It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing-- life forever. (2024)

As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(3) As the dew . . .—Better, keeping the same word as in Psalm 133:2. like the dew of Hermon, which descended on the Mount Zion. This statement of the dew of a mountain in the north descending on a mountain in the south, appears so strange and impossible that our version inserted the words, “and as the dew.” But the sentence is constructed in exactly the same form as Psalm 133:2, and the dew on Mount Zion must be as clearly the same dew as that on Mount Hermon, as the oil running down to the beard was the same as that poured on the head. Nor may we take “the mountains of Zion “in a general way for the mountains of the country lying round Hermon like spurs, as Van de Velde does in the passage from his Travels, quoted by Delitzsch. Mount Zion itself is intended (comp. Psalm 121:1; Psalm 125:2, for this plural) as the last clause,” there Jehovah commanded the blessing,” clearly shows. Delitzsch says on the passage, “This feature of the picture is taken from the natural reality, for an abundant dew, when warm days have preceded, might very well be diverted to Jerusalem by the operation of the cold current of air, sweeping down from the north over Hermon. We know, indeed, of our own experience how far a cold air coming from the Alps is perceptible and produces its effects.” But setting aside the amount of scientific observation required for such a perception of fact, would any one speak of the dew of Mont Blanc descending on the Jura?

We must evidently take “the dew of Hermon” as a poetical synonym for “choice dew.” No doubt the height of Hermon, and the fact of its being so conspicuous, determined the expression. This choice dew, from its freshness, abundance, and its connection with life and growth, is a symbol, as the sacred oil also is, of the covenant blessing in its nature. The descent of the moisture offered itself, as the flowing down of the oil did, as an emblem of the operation of the blessing”. But the conclusion of the simile is only implied. No doubt the poet intended to write, “As the oil poured on Aaron’s head flowed down to his beard, and as the dew of Hermon flowed down on Mount Zion, so the covenant blessing descended on Jehovah’s people;” but at the mention of Mount Zion he breaks off the simile, to make the statement, “for there Jehovah,” &c. Hebrew poetry did not greatly favour the simile, and often confuses it with metaphor. (See Notes, Psalm 58:9; Song of Solomon 8:12.)

Benson Commentary

Psalm 133:3. As the dew of Hermon — It is no less grateful than the dew is which falls upon that great and goodly hill of Hermon, thereby both refreshing and rendering it fruitful. Thus, as by the former similitude he illustrated the pleasantness, he here points out the profitableness of unity, the blessed fruit which it produces. And as the dew that descended upon Zion — Upon the several parts and ridges of that mountain, or upon the mountains which are round about Jerusalem, which is often called Zion. As if he had said, The dew of heaven is not more necessary, nor more useful to the parched mountains which, though never so distant one from another, (as far as from Hermon to Zion,) are refreshed with it, than unity is for men of all ranks and conditions, who everywhere perceive the comfortable fruits of it. But, probably, the dew descending on Zion, in this latter clause, is to be taken allegorically for the favour or blessing of God, which is frequently called and compared to the dew, in the Scriptures; and, thus understood, the sense of the place will be this: It is as desirable as the dew which falls upon mount Hermon, nay, as desirable as that heavenly dew of God’s ordinances and graces, which he hath commanded to fall upon the mountains of Zion and Moriah, and others which are round about Jerusalem. For there, &c. — Where brethren live in peace and unity; or, in Zion, last mentioned, that is, in God’s church, or among his people; the Lord hath commanded — That is, ordained, promised, conferred, and established; the blessing — Namely, all manner of blessedness, for his people that sincerely worship him; even life for evermore — Which is the blessing of blessings. How good then is it, and how pleasant, to dwell in unity! The reader will observe, that the unity, so beautifully delineated and so forcibly recommended in this pleasing little Psalm, may either be considered as civil or as religious unity. It is viewed in the former light by Dr. Delaney, whose observations on it are so just and elegant, that we are persuaded we shall gratify our readers by subjoining them. “Unity,” says he, “beginning in the prince, and diffused through the people, is here illustrated by two images, the most apt and beautiful that ever were imagined. Kingdoms are considered as bodies politic, of which the king is the head, and the people, in their several ranks and orders, the parts and members. A spirit of union, beginning in the prince, whose person is sacred, is like oil poured upon the head of Aaron, which naturally descends and spreads itself over all the parts of the body, and diffuses beauty and fragrance over the whole, reaching even to the skirts of the garment. Oil is, without question, the finest emblem of union that ever was conceived! It is a substance consisting of very small parts, which yet, by their mutual adhesion, constitute one uniform, well-united, and useful body. The sacred oil carries the idea and the advantage of union yet further, which, being extracted from various spices, yet made up one well-cohering and more valuable compound. The next image carries the exhortation to union and the advantages of it yet higher. Hermon was the general name of one mountain, comprehending many lesser and lower hills, under the surround of a greater. Union, in any nation, is the gift of God; and therefore unity among brethren, beginning from the king, is like the dew of heaven, which, falling first upon the higher summits of Hermon. (refreshing and enriching wherever it falls,) naturally descends to a lower; and thence even to the humble valleys. Zion was the centre of union to all the tribes, where God himself had promised his people rest and peace from their enemies; which, however, were of little value without union and harmony among themselves.” — Life of David, vol. 3. chap. 14. p. 204. “It only remains to be added,” says Dr. H., after quoting the above remarks, “that these divine pictures receive an additional beauty, and the colouring is much heightened, by their being viewed in another light, as representations of spiritual unity in the church. The spirit of heavenly love was that oil of gladness which Jehovah poured, without measure, on him who is the High- Priest and head of his church. Insinuating and healing, comforting and exhilarating; it is diffused from him over his body mystical, even down to the least and lowest members; of his fulness have we all received; and, as it is said of Mary’s box of spikenard, in the gospel, the house is filled with the odour of the ointment. Nor did the dew of heaven, in time of drought, ever prove more refreshing and beneficial to the mountains of Judah, than are the influences of grace, when descending in soft silence from above upon the church; in the union and communion of which God hath commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. O come the day when division shall cease, and enmity be done away; when the tribes of the spiritual Israel shall be united in a bond of eternal charity, under the true David, in the Jerusalem which is above, and saints and angels shall sing this lovely Psalm together!”

133:1-3 The excellency of brotherly love. - We cannot say too much, it were well if enough could be said, to persuade people to live together in peace. It is good for us, for our honour and comfort; and brings constant delight to those who live in unity. The pleasantness of this is likened to the holy anointing oil. This is the fruit of the Spirit, the proof of our union with Christ, and adorns his gospel. It is profitable as well as pleasing; it brings blessings numerous as the drops of dew. It cools the scorching heat of men's passions, as the dews cool the air and refresh the earth. It moistens the heart, and makes it fit to receive the good seed of the word, and to make it fruitful. See the proof of the excellency of brotherly love: where brethren dwell together in unity, the Lord commands the blessing. God commands the blessing; man can but beg a blessing. Believers that live in love and peace, shall have the God of love and peace with them now, and they shall shortly be with him for ever, in the world of endless love and peace. May all who love the Lord forbear and forgive one another, as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven them.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

As the dew of Hermon ... - On the situation of Mount Hermon, see the notes at Psalm 89:12. The literal rendering of this passage would be, "Like the dew of Hermon which descends on the mountains of Zion." According to our version two things are referred to: the dew of Hermon, and the dew on the mountains of Zion, But this is not in the original. There no dew is referred to but that which belongs to Hermon. It has, of course, been made a question how the dew of Hermon, a remote mountain, could be said to descend on the mountains of Zion, and our translators have sought to solve the difficulty by inserting the words "and as the dew." Some have supposed that the proper interpretation is to refer the comparison in the passage to the dew of Hermon, and that all which follows is an application of the thought: "Like the dew of Hermon is the influence which comes down upon the mountains of Zion," etc.

The most probable and plausible interpretation, however, it seems to me, is, that the mind of the poet was turned to the dew of Hermon - to the gentleness, and the copiousness, and the vivifying nature of that dew - diffusing beauty and abundance all around - and that he thought of that dew, or dew like that, as descending on the mountains of Zion. Not that the dew of Hermon actually descended there; but when changing the comparison, in illustration of brotherly love, from oil to dew, he most naturally thought (perhaps from some former observation) of the dew of Hermon, and immediately thought of Zion as if that dew descended there: that is, love, unity, and concord there would be as if the dew of Hermon should descend on the barren hills of Zion or Jerusalem, there diffusing beauty, abundance, fertility. The comparison of the influence of brotherly love, or unity, with dew is not a forced or unnatural one. So calm, so gentle, so refreshing on the tender grain, on the young plants, on the flowers, is dew, that it is a striking image of the influences which produce brotherly love and harmony.

For there the Lord commanded the blessing - He appointed that as the place of worship; as the seat of his residence; the source of all holy influences. See Psalm 78:67-69, note; Psalm 87:2, note.

Even life for evermore - literally, "Life to eternity." That is, such influences go from that place as to lead to eternal life, or as to secure eternal life. It is in Zion, in his church, that he has made known the way to eternal life, and the means by which it may be obtained. To the end of the world this beautiful psalm will be sung in the church alike as expressing the charm which there is in unity among brethren and in the church; and as tending to promote that unity whose beauty it is designed to commend. Happy will be that day when the church shall be so united that it may be sung everywhere, as expressing what is, and not merely what should be.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

3. there—that is, in Zion, the Church; the material Zion, blessed with enriching dews, suggests this allusion the source of the influence enjoyed by the spiritual Zion.

commanded the blessing—(Compare Ps 68:28).

Matthew Poole's Commentary

It is no less grateful than the dew is which falls upon that great and goodly hill of Hermon, whereby it is both refreshed and made fruitful. And as the dew which falleth upon the mountains of Zion, i.e. either upon the several parts and ridges or tops of that mountain, whereof one was peculiarly called Zion, and another Moriah; or upon the mountains which are round about Jerusalem, Psalm 125:2, which is oft called Zion, as Psalm 132:13. And these may be opposed to Hermon, which was remote and beyond Jordan. But peradventure (which yet I propose with all submission) this dew is not to be taken literally, for the falling of the dew availed very little to the refreshment or improvement of the hills of Zion and Moriah, especially as now they were filled with buildings; but allegorically, for the favour or blessing of God, which is frequently called and compared to the dew, as Proverbs 19:12 Isaiah 18:4 Hosea 14:5 Micah 5:7. And thus it may seem to be explained in the following clause; and so the sense of the place is this, It is as desirable as the natural dew which falls upon Mount Hermon, nay, which is more, as that blessed and heavenly dew of God’s ordinances and graces which he hath commanded to fall upon the mountains of Zion; i.e. either upon Mount Zion; the plural number being put for the singular, as it is Psalm 132:7, and oft elsewhere, as I have observed in several places; or upon the mountains of Zion and Moriah, and others which are round about Jerusalem, as was now said. And if it seem strange that the dew should be taken literally in the first clause, and mystically in the next, we have a like instance Matthew 8:22, Let the dead (spiritually) bury the dead (naturally). For: he now gives the reason either why this unity is so good a thing; or why the dew descending upon Zion, to which that is compared, is so desirable. And so upon this occasion he slides into the commendation of Zion’s felicity, as the sacred writers frequently do upon other like occasions. There; either, 1. Where brethren live in peace and unity; or rather, 2. In Zion last mentioned. Commandeth the blessing; ordained, promised, conferred, and established his blessing, to wit, all manner of blessedness for his people that sincerely worship him in that place. Life, to wit, a happy and pleasant life; for to live in misery is accounted and oft called death, both in Scripture and in other authors.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion,.... Hermon was a very high hill beyond Jordan; the Sidonians called it Sirion, and the Amorites Shenir, Deuteronomy 3:8; hence Shenir and Hermon are mentioned together, Sol 4:8; and sometimes Sion or Seon, Deuteronomy 4:48; and is the Zion here intended; for the dew of Hermon could never descend on the mountain of Zion near Jerusalem, which was a hundred miles distant; besides Zion was but one mountain, these many. Hermon was remarkable for its dew, which still continues: a traveller (c), one of our own country, and whose fidelity is to be depended on, lying in tents near this hill one night, says,

"we were sufficiently instructed by experience what the holy psalmist means by the dew of Hermon; our tents being as wet with it as if it had rained all night.''

The mountains of Zion were those that were near to Zion, and not the mountain itself, those that were round about Jerusalem, on which the dew also fell in great plenty; and to which unity among brethren is here compared, because it comes from God in heaven, as the dew does. Saints are taught of God to love one another; contentions and quarrels come from lusts within, but this comes from above, from the Father of lights; and, because of its gentle nature, this makes men pure, and peaceable, and gentle, and easy to be entreated; as the dew falls gently in a temperate and moderate air, not in stormy and blustering weather: and because of its cooling nature; it allays the heats and animosities in the minds of men; and because it makes the saints fruitful, and to grow and increase in good works;

for there the Lord commanded the blessing; either in the mountains of Zion; so Kimchi: and if Mount Zion is meant by it, the church, often signified thereby, is the dwelling place of the Lord; here he records his name and blesses; here his word is preached, which is full of blessings; and here ordinances are administered, which are blessed of God to his people. Theodoret thinks some respect is had to the pouring down of the Spirit on the apostles in Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost: but rather the sense is, where brethren dwell together in unity, there the God of love and peace is; the Gospel of the grace of God is continued; and the ordinances of it made beneficial to the souls of men, they meeting together in peace and concord; see 2 Corinthians 13:11. God is said to "command the blessing" when he promises it, and makes it known to his people, or bestows it on them, Psalm 105:8;

even life for evermore: the great blessing of all, which includes all others, and in which they issue, the promise of the covenant, the blessing of the Gospel; which is in the hands of Christ, and comes through him to all his people; to the peacemakers particularly, that live in love and peace; these shall live for ever in a happy eternity, and never die, or be hurt of the second death.

(c) Maundrell's Travels, p. 57. Ed. 7.

Geneva Study Bible

As the dew of {c} Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for {d} there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

(c) By Hermon and Zion he means the plentiful country about Jerusalem.

(d) Where there is such concord.


Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

3. Like dew of Hermon, which descendeth upon the mountains of Zion] There is no justification for inserting the words and as the dew, as in A.V. “The dews of Syrian nights are excessive; on many mornings it looks as if there had been heavy rain” (G. A. Smith, Hist. Geogr. p. 65); and the dew that falls on the slopes of the snow-clad Hermon is particularly copious. Dew is a symbol for what is refreshing, quickening, invigorating; and the Psalmist compares the influence of brotherly unity upon the nation to the effect of the dew upon vegetation. From such dwelling together individuals draw fresh energy; the life of the community, social and religious, is revived and quickened. It need not be supposed that the poet imagined that the dew which fell upon the mountains of Zion was in any way physically due to the influence of Mount Hermon (though it is possible that it was popularly supposed that there was some connexion); all he means is that the life-giving effect of harmonious unity upon the nation is as though the most abundant dews fell upon the dry mountain of Zion.for there &c.] In Jerusalem. Cp. Psalm 132:17. Jehovah has connected he blessing of a vigorous national life with the religious centre of His for evermore] Cp. Sir 37:25, “The days of Israel are innumerable.” But perhaps for evermore should be connected with commanded. For life cp. Psalm 36:9.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 3. - As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion. The interpolation of the words, "and as the dew," is quite unwarrantable, and spoils the sense. It substitutes duality for unity, and destroys the parity of the two illustrations. Translate, "As the dew of Hermon, that cometh down upon the mountains of Zion." The psalmist sees the moisture which fertilizes the Holy Land, and makes it the fertile land that it is, all given forth from Hermon, the one great mountain at its head. As Dr. Kay well observes, "Physically, Hermon was to Canaan what Aaron was ceremonially to Israel - its head and crown, from which the fertilizing stores of heaven descended over the land. For not only does the one great river of Palestine, the Jordan, issue from the roots of Hermon, but the giant mountain is constantly gathering and sending off clouds, which float down even to Southern Zion." For there (i.e. in Zion) the Lord commanded the blessing, even life forevermore. The reference is to Leviticus 25:21, and perhaps to Deuteronomy 28:8. Psalm 133:3

Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

In this Psalm, says Hengstenberg, "David brings to the consciousness of the church the glory of the fellowship of the saints, that had so long been wanting, the restoration of which had begun with the setting up of the Ark in Zion." The Psalm, in fact, does not speak of the termination of the dispersion, but of the uniting of the people of all parts of the land for the purpose of divine worship in the one place of the sanctuary; and, as in the case of Psalm 122:1-9, its counterpart, occasions can be found in the history of David adapted to the לדוד of the inscription. But the language witnesses against David; for the construction of שׁ with the participle, as שׁיּרד, qui descendit (cf. Psalm 135:2, שׁעמדים, qui stant), is unknown in the usage of the language prior to the Exile. Moreover the inscription לדוד is wanting in the lxx Cod. Vat. and the Targum; and the Psalm may only have been so inscribed because it entirely breathes David's spirit, and is as though it had sprung out of his love for Jonathan.

With גּם the assertion passes on from the community of nature and sentiment which the word "brethren" expresses to the outward active manifestation and realization that correspond to it: good and delightful (Psalm 135:3) it is when brethren united by blood and heart also (corresponding to this their brotherly nature) dwell together - a blessed joy which Israel has enjoyed during the three great Feasts, although only for a brief period (vid., Psalm 122:1-9). Because the high priest, in whom the priestly mediatorial office culminates, is the chief personage in the celebration of the feast, the nature and value of that local reunion is first of all expressed by a metaphor taken from him. שׁמן הטּוב is the oil for anointing described in Exodus 30:22-33, which consisted of a mixture of oil and aromatic spices strictly forbidden to be used in common life. The sons of Aaron were only sprinkled with this anointing oil; but Aaron was expressly anointed with it, inasmuch as Moses poured it upon his head; hence he is called par excellence "the anointed priest" (הכּהן המּשׁיה), whilst the other priests are only "anointed" (משׁחים, Numbers 3:3) in so far as their garments, like Aaron's, were also sprinkled with the oil (together with the blood of the ram of consecration), Leviticus 8:12, Leviticus 8:30. In the time of the second Temple, to which the holy oil of anointing was wanting, the installation into the office of high priest took place by his being invested in the pontifical robes. The poet, however, when he calls the high priest as such Aaron, has the high-priesthood in all the fulness of its divine consecration (Leviticus 21:10) before his eyes. Two drops of the holy oil of anointing, says a Haggada, remained for ever hanging on the beard of Aaron like two pearls, as an emblem of atonement and of peace. In the act of the anointing itself the precious oil freely poured out ran gently down upon his beard, which in accordance with Leviticus 21:5 was unshortened.

In that part of the Tra which describes the robe of the high priest, שׁוּלי is its hems, פּי ראשׁו, or even absolutely פּה, the opening for the head, or the collar, by means of which the sleeveless garment was put on, and שׂפה the binding, the embroidery, the border of this collar (vid., Exodus 28:32; Exodus 39:23; cf. Job 30:18, פּי כתנתּי, the collar of my shirt). פּי must apparently be understood according to these passages of the Tra, as also the appellation מדּות (only here for מדּים, מּדּים), beginning with Leviticus 6:3, denotes the whole vestment of the high priest, yet without more exact distinction. But the Targum translates פּי with אמרא (ora equals fimbria) - a word which is related to אמּרא, agnus, like ᾤα to ὄΐς. This ᾤα is used both of the upper and lower edge of a garment. Accordingly Appolinaris and the Latin versions understand the ἐπὶ τὴν ὤαν of the lxx of the hem (in oram vestimenti); Theodoret, on the other hand, understands it to mean the upper edging: ὤαν ἐκάλεσεν ὃ καλοῦμεν περιτραχήλιον, τοῦτο δὲ καὶ ὁ Ἀκύλας στόμα ἐνδυμάτων εἴρηκε. So also De Sacy: sur le bord de son vtement, c'est--dire, sur le haut de ses habits pontificaux. The decision of the question depends upon the aim of this and the following figure in Psalm 133:3. If we compare the two figures, we find that the point of the comparison is the uniting power of brotherly feeling, as that which unites in heart and soul those who are most distant from one another locally, and also brings them together in outward circ*mstance. If this is the point of the comparison, then Aaron's beard and the hem of his garments stand just as diametrically opposed to one another as the dew of Hermon and the mountains of Zion. פּי is not the collar above, which gives no advance, much less the antithesis of two extremes, but the hem at the bottom (cf. שׂפה, Exodus 26:4, of the edge of a curtain). It is also clear that שׁיּרד cannot now refer to the beard of Aaron, either as flowing down over the upper border of his robe, or as flowing down upon its hem; it must refer to the oil, for peaceable love that brings the most widely separated together is likened to the oil. This reference is also more appropriate to the style of the onward movement of the gradual Psalms, and is confirmed by Psalm 133:3, where it refers to the dew, which takes the place of the oil in the other metaphor. When brethren united in harmonious love also meet together in one place, as is the case in Israel at the great Feasts, it is as when the holy, precious chrism, breathing forth the blended odour of many spices, upon the head of Aaron trickles down upon his beard, and from thence to the extreme end of his vestment. It becomes thoroughly perceptible, and also outwardly visible, that Israel, far and near, is pervaded by one spirit and bound together in unity of spirit.

This uniting spirit of brotherly love is now symbolised also by the dew of Hermon, which descends in drops upon the mountains of Zion. "What we read in the 133rd Psalm of the dew of Hermon descending upon the mountains of Zion," says Van de Velde in his Travels (Bd. i. S. 97), "is now become quite clear to me. Here, as I sat at the foot of Hermon, I understood how the water-drops which rose from its forest-mantled heights, and out of the highest ravines, which are filled the whole year round with snow, after the sun's rays have attenuated them and moistened the atmosphere with them, descend at evening-time as a heavy dew upon the lower mountains which lie round about as its spurs. One ought to have seen Hermon with its white-golden crown glistening aloft in the blue sky, in order to be able rightly to understand the figure. Nowhere in the whole country is so heavy a dew perceptible as in the districts near to Hermon." To this dew the poet likens brotherly love. This is as the dew of Hermon: of such pristine freshness and thus refreshing, possessing such pristine power and thus quickening, thus born from above (Psalm 110:3), and in fact like the dew of Hermon which comes down upon the mountains of Zion - a feature in the picture which is taken from the natural reality; for an abundant dew, when warm days have preceded, might very well be diverted to Jerusalem by the operation of the cold current of air sweeping down from the north over Hermon. We know, indeed, from our own experience how far off a cold air coming from the Alps is perceptible and produces its effects. The figure of the poet is therefore as true to nature as it is beautiful. When brethren bound together in love also meet together in one place, and in fact when brethren out of the north unite with brethren in the south in Jerusalem, the city which is the mother of all, at the great Feasts, it is as when the dew of Mount Hermon, which is covered with deep, almost eternal snow,

(Note: A Haraunitish poem in Wetzstein's Lieder-Sammlungen begins: Arab. - - 'l-bâriḥat habbat ‛lynâ šarârt mn ‛âliya 'l-ṯlj, "Yesterday there blew across to me a spark from the lofty snow-mountain (the Hermon)," on which the commentator dictated to him the remark, that Arab. šarârt, the glowing spark, is either the snow-capped summit of the mountain glowing in the morning sun or a burning cold breath of air, for one says in everyday life Arab. 'l-ṣaqa‛ yaḥriq, the frost burns [vid. note to Psalm 121:6].)

descends upon the bare, unfruitful - and therefore longing for such quickening - mountains round about Zion. In Jerusalem must love and all that is good meet. For there (שׁם as in Psalm 132:17) hath Jahve commanded (צוּה as in Leviticus 25:21, cf. Psalm 42:9; Psalm 68:29) the blessing, i.e., there allotted to the blessing its rendezvous and its place of issue. את־הבּרכה is appositionally explained by חיּים: life is the substance and goal of the blessing, the possession of all possessions, the blessing of all blessings. The closing words עד־העולם (cf. Psalm 28:9) belong to צוּה: such is God's inviolable, ever-enduring order.


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It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing-- life forever. (2024)
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