Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Key verses - Psalm 147

Do numbers work with texts? I persevere (for a while).

When you have a theory and a poem does not conform to the theory, it sometimes means you need to find some words to add to the poem to support the theory. I am suspicious of this number thing. But the results are close (not as hard or as much fun as the music).

I looked at Labuschange's Psalm 147. I looked because his total words did not add to the number I have in my text (141 including both Hallelu Yah's). He has 140 (20 x 7) to fit his theory. But he added 3 words from the Septuagint to verse 8 (borrowing a colon from the middle of Psalm 104.14) and subtracted 4 for the Hallelu Yah's to get 140. (But he objected to a word count of 70 in Psalm 3!)

There are patterns here but finding them may result in projecting the pattern the theory seems to require onto the text rather than reading the pattern that is there. Sorry for these notes - I don't think this is fruitful - or if it is, it is also distracting.

What is the key verse for 147 - in my opinion? Is it the strength of a rider's legs? (Which is at the numerical centre - sort of). But in the Septuagint, Psalm 147 is two psalms (so the numbering can catch up) and the central verse is the last verse of the first psalm of the pair. So do we pick and choose whether to use the Septuagint or not?

The element that stands out for me in this psalm (Hebrew 147) is that it is the first time that רצה (favour) is used as a recurring word in any psalm. (I have a theory that if framing is significant, and if the Psalter is coherent, then in the gallery, a new frame will stand out.) So these middle verses do stand out - but not because of counting, a process that would useless and distracting in a performance. To get the sense, we need both verses:

Psalm 147:10-11
לֹא בִגְבוּרַת הַסּוּס יֶחְפָּץ
לֹא בְשׁוֹקֵי הָאִישׁ יִרְצֶה
10
not in the valour of the horse will he delight
not in the legs of the rider will he find favour
רוֹצֶה יְהוָה אֶת יְרֵאָיו
אֶת הַמְיַחֲלִים לְחַסְדּוֹ
11
יהוה favours those who fear him
those who hope for his loving-kindness
It is, I admit, rather striking that these are numerically the middle two words of the poem - almost a joke, the horse and rider bit. But it will help me remember that this is Psalm 147 (Hebrew numbering).  Now look also at the first occurrence of רצה in the Psalter. It is in the part of Psalm 40 that mostly repeats in Psalm 70 (but רצה does not occur in Psalm 70). Psalm 40 is crucial (in the Septuagint version - but that is of little consequence) in the epistle to the Hebrews. Here we see how the Psalms anticipate and teach the reality of the perseverance of Christ.