For dogs have compassed me
By whom are meant wicked men, as the following clause shows; and so the Chaldee paraphrase renders it, "the wicked who are like to many dogs"; and to these such are often compared in Scripture, ( Matthew 7:6 ) ( Revelation 22:15 ) ; and it may be the Roman soldiers, who were Gentiles, may be chiefly intended, whom the Jews used to call dogs, ( Matthew 15:26 ) ; these assembled together in Pilate's hall and surrounded Christ, and made sport with him; to these were committed the execution of him, they crucified him, and sat around him watching him while on the cross, as they also did when in the grave: some have thought the dregs of the Jewish people are designed, the common people, such as Job says he would not set with the dogs of his flock, ( Job 30:1 ) ; who encompassed Christ on the cross, wagging their heads at him; though I see not but that all of them, even the chief among them, the high priest, sanhedrim, Scribes, and Pharisees, may be intended; who are so called because of their impurity in themselves; for their avarice and covetousness, being greedy dogs that could never have enough; and for their impudence, calumnies, malice, and envy, against Christ: the allusion seems to be to hunting dogs, who, when they have got the creature they have been in pursuit of, surround it and fall upon it. Christ, in the title of this psalm, is called Aijeleth Shahar, "the morning hind", who was hunted by the Jews, and at last surrounded and taken by them;
the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me;
the Jewish sanhedrim, the chief priests and elders, who assembled together to consult his death, before whom he was brought when taken; and in, the midst of whom he was set and examined, and by them unanimously condemned; and who, notwithstanding all their pretensions to religion, were a set of wicked men: and also the whole congregation of the Jews, the body of the people, who were united in their request for his crucifixion and death; and who in great numbers got together, and in a circle stood around him when on the cross, insulting him;
they pierced my hands and my feet;
by nailing them to the cross, which, though not related by the evangelists, is plainly suggested in ( John 20:25 John 20:27 ) ; and is referred to in other passages of Scripture, ( Zechariah 12:10 ) ( Revelation 1:7 ) ; and clearly points at the kind of death Christ should die; the death, of the cross, a shameful and painful one. In this clause there is a various reading; in some copies in the margin it is, "as a lion my hands and my feet", but in the text, "they have dug" or "pierced my hands and my feet"; both are joined together in the Targum, "biting as a lion my hands and my feet"; as it is by other interpreters F3; and Schultens F4 retains the latter, rendering the preceding clause in connection with it thus,
``the assembly of the wicked have broken me to pieces, as a lion, my hands and my feet.''In the Targum, in the king of Spain's Bible, the phrase, "as a lion", is left out. The modern Jews are for retaining the marginal reading, though without any good sense, and are therefore sometimes charged with a wilful and malicious corruption of the text; but without sufficient proof, since the different reading in some copies might be originally occasioned by the similarity of the letters (y) and (w) ; and therefore finding it in their copies, or margin, sometimes (wrak) , and sometimes (yrak) , have chose that which best suits their purpose, and is not to be wondered at; however, their "masoretic" notes, continued by them, sufficiently clear them from such an imputation, and direct to the true reading of the words; in the small Masorah on the text it is observed that the word is twice used as here pointed, but in two different senses; this is one of the places; the other is ( Isaiah 38:13 ) ; where the sense requires it should be read "as a lion": wherefore, according to the authors of that note, it must have a different sense here, and not to be understood of a lion; the larger Masorah, in ( Numbers 24:9 ) ; observes the word is to be found in two places, in that place and in ( Psalms 22:16 ) ; and adds to that, it is written (wrak) , "they pierced"; and Ben Chayim confirms F5 this reading, and says he found it so written it, some correct copies, and in the margin (yrak) ; and so it is written in several manuscripts; and which is confirmed by the Arabic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Greek, and Vulgate Latin versions; in which it is rendered, "they dug my hands and my feet"; and so took it to be a verb and not a noun: so Apollinarius in his metaphrase; and which is also confirmed by the points; though taking (yrak) for a participle, as the Targum, that reading may be admitted, as it is by some learned men F6, who render it "digging" or "piercing", and so has the same sense, deriving the word either from (rak) or (rwk) , which signify to dig, pierce, or make hollow; and there are many instances of plural words which end in (y) , the (m) omitted, being cut off by an apocope; see ( 2 Samuel 23:8 ) ( 2 Kings 11:4 2 Kings 11:19 ) ( Lamentations 3:14 ) ( Ezekiel 32:30 ) ; and either way the words are expressive of the same thing, and manifestly point to the sufferings of Christ, and that kind of death he should die, the death of the cross, and the nailing of his hands and feet to it, whereby they were pierced. This passage is sometimes applied by the Jews F7 themselves to their Messiah.
F3 Amamae Antibarb. Bibl. p. 743.
F4 Origin. Heb. l. 1. c. 12. s. 8. Vid. Jacob. Alting. Dissert. Philolog. 5. s. 27-34.
F5 In Maarcath (a) , fol. 10. 2. ad Calc. Buxtorf. Bibl.
F6 Pocock. Miscell. c. 4. p. 59, 60. Pfeiffer. Exercitat. 8. s. 37. Carpzov. Critic. Sacr. p. 838, 839. Alting. ut supra. (Dissert. Philolog. 5.) s. 48, 49.
F7 Pesikta in Yalkut, par. 2. fol. 56. 4.