We read in Tehillim 78:31-34 that God slew the chosen of Israel in order for them to repent.

Tehillim / Psalms 78

[31] And-Anger of God ascended upon them and-slew their stoutest and-[the] chosen [of] Yisrael He-subdued. (וְאַ֚ף אֱלֹהִ֨ים עָ֘לָ֚ה בָהֶ֗ם וַֽ֖יַּֽהֲרֹג בְּמִשְׁמַנֵּיהֶ֑ם וּבַֽחוּרֵ֖י יִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל הִכְרִֽיעַ)

[34] When-He slew them, then-they inquired Him, and-they repented and sought God. (אִם־הֲרָגָ֥ם וּדְרָשׁ֑וּהוּ וְ֜שָׁ֗בוּ וְשִֽׁחֲרוּ־אֵֽל)

How can the chosen of Yisrael (ישראל) repent (שָׁ֗בוּ) if they have been slewed?

  • 2
    I edited only because 'slewed' is the past participle of 'slew', that which a wheel does when it slides and hits the kerb. 'Slain' is the passive past participle of 'slay'. 'Slew' is the active past participle of 'slay'. The word 'slew' is a homonym in English with two meanings. Isn't English interesting ?
    – Nigel J
    Nov 5, 2020 at 6:03
  • Down-voted for asking a trivial question with a self-evident answer.
    – Lucian
    Nov 5, 2020 at 9:34

2 Answers 2


When God slew 'their' chosen it was the chosen of Israel that he slew.

When God slew 'them' he slew the chosen and stout ones.

Those who repented were of Israel, the body of persons called 'Israel'.

Those who were slain did not have any further opportunity to repent.

But those who were left, did have opportunity, and did so.

The same is seen in the visions of John the apostle, that some are slain as an example, in order that the remnant should repent :

And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. [Revelation 9:20,21 KJV]

And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds. [Revelation 16:11 KJV]


In Psalm 78:34 - How can Yisrael (ישראל) repent (שָׁ֗בוּ) if they have been slain?

Psalm 78:34 NASB

34 When He killed them, then they sought Him, And they returned and searched diligently for God;

How could this be so?

Numbers 21:7 (ASV)

7 And the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, because we have spoken against Jehovah, and against thee; pray unto Jehovah, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

Judges 4:3 (ASV)

3 And the children of Israel cried unto Jehovah: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.

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