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At the same time, this form helps to overcome the peculiarity of the language, and the constant use of, and even fondness for, tautology and synonymes, which is characteristic of the Hebrew, when not overruled by inspiration, and filled with the subject. This instinct, which makes divisions or cæsuras between the larger members of the discourse, brings with it a symmetry, and demands also cæsuras and symmetry within the members or half-verses thus divided and arranged one after the other; and these subordinate passages or subdivisions of the rhythm become the more frequent as the discourse is more rich in thought and takes a wider compass. Thus there are verses of a single member, at the beginning of a psalm, (Ps. xviii. 2, xxiii. 1,) like the preliminary beating time, but rarely in the middle of the ode. (Ps. xlii. 9.)

§ 129.


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Since the Hebrews have no measure of syllables, they cannot mark the symmetry by using an equal number of syllables. Their poetry consists chiefly in the thought, and, therefore, it has a rhythm of thoughts. But since the thought is expressed in words, the original

as the waves of voice swell higher with the increasing elevation of feeling, and the mass and power of the rhythmical movement increases in proportion; consequently the effort to preserve an equilibrium is more decided, and the successive risings and fallings extend farther. This takes place the most perfectly in poetry when the soul, tuned in harmony with the gentlyswelling wave of life, pours out her thought in symmetrical ranks, which are sometimes merely internal, expressed only in the thoughts, as in the Hebrew parallelism, and the poetry of the people in general,—and sometimes

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and simplest form of symmetry is that shown by an equal number of words in the corresponding members of the sentence."

But here a word must often be repeated in thought.

A similar sound, or rhyme, is sometimes found at the end of the lines."

For the sake of this rhyme, suitable grammatical forms are sometimes designedly selected, and even sought for.

• Job vi. 5.

A. With similar Members.

The Hebrews seldom seek for similarity between the words in the different members of a sentence, or they follow this rule with great looseness. The symmetry is rather expressed in the thoughts

§ 130.


they are also external, expressed in the particular sounds,- as in the poetry of the Greeks and other nations, which is measured by syllables."

Hupfeld, in Studien und Kritiken, for 1837, p. 869, sq. See Ewald, Poet. Buch. der A. T. vol. i. p. 57, sq., 92, sq. Gügler, Die heilige Kunst; Lands.


• Job xvi. 12.

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Ps. xx. 9. Prov. x. 15. Ps. xix. 8. Ewald, l. c. vol. i. p. 65. See § 132.

b Gen. iv. 23.

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Job xxxvii. 16. Amos v. 26.

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1. Sometimes by synonymes.

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Psalm viii. 4.

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
The moon and stars which thou hast made,
What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
And the son of man, that thou visitest him?"

Psalm viii. 7.

"Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands. All thou hast put under his feet.”

Ps. lx. 2, 9, 10, and many other places.

2. Sometimes by antithesis.

Proverbs x. 3, 4.

"Jehovah will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish, But will scatter the substance of the wicked.

A slack hand makes poor.

A diligent hand makes rich."

Also, 6, 8, 9, 11, and

3. Sometimes by synthesis.



Psalm i. 6.

"For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish."

Psalm iii. 3.

"Many say of my soul,

'No help for it in Elohim.'

See, also, 5, 7, 9, iv. 4, 5, et al.

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4. By an identical expression; that is, by repeating in fuller and stronger form.

Job xviii. 13.

"It shall devour the strength of his body.

The first-born of death shall devour his strength."

Hos. ix. 14. Ps. xxi. 5, lvii. 4.a

Compare Lowth, De sac. Poesi Heb. Prælect. xix. p. 365, ed. Michaelis. 2


In these simple couplets or distichs, besides the chief cæsura in the middle of the verse, we find always smaller cæsuras, the most distinctly marked in the second half-verse, towards the end, in order to preserve the cadence.

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"I look at thy heavens, | the work of thy fingers;
The moon and the stars, | which thou hast created."

§ 131.

B. Symmetry with dissimilar Members.

By the internal force of the thought also, members that are disproportionate, and dissimilar in expression, are brought under a rhythmical symmetry, and often with fine effect.

Hosea iv. 17.

"Ephraim is joined unto idols:
Let him alone." "

Two or more passages, parallel among themselves, may individually be so opposed to one another, that larger rhythmical periods will be produced, and with fine effect.

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Psalm xxxvi. 7.

Thy righteousness is like the great mountains;

Thy judgments are a great deep;
Man and beast thou preservest, Jehovah."

Ps. xxxvii. 13, xlviii. 5, lxviii. 33. Job xiv. 14.

Ps. xv. 4, xlix. 11,

Ps. cxii. 10. Job iii. 5, vii. 11, x. 1, 15, 17, xx. 26. xxii. 25, xl. 10, xci. 7, i. 3, lxv. 10. Am. iv. 13.

Sometimes one member has merely an echo of itself

in the next.

Psalm v. 3.

"Hearken to the voice of my supplication, my King and my God, For unto thee will I pray."

Ps. xxiii. 3, xxvii. 11, 12.

In all these forms the above logical distinction is repeated.

§ 132.

C. With double Members.

When there is a richer fulness of thoughts and images, both members are doubled. Then, either each member has its own sub-parallelism, or it overleaps and disregards the parallelism. Here, likewise, the same logical distinctions are repeated.

Psalm xxxi. 11.

"For my life is consumed in affliction,
And my years in sighing;

My strength fails because of my sin,



And my bones decay." "

A passage may be contrasted with such a double member three or more times. By this arrangement, the greatest compass is given to rhythmical periods. The prophets, in particular, are fond of this more extended form.

Habakkuk iii. 17.

Though the fig-tree bear not fruit,
And there is no increase of the vines;
Though the fruit of the olive fail,
And the fields do not furnish food,

• Ps. xl. 17, xxxv. 26, xxxvii. 14, lxxix. 2. Cant. v. 3. Mich. i. 4. Ps. xxx. 6, lv. 22, xliv. 3. Cant. ii. 3.

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