Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

צדק לבשתי וילבשני

וצניף משפטי כמעיל עינים הייתי לעור ורגלים לפסח אני אב אנכי לאביונים ורב לא־ידעתי אחקרהו ואשברה מתלעות עול ומשניו אשליך טרף ואמר עם־קני אגוע וכחול ארבה ימים.

The best known examples of Ternary verse are Gen. xlix. II; Numb. xxiii. 21; 1 Sam. ii. 1 ; Is. i. 3 ; lv. 6; Hab. iii. 3 ; Pss. li. 7 [9]; civ. 33–-35 ; Prov. xxi. 23 ; xxx. 25; Job xvi. 12, 18; xxix. 14–18; XXX. 29, 31. For instance :

“Righteousness put I on and it clothed me,

As robe and turban was my justice;
7

Eyes was I to the blind,
And feet to the lame was I;
A father was I to the needy,
And a cause that I knew not searched I out.
And I brake the grinders of the evil man,
And from his teeth plucked out the prey.
So I said, In my nest shall I die,
And as the sand shall I multiply my days."

Job xxix. 14, 18. The following are instances of Quaternary verse, Exod. xv. 15–18; Is. lx. I ; Ps. cxviii. 25; Prov. xxii. 5; xxvi. 27 ; Cant. iv. II ; Eccles. X. 20; xi. 4. For instance :

“With honey drop thy lips, my bride,

Honey and milk are beneath thy tongue,
And the perfume of thy garments is as the perfume of
Lebanon."

Cant. iv. 11. The Binary, Ternary and Quaternary systems may be systematically interwoven, as in Exod. xv. 6–8; Numb. xxiv. 5—7 ; Deut. xxxii. 1-4; Pss. xix. 7—10 [8—11] quoted abovel; xxiii. 1–5 (2—6]. Cant. v. 2, 3, and other passages.

We have seen that though the distichic system is the mould in which Hebrew poetry is usually cast, there are cases in which four clauses are to be found in a verse. Such cases are rare in the Psalter. Tristichic arrangement is the basis of some few Psalms, cf. xiv. and liii., xciii. Throughout the first two chapters of Lamentations every verse has no less than six orixou: e. g.

“How does she sit solitary; the city that was full of people:

She has become a widow ; she that was great among nations:
The princess among provinces ; she has become tributary.”

Lament. i. 1. The strangest feature in Hebrew poetry is the occasional use of an Alphabetical or Acrostic arrangement. How such an irksome and

1 Here the system is this: each hemistich is broken into two clauses; the first clause is triverbal, the second biverbal.

נפת תטפנה שפתותיך כלה דבש וחלב תחת לשונך וריח שלמתיך כריח לבנון

unremunerative scheme came to be adopted by Poets who did not submit to the thraldom of metre and rhyme is unknown. It is possible that Psalms were written alphabetically with the view of assisting the memory of an admiring reader : it is more probable perhaps that this system originated in that intense and jealous regard for their native tongue, which has always characterized the Hebrew race (see Ps. xxv. Introd.). In Pss. cxi. and cxii. the first sixteen letters of the alphabet commence each a hemistich till the 9th verse is reached. This and the 10th verse in both Psalms are tristichic, and each of them carries three of the remaining six letters. Thus the whole alphabet is included. In Ps. cxix. there are twenty-two stanzas of eight verses each. An ogdoad of verses is assigned to each letter of the alphabet. These are the only perfect specimens of alphabetical composition in the Psalter. In Psalms xxv.,xxxiv., xxxvii., cxlv. the system is that of assigning a verse to each letter, but the system is not rigidly adhered to. In Ps. ix. a very imperfect alphabetical scheme of the same kind obtains, and is carried on (even less faithfully) from the point to which Ps. ix. brought it by Ps. x. which is doubtless a strictly contemporary though distinct composition. The Praise of the Virtuous Woman, Proverbs xxxi. 10—31, is a perfect alphabetical composition of this kind. So is each of the first two chapters of Lamentations. In Lament. iii. the six-clause arrangement of the first two Chapters takes a new form. The verses become short, and instead of one verse three are assigned to each letter. This scheme is carried out perfectly, save that the ') triad strangely precedes instead of following the 'V triad. Thus while Lament. i. and ii. have each 22 verses, Lament. iii. has 66. In Lament. iv. the alphabetical scheme is as in Chh. i. ii., but each verse has only four members.

CHAPTER II.

FORMATION OF PSALTER.

THE Hebrew Psalter is divided into five Books, the respective contents of which are i.-xli. ; xlii.-lxxii.; lxxiii.—Ixxxix.; xc.-cvi.; cvii. -cl. The concluding Psalm of each Book ends with a kind of doxology. Some suppose that the doxology is in each case an integral part of the Psalm to which it is attached, and that the five Psalms which ended with the most appropriate doxologies were selected to close the five Books. Others maintain that the doxology is (in some cases at least) a compiler's insertion, indicating the close of a Book. We have adopted the former view.

It is probable that this system of division is coeval with the compilation of the Old Testament Canon. The earliest mention of it in Jewish literature appears to be the well-known passage in the Midrash Tillim : “Moses gave the Israelites the five Books of the Torah, and corresponding to these, David gave them the Book of Psalms, in which are five Books.” This similarity to the Pentateuch is, however, noticed by Christian writers of earlier date. Hippolytus notices that the Hebrews divided the Psalter into fve Books, ώστε είναι και αυτό ärlov nevrátevxov. And the fivefold division is mentioned (sometimes with disapprobation, as by Cassiodorus and Augustine) by other noted Christian writers of the first five centuries. Their general ignorance with regard to all that related to Hebrew language and literature is illustrated by the belief of Cassiodorus that this arrangement originated with Jerome. It is important that these Psalms with doxological endings were found in their present position by the authors of the “Septuagint” Version; in other words, that Psalms xli., lxxii., lxxxix., cvi., and cl., were as well adapted to close the five Books some generations before the Christian era as they were in the time of Hippolytus. Since most of these Books have a distinctive Elohistic or Jehovistic stamp (vide infra), and other peculiar characteristics of their own, the natural view is, that the division into five Books each finished off with a B'râcâh, obtained as far back as that time. Those who regard the doxologies as supplementary are compelled to trace this division still further backwards, since in i Chron. xvi. 36 the verse, cvi. 48, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever, etc.," is evidently quoted as the known successor to cvi. 47, “Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, etc.” But the appearance of this verse in i Chron. xvi. is really only an argument in favour of its being an integral portion of the Psalm. We have, in short, no actual evidence in favour of the existence of the Psalter in its present arrangement before the time of the Greek translation.

It is probable that the five-fold division is connected in its origin with a superstitious reverence for the Pentateuch. It was the same feeling that led to the juxtaposition of the five m'gillôthin defiance of all sense of propriety-viz., Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther. There is nothing in this system to commend itself to a

rational mind. The arrangement of the Psalms in these several books is based on equally unscientific principles.

The first Book is one that exhibits most uniformity of character. Most of the Psalms in this Book are of Davidic authorship; and though of course differing much in tone, they bear the impress of the Davidic style throughout. Some Psalms in this Book are, however, of much later date. Ps. xxxiii. evidently dates from the Post-exilic period. Ps. xxii. belongs to the same period as lxix., cii., and may have been written by Jeremiah or one of his contemporaries. (See xxii., Introd.) And it is very unlikely that Ps. xl. belongs to the Davidic epoch. Of the authorship and date of Psalm i., which is one of the four (Pss. i., ii., X., xxxiii.) not assigned by title to David, we know nothing.

In Book II. we meet with Psalms of all periods. Many of them are assigned by title to David ; and in some cases the style and circumstances endorse this testimony. This is specially the case in Pss. liv. —Ixiv. Of the other Psalms, some apparently commemorate Sennacherib's overthrow (Pss. xlvi.—xlviii.); some, though apparently post-Davidic, cannot be assigned to any particular period (e. g. Pss. l., li.); one (Ps. xliv.) we can find no place for save in the very last period, the era of the Seleucidæ. The inscriptions “to the sons of Korah,” and “to Asaph,” furnish no clue to the date of Psalms : see General Introduction.

Book 111. is of the same mixed character. But Pss. lxxxiv., lxxxvi. are the only two that can reasonably be assigned to David.

Book iv. opens with a Psalm which may perhaps be the oldest in the Psalter. Ps. xc. is ascribed by Title to Moses, and the resemblance of this Psalm to the Mosaic poetry in Deuteronomy is so striking that those who deny that it is by the same hand must admit that it is intended to be an imitation. The only other Psalm in this Book that can be credited with an ancient origin is Ps. ci., which may be Davidic. Ps. ciii. is entitled to David, but erroneously. Pss. xci., xciv. are of doubtful origin. The remainder of the Psalms in this Book are of late date. Pss. xciii., xcv.-c. evidently express the joyous hope of the restored exiles, and Pss. ciii.—cvi. are of the same date. In fact, we have now passed from the domain of David to that of the Poets of the Restoration.

It is with the works of these that Book v. is mainly filled. The style of these compositions, as the tyro who passes to them after reading the early Psalms well knows, is generally as smooth and easy as that of David is harsh and rugged. Most of them are jubilant in tone, and most appropriate for public use, since they do not treat, like most Davidic Psalms, of individual, but of national experiences. The theology of these Psalms is of a higher and broader kind than that of the early period. On the other hand, there is little originality or depth in these smoothly flowing pieces. Thought is sacrificed to the jingling rhythm. They are the work of musicians rather than of Poets. With a few striking exceptions, as cxxxvii., cxxxix., this post-exilic collection is to the Davidic Psalms what the contents of our popular hymnals are to the writings of our real Poets.

A singular feature in this fifth Book is the sudden appearance of a recension of Psalms entitled to David," cxxxvij.cxliv. At least four of these, viz. Pss. cxl.—cxliii., exhibit the closest mutual relationship, and at the same time so forcibly recall the Davidic Psalms of the first Book that we must gard them as either written by David himself, or as clever imitations of the Davidic Poetry. We have adopted the former view. On the other hand, some thus entitled are clearly not Davidic. Apparently this collection was brought to light during the compilation of Book V., and, inasmuch as some were apparently genuine Davidic works, all were inscribed by the uncritical judgment of the compilers “to David.” Three other Psalms in Book v. may be of Davidic origin, viz. cviii., cix., cx. A collection of fifteen Psalms entitled “Songs of Degrees” is included in this fifth Book, cxx.cxxxiv. They are obviously post-exilic, and all written by one hand. With regard to the tradition which entitles four of them “to David” and one

“ to Solomon” see cxx.—cxxxiv. Introd. From what has been said it might be imagined that no systematic arrangement of the Psalms was known until a time at all events posterior to the Restoration. Nor have we any direct proof to the contrary. Hezekiah, on a special occasion, is said to have set on foot the ancient practice, which had apparently fallen into disuse, of “singing praise with the words of David and of Asaph” during the Temple rites, to the accompaniment of “the instruments of David” and “trumpets” (2 Chron. xxix. 25—30). Also in Prov. xxv. 1, some of the Proverbs of Solomon are said to have been copied out by the “men of Hezekiah.” But from neither of these passages can it be inferred that there existed a defined collection of Psalms which could be used as a hymnal. It is possible, however, that the note which closes Ps. lxxii., “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended,” may have stood as a foot-note to some ancient collection of Davidic Psalms. This

« ZurückWeiter »