Sacrifice and meal-offering Thou hast no delight in; Mine ears hast Thou opened; Burnt-offering and sin-offering hast Thou not required. (JPS)

How has Psalm 40:7 been interpreted given that the Torah clearly does require burnt offering (Numbers 28:3) and sin offering (Leviticus 4:22-24)? Was the sentiment that HaShem has not required these specific to David's particular time and circumstance? How can we understand this attribute of what HaShem requires (or does not require) given the understanding that at some point sacrifices will resume in a restored temple?

I found this post on the same verse, but it does not address the question of sacrifice. I might be oversimplifying, but I read the phrase "Mine ears hast Thou opened" straightforwardly as "you have allowed me to hear your voice on this subject."

1 Answer 1


The verse:

ז זֶבַח וּמִנְחָה לֹא חָפַצְתָּ, אָזְנַיִם כָּרִיתָ לִּי, עוֹלָה וַחֲטָאָה לֹא שָׁאָלְתָּ. ‏

is commented by Rashi:

"זבח ומנחה לא חפצת" - ביום מתן תורה כענין שנאמר ועתה אם תשמע בקול ה' וגו' (שמות י"ט) וכן (בירמיהו ז') הוא אומר כי לא דברתי את אבותיכם ולא צויתים וגו' על דברי עולה או זבח כי יקרב מכם אמרתי ולא הזקקתי חובה להכביד עליהם תמידין ומוספין אינם אלא נחת רוח שאמרתי ונעשה רצוני ודבר מועט (סא"א) ‏

Rashi said that the verse told about the day of Matan Tora. David on behalf of the whole nation recognizes that G-d did not require a great amount of sacrifices which are fully consumed (burn offering) . But a small amount for the whole nation. For instance Korban Tamid is not a duty for each individual. David understand that G-d purpose is only to get satisfaction when I see that I say and my will is fulfilled.

It concerns the whole nation, and since Tora was given. The sense is that G-d did not require the offering itself but the submission of Jewish people. The fact that the amount of offerings demonstrates this. I (G_d) wanted only to educate you to listen (G-d speak). This submission is called "to dig ears for me". We also learn this from Rashi:

"אזנים כרית לי" - לאמר שמעו בקולי

you dig ears for me

"כרית" - עשיתם חלולים לשמוע

you dig, you made them hollow to hear.

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