Poetry, Hebrew We propose here to discuss only the poetical elements of the Bible, or ancient Hebrew poetry. For the sake of brevity and perspicuity, we shall treat this subject under the distinct heads of the character of Hebrew poetry, its existing remains, its classification, its history, and its literature. In doing this we treat the subject from a modern scientific point of view.
I. The Essential Character of Ancient Hebrew Poetry. — Poetry is—in its nature the language of the imagination stimulated by the passions. While prose expresses the calm statements of memory and observation, or the deliberate conclusions of the judgment, poetry gives utterance to the impulsive sentiments of the taste, the emotions and the aspirations of the heart. History can only appear in poetry in the guise of legend, and reasoning only in the form of animated colloquy. The phraseology is in keeping with the difference in spirit. Poetry tends to a more exalted and elaborate style of language in accordance with the fervid state of the mind.
Hence the invention-spontaneous in most instances of measure, whether of simple numbers or rhyme, to meet this overwrought state of the mental faculties. Biblical poetry partakes of these characteristics. It is distinguished from the prose compositions of the same book by its peculiarities of diction, as marked as those of other languages, although not so prosodiacal. The reader is at once made aware of entering the poetical domain by a certain elevation of style, and by the employment of more frequent and extended tropes, as well as by greater abruptness and more decided energy in the phraseology. The formal rhythm consists not-as in Greek and Latin, or even in the modern tongues-in a measured quantity of syllables of a particular length in utterance, but in a peculiar balance and antiphony of the clauses constituting what is known as parallelism. Each of these peculiar traits of Hebrew poetry we take space to develop somewhat in detail.
One characteristic of Hebrew poetry, not indeed peculiar to it, but shared by it in common with the literature of other nations, is its intensely national and local coloring. The writers were Hebrews of the Hebrews, drawing their inspiration from the mountains and rivers of Palestine, which they have immortalized in their poetic figures, and even while uttering the sublimest and most universal truths never forgetting their own nationality in its narrowest and intensest form. Their images and metaphors, says Munk (Palestine, p. 444 a), "are taken chiefly from nature and the phenomena of Palestine and the surrounding countries, from the pastoral life, from agriculture and the national history. The stars of heaven, the sand of the seashore, are the image of a great multitude. Would they speak of a mighty host of enemies invading the country, they are the swift torrents or the roaring waves of the sea, or the clouds that bring on a tempest; the war-chariots advance swiftly like lightning or the whirlwinds. Happiness rises as the dawn and shines like the daylight; the blessing of God descends like the dew or the bountiful rain; the anger of Heaven is a devouring fire that annihilates the wicked as the flame which devours the stubble. Unhappiness is likened to days of clouds and darkness; at times of great catastrophes the sun sets in broad day, the heavens are shaken, the earth trembles, the stars disappear, the sun is changed into darkness and the moon into blood, and so on. The cedars of Lebanon, the oaks of Bashan, are the image of the mighty man, the palm and the reed of the great and the humble, briers and thorns of the wicked; the pious man is an olive evergreen, or a tree planted by the waterside. The animal kingdom furnished equally a large number of images: the lion, the image of power, is also, like the wolf, bear, etc., that of tyrants and violent and rapacious men; and the pious who suffers is a feeble sheep led to the slaughter. The strong and powerful man is compared to the he-goat or the bull of Bashan: the kine of Bashall figure, in the discourses of Amos, as the image of rich and voluptuous women; the people who rebel against the divine will are a refractory heifer. Other images are borrowed from the country life, and from the life domestic and social: the chastisement of God weighs upon Israel like a wagon laden with sheaves; the dead cover the earth as the dung which covers the surface of the fields. The impious man sows crime and reaps misery, or he sows the wind and reaps the tempest. The people yielding to the blows of their enemies are like the corn crushed beneath the threshing instrument. God tramples the wine in the winepress when he chastises the impious and sheds their blood. The wrath of Jehovah is often represented as all intoxicating cup, which he causes those to empty who have merited his chastisement: terrors and anguish are often compared to the pangs of childbirth. Peoples, towns, and states are represented by the Hebrew poets under the image of daughters or wives; in their impiety they are courtesans or adulteresses. The historical allusions of most frequent occurrence are taken from the catastrophe of Sodom and Gomorrah, the miracles of the departure from Egypt, and the appearance of Jehovah on Sinai." Examples might easily be multiplied in illustration of this remarkable characteristic of the Hebrew poets: they stand thick upon every page of their writings, and in striking contrast to the vague generalizations of the Indian philosophic poetry. There is accordingly no poetry which bears a deeper or broader stamp of the peculiar influences under which it was produced. It never ceases to be Hebrew in order to become universal, and yet it is universal while it is Hebrew. The country, the clime, the institutions, the very peculiar religious institutions, rites, and observances, the very singular religious history of the Israelites, are all faithfully and vividly reflected in the Hebrew muse, so that no one song can ever be mistaken for a poem of any other people. Still it remains true that the heart of man, at least the heart of all the most civilized nations of the earth, has been moved and swayed, and is still pleasingly and most beneficially moved and swayed by the strains of Biblical poesy.
There is no ancient poetic age that can be put into comparison with that of the Hebrews but that of the two classic nations, Greece and Rome, and that of India. In form and variety we grant that the poetry of these nations surpasses that of the Hebrews. Epic poetry and the drama, the two highest styles so far as mere art is concerned, were cultivated successfully by them, while among the Israelites we find only their germs and first rudiments. So in execution we may also admit that, in the higher qualities of style, the Hebrew literature is somewhat inferior. But the thought is more than the expression; the kernel than the shell and in substance the Hebrew poetry far surpasses every other. In truth, it dwells in a region to which other ancient literatures did not and could not attain-a pure, serene, moral, and religious atmosphere; thus dealing with mall in his highest relations, first anticipating, and then leading onwards, mere civilization. This, as we shall presently see more fully, is the great characteristic of Hebrew poetry; it is also the highest merit of any literature, a merit in which that of the Hebrews is unapproached. To this high quality it is owing that the poetry of the Bible has exerted on the loftiest interests and productions of the human mind, for now above two thousand years, the most decided and the most beneficial influence. Moral and religious truth is deathless and undecaying; and so the griefs and the joys of David, or the far-seeing warnings and brilliant portrayings of Isaiah, repeat themselves in the heart of each successive generation, and become coexistent with the race of man. Thus of all moral treasuries the Bible is incomparably the richest. Even for forms of poetry, 'in which, it is defective, or altogether fails, it presents the richest materials. Moses has not, as some have dreamed, left us an epic poem, but he has supplied the materials out of which the Paradise Lost was created. The sternly sublime drama of Samson Agonistes is constructed from a few materials found in a chapter or two which relate to the least cultivated period of the Hebrew republic. Indeed, most of the great poets, even of modern days, from Tasso down to Byron, all the great musicians, and nearly all the great painters, have drawn their best and highest inspiration from the Bible. It may have struck the reader as somewhat curious that the poetical pieces of which we spoke above should, in the common version of the Bible, be scarcely, if at all, distinguishable from prose. We do not know whether there is anything extraordinary in this. Much of classical poetry, if turned into English prose, would lose most of its poetic characteristics; but, in general, the Hebrew poetry suffers less than perhaps any other by transfusion into a prosaic element: to which fact it is owing that the book of Psalms, in the English version, is, notwithstanding its form, eminently poetic. There are, however, cases in which only the experienced eye can trace the poetic in and under the prosaic attire in which it appears in the vulgar translation. Nor until the subject of Hebrew poetry had been long and well studied did the learned succeed in detecting many a poetic gem contained in the Bible. In truth, poetry and prose, from their very nature, stand near to each other, and in the earlier stages of their existence are discriminated only by faint and vanishing lines. If we regard the thought. prose sometimes even now rises to the loftiness of poetry. If we regard the clothing, the simpler form of poetry is scarcely more than prose; and rhetorical or measured prose passes into the domain of poetry. A sonnet of Wordsworth could be converted into prose with a very few changes; a fable of Krummacher requires only to be distributed into lines in order to make blank verse. Now in translations the form is for the most part lost; there remains only the subs stance, and poetic sentiment ranges from the humblest to the loftiest topics. So with the Hebrew poetry in its original and native state. Whether in its case poetry sprang from prose, or prose from poetry, they are both) branches of one tree, and bear in their earlier stages a very close resemblance. The similarity is the greater in the literature of the Hebrews, because their poetic a forms are less determinate than those of some other nations: they had, indeed, a rhythm; but so had their prose, and their poetic rhythm was more like that of, our blank verse than of our rhymed meter. Of poetical feet they appear to have known nothing, and in consequence their verse must be less measured and less strict. Its melody was rather that of thought than of art and s skill—spontaneous, like their religious feelings, and; therefore deep and impressive, but less subject to law and escaping from the hard limits of exact definition. Rhyme, properly so called, is disowned as well as meter. Yet Hebrew verse, as it had a kind of measured tread, so had it a jingle in its feet, for several lines are sometimes found terminating with the same letter. In the main, however, its essential form was in the thought. Ideas are made to recur under such relations that the substance itself marks the form, and the two are so blended into one that their union is essential to constitute poetry. It is, indeed, incorrect to say that "the Hebrew poetry is characterized by the recurrence of similar ideas" (Latham's English Language, p. 372), if by this it is intended to intimate that such a peculiarity is the sole characteristic of Hebrew poetry. One, and that the chief, characteristic of that poetry is such recurrence; but there are also characteristics in form as well as in thought. Of these it may be sufficient to mention the following:
1. There is a verbal rhythm, in which a harmony is found beyond what prose ordinarily presents; but as the true pronunciation of the Hebrew has long been lost, this quality can only be imperfectly appreciated.
2. There is a correspondence of words, i.e. the words in one verse, or member, answer to the words in another; for as the sense in the one echoes the sense in the other, so also form corresponds with form, and word with word. This correspondence in form will fully appear when we give instances (see below) of the parallelism in sentiment; meanwhile an idea of it may be formed from these specimens:
"Why art thou cast down, O my soul And why art thou disquieted in me?" (Ps 43:5).
"The memory of the just is a blessing: But the name of the wicked shall rot" (Pr 10:7).
"He turneth rivers into a desert, And water-springs into dry ground" (Ps 107:33).
In the original this similarity in construction is more exact and more apparent. At the same time it is a free and not a strict correspondence that prevails; a correspondence to be caught and recognized by the ear in the general progress of the poem, or the general structure of a couplet or a triplet, but which is not of a nature to be exactly measured or set forth by such aids as counting with the fingers will afford.
3. Inversion holds a distinguished place in the structure of Hebrew poetry, as in that of every other; yet here again the remark already made holds good; it is only a modified inversion that prevails, by no means (in general) equaling that of the Greeks and Romans in boldness, decision, and prevalence. Every one will, however, recognize this inversion in the following instances, as distinguishing the passages from ordinary prose:
"Amid thought in visions of the night, When deep sleep falleth upon men, Fear and horror came upon me" (Job 4:13).
"To me men gave ear and waited, To my words they made no reply" (Job 29:21).
"For three transgressions of Damascus, And for four will I not turn away its punishment" (Am 1:3).
"His crave was appointed with the wicked, And with the rich man was his sepulcher" (Isa 53:9).
4. The chief characteristics, however, of Hebrew poetry are found in the peculiar form in which it gives utterance to its ideas. This form has received the name of "parallelism." Ewald justly prefers the term "thought-rhythm," since the rhythm, the music, the peculiar flow and harmony of the verse and of the poem, lie in the distribution of the sentiment in such a manner that the full import does not come out in less than a distich. The leading principle is that a simple verse or distich consists, both in regard to form and substance, of two corresponding members: this has been termed Hebrew rhythm, or parallelismus membrorum. Three kinds may be specified:
(1.) There is, first, the synonymous parallelism, which consists in this, that the two members express the same thought in different words, so that sometimes word answers to word; for example:
"What is man that thou art mindful of him, And the son of man that thou carest for him!" (Ps 8:4).
There is in some cases an inversion in the second line:
"The heavens relate the glory of God, And the work of his hands the firmament declares" (Ps 19:2).
"He maketh his messengers the winds, His ministers the flaming lightning" (Ps 104:4).
Very often the second member repeats only a part of the first:
"Woe to them that join house to house, That field to field unite" (Isa 5:8).
Sometimes the verb which stands in the first member is omitted in the second:
"God, thy justice give the king, And thy righteousness to the king's son" (Ps 72:1).
Or the verb may be in the second member:
"With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of an ass have I slain a thousand men" (Jg 15:16).
The second member may contain an expansion of the first:
"Give to Jehovah, ye sons of God, Give to Jehovah glory and praise" (Ps 29:1).
Indeed the varieties are numerous, since the synonymous parallelism is very frequent.
(2.) The second kind is the antithetic, in which the first member is illustrated by some opposition of thought contained in the second. This less customary kind of parallelism is found mostly in the Proverbs:
"The full man treadeth the honey-comb under foot, To the hungry every bitter thing is sweet" (Pr 27:7). Under this head comes the following, with other similar examples: "Day to day uttereth instruction, And night to night showeth knowledge" (Ps 19:2).
(3.) The third kind is denominated the synthetic: probably the term epithetic would be more appropriate, since the second member not being a mere echo of the first, subjoins something new to it, while the same structure of the verse is preserved; thus:
"He appointed the moon for seasons; The sun knoweth his going down" (Ps 104:19).
"The law of Jehovah is perfect, reviving the soul; The precepts of Jehovah are sure, instructing the simple" (Ps 19:7).
5. Intimately connected with the parallelistic structure is the strophic arrangement of Hebrew poetry. Usually the parallelism itself furnishes the basis of the versification. This correspondence in thought is not however, of universal occurrence. We find a merely rhythmical parallelism in which the thought is not repeated, but goes forward throughout the verse, which is divided midway into two halves or a distich:
"The word is not upon the tongue, Jehovah thou knowest it altogether" (Ps 138:4).
"Gird as a man thy loins, I will ask thee; inform thou me" (Job 39:3).
Here poetry distinguishes itself from prose chiefly by the division into two short equal parts. This peculiarity of poetic diction is expressed by the word זָמִר, to sing (strictly to play), which properly denotes dividing the matter, and so speaking or singing in separated portions. Among the Arabians, who, however, have syllabic measure, each verse is divided into two hemistichs by a caesura in the middle. The simple two-membered rhythm- hitherto described prevails especially in the book of Job, the Proverbs, and a portion of the Psalms; but in the last, and still more in the Prophets, there are numerous verses with three, four, or yet more members. In verses consisting of three members (tristicha) sometimes all three are parallel:
"Happy the man who walketh not in the paths of the unrighteous, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers" (Ps 1:1).
Sometimes two of the members stand opposed to the third:
"To all the world goes forth their sound, To the end of the world their words; For the sun he places a tabernacle in them" (Ps 19:4). Verses of four members contain either two simple parallels: "With righteousness shall he judge the poor, And decide with equity for the afflicted of the people; He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked" (Isa 11:4). Or the first and third answer to each other; also the second and fourth: "That smote the people in anger With a continual stroke; That lorded it over the nations in wrath With unremitted oppression" (Isa 14:6).
If the members are more numerous or disproportionate (Isa 11:11), or if the parallelism is important or irregular, the diction of poetry is lost and prose ensues; as is the case in Isa 5:1-6, and frequently in the later prophets, as Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The strophe, however, is frequently preserved in a quite extended form with several subdivisions, and the parallelism is often carried out in subordinate clauses; instances of this are very common, especially in the book of Ecclesiastes. (See § 4, below.)
It is not to be supposed that each poem consists exclusively of one set of verse; for though this feature does present itself, yet frequently several kinds are found together in one composition, so as to give great ease, freedom, and capability to the style. We select the following beautiful specimen, because a chorus is introduced:
DAVID'S LAMENT OVER SAUL AND JONATHAN.
The Gazelle, O Israel, has been cut down on thy heights!
Chorus. How are the mighty fallen!
Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ascalon Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.
Hills of Gilboa, no dew nor rain come upon you, devoted fields! For there is stained the heroes' bow, Saul's bow, never anointed with oil.
From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, The how of Jonathan turned not back. And the sword of Saul came not idly home. Saul land Jonathan! lovely and pleasant in life!
And in death ye were not divided; Swifter than eagles, stronger than lions! Ye daughters of Israel! weep for Saul!
He clothed you delicately in purple, He put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
Chorus. How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan, slain in thy high places!
I am distressed for thee brother, brother Jonathan, Very pleasant wast thou to me, Wonderful was thy love, more than the love of woman.
Chorus. How are the mighty fallen, And the weapons of war perished!
We have chosen this ode not only for its singular beauty, but also because it presents another quality of Hebrew poetry-the strophe. In this poem there are three strophes marked by the recurrence three times of the dirge sung by the chorus. The chorus appears to have consisted of three parts, corresponding with the parties more immediately addressed in the three several portions of the poem. The first choral song is sung by the entire body of singers, representing Israel; the second is sung by a chorus of maidens; the third, by first a chorus of youths in a soft and mournful strain, and then by all the choir in fill and swelling chorus. But in order to the reader's fully understanding with what noble effect these "songs of Zion" came on the souls of their hearers, an accurate idea must be formed of the music of the Hebrews. See Music. Referring to the articles which bear on the subject, we merely remark that both music and dancing were connected with sacred song in its earliest manifestations, though it was only at a comparatively late period, when David and Solomon had given their master-powers to the grand performances of the Temple-service, that poetry came forth in all its excellence, and music lent its full aid to its solemn and sublime sentiments.
6. In Hebrew, as in other languages there is a peculiarity about the diction used in poetry— a kind of poetical dialect, characterized by archaic and irregular forms of words, abrupt constructions, and unusual inflections, which distinguish it from the contemporary prose or historical style. It is universally observed that archaic forms and usages of words linger in the poetry of a language after they have fallen out of ordinary use. A few of these forms and usages are here given from Gesenius's Lehrgebdude. The Piel and Hiphil voices are used intransitively (Jer 51:56; Eze 10:7; Job 29:24): the apocopated future is used as a present (Job 15:33; Ps 11:6; Isa 42:6). The termination אָּת is found for the ordinary feminine אָּה (Ex 15:2; Ge 49:22; Ps 132:4); and for the plural אַּים we have אַּין (Job 15:13; Eze 26:18) and אִּי (Jer 22:14; Am 7:1). The verbal suffixes, מוֹ, אָּמוֹ, and אֵּמוֹ (Ex 15:9), and the pronominal suffixes to nouns, אָּמוֹ for אּ4ם, and אֵּיהוּ for אָּיו (Hab 3:10), are peculiar to the poetical books; as are וֹהַי (Ps 116:12), אֵּימוֹ (De 32:37; Ps 11:7), and the more unusual forms, אֵּיהֵמָּה (Eze 40:16), אֵּיהֶנָה (Eze 1:11), אַּיכֶנָה (Eze 13:20). In poetical language also we find לָמוֹ for לוֹ or לָהֶם, למוֹ for
ל, בּמוֹ for בּ, כּמוֹ for כּ; the plural forms of the prepositions, אֵֵלי for אֶל, עֲדֵי for עד, עֲלֵי; and the peculiar forms of the nouns, הִררַי for הָרַי, הִררֵי for ה4רֵי, עֲמָמַים for עמַּים, and so on.
II. Existing Remains of Ancient Hebrew Poetry. — The poetry which is found in the Bible, rich and multifarious as it is, appears to be only a remnant of a still wider and fuller sphere of Shemitic literature. The New Testament is in fact comprised in our definition, for, besides scattered portions, which, under a prosaic form, convey a poetic thought, the entire book of the Apocalypse abounds in poetry. In no nation was the union of the requisites of which we have spoken above found in fuller measure than among the Hebrews. Theirs was eminently a poetic temperament; their earliest history was a heroic without ceasing to be a historic age, while the loftiest of all truths circulated in their souls, and glowed on and started from their lips. Hence their language, in its earliest stages, is surpassingly poetic. In one sense the Bible is full of poetry; for very much of its contents, which is merely prosaic in form, rises, by force of the noble sentiments which it enunciates, and the striking or splendid imagery with which these sentiments are adorned, into the sphere of real poetry. Independently of this poetic prose, there is in the Bible much writing which has all the ordinary characteristics of poetry. Even the unlearned reader can hardly fail to recognize at once the essence of poetry in various parts of the Bible. It is no slight attestation to the essentially poetic character of Hebrew poetry that its poetical qualities shine through the distorting coverings of a prose translation. Much of the Biblical poetry is, indeed, hidden from the ordinary reader by its prose accompaniments, standing, as it does, undistinguished in the midst of historical narrations.
It is a phenomenon which is universally observed in the literature of all nations, that the earliest form in which the thoughts and feelings of a people find utterance is the poetic. Prose is an after growth, the vehicle of less spontaneous, because more formal, expression. Snatches of poetry are discovered in the oldest prose compositions. Even in Ge 4:23 sq. are found a few lines of poetry, which Herder incorrectly terms "the song of the sword," thinking it commemorative of the first formation of' that weapon. To us it appears to be a fragment of a larger poem, uttered in lamentation for a homicide committed by Lamech, probably in self-defense. SEE LAMECH. Herder finds in this piece all the characteristics of Hebrew poetry. It is, he thinks, lyrical, has a proportion between its several lines, and even assonance; in the original the first four lines terminate with the same letter, making a single or semi-rhyme.
Another poetic scrap is found in Ex 32:18. Being told by Joshua, on occasion of descending from the mount, when the people had made the golden calf, and were tumultuously offering it their worship "The sound of war is in the camp;" Moses said:
"Not the sound of a shout for victory, Nor the sound of a shout for falling; The sound of a shout for rejoicing do I hear."
The correspondence in form in the original is here very exact and striking, so that it is difficult to deny that the piece is poetic. If so, are we to conclude that the temperament of the Israelites was so deeply poetic that Moses and Joshua should find the excitement of this occasion sufficient to strike improvisatore verses from their lips? Or have we here a quotation from some still older song, which occurred to the minds of the speakers by the force of resemblance? Other instances of scattered poetic pieces may be found in Nu 21:14-15; also ver. 18 and 27; in which passages evidence may be found that we are not in possession of the entire mass of Hebrew, or, at least, Shemitic literature. Further specimens of very early poetry are found in Nu 23:7 sq., 18 sq.; 24:3, 15. The ordinary train of thought and feeling presented in Hebrew poetry is entirely of a moral or religious kind; but there are occasions when other topics are introduced. The entire Song of Solomon many regard as purely an erotic idol, and considered as such it possesses excellences of a very high description. In Am 6:3 sq. may be seen a tine passage of satire in a denunciation of the luxurious and oppressive aristocracy of Israel. Subjects of a similar secular kind may be found treated, yet never without a moral or religious aim, in Isa 9:3; Jer 25:10; Jer 48:33; Re 18:22 sq. But, independently of the Song of Solomon, the most sensuous ode is perhaps the 45th Psalm, which Herder and Ewall consider an epithalamium. Further illustrations of this part of the subject appear under the next division.
The poetical character of the Revelation of John is evident to every attentive reader. Many parts are professedly songs, formal expressions of praise, triumph, or mourning. The language is not only highly figurative, but it everywhere abounds with the most poetical images and modes of expression. Bishop Jebb has presented some of the songs in the form of Hebrew poetry; and Prof. Stuart has shown the metrical arrangement of a few other portions; he has also expressed his conviction that the form of poetry, as well as its spirit, prevails to a great extent throughout the work. The references to the Old Test. in this book are more numerous than in any other book of the New Test.; and they are not simple quotations, nor the transference of thought to a less poetic style of expression; but they are imitations, in general more poetic than the original. That they are presented in the form of Hebrew, and not of Grecian poetry, can occasion no surprise. No other poetry would accord, either with the habit of the apostle, or with the general character and design of the Bible. But this form of poetry would perfectly harmonize with both. The poetry of the Revelation of John appears to consist of the same description of parallelisms, with those intercalary lines and other irregularities which are found in the larger specimens of Hebrew poetry. The species of parallelism which most prevails is the synthetic or constructive; the others being obviously less suitable to the subject of the composition. There are, however, instances of every kind. Indeed, this book not only possesses the form and the spirit of Hebrew poetry, but it exhibits as much regularity in its parallelisms as any Hebrew poetry with which it can be justly compared. We give the following passages (Re 1; Re 1; Re 5; Re 6; Re 21:23):
"The revelation of Jesus Christ, Which God to him imparted, To indicate unto his servants What must come to pass ere long.
"To Him who loveth us, and washed us From our sins in his own blood: And constituted us a kingdom, Priests unto God, even his Father, To him be glory and dominion, For ever and ever, Amen!
"And the city has no need of the sun Nor of the moon to shine in it; For the glory of God illumines it, And the light thereof is the Lamb."
III. Classification of Poetic Styles. — According to the Ancient Hebrew Designations— These appear to have special, if not exclusive reference to what is now known as lyric poetry. The terms are of two classes. SEE PSALMS.
a. General titles, referring apparently to the musical form or purpose of the compositions.
(1.) שַׁיר, shir, a song in general, adapted for the voice alone.
(2.) מַזמוֹר, mizmor, which Ewald considers a lyric song, properly so called, but which rather seems to correspond with the Greek ψαλμός, a psalm, or song to be sung with any instrumental accompaniment. SEE PSALM.
(3.) נגַינָה, neginadh, which Ewald is of opinion is equivalent to the Greek ψαλμός, is more probably a melody expressly adapted for stringed instruments.
(4.) מִשׂכַּיל, maskil, of which it may be said that if Ewald's suggestion be not correct, that it denotes a lyrical song requiring nice musical skill, it is difficult to give any more probable explanation. SEE MASCHEL.
(5.) מַכתָּם, miktaim, a term of extremely doubtful meaning. SEE MICHTAM.
(6.) שַׁגָּיוֹן, shiggayon (Ps 7:1), a wild, irregular, dithyrambic song, as the word appears to denote; or, according to some, a song to be sung with variations. The former is the more probable meaning. The plural occurs in Hab 3:1. SEE SHIGGAION.
b. But, besides these, there are other divisions of lyrical poetry of great importance, which have regard rather to the subject of the poems than to their form or adaptation for musical accompaniments. Of these we notice:
(1.) תּהלָּה, tehillah, a hymn of praise. The plural tehillim is the title of the book of Psalms in Hebrew. The 145th Psalm is entitled "David's (Psalm) of praise;" and the subject of the psalm is in accordance with its title, which is apparently suggested by the concluding verse, "The praise of Jehovah my mouth shall speak, and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever." To this class belong the songs which relate to extraordinary deliverances, such as the songs of Moses (Exodus 15) and of Deborah (Judges 5), and the Ps 18; Ps 68, which have all the air of chants to be sung in triumphal processions. Such were the hymns sung in the Temple-services, and by a bold figure the Almighty is apostrophized as "Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel," which rose in the holy place with the fragrant clouds of incense (Ps 22:3). To the same class also Ewald refers the shorter poems of the like kind with those already quoted, such as Ps 30; Ps 32; Ps 138, and Isaiah 38, which relate to less general occasions, and commemorate more special deliverances. The songs of victory sung by the congregation in the Temple, as Ps 46; Ps 48; Ps 24:7-10, which is a short triumphal ode, and Psalm 29, which praises Jehovah on the occasion of a great natural phenomenon, are likewise all to be classed in this division of lyric poetry. SEE HYMN.
(2.) קַינָה, kindh, the lament, or dirge, of which there are many examples, whether uttered over an individual or as an outburst of grief for the calamities of the land. The most touchingly pathetic of all is perhaps the lament of David for the death of Saul and Jonathan (2Sa 1:19-27), in which passionate emotion is blended with touches of tenderness of which only a strong nature is capable. Compare with this the lament for Abner (2Sa 3:33-34) and for Absalom (18:33). Of the same character also, doubtless, were the songs which the singing men and singing women spake over Josiah at his death (2Ch 35:25), and the songs of mourning for the disasters which befell the hapless land of Judah, of which Ps 49; Ps 60; Ps 78; Ps 137 are examples (comp. Jer 7:29; Jer 9:10 ) and the Lamentations of Jeremiah the most memorable instances. SEE LAMENTATION.
(3.) שַׁיר ידַירֹת, shir yediddth, a love-song (Ps 45:1), in its external form at least. SEE CANTICLES.
(4.) תּפַלָּה, tephillah, prayer, is the title of Ps 17; Ps 86; Ps 90; Ps 102; Ps 142, and Habakkuk 3. All these are strictly lyrical compositions, and the title may have been assigned to them either as denoting the object with which they were written, or the use to which they were applied. As Ewald justly observes, all lyric poetry of an elevated kind, in so far as it reveals the soul of the poet in a pure swift outpouring of itself, is of the nature of a prayer; and hence the term "prayer" was applied to a collection of David's songs, of which Psalm 72 formed the conclusion. SEE PRAYER.
Other kinds of poetry there are which occupy the middle ground between the lyric and gnomic, being lyric in form and spirit, but gnomic in subject. These may be classed as
(5.) מָשָׁל, mashal, properly a similitude, and then a. parable, or sententious saying, couched in poetic language. Such are the songs of Balaam (Nu 23:7,18; Nu 24:3,15,20-21,23), which are eminently lyrical in character; the mocking ballad in Nu 21:27-30, which has been conjectured to be a fragment of an old Amoritish war-song; and the apologue of Jotham (Jg 9:7-20), both which last are strongly satirical in tone. But the finest of all is the magnificent prophetic song of triumph over the fall of Babylon (Isa 14:4-27).
(6.) חידָה, chidah, an enigma (like the riddle of Samson, Jg 14:14), or "dark saying," as the A.V. has it in Ps 49:5; Ps 78:2. The former passage illustrates the musical, and therefore lyrical character of these "dark sayings:" "I will incline mine ear to a parable, I will open my dark sayings upon the harp." Macshal and chidah are used as convertible terms in Eze 17:2.
(7.) Lastly, to this class belongs מלַיצָה, melitsah, a mocking, ironical poem (Hab 2:6).
2. The Masoretic Distribution. — The Jewish grammarians have attached the poetic accentuation only to the three books of Psalms, Job, and Proverbs. There is no doubt that the Song of Solomon is also poetical; and with these the book of Ecclesiastes was anciently, as it is still usually, conjoined, though the form of composition is less decidedly poetical. To these five are to be added the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and the smaller pieces scattered over the historical and prophetic writings. Keeping these latter out of view, we may say that the Hebrew poetical books are six in number; and these six may be divided into two groups of three, according to the class of poetical composition to which each belongs, viz.
(1) Psalms, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations, which are predominantly lyrical in their character; and
(2) Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes, which are predominantly didactic. In the former the leading aim of the poet is not to instruct, but to give free utterance to the feelings of his own heart; in the latter the instruction of others is the object that is principally aimed at; though neither is the lyrical element altogether excluded from the latter, nor the didactic from the former. Of the more sustained and elaborate epic and dramatic poetry which was alike alien to the character of the Hebrew mind, and also in a certain measure inconsistent with the purpose of the Hebrew writings as a divine revelation we have no examples, though some have applied the term "dramatic" in a loose sense to the book of Job, and in a more strict sense to the Song of Solomon.
3. Modern Terminology. — For epic poetry the constituent elements do not appear to have existed during the classic period of the Hebrew muse, since epic poetry requires a heroic age an age, that is, of fabulous wonders, and falsely so-called divine interpositions. But among the Israelites the patriarchal, which might have been the heroic age, was an age of truth and reality; and it much raises the religious and historical value of the Biblical literature that neither the singular events of the age of the patriarchs, nor the wonderful events of the age of Moses, nor the confused and somewhat legendary events of the age of the Judges, ever degenerated into mythology, nor passed from the reality, which was their essence, into the noble fictions into which the imagination, if unchastened and unchecked by religion, might have wrought them; but they retained through all periods their own essential character of earnest, lofty, and impressive realities. At a later period, when the religion of Moses had, during the Babylonian captivity, been lowered by the corruptions of the religion of Zoroaster, and an entirely new world of thought introduced, based not on reality but fancy, emanating not from the pure light of heaven, but from the mingled lights and shadows of primitive tradition and human speculation -then there came into existence among the Jews the elements necessary for epic poetry; but the days were gone in which the mind of the nation had the requisite strength and culture to fashion them into a great, uniform, and noble structure; and if we can allow that the Hebrews possessed the rudimental outlines of the epic, we must seek for them not in the canonical, but in the apocryphal books; and while we deny with emphasis that the term Epos can be applied as some German critics have applied it, to the Pentateuch, we can find only in the book of Judith, and with rather more reason in that of Tobit, anything which approaches to epic poetry. Indeed fiction, which, if it is not the essence, enters for a very large share into both epic and dramatic poetry, was wholly alien from the genius of the Hebrew muse, whose high and noble function was not to invent, but to celebrate the goodness of God; not to indulge the fancy, but to express the deepest feelings of the soul; not to play with words and feign emotions, but to utter profound truth and commemorate real events, and pour forth living sentiments.
Of the three kinds of poetry which are illustrated by the Hebrew literature, the lyric occupies the foremost place, commencing, as we have seen, in the pre-Mosaic times, flourishing in rude vigor during the earlier periods of the Judges, the heroic age of the Hebrews, growing with the nation's growth and strengthening with its strength, till it reached its highest excellence in David, the warrior-poet, and thenceforth began slowly to decline. In this period art, though subordinate, was not neglected, as indeed is proved by the noble lyrics which have come down to us and in which the art is only relatively small and low— that is, the art is inconsiderable and secondary— merely because the topics are so august, the sentiments so grand, the religious impression so profound and sacred. At later periods, when the first fresh gushing of the muse had ceased, art in Hebrew, as is the case in all other poetry, began to claim a larger share of attention, and stands in the poems for a greater portion of their merit. Then the play of the imagination grew predominant over the spontaneous outpourings of the soul, and among other creations of the fancy alphabetical poems were produced, in which the matter is artistically distributed sometimes under two-and-twenty heads or divisions, corresponding with the number of the Hebrew letters.
Gnomic poetry is the product of a more advanced age than the lyric. It arises from the desire felt by the poet to express the results of the accumulated experiences of life in a form of beauty and permanence. Its thoughtful character requires for its development a time of peacefulness and leisure; for it gives expression, not like the lyric to the sudden and impassioned feelings of the moment, but to calm and philosophic reflection. Being less spontaneous in its origin, its form is of necessity more artificial. The gnomic poetry of the Hebrews has not its measured flow disturbed by the shock of arms or the tumult of camps; it rises silently, like the Temple of old, without the sound of a weapon, and its groundwork is the home life of the nation. The period during which it flourished corresponds to its domestic and settled character. From the time of David onwards through the reigns of the earlier kings, when the nation was quiet and at peace, or, if not at peace, at least so firmly fixed in its acquired territory that its wars were no struggle for existence, gnomic poetry blossomed and bore fruit. We meet with it at intervals up to the time of the Captivity, and, as it is chiefly characteristic of the age of the monarchy, Ewald has appropriately designated this sera the "artificial period" of Hebrew poetry. From the end of the 8th century B.C. the decline of the nation was rapid, and with its glory departed the chief glories of its literature. The poems of this period are distinguished by a smoothness of diction and an external polish which betray tokens of labor and art; the style is less flowing and easy, and, except in rare instances, there is no dash of the ancient vigor. After the Captivity we have nothing but the poems which formed part of the liturgical services of the Temple.
Whether dramatic poetry, properly so called, ever existed among the Hebrews, is, to say the least, extremely doubtful. In the opinion of some writers the Song of Songs, in its external form, is a rude drama, designed for a simple stage. But the evidence for this view is extremely slight, and no good and sufficient reasons have been adduced which would lead us to conclude that the amount of dramatic action exhibited in that poem is more than would be involved in an animated poetic dialogue in which more than two persons take part. Philosophy and the drama appear alike to have been peculiar to the Indo-Germanic nations, and to have manifested themselves among the Shemitic tribes only in their crudest and most simple form.
Each of these forms of poetry, as they appear in the Bible, requires a more distinct notice separately.
(1.) Lyrical Poetry. — The literature of the Hebrews abounds with illustrations of all forms of lyrical poetry, in its most manifold and wide- embracing compass, from such short ejaculations as the songs of the two Lamechs, and Ps 15; Ps 117, and others, to the longer chants of victory and thanksgiving, like the songs of Deborah and David (Jg 5; Ps 18). The thoroughly national character of all lyrical poetry has already been alluded to. It is the utterance of the people's life in all its varied phases, and expresses all its most earnest strivings and impulses. In proportion as this expression is vigorous and animated, the idea embodied in lyric song is in most cases narrowed or rather concentrated. One truth, and even one side of a truth, is for the time invested with the greatest prominence. All these characteristics will be found in perfection in the lyric poetry of the Hebrews. One other feature which distinguishes it is its form and its capacity for being set to musical accompaniment. The names by which the various kinds of song were known among the Hebrews will supply some illustration of this. (See above.)
(2.) Gnomic Poetry. — The second grand division of Hebrew poetry is occupied by a class of poems which are peculiarly Shemitic, and which represent the nearest approaches made by the people of that race to anything like philosophic thought. Reasoning there is none: we have only results, and these rather the product of observation and reflection than of induction or argumentation. As lyric poetry is the expression of the poet's own feelings and impulses, so gnomic poetry is the form in which the desire of communicating knowledge to others finds vent. There might possibly be an intermediate stage in which the poets gave out their experiences for their own pleasure merely, and afterwards applied them to the instruction of others, but this could scarcely have been of long continuance. The impulse to teach makes the teacher, and the teacher must have an audience. It has already been remarked that gnomic poetry, as a whole, requires for its development a period of national tranquility. Its germs are the floating proverbs which pass current in the mouths of the people, and embody the experiences of many with the wit of one. From this small beginning it arises, at a time when the experience of the nation has become matured, and the mass of truths which are the result of such experience have passed into circulation. The fame of Solomon's wisdom was so great that no less than three thousand proverbs are attributed to him, this being the form in which the Hebrew mind found its most congenial utterance. The sayer of sententious sayings was to the Hebrews the wise man, the philosopher. Of the earlier isolated proverbs but few examples remain. One of the earliest occurs in the mouth of David, and in his time it was the proverb of the ancients, "From the wicked cometh wickedness" (1Sa 24:13 ). Later on, when the fortunes of the nation were obscured, their experience was embodied in terms of sadness and despondency: "The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth," became a saying and a byword (Eze 12:22); and the feeling that the people were suffering for the sins of their fathers took the form of a sentence, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge" (Eze 18:2). Such were the models which the gnomic poet had before him for imitation. These detached sentences may fairly be assumed to be the earliest form, of which the fuller apophthegm is the expansion, swelling into sustained exhortations, and even dramatic dialogue. SEE PROVERB.
(3.) Dramatic Poetry. — The drama, in the sense in which the phrase is applicable to productions such as those of Euripides, Shakespeare, or Schiller, had no place in the literature of the Hebrews. This defect may be owing to a want of the requisite literary cultivation. Yet we are not willing to assign this as the cause, when we call to mind the high intellectual culture which the Hebrews evinced in lyric and didactic poetry, out of which the drama seems naturally to spring. We rather look for the cause of this in the earnest nature of the Hebrews, and in the solemnity of the subjects with which they had to do in their literary productions. Nor is it any objection to this hypothesis that the drama of modern times had its birth in the religious mysteries of the Middle Ages, since those ages were only secondary in regard to religious truth, standing at a distance from the great realities which they believed and dramatized; whereas the objects of faith with the Israelites were held in all the fresh vividness of primitive facts and newly recognized truths. It is impossible, however, to assert that no form of the drama existed among the Hebrew people; the most that can be done is to examine such portions of their literature as have come down to us, for the purpose of ascertaining how far any traces of the drama proper are discernible, and what inferences may be made from them. It is unquestionably true, as Ewald observes, that the Arab reciters of romances will many times in their own persons act out a complete drama in recitation, changing their voice and gestures with the change of person and subject. Something of this kind may possibly have existed among the Hebrews; but there is no evidence that it did exist, nor any grounds for making even a probable conjecture with regard to it. A rude kind of farce is described by Mr. Lane (Mod. Egypt, 2, ch. 7), the players of which "are called Mohabbazin. These frequently perform at the festivals prior to weddings and circumcisions at the houses of the great; and sometimes attract rings of auditors and spectators in the public places in Cairo. Their performances are scarcely worthy of description: it is chiefly by vulgar gestures and indecent actions that they amuse and obtain applause. The actors are only men and boys, the part of a woman being always performed by a man or boy in female attire." Then follows a description of one of these plays the plot of which was extremely simple. But the mere fact of the existence of these rude exhibitions among the Arabs and Egyptians of the present day is of no weight when the question to be decided is whether the Song of Songs was designed to be so represented, as a simple, pastoral drama. Of course, in considering such a question, reference' is made only to the external form of the poem, and, in order to prove it, it must be shown that the dramatic is the only form of representation which it could assume, and not that, by the help of two actors and a chorus, it is capable of being exhibited in a dramatic form. All that has been done, in our opinion, is the latter. It is but fair, however, to give the views of those who hold the opposite. Ewald maintains that the Song of Songs is designed for a simple stage, because it develops a complete action and admits of definite pauses in the action, which are only suited to the drama. He distinguishes it in this respect from the book of Job, which is dramatic in form only, though, as it is occupied with a sublime subject, he compares it with tragedy, while the Song of Songs, being taken from the common life of the nation, may be compared to comedy. But M. Renan, who is compelled, in accordance with his own theory of the mission of the Shemitic races, to admit that no trace of anything approaching to the regular drama is found among them, does not regard the Song of Songs as a drama in the same sense as the products of the Greek and Roman theatres, but as dramatic poetry in the widest application of the term, to designate any composition conducted in dialogue and corresponding to an action. The absence of the regular drama he attributes to the want of a complicated mythology, analogous to that possessed by the Indo-European peoples. Monotheism, the characteristic religious belief of the Shemitic races, stifled the growth of a mythology and checked the development of the drama. Be this as it may, dramatic representation appears to have been alien to the feelings of the Hebrews. At no period of their history before the age of Herod is there the least trace of a theatre at Jerusalem, whatever other foreign innovations may have been adopted; and the burst of indignation which the high-priest Jason incurred for attempting to establish a gymnasium and to introduce the Greek games is a significant symptom of' the repugnance which the people felt for such spectacles. The same antipathy remains to the present day among the Arabs, and the attempts to introduce theatres at Beyrut and in Algeria have signally failed. But, says M. Renan, the Song of Songs is a dramatic poem there were no public performances in Palestine, therefore it must have been represented in private; and he is compelled to frame the following hypothesis concerning it: that it is a libretto intended to be completed by the play of the actors and by music, and represented in private families, probably at marriage-feasts, the representation being extended over the several days of the feast. The last supposition removes a difficulty which has been felt to be almost fatal to the idea that the poem is a continuously developed drama. Each act is complete in itself; there is no suspended interest, and the structure of the poem is obvious and natural if' we regard each act as a separate drama intended for one of the days of the feast. We must look for a parallel to; it in the Middle Ages, when, besides the mystery plays, there were scenic representations sufficiently developed. SEE CANTICLES.
It is scarcely necessary after this to discuss the question whether the book of Job is a dramatic poem or not. Inasmuch as it represents all action and a progress, it is a drama as truly and really as any poem can be which develops the working of passion, and the alternations of faith, hope, distrust, triumphant confidence, and black despair, in the struggle which it depicts the human mind as engaged in, while attempting to solve one of the most intricate problems it can be called upon to regard, It is a drama as life is a drama, the most powerful of all tragedies; but that it is a dramatic poem, intended to be represented upon a stage, or capable of being so represented, may be confidently denied. SEE JOB, BOOK OF.
(4.) Acrostics. — It only remains to notice that there are twelve poems in which the letters beginning each verse or couplet or stanza are arranged in alphabetical order. These are seven Psalms (viz. Ps 25; Ps 34; Ps 37; Ps 111; Ps 112; Ps 119; Ps 145), Pr 31:10-31, and the first four chapters of the book of Lamentations. The device is a very simple one, and was probably adopted for the purpose of assisting the memory, and to make up for the want of a logical connection and progress in the thought. The more sublime poetry does not admit of being thus fettered. The Psalms in which we meet with it are all of a subdued and simple character, usually didactic. Yet even in these the alphabetical arrangement is seldom quite exact, usually one or two letters are omitted or repeated or transposed. In some of the alphabetic poems the strophical arrangement is marked more distinctly than in any other of the Hebrew poetical compositions; for example, in Psalm 119, which consists of twenty-two stanzas of eight lines each; and Lamentations 3, in which the stanza is of three lines. SEE PSALMS, BOOK OF.
IV. History of the Treatments of Hebrew Poetry. — In the 16th and 17th centuries the influence of classical studies upon the minds of the learned was so great as to imbue them with the belief that the writers of Greece and Rome were the models of all excellence; and consequently, when their learning and critical acumen were directed to the records of another literature, they were unable to divest themselves of the prejudices of early education and habits, and sought for the same excellences which they admired in their favorite models. That this has been the case with regard to most of the speculations on the poetry of the Hebrews, and that the failure of those speculations is mainly due to this cause, will be abundantly manifest to any one who is acquainted with the literature of the subject. But, however barren of results, the history of the various theories which have been framed with regard to the external form of Hebrew poetry is a necessary part of the present article.
The form of Hebrew poetry is its distinguishing characteristic, and what this form is has been a vexed question for many ages. The 'herapeutte, as described by Philo (De Vita Contempl. § 3, vol. 2, p. 475, ed. Mang.), sang hymns and psalms of thanksgiving to God, in divers measures and strains; and these were either new or ancient ones composed by the old poets, who had left behind them measures and melodies of trimeter verses, of processional songs, of hymns, of songs sung at the offering of libations or before the altar, and continuous choral songs, beautifully measured out in strophes of intricate character (§ 10, p. 484). The value of Philo's testimony on this point may be estimated by another passage in his works, in which he claims for Moses a knowledge of numbers and geometry, the theory of rhythm, harmony, and meter, and the whole science of music, practical and theoretical (De Vita Josis, 1, 5, vol. 2, p. 84). The evidence of Josephus is as little to be relied upon. Both these writers labored to magnify the greatness of their own nation, and to show that in literature and philosophy the Greeks had been anticipated by the Hebrew barbarians. This idea pervades all their writings, and it must always be borne in mind as the keynote of their testimony on this as on other points. According to Josephus (Anit. 2, 16, 4), the Song of Moses at the Red Sea (Exodus 15) was composed in the hexameter measure (ἐν ἑξαμέτρῳ τόνῳ); and again (Ant. 4, 8, 44), the song in Deuteronomy 32 is described as a hexameter poem. The Psalms of David were in various meters, some trimeters and some pentaneters (Ant. 7, 12, 3). Eusebius (De Praea. Evang. 113, p. 514, ed. Col. 1688) characterizes the great Song of Moses and the 118th (119th) Psalm as metrical compositions in what the Greeks call the heroic meter. They are said to be hexameters of sixteen syllables. The other verse compositions of the Hebrews are said to be in trimeters. This saying of Eusebius is attacked by Julian (Cyrill. Contempul. 7, 2), who on his part endeavored to prove the Hebrews devoid of all culture. Jerome (Prim in Hiob) appeals to Philo, Josephus, Origen, and Eusebius, for proof that the Psalter, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and almost all the songs of Scripture, are composed in meter, like the odes of Horace, Pindar, Alcweus, and Sappho. Again, he says that the book of Job from 3:3 to 42:6 is in hexameters, with dactyls and spondees, and frequently, on account of the peculiarity of the Hebrew language, other feet which have not the same syllables but the same time. In Epist. ad Patulam (Opp. 2, 709, ed.
Martianay) occurs a passage which shows in some measure how far we are to understand literally the terms which Jerome has borrowed from the verse literature of Greece and Rome, and applied to the poetry of the Hebrews. The conclusion seems inevitable that these terms are employed simply to denote a general external resemblance, and by no means to indicate the existence among the poets of the Old Testament of a knowledge of the laws of meter, as we are accustomed to understand the term. There are, says Jerome, four alphabetical Psalms, the 110th (111th), 111th (112th), 118th (119th), and the 144th (145th). In the first two, one letter corresponds to each clause or versicle, which is written in trimeter iambics. The others are in tetrameter iambics, like the song in Deuteronomy. In Psalm 118 (119) eight verses follow each letter: in Psalm 144 (145) a letter corresponds to a verse. In Lamentations we have four alphabetical acrostics, the first two of which are written in a kind of Sapphic meter; for three clauses which are connected together and begin with one letter (i.e. in the first clause) close with a period in heroic measure (Heroici comma). The third is written in trimeter, and the verses in threes each begin with the same letter. The fourth is like the first and second. The Proverbs end with an alphabetical poem in tetrameter iambics, beginning, "A virtuous woman who can find?" In the Praef. in Chron. Euseb. Jerome compares the meters of the Psalms to those of Horace and Pindar, now running in iambics, now ringing with Alcaics, now swelling with Sapphics, now beginning with a half foot. What, he asks, is more beautiful than the song of Deuteronomy and Isaiah? 'What more weighty than Solomon? What more perfect than Job? All these, as Josephus and Origen testify, are composed in hexameters and pentameters. There can be little doubt that these terms are mere generalities, and express no more than a certain rough resemblance, so that the songs of Moses and Isaiah may be designated hexameters and pentameters with as much propriety as the first and second chapters of Lamentations may be compared to Sapphic odes. The resemblance of the Hebrew verse composition to the classic metres is expressly denied by Gregory of Nyssa (1 Tract. in Psalm. cap. 4). Augustine (Ep. 131 ad Numeriulm) confesses his ignorance of Hebrew, but adds that those skilled in the language believed the Psalms of David to be written in metre. Isidore of Seville (Orig. 1, 18) claims for the heroic meter the highest antiquity, inasmuch as the Song of Moses was composed in it, and the book of Job, who was contemporary with Moses, long before the times of Pherecydes and Homer, is written in dactyls and spondees. Joseph Scaliger (Animadv. ad Eus. Chron. p. 6 b, etc.) was one of the first to point out the fallacy of Jerome's statement with regard to the meters of the Psalter and the Lamentations, and to assert that these books contained no verse bound by metrical laws, but that their language was merely prose, animated by a poetic spirit. lie admitted the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy, the Proverbs, and Job to be the only books in which there was necessarily any trace of rhythm, and this rhythm he compares to that of two diameter iambics, sometimes of more, sometimes of fewer syllables, as the sense required. Gerhard Vossius (Be Nat. et Const. Artis Poet. lib. 1, c. 13, § 2) says that in Job and the Proverbs there is rhythm but no meter; that is, regard is had to the number of syllables, but not to their quantity. In the Psalms and Lamentations not even rhythm is observed.
But in spite of the opinions pronounced by these high authorities, there were still many who believed in the existence of a Hebrew meter, and in the possibility of recovering it. The theories proposed for this purpose were various. Gomarus, professor at Groningen (Davidis Lyra, Lugd. Bat. 1637), advocated both rhymes and meter; for the latter he laid down the following rules. The vowel alone, as it is long or short, determines the length of a syllable. Sheva forms no syllable. The periods or versicles of the Hebrew poems never contain less than a distich, or two verses, but in proportion as the periods are longer they contain more verses. The last syllable of a verse is indifferently long or short. This system, if system it may be called (for it is equally adapted for prose), was supported by many men of note; among others by the younger Buxtorf, Heinsius, L. de Dieu, Constantin l'Empereur, and Hottinger. On the other hand, it was vigorously attacked by L. Cappellus, Calovius, Danhauer, Pfeiffer, and Solomon van Til. Towards the close of the 17th century Marcus Meibomius announced to the world, with an amount of pompous assurance which is charming, that he had discovered the lost metrical system of the Hebrews. By the help of this mysterious secret, which he attributed to divine revelation, he proposed to restore not only the Psalms, but the whole Hebrew Scriptures, to their pristine condition, and thus confer upon the world a knowledge of Hebrew greater than any which had existed since the ages which preceded the Alexandrine translators. But Meibomius did not allow his enthusiasm to get the better of his prudence, and the condition on which this portentous secret was to be made public was that six thousand curious men should contribute £5 sterling apiece for a copy of his 'book, which was to be printed in two volumes folio. It is almost needless to add that his scheme fell to the ground. He published some specimens of his restoration of ten Psalms and six entire chapters of the Old Test. in 1690. The glimpses which he gives of his grand secret are not such as would make us regret that the knowledge of it perished with him. The whole book of Psalms, he says, is written in distiches, except the first Islam, which is in a different meter, and serves as all introduction to the rest. They were therefore intended to be sung, not by one priest, or by one chorus, but by two. Meibomits "was severely chastised by J. H. Mains, B. II. Gebhardus, and J.G. Zentgravius" (Jebb, Sacr. Lit. p. 11). In the last century the learned Francis Hare, bishop of Chichester, published an edition of the Hebrew Psalms, metrically divided, to which he prefixed a dissertation on the ancient poetry of the Hebrews (Psalm. lib. in versiculos metriae divisuis, etc., Lond. 1736). Bishop Hare maintained that in Hebrew poetry no regard was had to the quantity of syllables. He regarded shivaus as long vowels, and long vowels as short at his pleasure. The rules which he laid down are the following. In Hebrew poetry all the feet are disyllables, and no regard is had to the quantity of a syllable. Clauses consist of an equal or unequal number of syllables. If the number of syllables be equal, the verses are trochaic, if unequal, iambic. Periods for the most part consist of two verses, often three or four, sometimes more. Clauses of the same periods are of the same kind, that is, either iambic or trochaic, with very few exceptions. Trochaic clauses generally agree in the number of the feet, which are sometimes three, as in Ps 94:1; Ps 106:1, and this is the most frequent; sometimes five, as in Ps 9:5. In iambic clauses the number of feet is sometimes the same, but they generally differ. Both kinds of verse are mixed in the same poem. In order to carry out these rules, they are supplemented by one which gives to the versifier the widest license. Words and verses are contracted or lengthened at will, by syncope, elision, etc. In addition to this, the bishop was under the necessity of maintaining that all grammarians had hitherto erred in laving down the rules of ordinary punctuation. His system, if it may be so called, carries its own refutation with it, but was considered by Lowth to be worthy a reply under the title of Metricae Harianae Brevis Confutatio, printed at the end of his De Sacra Poes. Heb. Praelectiones, etc.
Anton (Conject. de Metro Heb. Ant. Lips. 1770), admitting the meter to be regulated by the accents, endeavored to prove that in the Hebrew poems there was a highly artistic and regular system, like that of the Greeks and Romans, consisting of strophes, antistrophes, epodes, and the like; but his method is as arbitrary as Hare's. The theory of Lautwein (Versuch einer
richtingen Teorie von der bibl. Verskunst, Tub. 1775) is an improvement upon those of his predecessors, inasmuch as he rejects the measurement of verse by long and short syllables, and marks the scansion by the tone accent. He assumes little more than a free rhythm: the verses are distinguished by a certain relation in their contents, and connected by a poetic euphony. Sir W. Jones (Comment. Poes. Asiut. 1774) attempted to apply the rules of Arabic meter to Hebrew. He regarded as a long syllable one which terminated in a consonant or quiescent letter (א, ה, י); but he did not develop any system. The present Arabic prosody, however, is of comparatively modern invention; and it is not consistent with probability that there could be any system of versification among the Hebrews like that imagined by Sir W. Jones, when in the example he quotes of Song 1:5 he refers the first clause of the verse to the second, and the last to the fifteenth kind of Arabic meter. Greve (Ultima Caopita Jobi, etc., 1791) believed that in Hebrew, as in Arabic and Syriac, there was a metre, but that it was obscured by the false orthography of the Masorets. He therefore assumed for the Hebrew an Arabic vocalization, and with this modification lie found iambic trimeters, dimeters, and tetrameters to be the most common forms of verse, and lays down the laws of versification accordingly. Bellermann (Vetsuch über lie Metrik der Hebräer, 1813) was the last who attempted to set forth the old Hebrew meters. He adopted the Masoretic orthography and vocalization, and determined the quantity of syllables by the accentuation, and what he termed the Morensystem," denoting by moren the compass of a single syllable. Each syllable which has not the tone accent must have three moren; every syllable which has the tone accent may have either four or two, but generally three. The moren are reckoned as follows: a long vowel has two; a short vowel, one; every consonant, whether single or double, has one more. Sheva simple or composite is not reckoned. The quiescent letters have no more. Dagesh forte compensative has one; so has metheg. The majority of dissyllabic and trisyllabic words, having the accent on the last syllable, will thus form iambics and anapests. But as many have the accent on the penultimate, these will form trochees. The most common kinds of feet are iambics and anapests, interchanging with trochees and tribrachs. Of verses composed of these feet, though not uniform as regards the numbers of the feet, consist, according to Bellermann, the poems of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Among those who believed in the existence of a Hebrew meter, but in the impossibility of recovering it, were Carpzov, Lowth, Pfeiffer, Herder to a certain extent, Jahn, Bauer, and Buxtorf. The opinions of Lowth, with regard to Hebrew meter, are summed up by Jebb (Sacr. Lit. p. 16) as follows: "He begins by asserting that certain of the Hebrew writings are not only animated with the true poetic spirit, but in some degree couched in poetic numbers; yet he allows that the quantity, the rhythm, or modulation of Hebrew poetry, not only is unknown, but admits of no investigation by human art or industry; he states, after Abarbanel, that the Jews themselves disclaim the very memory of metrical composition; he acknowledges that the artificial conformation of the sentences is the sole indication of meter in these poems; he barely maintains the credibility of attention having been paid to numbers or feet in their compositions; and at the same time he confesses the utter impossibility of determining whether Hebrew poetry was modulated by the ear alone, or according to any definite and settled rules of prosody." The opinions of Scaliger and Vossius have already been referred to. Vitringa allows to Isaiah a kind of oratorial measure, but adds that it could not on this account be rightly termed poetry. Michaelis (Not. 4 in Prael. 3), in his notes on Lowth, held that there never was meter in Hebrew, but only a free rhythm, as in recitative, though even less trammeled. He declared himself against the Masoretic distinction of long and short vowels, and made the rhythm to depend upon tie tone syllable; adding, with regard to fixed and regular meter, that what has evaded such diligent search he thought had no existence. On the subject of the rhythmical character of Hebrew poetry, as opposed to metrical, the remarks of Jebb are remarkably appropriate. "Hebrew poetry," he says (Sacr. Lit. p. 20), "is universal poetry; the poetry of all languages, and of all peoples: the collocation of words (whatever may have been the sound, for of this we are quite ignorant) is primarily directed to secure the best possible announcement and discrimination of the sense: let, then, a translator only be literal, and, so far as the genius of his language will permit, let him preserve the original order of the words, and he will infallibly put the reader in possession of all, or nearly all, that the Hebrew text can give to the best Hebrew scholar of the present day. Now, had there originally been meter the case, it is presumed, could hardly have been such; somewhat must have been sacrificed to the importunities of metrical necessity; the sense could not invariably have predominated over the sound; and the poetry could not have been, as it unquestionably and emphatically is, a poetry, not of sounds or of words, but of things. Let not this last assertion, however, be misinterpreted: I would be understood merely to assert that sound, and words in subordination to sound, do not in Hebrew, as in classical poetry, enter into the essence of the thing; but it is happily undeniable that the words of the poetical Scriptures are exquisitely fitted to convey the sense; and it is highly probable that, in the lifetime of the language, the sounds were sufficiently harmonious: when I say sufficiently harmonious, I mean so harmonious as to render the poetry grateful to the ear in recitation, and suitable to musical accompaniment; for which purpose the cadence of well-modulated prose would fully answer; a fact which will not be controverted by any person with a moderately good ear that has ever heard a chapter of Isaiah skillfully read from our authorized translation; that has ever listened to one of Kent's anthems well performed, or to a song from the Messiah of Handel." Abarbanel (on Isaiah 5) makes three divisions of Hebrew poetry, including in the first the modern poems which, in imitation of the Arabic, are constructed according to modern principles of versification. Among the second class he arranges such as have no meter, but are adapted to melodies. In these occur the poetical forms of words, lengthened and abbreviated, and the like. To this class belong the songs of Moses in Ex 15; De 32, the song of Deborah, and the song of David. The third class includes those compositions which are distinguished not by their form, but by the figurative character of their descriptions, as the Song of Songs, and the song of Isaiah.
Among those who maintain the absence of any regularity perceptible to the ear in the composition of Hebrew poetry may be mentioned Richard Simon (Hist. Lit. du V. T. 1, c. 8, p. 57), Wasmuth (Inst. Acc. Hebr. p. 14), Alstedius (Enc. Bibl. c. 27, p. 257), the author of the book Cozri, and R. Azariah de Rossi, in his book entitled Meor Enayim. The author of the book Cozri held that the Hebrews had no meter bound by the laws of diction, because their poetry, being intended to be sung, was independent of metrical laws. 1. Azariah expresses his approbation of the opinions Pf Cozri and Abarbanel, who deny the existence of songs in Scripture composed after the manner of modern Hebrew poems, but he adds, nevertheless, that beyond doubt there are other measures which depend upon the sense. Mendelssohn (on Exodus 15) also rejects the system of יתדית ותנוערת (literally, pegs and vowels). R. Azariah appears to have anticipated bishop Lowth in his theory of parallelism: at any rate his treatise contains the germ which Lowth developed and may be considered, as Jebb calls it, the technical basis of his system. But it also contains other elements, which will be alluded to hereafter. His conclusion, in Lowth's words (Isaiah, prel. diss.), was as follows: "That the sacred songs have undoubtedly certain measures and proportions; which, however, do not consist in the number of syllables, perfect or imperfect, according to the form of the modern verse which the Jews make use of, and which is borrowed from the Arabians (though the Arabic prosody, he observes, is too complicated to be applied to the Hebrew language); but in the number of things, and of the parts of things that is, the subject and the predicate and their adjuncts, in every sentence and proposition. Thus a phrase containing two parts of a proposition consists of two measures; add another containing two more, and they become four measures; another again, containing three parts of a proposition, consists of three measures; add to it another of the like, and you have six measures." The following example will serve for an illustration:
Thy-right-hand, O-Jehovah, is-glorious in-power, Thy-right-hand, O- Jehovah, hath-crushed the enemy. The words connected by hyphens form terms, and the two lines, forming four measures each, may be called tetrameters. "Upon the whole, the author concludes that the poetical parts of the Hebrew Scriptures are not composed according to the rules and measures of certain feet, dissyllables trisyllables, or the like, as the poems of the modern Jews are; but nevertheless have undoubtedly other measures which depend on things, as above explained. For this reason they are more excellent than those which consist of certain feet, according to the number and quantity of syllables. Of this, he says, you may judge yourself in the Songs of the Prophets. For do you not see, if you translate some of them into another language, that they still keep and retain their measure, if not wholly, at least in part? which cannot be the case in those verses the measures of which arise from a certain quantity and number of syllables." Lowth expresses his general agreement with R. Azariah's exposition of the rhythmus of things; but instead of regarding terms or phrases or senses in single lines, as measures, he considered "only that relation and proportion of one verse to another which arises from the correspondence of terns, and from the form of construction; from whence results a rhythmus of propositions, and a harmony of sentences." But Lowth's system of parallelism was more completely anticipated by Schöttgen in a treatise, of the existence of which the bishop does not appear to have been aware. It is found in his Horae Hebraicae, 1, 1249-1263, diss. 6 "de Exergasia Sacra." This exergasia he defines to be the conjunction of entire sentences signifying the same thing; so that exergasia bears the same relation to sentences that synonymy does to words. It is only found in those Hebrew writings which rise above the level of historical narrative and the ordinary kind of speech. Ten canons are then laid downs each illustrated by three examples, from which it will be seen how far Schöttgen's system corresponded with Lowth's.
(1.) Perfect exergasia is when the members of the two clauses correspond, each to each, as in Ps 33:7; Nu 24:17; Lu 1:47.
(2.) Sometimes in the second clause the subject is omitted, as in Isa 1:18; Pr 7:19; Ps 129:3.
(3.) Sometimes part of the subject is omitted, as in Ps 37:30; Ps 102:28; Isa 53:5.
(4.) The predicate is sometimes omitted in the second clause as in Nu 24:5; Ps 33:12; Ps 123:4.
(5.) Sometimes part only of the predicate is omitted, as in Ps 57:9; Ps 103:1; Ps 129:7.
(6.) Words are added in one member which are omitted in the other, as in Nu 23:18; Ps 102:28; Da 12:3.
(7.) Sometimes two propositions will occur, treating of different things, but referring to one general proposition, as in Ps 94:9; Ps 128:3; Wisd. 3:16.
(8.) Cases occur, in which the second proposition is the contrary of the first, as in Pr 15:8; Pr 14:1,11.
(9.) Entire propositions answer each to each, although the subject and predicate are not the same, as in Ps 51:7; Ps 119:168; Jer 8:22.
(10.) Exerasia is found with three members, as in Ps 1:1; Ps 130:5; Ps 3:8. These canons Schöttgen applied to the interpretation of Scripture, of which he gives examples in the remainder of that and the following Dissertation.
But whatever may have been achieved by his predecessors, there can be no question that the delivery of Lowth's lectures on Hebrew poetry, and the subsequent publication of his translation of Isaiah, formed an era in the literature of the subject more marked than any that had preceded it. Of his system we have already given (§ 1) a somewhat detailed account, which we here slightly expand; for whatever may have been done since his time, and whatever modifications of his arrangement may have been introduced, all subsequent writers have confessed their obligations to the two works above mentioned, and have drawn their inspiration from them. Starting with the alphabetical poems as the basis of his investigation, because in them the verses or stanzas were more distinctly marked, Lowth came to the conclusion that they consist of verses properly so called, "of verses regulated by some observation of harmony or cadence; of measure, numbers, or rhythm," and that this harmony does not arise from rhyme, but from what he denominates parallelism. Parallelism he defines to be the correspondence of one verse or line with another; and divides it into three classes synonymous, antithetic, and synthetic.
(a.) Parallel lines synonymous correspond to each other by expressing the same sense in different but equivalent terms, as in the following examples, which are only two of the many given by Lowth:
"O-Jehovah, in-thy-strength the-king shall-rejoice; And-in-thy- salvation how greatly shall-he-exult! The-desire of-his-heart thou- hast-granted unto-him; And-the-request of-his-lips thou-hast-not denied" (Ps 21:1-2).
"For the-moth shall-consume-them like-a-garment: And-the-worm shall-eat-them like wool: But-my-righteousness shall-endure for- ever; And-my-salvation to-the-age of-ages" (Isa 51:7-8).
It will be observed from the examples which Lowth gives that the parallel lines sometimes consist of three or more synonymous terms, sometimes of two, sometimes only of one. Sometimes the lines consist each of a double member, or two propositions, as Ps 144:5-6; Isa 65:21-22. Parallels are formed also by a repetition of part of the first sentence (Ps 77:1,11,16; Isa 26:5-6; Ho 6:4); and sometimes a part has to be supplied from the former to complete the sentence (2Sa 22:41; Job 26:5; Isa 41:28). Parallel triplets occur in Job 3:4,6,9; Ps 112:10; Isa 9:20; Joe 3:13. Examples of parallels of four lines, in which two distiches form one stanza, are Ps 37:1-2; Isa 1:3; Isa 49:4; Am 1:2. In periods of five lines the odd line sometimes comes in between two distiches, as in Job 8:5-6; Isa 46:7; Ho 14:9; Joe 3:16; or after two distiches closes the stanza, as in Isa 44:26. Alternate parallelism in stanzas of four lines is found in Ps 103:11-12; Isa 30:16; but the most striking examples of the alternate quatrain are De 32:25,42, the first line forming a continuous sense with the third, and the second with the fourth (comp. Isa 34:6; Ge 49:6). In Isa 50:10 we find an alternate quatrain followed by a fifth line. To this first division of Lowth's Jebb objects that the name synonymous is inappropriate, for the second clause, with few exceptions, "diversifies the preceding clause, and generally so as to rise above it, forming a sort of climax in the sense." This peculiarity was recognized by Lowth himself in his 4th Proelection, where he says, "idem iterant, variant, augent," thus marking a cumulative force in this kind of parallelism. The same was observed by Apb. Newcome in his Preface to Ezekiel, where examples are given in which "the following clauses so diversify the preceding ones as to rise above them" (Isa 42:7; Isa 43:16; Ps 95:2; Ps 104:1). Jebb, in support of his own opinion, appeals to the passages quoted by Lowth (Ps 21:12; Ps 107:38; Isa 4:6,6), and suggests as a more appropriate name for parallelism of this kind, cognate parallelism (Sacr. Lit. p. 38).
(b.) Lowth's second division is antithetic parallelism; when two lines correspond with each other by an opposition of terms and sentiments; when the second is contrasted with the first, sometimes in expressions, sometimes in sense only, so that the degrees of antithesis are various. As for example:
'A wise son rejoiceth his father; But a foolish son is the grief of his mother" (Pr 10:1).
"The memory of the just is a blessing; But the name of the wicked shall rot" (Pr 10:7).
The gnomic poetry of the Hebrews abounds with illustrations of antithetic parallelism. Other examples are Ps 20:7-8:
'These in chariots, and those in horses; But we in the name of Jehovah our God will be strong. They are bowed down, and fallen; But we are risen, and maintain ourselves firm." Comp. also Ps 30:5; Ps 37:10-11; Isa 54:10; Isa 9; Isa 10. On these two kinds of parallelism Jebb appropriately remarks: "The antithetic parallelism serves to mark the broad distinctions between truth and falsehood, and good and evil: the cognate parallelism discharges the more difficult and more critical function of discriminating between different degrees of truth and good on the one hand, of falsehood and evil on the other" (Sacr. Lit. p. 39).
(c.) Synthetic or constructive parallelism, where the parallel "consists only in the similar form of construction; in which word does not answer to word and sentence to sentence, as equivalent or opposite; but there is a correspondence and equality between different propositions, in respect of the shape and turn of the whole sentence, and of the constructive parts such as noun answering to noun, verb to verb, member to member, negative to negative, interrogative to interrogative." One of the examples of constructive parallels given by Lowth is Isa 1; Isa 5; Isa 6:
"The Lord Jehovah hath opened mine ear, And I was not rebellious; Neither did I withdraw myself backward I gave my back to the smiters, And my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; My face I hid not from shame and spitting." Jebb gives as an illustration Ps 19:7-10:
"The law of Jehovah is perfect, converting the soul, The testimony of Jehovah is sure, making wise the simple," etc.
It is instructive, as showing how difficult, if not impossible, it is to make any strict classification of Hebrew poetry, to observe that this very passage is given by Gesenius as an example of synonymous parallelism, while De Wette calls it synthetic. The illustration of synthetic parallelism quoted by Gesenius is Ps 27:4:
"One thing I ask from Jehovah. It will I seek after My dwelling in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of Jehovah, And to inquire in his temple." In this kind of parallelism, as Nordheimer (Gram. Anal. p. 87) observes, "an idea is neither repeated nor followed by its opposite, but is kept in view by the writer, while he proceeds to develop and enforce his meaning by accessory ideas and modifications."
(d.) To the three kinds of parallelism above described Jebb adds a fourth, which seems rather to be an unnecessary refinement upon than distinct from the others. He denominates it introverted parallelism, in which he says, "there are stanzas so constructed that, whatever be the number of lines, the first line shall be parallel with the last; the second with the penultimate; and so throughout in an order that looks inward, or, to borrow a military phrase, from flanks to center" (Sacr. Lit. p. 53). Thus:
"My son, if thine heart be wise, My heart also shall rejoice; Yea, my reins shall rejoice When thy lips speak light things" (Pr 23:15-16).
"Unto Thee do I lift up mine eyes,—O Thou that dwellest in the heavens; Behold as the eyes of servants to the hand of their masters; As the eyes of a maiden to the hands of her mistress: Even so look our eyes to Jehovah our God, until he have mercy upon us" (Ps 123:1-2).
Upon examining these and the other examples quoted by bishop Jebb in support of his new division, to which he attaches great importance, it will be seen that the peculiarity consists in the structure of the stanza, and not in the nature of the parallelism; and any one who reads Ewald's elaborate treatise on this part of the subject will rise from the reading with the conviction that to attempt to classify Hebrew poetry according to the character of the stanzas employed will be labor lost and in vain, resulting only in a system which is no system, and in rules to which the exceptions are more numerous than the examples.
A few words may now be added with respect to the classification proposed by De Wette, in which more regard was had to the rhythm. The four kinds of parallelism are:
1. That which consists in an equal number of words in each member, as in Ge 4:23. This he calls the original and perfect kind of parallelism of members, which corresponds with meter and rhyme, without being identical with them (Iie Psalmen, Einl. § 7). Under this head are many minor divisions.
2. Unequal parallelism, in which the number of words in the members is not the same. This again is divided into
a. The simple, as Ps 68:33.
b. The composite, consisting of the synonymous (Job 10:1; Ps 36:7), the antithetic (Isa 15:4), and the synthetic (Isa 15:5).
c. That in which the simple member is disproportionately small (Isa 40:10).
d. Where the composite member grows up into three or more sentences (Isa 1:3; Isa 65:10).
e. Instead of the close parallelism there sometimes occurs a short additional clause, as in Ps 23:3.
3. Out of the parallelism, which is unequal in consequence of the composite character of one member, another is developed, so that both members are composite (Ps 31:11). This kind of parallelism again admits of three subdivisions.
4. Rhythmical parallelism, which lies merely in the external form of the diction. Thus in Ps 19:11 there is nearly an equal number of words:
"Moreover by them was thy servant warned, In keeping of them there is great reward." In Ps 30:3 the inequality is remarkable. In Ps 14:7 is found a double and a single member, and in Ps 31:23 two double members. De Wette also held that there were in Hebrew poetry the beginnings of a composite rhythmical structure like our strophes. Thus in Ps 42; Ps 43, a refrain marks the conclusion of a larger rhythmical period. Something similar is observable in Psalm 107. This artificial structure appears to belong to a late period of Hebrew literature, and to the same period may probably be assigned the remarkable gradational rhythm which appears in the Songs of Degrees, e.g. Psalm 121. It must be observed that this gradational rhythm is very different from the cumulative parallelism of the Song of Deborah, which is of a much earlier date, and bears traces of less effort in the composition. Strophes of a certain kind are found in the alphabetical pieces in which several Masoretic clauses belong to one letter (Ps 9; Ps 10; Ps 37; Ps 119; La 3); but the nearest approach to anything like a strophical character is found in poems which are divided into smaller portions by a refrain, and have the initial or final verse the same or similar (Ps 39; Ps 42; Ps 43). In the opinion of some the occurrence of the word Selah is supposed to mark the divisions of the strophes.
It is impossible here to do more than refer to the essay of Kister (Theol. Stud. und Krit. 1831, p. 40-114) on the strophes, or the parallelism of verses in Hebrew poetry, in which he endeavors to show that the verses are subject to the same laws of symmetry as the verse-members, and that consequently Hebrew poetry is essentially strophical in character. Ewald's treatise requires more careful consideration; but it must be read itself, and a slight sketch only can here be given. Briefly thus: Verses are divide(d into verse-members in which the number of syllables is less restricted, as there is no syllable meter. A verse-member generally contains from seven to eight syllables. Two members, the rise and fall, are the fundamental constituents. Thus (Jg 5:3):
"Hear, ye kings! give ear, ye princes! I to Jehovah, I will sing." To this all other modifications must le capable of being reduced. The variations which may take place may be either amplifications or continuations of the rhythm, or compositions in which a complete rhythm is made the half' of a new compound, or we may have a diminution or enfeeblement of the original. To the two members correspond two thoughts which constitute the life of' the verse, and each of these again may distribute itself. Gradations of symmetry are formed,
1. By the echo of the whole sentence, where the same sense which is given in the first member rises again in the second, in order to exhaust itself more thoroughly (Ge 4:23; Pr 1:8). An important word of the first member often reserves its force for the second, as in Ps 20:8; and sometimes in the second member a principal part of the sense of the first is further developed, as Ps 49:5; Ps 61.
2. When the thought trails through two members of a verse, as in Ps 110:5, it gives rise to a less animated rhythm (comp. also 141:10).
3. Two sentences may be brought together as protasis and apodosis, or simply to form one complex thought; the external harmony may be dispensed with, but the harmony of thought remains. This may be called the intermediate rhythm. The forms of structure assumed by the verse are many.
(1.) There is the single member, which occurs at the commencement of a series in Ps 18:2; Ps 23:1; at the end of a series in Ex 15:18; Ps 92:9; and in the middle, after a short pause, in Ps 29:7.
(2.) The bimembral verse is most frequently found, consisting of two members of nearly equal weight.
(3.) Verses of more than two members are formed either by increasing the number of members from two to three, so that the complete fall may be reserved for the third, all three possessing the same power; or by combining four members two and two, as in Ps 18:7; Ps 28:1.
The varieties of this structure of verse are too numerous to be recounted, and the laws of rhythm in Hebrew poetry are so free that of necessity the varieties of verse-structure must be manifold. The gnomic or sententious rhythm, Ewald remarks, is the one which is perfectly symmetrical. Two members of seven or eight syllables, corresponding to each other as rise and fall, contain a thesis and antithesis, a subject and its image. This is the constant form of genuine gnomic sentences of the best period. Those of a later date have many members or trail themselves through many verses. The animation of the lyrical rhythm makes it break through all such restraints, and leads to an amplification or reduplication of the normal form; or the passionate rapidity of the thoughts may disturb the simple concord of the members, so that the unequal structure of verse intrudes with all its varieties. To show how impossible it is to attempt a classification of verse uttered under such circumstances, it will be only necessary to quote Ewald's own words: "All these varieties of rhythm, however, exert a perfectly free influence upon every lyrical song, just according as it suits the mood of the moment to vary the simple rhythm. The most beautiful songs of the flourishing period of poetry allow, in fact, the verse of many members to predominate whenever the diction rises with any sublimity; nevertheless, the standard rhythm still returns in each when the diction flags, and the different kinds of the more complex rhythm are employed with equal freedom and ease of variation, just as they severally accord with the fluctuating hues of the mood of emotion and of the sense of the diction. The late alphabetical songs are the first in which the fixed choice of a particular versification-a choice, too, made with designed art- establishes itself firmly, and maintains itself symmetrically throughout all the verses" (Dichter d. AIten Bundes, 1, 83; transl. in Kitto's Journal, 1, 318). It may, however, be generally observed that the older rhythms are the most animated, as if accompanied by the hands and feet of the singer (Nu 21; Ex 15; Jg 5), and that in the time of David the rhythm had attained its most perfect development. By the end of the 8th century B.C. the decay of versification begins, and to this period belong the artificial forms of verse.
It remains now only to notice the rules of Hebrew poetry as laid down by the Jewish grammarians, to which reference was made in remarking upon the system of R. Azariah. They have the merit of being extremely simple, and are to be found at length, illustrated by many examples, in Mason and Bernard's Heb. Gram. (vol. 2, No. 57), and accompanied by an interesting account of modern Hebrew versification. The rules are briefly these:
1. That a sentence may be divided into members, some of which contain two, three, or even four words, and are accordingly termed binary, ternary, and quaternary members respectively.
2. The sentences are composed either of binary, ternary, or quaternary members entirely, or of these different members intermixed.
3. That in two consecutive members it is an elegance to express the same idea in different words.
4. That a word expressed in either of these parallel members is often not expressed in the alternate member.
5. That a word without an accent, being joined to another word by Makkeph, is generally (though not always) reckoned with that second word as one. It will be seen that these rules are essentially the same with those of Lowth, De Wette, and other writers on parallelism, and from their simplicity are less open to objection than any others that have been given.
In conclusion, after reviewing the various theories which have been framed with regard to the structure of Hebrew poetry, it must be confessed that beyond the discovery of very broad general laws, little has been done towards elaborating a satisfactory system. Probably this want of success is due to the fact that there is no system to discover, and that Hebrew poetry, while possessed in the highest degree of all sweetness and variety of rhythm and melody, is not fettered by laws of versification as we understand the term. Some advance towards an elucidation of the metrical structure of the poetical books, and especially in their strophic arrangement, has been made by Delitzsch in his Commentaries; but the whole subject admits of a more careful and minute adjustment of the clauses and phrases than has yet been achieved.
Modern Hebrew poetry, although tolerably copious, is altogether cast in the mould of the poems of the several European nations among whom the Jews are scattered, and is therefore stiffly artificial, generally with rhyme, etc. It is of little value theologically. A very fair collection of specimens may be seen in Martinet's Hebräische Chrestomathie (Bamberg, 1837).
V. Literature. — England has the credit of opening a new path in this branch by the above-noticed publication of bishop Lowth's elegant and learned Praelectiones de Sacra Poesi Hebraeorum (Oxon. 1753, which may be found also in Ugolini Thesaur. vol. 31; the editions having Michaelis's Notae et Epimetra are to be preferred; that of Oxon. 1810, is good: the work was translated into English by Gregory). On the didactic poetry of the Hebrews the reader may consult Umbreit. Sprüche Sal. Einleitung; Rhode, De Vet. Poetar. Sapientia Gnom. Hebraeor. imp. et Graecorum. (Havn. 1800); Unger, De Parabolar. Jesu natura, etc. (Leipz. 1828). Le Clerc, in his Biblioth. Univers. 9, 226 sq., has given what is worth attention; see also Hist. abregee de la Poesie chez les Hebr. in the "History of the Academy of Inscriptions," 23, 92 sq. But the work which has, next to that of Lowth, exerted the greatest influence, is a posthumous and unfinished piece of the celebrated Herder, who has treated the subject with extraordinary eloquence and learning, Vom Geist der Ebrdischen Poesie (1782, to be found in his collected writings; also Tübing. 1805, and Carlsruhe, 1826); see also Gügler, Die Heilkunst der Hebräer (Landshut, 1814); and Guttenstein, Die poet. Literat. d. alten Israelit. (Mannh. 1835). The subject of metre has been skillfully handled by Bellermann, Versuch über d. Metrik der Hebräer (Berl. 1813). Much useful information may be found in De Wette's Einleitung id. A. Test. (ibid. 1840; translated into English by Theodore Parker, Boston, 1843). In Wellbeloved's Bible translations of the poetical portions may be found, in which regard is paid to rhythm and poetical form; a very valuable guide in Hebrew poetry, both for form and substance, may be found in Noyes's Translation of Job (Cambridge, 1827); of the Psalms (Boston, 1831); and of the Prophets (ibid. 1833); but the best, fullest, and most satisfactory work on the subject is by Ewald, Die poet. Bücher des Alten Bundes (Göttingen, 1835-9, 4 vols. 8vo). See also Critica Biblica, 1, 111 sq.; Carpzov, Introd, ad Libr. Can. Bibl. pt. 2, c. 1; Schramm, De Poesi Hebräer. (Helmst. 1723); Jebb, Sacred Literature; Saalschütz, Von der Form, der Hebr. Poesie (Kinigsberg, 1825, which contains the most complete account of all the various theories); Nicolas, Herme de la Poesie Hebraique (Paris, 1833); Sarchi, Heb. Poetry, Ancient and Modern (Lond. 1824); Wenrich, De Poesice Heb. et Arab. indole (Leipz. 1843); Meier, Gesch. der poet. National - Literatur der Hebräer (Leipz. 1853); the commentaries of De Wette, Delitzsch, and Hupfeld on the Psalms; and the works enumerated in Danz, Universal-Theol. Wörterbuch, p. 215 sq.; in Darling, Cyclopedia Bibliographia (Holy Scriptures), col. 28 sq.; and in Schaff's essay on the Poetical Books of the O.T., prefixed to the Am. ed. of Lange's Commentary on Job, p. 7.