-fearer, and the believers in the first century were said to be built up in the “fear of the Lord.” The word “fear” (ירא, Yira) encompasses a wide range of meanings, ranging from the negative (dread, terror) to positive (worship, reverence), and to mild (respect) and to the awe (awesomeness, admiration) of God. Often Christians interpret “the Fear of the LORD” as the fear of the punishment that God could give us for our deeds. Certainly, we will all stand before God’s judgment when we die. This is the meaning of what John preaches when he says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18). The rabbis often spoke of the “fear of the Lord” (Yirat Adonai) and they always thought of it in terms of the most positive sense of the word yirah. They defined it as awe and reverence for God that motivates us to obey His Torah. The rabbis also point out that fearing God’s punishment is actually an inferior understanding, because at its core it is self centered. This kind of fear does not focus on God, rather it takes the perspective of God only through the lens of our own interests, by asking what will happen to me because of God’s knowledge of my deeds?

The entire midrash states the following:

מדרש תהלים פרק צ סימן טז

טז מי יודע עוז אפך. אמר ר׳ אבא בר כהנא שמא מתמלא עבירה על ידיך. אמר ר׳ חנינא בר יצחק כל מי שקדמוהו יסורין בעולם הזה, יש לו חלק לעולם הבא, כאברהם שנקרא ירא אלהים, שנאמר וכיראתך עברתך. למנות ימינו כן הודע. [אמר ר׳ יהושע] אם יודעין בנכון כמה מניין חיינו, אנו עושין תשובה קודם שנמות. אמר ר׳ אלעזר שוב יום אחד לפני מיתתך, אמרו לו תלמידיו וכי אדם יודע אימתי ימות, אמר להם כל שכן הוא עושה תשובה היום, שמא ימות למחר, נמצא כל ימיו בתשובה, הוי למנות ימינו כן הודע, אמר ר׳ חנינא לעולם תהא תשובה מצויה לפניך, שובה ה׳ עד מתי והנחם על עבדיך.

Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 16

16. Who knows the power of Your anger? Even according to the fear of You, so is Your wrath (Tehillim / Psalms 90:11). Rabbi Abba son of Kahana taught, For You are filled with wrath even against those who fear You. Rabbi Hanina son of Isaac commented, If God sent afflictions to oppose a man in this world, he will have a share in the world to come such was Abraham who called, He that feared God, for the verse ends by saying, even according to the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom (Tehillim / Psalms 90:12). Rabbi Joshua said, If we knew for certain the number of days in our lives, we would repent before we died. Rabbi Eleazar taught, Repent on day before your death. When his disciples asked, Is there a man who knows when he will die? He replied, All the more reason for a man to repent today, lest he die tomorrow. Thus all the days of his life will be spent in penitence. Hence, it is said, So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Rabbi Hanina prayed, Let the thought of repentance be always before you. Return to the Lord, how long will you delay? (Tehillim / Psalms 90:13)

The midrash opens with the discussion on fearing the Lord and the wrath of God being given even against those who have fear of the Lord. The question is whether the Lord would pour out His wrath on His own people? Note the midrash continue saying, “Rabbi Hanina son of Isaac commented, If God sent afflictions to oppose a man in this world, he will have a share in the world to come such was Abraham who called, He that feared God, for the verse ends by saying, even according to the fear of You, so is Your wrath.” The concept put forward here is that the Lord disciplines those He loves. Afflictions are meant to draw us back to the Lord, to seek Him and to turn from injustice, unrighteousness, and the lies that we tell ourselves to justify sin. The midrash continues saying the following:

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom (Tehillim / Psalms 90:12). Rabbi Joshua said, If we knew for certain the number of days in our lives, we would repent before we died. Rabbi Eleazar taught, Repent on day before your death. When his disciples asked, Is there a man who knows when he will die? He replied, All the more reason for a man to repent today, lest he die tomorrow. Thus all the days of his life will be spent in penitence. (Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 16)

Afflictions are meant to cause us to number our days so that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. What does it mean to apply the heart to wisdom? Wisdom is defined as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment” and it is applied to the living our lives according to God’s Word. Wisdom is not simply intelligence or knowledge. Wisdom is the ability to think and to act in such a way where our choices are beneficial. Sefer Mishley (Proverbs) speaks of the place to learn wisdom. Mishley / Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The concept here is to fear the Lord is to start on the path to knowledge, and God then begins to fill us with wisdom for the application of the Scriptures for living. We are told the Messiah is wisdom, Paul said, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God, that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). As we see here in both the writings of King Solomon and in the Apostolic Writings, wisdom begins and ends with the fear of the Lord. This fear is a deep, abiding, holy reverence and respect for the Lord and for His Word, the Scriptures. Mishley / Proverbs 9:10 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Where there is fear, there tends to be obedience to God’s word and we are told over and over again that obedience supersedes sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22, Hosea 6:6). Therefore, wisdom begins with reverence for God and a fear for Him and His Word. This is where wisdom begins, and appears to be the point of the midrash. Where there is no fear of the Lord, there can be no true wisdom. The point of the midrash is that wisdom speaks of living a repentant life daily. As the rabbis say, “Is there a man who knows when he will die? He replied, All the more reason for a man to repent today, lest he die tomorrow. Thus all the days of his life will be spent in penitence.” Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 16 concludes saying, “Hence, it is said, So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Rabbi Hanina prayed, Let the thought of repentance be always before you. Return to the Lord, how long will you delay? (Tehillim / Psalms 90:13)” The midrash sums up the meaning as, to live a repentant life, to stop sinning (2 Timothy 2:19) and to spend our lives living for our Father in heaven.

Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 18 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying, “Your work appears in Your servants, and Your glory upon their children (Tehillim / Psalms 90:16).” The homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Rabbi Berechiah said in the name of Rabbi Hiyya, Your servants refers to Abraham and to Sarah, and their children to Isaac and to Rebekah.” How does the glory of God appear upon His children? The Midrash Tanchuma states the following:

Midrash Tanchuma 1:1, Part 1

In the beginning God created: This is per the verse (Prov. 3:19): “God with wisdom founded the earth” and when the Holy One Blessed Be He created His world, he consulted the Torah and created His World, as it says (Prov. 8:14) “I have counsel and sound wisdom, I am understanding, I have strength.” And with what was the Torah written? With black flame on white flame, as it is said (Song of Songs 5:11) “his hair is wavy, black as a raven.” What is meant by קוצותיו תלתלים (“his hair is wavy”)? That on every קוצ (thorn)^(that is, every serif of every letter of the Torah) hang תילי תילים (locks and locks) of laws. How so? It is written in it [the Torah] (Lev. 22:32): And do not desecrate [תחללו] My holy Name. If you change the [ח] to a [ה] you destroy the world ^(by making techalelu into tehalelu, and making the verse mean do not praise My holy Name). “Every soul shall praise [תהלל] God” (Psalms 150:6), if you change the [ה] a [ח] ^(techalel – shall desecrate) you destroy the world. Likewise, (Deut. 6:4) “Hear O’Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One [אחד].” If you change the [ד] to a [ר] you destroy the world, as it is said (Exo. 34:14) “You will not bow down to other gods.” [Elsewhere it is stated] (Jer. 5:12) “They have belied Hashem.” If you change the [ב] to a [כ] you destroy the world. [Elsewhere it is stated] (Shmuel I 2:2) “There is none holy as Hashem.” If you change the [כ] to a [ב] you destroy the world. And if just a letter is like this, how much more so a whole word. For this is it stated, “his locks are like tresses.” Therefore Dovid praised and said, (Psalms 119:96) “Your commandment is exceedingly broad.” [Likewise] it is said (Iyov 11:9) “the measure thereof is longer than the earth…” And it [the Torah] was the guide for all creation, as it is said (Prov. 8:30) “then I was by Him, as a nursling.” Do not read it as אמון [nurseling], but rather as אומן [guide].

The Torah is said to be counsel, strength, and wisdom. The midrash goes on to describe the immutability of the Torah, which is an attribute where “the Lord God is unchanging in his character, will, and covenant promises, and so is His word.” Note how the Mishnah defines the glory of God within the context of the fear of the Lord and His word.

Mishnah Pirkei Avot 3:2:

Rabbi Chanina, the Deputy High Priest, says: Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear of it, man would swallow his fellow alive. Rabbi Chananya ben Teradyon says: Two who are sitting together and there are no words of Torah [spoken] between them, this is a session of scorners, as it is said (Psalms 1:1): “[Happy is the man who has] not . . . sat in the session of the scorners.” But two who are sitting together and there are words of Torah [spoken] between them, the Divine Presence rests with them, as it is said (Malachi 3:16): “Then those who feared the Lord spoke one with another, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for those who feared the Lord and for those who thought upon His Name.” I have no [Scriptural support for this] except [in a case of] two. From where [is there proof that] that even [when there is only] one [person studying Torah], the Holy One, blessed be He, determines a reward for him? As it is said (Lamentations 3:28): “He sits alone and is silent, since he takes [a reward] for it.”

The rabbis speak of discussing God’s Word, the two who do so, the glory of God (His shekhina) and Divine Presence rests with them. The glory of God being upon His children is found within the lives that are lived according to God’s word, who place their faith in the Messiah Yeshua, and live for the Lord God in heaven. This is the meaning of bearing the testimony of God in our lives.

Midrash Tehillim continues saying the following:

For at the time that Isaac went out to pray in the field at eventide (Bereshit / Genesis 24:63), Rebekah was arriving with Eliezer, and as soon as she looked upon Isaac, she beheld him with exceedingly glorious, garmented in and covered with a prayer shawl, his appearance like that of an angel of God, so that she asked Eliezer, What man is this (hallezeh) that walks in the field to meet us? (Bereshit / Genesis 24:65). What did she mean by hallezeh? That Isaac was glorious like the luz, the hazel-tree. And why so exceedingly glorious? Because of his father’s good works and because of his own good works, as is said, Your work appears in Your servants, and Your glory upon their children. Your glory clearly refers to a glorious prayer shawl which resembles Your glory, for it is said, You are clothed with glory and majesty (Tehillim / Psalms 104:1). Of His glory, Rabbi Hezekiah taught, some maintained that Rabbi Hezekiah taught this in the name of Rabbi Meir, Blue has the appearance of the sea, the sea the appearance of grass, grass the appearance of trees, trees the appearance of the firmament, the firmament the appearance of the brightness of dawn, the brightness of dawn the appearance of rainbow, and the rainbow the appearance of the likeness, as is said, As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord (Ezekiel 1:28). Rabbi Hezekiah also taught, When the children of Israel are wrapped in their prayer shawls, let them not think that they are clothed merely in blue. Rather, let the children of Israel look upon the prayer shawls as though the glory of the Presence were upon them, for it is said, That you may look upon Him (Bamidbar / Numbers 15:39).

The midrash connects prayer to being in the Divine Presence, and consequentially, the glory of God surrounding the person who prays. The rabbis connect the one who prays as walking in God’s ways indicated by the comments on the good works of his father and to those of his own good works (בזכות אביו וזכות עצמו). The works of Torah, which are righteousness, holiness, truth, and love towards one another, are to be evident in the life of the one who prays to the Lord God our Father in heaven.

Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 18 concludes saying, “Scripture does not say, That you may look upon them, but That you may look upon Him, that is, upon the Holy One blessed be He. Hence, And Your glory upon their children.” In the Midrash the prayer shawl (tallit) is connected to seeing the Presence (glory, shekhina) of God. Although the Hebrew word tallit is not found in Scripture, the biblical command for Israelites to wear a tzitzit on the garment can be found in the Torah (Bamidbar / Numbers 15), in which God says to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God’” (Bamidbar / Numbers 15:38-40). And in Devarim / Deuteronomy 22:12 “Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear” (NASB). The original intent behind the tzitzit was to remind God’s people of His commandments. The basic intent of the midrash is the one who takes upon himself the commandments takes it upon himself to be separate from the ways of the world, and in doing so takes upon himself the glory of God. Studying these things brings the proper context to what the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 2:15-21.

Galatians 2:15-21

2:15 ‘We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 2:17 ‘But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 2:18 ‘For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 2:19 ‘For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 2:20 ‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 2:21 ‘I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.’ (NASB)

Obedience to the Torah is not meant for a means to the end. We do not observe Torah for the purpose of justification before God. We rely solely upon the grace of God and our faith in the Messiah Yeshua for salvation. Note how Paul says that he lives and Christ lives in him, and that he lives in the flesh by faith, which means that he is not living a life filled with sin. The Lord God our Father in heaven has made us holy and righteous in Yeshua the Messiah. As a result, we are told to live holy and righteous lives, and this is accomplished by obeying God’s Torah. It is only those who have a child like understanding of Scripture, who do not study the Tanach or the Torah, who come to the conclusion that the Torah has passed away, or that the disciples of Yeshua do not need to obey God’s Law. The important question to ask is whether the one who is in Yeshua the Messiah may continue in a life of sin after he has placed his faith in Yeshua? The obvious conclusion is NO, based upon Paul’s words and elsewhere. Disobedience to God’s Law is the definition of “Sin.”

Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 19 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying, “And let the grace of the Lord our God be upon us (Tehillim / Psalms 90:17).” The homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Rabbi Huna taught, The saying has it that we notice life only when we are losing it, as we notice the eye only when it becomes inflamed.” This midrash (Part 19) appears to be a follow on thought from the previous one where the rabbis speak of the grace of God that is upon us. The rabbis take note that we only recognize the grace of God when we are loosing our lives, as opposed to when we are not loosing our lives.

The entire midrash states the following:

מדרש תהלים פרק צ סימן יט

יט ויהי נועם ה׳ עלינו. אמר ר׳ הונא נפשי מן דכלתא ועיינא מן קרחתא, אמרו לו נתת תורתך לנו, וכבודך בעליונים, אתמהא, היכן שנתתה תורתך תן כבודך, הוי ויהי נועם ה׳ אלהינו עלינו, אמר להם הקב״ה לשעבר על ידי שנבנה בית המקדש על ידי בשר ודם, לפיכך חרב ושמם, וסלקתי שכינתי מתוכו, אבל לעתיד לבא אבננו ואשכין שכינתי בתוכו, ואינו חרב לעולם.

Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 19

19. And let the grace of the Lord our God be upon us (Tehillim / Psalms 90:17). Rabbi Huna taught, The saying has it that we notice life only when we are losing it, as we notice the eye only when it becomes inflamed. And so, Israel complained to God, You have given us the task of keeping Your Torah, but Your grace remains on high. How strange that we should be like the eye which is in constant use but which noticed only when it is inflamed, therefore, give Your grace where You have given the constant task of keeping Your Torah. Let the grace of the Lord our God be upon us. The Holy One blessed be He, replied, Of yore the Temple having been built by the hands of mortals, was destroyed and is desolate because I removed My grace from the midst thereof, but in the time to come, I Myself will build it and cause My grace to dwell in the midst thereof, and it will never again be destroyed.

In Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 19, the rabbis connect the concept of keeping Torah to the grace of God being placed upon His people. The idea here is that the keeping of Torah is not nullified when God’s grace is given to His people. The point is that we are called a holy people. As a holy people we are not to live in sin, which is synonymous to being disobedient to God’s Law. A carefully study of Paul’s letters in the Apostolic Writings reveals that He never draws the conclusion that God’s Law is bondage. Paul speaks of being in bondage to sin and death. The Scriptures speak of the unbearable yoke of rabbinical law as opposed to God’s Law which is the way of walking in freedom from sin (Romans 7: 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. NASB) Note Paul’s reasoning in Romans 7 is that sin takes the opportunity to cause death. (Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” 7:8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 7:9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 7:10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 7:11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. NASB) A careful examination of Paul’s words to the Romans reveals the commandment does not bring death. The commandment reminds us of the need for the grace of God. The Law does not bring bondage. Sin is the cause of bondage and death and we are told the Lord empowers us to overcome sin in our lives. (Discuss neuroplasticity.)

Midrash Tehillim 90, Part 19 concludes saying, “The Holy One blessed be He, replied, Of yore the Temple having been built by the hands of mortals, was destroyed and is desolate because I removed My grace from the midst thereof, but in the time to come, I Myself will build it and cause My grace to dwell in the midst thereof, and it will never again be destroyed.” The concluding comments on the Midrash may be drawn in parallel to Paul’s words on the Lord working in our lives to build a Temple for him to dwell. This place is in our hearts. The Lord sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts, and to empower us to overcome sin in our lives. The God of Israel can set you free from sin, this is the promise of the Apostolic Writings. Let’s take hold of that and seek the Lord to set us free, so that as Paul said, the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Romans 2:20) Let’s Pray!

Tehillim 90-Part1-and-2

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Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!