1For the leader; on ayyeleth ha-shahar. A psalm of David.
ayyeleth ha-shahar: The earliest part of the dawn before the light. An instrument played in the Temple.
2My God, my God,
why have You abandoned me;
why so far from delivering me
and from my anguished roaring?
why so far from delivering me and from my anguished roaring: In the stories of David there are many times he would have said the words of this song, in whole or in part. Fleeing from Saul and his men and hiding in the desert, fighting the Philistines and his exile in Philistine lands with Akish as his master.
I cry by day—You answer not;
by night, and have no respite.
and have no respite: David is crying out to G-d continuously day and night.
4But You are the Holy One,
the Praise of Israel.
enthroned, the Praise of Israel: G-d is a King and all Israel praises Him.
5In You our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and You rescued them.
6To You they cried out
and they escaped;
in You they trusted
and were not disappointed.
7But I am a worm, less than human;
scorned by men, despised by people.
But I am a worm, less than human; scorned by men, despised by people: David is seeking pity from G-d and announcing how depressed and low he feels, saying that he is not worthy of the redemption given to Israel in the exodus from Egypt.
8All who see me mock me;
they curl (“open”) their lips,
they shake their heads.
All who see me will mock me: Now David tells G-d that even the gentiles scorn him.
9“Let him commit himself to the Lord;
let Him rescue him,
let Him save him,
for He is pleased with him.”
commit himself to the Lord: G-d is pleased when one commits to Him and they will be lifted from their problems, if not in the real world in their spirit.
10You drew me from the womb,
made me secure at my mother’s breast.
David is reminding G-d that He was always with David even from birth taking care of him and his nourishment; that David was drawn to G-d from his beginning.
11I became Your charge at birth;
from my mother’s womb You have been my God.
I became Your charge at birth: David was born a son of G-d, a leader of G-d’s people to be watched over for later service and G-d’s purposes.
12Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
13Many bulls surround me,
mighty ones of Bashan encircle me.
Bashan: Bashan extended from Gilead in the south to Hermon in the north, and from the Jordan river on the west to Salcha on the east. Along with the half of Gilead it was given to the half-tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 13/29-31). Golan, one of its cities, became a city of refuge. The prophet Elijah was from Gilead which is on the east side of the river Jordan.
14They open their mouths at me
like tearing, roaring lions.
They open their mouths at me like tearing, roaring lions: The enemy before David seem to him to be best described as great bulls with mouths like lions, large strong men with a temper looking for battle or a fight.
15My life ebbs away:
all my bones are disjointed;
my heart is like wax,
melting within me;
My life ebbs away: David is talking to G-d and is telling Him that he is really worried and afraid, that he has trembling knees; and he is over stating his condition to get G-d’s attention.
16my vigor dries up like a shard;
my tongue cleaves to my palate;
You commit me to the dust of death.
You commit me to the dust of death: David continues to overstate his predicament and is now trying to make G-d feel bad since He has not answered David.
17Dogs surround me;
a pack of evil ones closes in on me,
like lions [they maul] my hands and feet.
Dogs surround me; a pack of evil ones closes in on me, like lions [they maul] my hands and feet: David has used bulls and lions to describe his enemy and now a pack of dogs. This type of writing is also used by G-d quite a bit in the book of Job. It says that David is backing up. Dogs will nip and bite at your feet and out stretched hands if you are backing up. If you are running they would be at your heels.
18I take the count of all my bones
while they look on and gloat.
I take the count of all my bones while they look on and gloat: David has lost weight and is hungry and not really fit for a fight, so much so it seems that even his bones are laughing at him.
19They divide my clothes among themselves,
casting lots for my garments.
and cast lots for my raiment: This enemy has David backed up and they are so certain of victory that they are casting lots, determining how they will divide the spoil of defeating David by means that normally would be considered random, such as the rolling of dice, drawing straws or flipping coins.
20But You, O Lord, be not far off;
my strength, hasten to my aid.
my strength, hasten to my aid: G-d is David’s power and he calls upon it, his belief that G-d is with him in battle or a fight.
21Save my life from the sword,
my precious life from the clutches of a dog.
22Deliver me from a lion’s mouth;
from the horns of wild oxen rescue me.
Deliver me from a lion’s mouth; from the horns of wild oxen rescue me: David continues describing his enemy and requests that G-d help him escape or defeat them.
23Then will I proclaim Your fame to my brethren,
praise You in the congregation.
Then will I proclaim Your fame to my brethren, praise You in the congregation: David is trying to bribe G-d with promises of telling of his victory to the tribes of Israel including those who are religious.
24You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you offspring of Jacob, honor Him!
Be in dread of Him, all you offspring of Israel!
Be in dread of Him, all you offspring of Israel: David is flattering G-d by appealing to his strength and power that all mankind should fear his wrath.
25For He did not scorn, He did not spurn
the plea of the lowly;
He did not hide His face from him;
when he cried out to Him, He listened.
For He did not scorn, He did not spurn the plea of the lowly; He did not hide His face from him; when he cried out to Him, He listened: G-d revealed himself to lowly David and always helped him in his times of need.
26 Because of You I offer praise in the great congregation;
I pay my vows in the presence of His worshipers.
27Let the lowly eat and be satisfied;
let all who seek the Lord praise Him.
Always be of good cheer!
Let the lowly eat and be satisfied; let all who seek the Lord praise Him.
Always be of good cheer!: In your graciousness even the poor shall eat and everyone who seeks G-d shall find him in the end times, and be joyful and happy.
28Let all the ends of the earth pay heed and turn to the Lord,
and the peoples of all nations prostrate themselves before You;
and the peoples of all nations prostrate themselves before You: As the Books of the Prophets foretell in the end times after the day of the lord the world will know there is one God and His name is not Jesus or Allah, and He dwells in Jerusalem.
29for kingship is the Lord’s
and He rules the nations.
for kingship is the Lord’s and He rules the nations: In the end times.
30All those in full vigor shall eat and prostrate themselves;
all those at death’s door, whose spirits flag,
shall bend the knee before Him.
shall bend the knee before Him: All of humanity will know and worship the one G-d, the Lord of Hosts.
31Offspring shall serve Him;
the Lord’s fame shall be proclaimed to the generation.
to the generation: The generation of all humanity of the world that worship the one G-d, the Lord of Hosts.
they shall tell of His beneficence
to people yet to be born,
for He has acted.
The generations that follow the day of the Lord in the end times will know of the active goodness, kindness, and charity of the one God, the Lord of Hosts.
“Closer Look at the ‘Crucifixion Psalm” by Tovia Singer of Outreach Judaism. I have edited it for brevity.
“Whereas in a Jewish Bible this verse appears as Psalm 22:17, in a Christian Bible it appears as 22:16. To avoid confusion, this verse will be referred to as Psalm 22:17 throughout this article.
Psalm 22:17 (16) Hebrew כִּי סְבָבוּנִי, כְּלָבִים: עֲדַת מְרֵעִים, הִקִּיפוּנִי; כָּאֲרִי, יָדַי וְרַגְלָי:
Correct Translation For dogs have encompassed me; a company of evildoers have enclosed me; like a lion, they are at my hands and my feet.
King James Version (16) For dogs have compassed me, the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; they pierced my hands and my feet.
Notice that the English translation from the original Hebrew does not contain the word “pierced.” The King James version deliberately mistranslated the Hebrew word kaari (כָּאֲרִי) as “pierced,” rather than “like a lion,” thereby drawing the reader to a false conclusion that this Psalm is describing the Crucifixion.
The Hebrew word כָּאֲרִי does not mean pierced but plainly means “like a lion. The end of Psalm 22:17, therefore, properly reads “like a lion they are at my hands and my feet.” Had King David wished to write the word “pierced,” he would never have used the Hebrew word kaari.
Instead, he would have written either daqar or ratza, which are common Hebrew words in the Jewish Scriptures. These common words mean to “stab” or “pierce.”
Needless to say, the phrase “they pierced my hands and my feet” is a not-too-ingenious Christian contrivance that appears nowhere in Tanach.
Bear in mind, this stunning mistranslation in the 22nd Psalm was not born out of ignorance. Christian translators were well aware of the correct meaning of this simple Hebrew word. They fully understood the meaning of the word כָּאֲרִי and deliberately twisted their translations of this text.
The word kaari can be found in many other places in the Jewish scriptures and they correctly translated כָּאֲרִי “like a lion” in all places in Christian Bibles where this word appears with the exception of Psalm 22—the Church’s cherished “Crucifixion Psalm.”
For example, the identical word kaari is also found in Isaiah 38:13. In the immediate context of this verse King Hezekiah is singing a song for deliverance from his grave illness.In the midst of his supplication he exclaims in Hebrew “שִׁוִּ֤יתִי עַד־בֹּ֙קֶר֙ כָּֽאֲרִ֔י”
Notice that the last word in this phrase (moving from right to left) is the same Hebrew word kaari that appears in Psalm 22:17. In this Isaiah text, however, the King James Version correctly translates these words “I reckoned till morning that, as a lion…”
As mentioned above, Psalm 22:17 is the only place in all of the Jewish Scriptures that any Christian Bible translates kaari as “pierced.”
To fully understand why the Church felt compelled to revise the 22nd Psalm, it is essential to grasp the central role this famed chapter plays in traditional Christian teachings.
The Church fathers cherished Psalm 22 as a chapter that explicitly describes in vivid detail the agony of the Passion Narratives, and provides the Gospel’s script for Jesus’ crucifixion.
Segments of this Psalm are quoted extensively in the New Testament as a fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy of the crucifixion.
Psalm 22 has, therefore, always been a vital text to the Church and was used repeatedly in order to retroject the life of Jesus into the “Old Testament.” In so doing, missionaries sought to lend credibility to their claim that Jesus is the messiah as was foreordained by the ancient Jewish prophets.
For Christendom, the Psalmist’s original intent was superseded by its interest in applying this entire chapter to Jesus’ passion, no matter how extensive the revisions would be. The Church, therefore, did not hesitate to tamper with the words of the 22nd Psalm so that its verses would reflect and sustain its Christian message.
Isaiah 38:13, on the other hand, possessed no Christological value to the Church and was neither quoted nor used by the Church fathers to propagate their teachings. Christendom, therefore, had no need to mis-translate it, and Isaiah 38:13 was, accordingly, left intact.
As mentioned, the words used in Tanach for “pierce” or “stab” are daqar or ratza, never karu, which does not have the connotation of “piercing” – as in puncturing flesh.
Although Christendom is predisposed to a reverence for the Scriptures written in Greek, the children of Israel regard only the Hebrew Bible given to us by our prophets as holy and authoritative.
We diligently pore over these sacred texts day and night. No translation of the Bible, no matter how widely used by churches and academicians, has any sanctity or authority among learned and pious Jews, because it is universally regarded by the Jewish people as a corrupt text.
Do not think in your heart that the Jewish people have missed the stirring messianic message contained in Tanach, or that we somehow do not understand our own Bible.
It is our nation which is ordained to protect the integrity of these Holy Scriptures, our people who brought these sacred Oracles to the world’s nations, and it is our people to whom these promises were addressed. Rabbi Tovia Singer ”