Psalm 135: Deliverance from powerful enemies

Published date03 March 2023
Publication titleIsrael National News (Israel)
With God's help, the Jewish people have survived wars and persecution throughout the centuries, despite numerous powerful and cruel enemies. The lyrical chapters of Psalms 135 and 136 celebrate God's protection of the Jewish people, starting with our rescue from Egyptian subjugation and triumph over the Canaanite armies

שֶׁהִכָּה גּוֹיִם רַבִּים וְהָרַג מְלָכִים עֲצוּמִים. לְסִיחוֹן מֶלֶךְ הָאֱמֹרִי, וּלְעוֹג מֶלֶךְ הַבָּשָׁן, וּלְכֹל מַמְלְכוֹת כְּנָעַן.

"He smote many nations and slew mighty kings: Sichon, king of the Emorites, Og, king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan." (Psalm 135:10-11)

What was special about Sichon and Og that, out of all the kings of Canaan, they 'merited' to be mentioned explicitly?

Three Types of Military Might

We may identify three factors in a nation's military strength and ferocity. The people of Israel needed God's assistance in overcoming all three aspects, as they struggled to secure their inheritance in the Land of Israel.

The first factor is the formidable spirit found in a cruel and ruthless leader. It is particularly challenging to defeat a fierce warrior-king. The Talmud in Rosh Hashanah 3a explains that the name "Sichon" means "wild donkey", young and dangerous. The warlord had a brutal and vicious nature, unlimited in its violent outbursts. The ancient despots of the world valued the power to rule by instilling fear and terror. Tyrants such as Nebuchadnezzar, who would eat live rabbits, intentionally developed traits of violent cruelty and savagery, aware that these characteristics...

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