Monday 28 February 2022

Delitzsch - music he was familiar with

I have the tools in my toolshed, now I must continue to pick them up and use them. This music in Delitzsch's Physiology and music in its meaning for grammar, especially the Hebrew, has little similarity to that of Haïk-Vantoura's deciphering key, but I must compare a few notes.

I don't intend to read the whole of this thesis, here's my guesses at some of the German with the help of some Biblical Scholars on FB and Google  - if I were to read through the whole thing I might even become more fluent in German!

It is true that those newly discovered means of physical observation are of greater importance to music than to grammar. But music engages with the grammar of Hebrew as it does with the grammar of no other language. (Aber in die hebräische Grammatik greift auch die Musik ein wie in die Grammatik keiner andern Sprache.)

The Hebrew grammar has the Old Testament scripture as its next challenge, (Vorwurf) and the text of this is verse by verse provided with musical signs which indicate the note value of the individual words for the singing performance; every verse of the OT.

The text forms a musical period regulated by these tones and consisting of antecedents and consequents with their cadenzas.

These tones are called accents. They are at the same time punctuation marks in that, breaking down into separators and connectors, bisect the verse, its two halves, and this sound and meaning ful sign-writing consists of about 30 different small figures and configurations (according to one count); that the accentuation of the 3 books, which are distinguished by their particularly melodic manner of delivery: Psalms, Job and Proverbs, follows a system which differs from that of the other books and that the sequence of accents in both systems is determined down to the last detail by fixed laws and is entirely arbitrary: so it is clear that it is no easy task to familiarize oneself with the subtleties of this character writing...

I allow myself, to cite but two examples, to doubt that even one of the greatest living grammarians, sitting here before me, could give an immediate answer to the question under what conditions a metheg in a connecting accent and especially in a Meajla [No idea what this word means] is transformed, or to the question according to which rules in the 21 and especially the 3 books Gaia is added to the Sheba at the beginning of the word i.e. the shortest vowel sound, with which the first part of the word is to be spoken, is given a tone length that enables it to carry the melody of the word.

Here we learn something of Hupfeld who "possessed the musical ability and inclination and knowledge to spend most of his time at the piano in the afternoon with spiritual music to refresh."

But who would have given an answer to questions such as why Mercha Patchta takes the place where Mehupnck Pashta should stand, and why Mercha Tebir should stand where Darga Tebir should stand, and why no Zakef should follow Pazer or Telisha — these are questions , to which the most shrewd mind, by logical standards, cannot answer; here such insight into the theory of composition as that Westphal was so fortunate to bring to classical metrics is the indispensable prerequisite

These are interesting questions for those who attempt to describe music in words without knowing the music! Perhaps they have to do with musical line, instrumental possibilities, and conventional cadences in the first and second temple periods. But how to decode the signs? Here an example comparative image of the music he knows based on these common but circular questions without end. Whether I attempt to solve the OCR German problems or not remains to be seen. But I have a good solution to the musical issue.

Lam 1:1-3 from Franz. Delitzsch ; Physiologie Und Musik in Ihrer Bedeutung Für Die GrammatikBesonders Die Hebräische

Compare with the version using the Haïk-Vantoura deciphering key. (I could not have developed the above music into a choral piece as I have done here with the music below.)

My starting point was this raw material:
Lam 1:1-3 Raw material derived from the Hebrew text

Delitzsch on Translations of the Psalms

If I had read this overview of ancient translations, (even if I could have at the time), I would perhaps never have started my own project. Fortunately reading it now, I can begin to appreciate some more of the complexity I took on and take on, but I am no longer starting from scratch.

Delitzsch displays immense learning here as one might expect. This is not a narrow study of 'the word' but an appreciation of history, and reception, and conflict, and a continuing hope that this middle wall of partition that he knows, will not stand.

He begins with the LXX translation of the Psalms, noting that

The story of the LXX (LXXII) translators, in its original form, refers only to the Thôra; the translations of the other books are later and by different authors. All these translators used a text consisting only of consonants, and these moreover were here and there more or less indistinct; this text had numerous glosses, and was certainly not yet as later, settled on the Masoretic basis. in ignorance of the higher exegetical and artistic functions of the translator in ignorance of the higher exegetical and artistic functions of the translator and frequently the translation itself is obscure". 

Warning noted.  He cites a host of texts I am not aware of - perhaps I should look them all up. (See note 1 in this section in his book.) They reveal more of the substance of the Psalter as received over the centuries. Had he read them all?

Nonetheless he gives first place to the LXX:

This version, at the outset, created for Christianity the language which it was to use; for the New Testament Scriptures are written in the popular Greek dialect (κοινή,) with an Alexandrine colouring. And in a general way we may say that Alexandrinism moulded the forms beforehand, which Christianity was afterwards to fill up with the substance of the gospel. As the way of Jesus Christ lay by Egypt (Matth. ii. 15), so the way of Christianity also lay by Egypt, and Alexandria in particular.

Then  he makes the claim: "Next to the Book of Isaiah, no book is so frequently cited in the New Testament as the Psalter."

It looks more like a tossup to me between these two and probably depends on how you measure it. And I would suggest that for translation of the psalms, one should be cautious in translating according to the New Testament's usage. I would not want to fall into the black hole of NT theology on its way to the destruction of the Jews in the middle of the 20th century. Delitzsch would not want to either, but he is surrounded by those who were and are not aware of this tendency to superiority and the abuse of such thoughts. But this anticipates his preliminaries on theology.

He spends some time on the targum of the Psalms, in convoluted prose

But as there was a written Targum to the Book of Job even during the time of the Temple, there was also a Targum of the Psalms, though bearing in itself traces of manifold revisions, which probably had its origin during the duration of the Temple. In distinction from the Targums of Onkelos to the Pentateuch and of Jonathan to the minor Prophets the Targum of the Psalms belongs to the so-called Jerusalem group, for the Aramaic idiom in which is written, — while, as the Jerusalem Talmud shows, it is always distinguished in no small degree from the Palestinian popular dialect as being the language of the literature — abounds in the same manner as the former in Greek words (as אנגלין άγγελοι, אכסדרין εξέδραι, קירים κύρίος), and like it also closely approximates, in sound and formation, to the Syriac.

What do I make of his words? All the Hebrew look like Greek transcribed.

Then he moves to the Peshito:

The third most important translation of the Psalms is the Peshito, the old version of the Syrian church, which was made not later than in the second century. Its author translated from the original text, which he had without the vowel points, and perhaps also in a rather incorrect form: as is seen from such errors as 

  • xvii. 15 (amuntç [your faithfulness - used 7 times in the Psalter] instead of tmuntç [your similitude - unique in the Psalter] ), 
  • lxxxiii. 12 [13] (wdmo vabdmi, dele eos et perde eos instead of witmo ndibmo), 
  • cxxxix. 16 (gmli retributionem meam [my payback] instead of golmi [my embryo]). 
  • In other errors he is influenced by the LXX, as lvi. 9 (bngdk [near you] LXX ἐνώπιόν σου instead of bnadç [in your bottle]),
  • he follows this version in such departures from the better text sometimes not without additional reason, as xc. 5 [4 - I don't see any reason other than a typo for the verse #] (generationes eorum annus erunt, i. e. LXX τὰ ἐξουδενώματα αὐτῶν ἔτη ἔσονται [or like a watch in the night]), 
  • cx. 3 (populus tuus gloriosus, i. e. ymç ndbvt in the sense of ndibh), Job xxx. 15, nobility, rank, LXX μετὰ σοῦ ἡ ἀρχὴ. 
The thought process as you can see is wide ranging, multi-lingual and occasionally lacks sufficient explanation. He was not writing for the common reader of the Bible, nor as a teacher. I suppose he was writing for a few friends who were also scholars.

Speaking of the translator of the Peshito, he notes (unfortunately without substantiation):

It is evident that he was a Christian from passages like xix. 5, cx. 3, also from lxviii. 19 comp. with Ephes. iv. 8, Jer. xxxi. 31 comp. with Hebr. viii. 8; and his knowledge of the Hebrew language, with which, as was then generally the case, the knowledge of Greek was united, shews that he was a Jewish Christian.

Moreover the translation has its peculiar Targum characteristics: tropical expressions are rendered literally, and by a remarkable process of reasoning interrogative clauses are turned into express declarations: lxxxviii. 11 -13 is an instance of this with a bold inversion of the true meaning to its opposite. In general the author shuns no violence in order to give a pleasing sense to a difficult passage e. g. xii. 6b, lx. 6. The musical and historical inscriptions, and consequently also the slh (including hgion slh ix. 17) he leaves untranslated, and the division of verses he adopts is not the later Masoretic.

I cannot find any reason to believe or disbelieve what he has written above. But I would need the Greek to see his point. At the moment I can only find an English translation and there is no interrogative in 89:11-13 to turn into a declarative. Similarly 12:6b, 60:6, - perhaps these comments will be more informative when I get (if I get there) to the detailed part of the commentary. 

He goes next to the translation by Aquila of Pontus ("a proselyte from heathenism to Judaism") - heathenism - now there's a 19th century bias!

Not to lose any of the weighty words he translates the first sentence of the Thôra thus: Ἐν κεφαλαίῳ ἔκτισεν ὁ Θεὸς σὺν (את) τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ σὺν (את) τὴν γῆν.

I think this is supposed to be funny. I have a bit of a hard time with the associations of glosses. I don't have enough Greek to enjoy this. But Delitzsch praises him as a translator in any case. He follows with a mention of Theodotion, building on Aquila, then Symmachus "more decidedly and independently than Theodotion, and distinguishes himself from Aquila by endeavouring to unite literalness with clearness and verbal accuracy: his translation of the Psalms has even a poetic inspiration about it."

Finally he has a section on the Latin Psalters - praising Jerome:

Jerome's translation of the Psalter, juxta Hebraicam veritatem, is the first scientific work of translation, and, like the whole of his independent translation of Old Testament from the original text, a bold act by which he has rendered an invaluable service to the church, without allowing himself to be deterred by the cry raised against such innovations.

Sunday 27 February 2022

Delitzsch - presentation on music in the church

 Came across this by accident: 

while looking for a copy of Delitzsch Physiologie und Musik in Ihrer Bedeutung für die Grammatik, Besonders die Hebräische hopefully in an OCR or editable format. Anyone know of such?


Theses given by Dr. Franz Delitzsch to his English Exegetioal Society.

1. Music in the church is allowed, for music belongs not to the shadow of the Old Testament worship, which is abolished by the substance of salvation which has appeared in the person of our Savior and by the work of our Savior.

2. If singing is allowed, consequently also playing instruments is allowed ; for, singing, we make music with the instruments of our speech and, playing instruments, we make the wood and metal and strings sing. The vocal music makes the nature of our body serviceable to God's honor and the instrumental music makes eternal nature serviceable to God's honor.

3. Whatever is allowed to be done internally, is also allowed to be done externally. The Apostle summons us to sing and to make melody (music) in our hearts (Eph. v. 19), therefore it is also laudable to make music to the Lord with our mouth and with our hands.

4. Whatever takes place in the upper (celestial) or tri- umphant church, cannot be forbidden in the church here below. Now the Seer hears in the heavens a voice as the voice of many waters, and the voice which he heard was like the voice [hos) of harpers harping with their harps. (Revelation xiv. 2.) The particle hos, which is expressed neither in the received nor in the revised version, is signi- ficant. The harps and the harping were antitypically cor- responding to the terrestrial.

5. Saul was refreshed and the evil spirit departed from him when David took his harp and played with his hands, 1 Sam. XVI. 23, and music was employed in the prophets' school to awaken the prophetic charisma, as the example of Elisha shows upon whom came the hand of the Lord when the minstrel played, 2 Kings iii. 15. This energy of music continues and is still practicable.

Friday 25 February 2022

Delitzsch on the te-amim

His opening salvo:

The accents are only musical, and indirectly interpunctional, signs for the chanting pronunciation of the synagogue. And moreover we no longer possess the key to the accents of the three metrical (i. e. consisting of symmetrical stichs and strophes) books as musical signs. For the so-called Sarka-tables (which give the value of the accents as notes, beginning with Zarka, zrqa), e. g. at the end of the second edition of Nagelsbach's Gramm., relate only to the reading of the pentateuchal and prophetic pericope, — consequently to the system of prose accents.

 Before we get to his notes, here are the accents and the names I use. How many zarqa-tables would have different names - I cannot answer this. The lack of a consistent transcription of square text to Latin text impedes understanding of this basic question. 

Haïk-Vantoura clearly manages both the prose and the poetic accents with her two related deciphering keys. Delitzsch is clear in his rejection of punctuation. The shape of the phrase comes from the music. 

The Accents of the Hebrew Bible relating to the Music
Below the text Above the text
Recitation Accent name OrnamentFull name




ger-rev revia-mugrash

 ֢ ֛

galgal (prose), tevir (poetry)


pas pashta




ger geresh




tar tarsin


tifha, (d’khi)


paz pazer




z-q zaqef-qatan




z-g zaqef-gadol


mahpakh, (yetiv)


qad qadma


double merkha, kefulah


seg segol


zar zarqa, tsinnor


t-q telisha qetana


t-g telisha gedolah


qar qarne farah


shl shalshalet


ill illuy


ole ole


rev revia
So Delitzsch writes:
Pazer and Shalsheleth have a like intonation, which rises with a trill; though Shalsheleth is more prolonged, about a third than that of the prose books.

 Well, they are both ornaments and so do not move the reciting note. The problem with ornaments is that they can all be similar to a trill - SHV has pazer as moving up a third then returning by step to the current reciting note, shalshelet as moving down a minor third and returning to the reciting note by semi-tone. Shalshelet is rare in any case - 7 uses in the 21 books, 39 in the poetry.

Legarme (in form Mahpach or Azla followed by Psik) has a clear high pitch, before Zinnor, however, a deeper and more broken tone; soft tone tending to repose.

Legarmeh is an adjective applied to other accents. It has no pitch in the SHV schema. Here is what the translator of SHV noted: "The attentive reader, familiar with synagogue chant or the grammatical rules used by Hebraists, will notice that the list of names given by Haik-Vantoura for the signs (cf. pp. 97-100) lacks several names found in every modern list of names given by Hebraists or cantors: azla , legarmeh, yetiv, debir, gaya or metheg, and so on. This includes the list given by Mayer Lambert in his treatise (cited by Haik-Vantoura as her source). Those graphical signs which have more than one name in the modern lists are precisely those which are found in more than one grammatical placement relative to the verbal text. In effect, modern specialists have chosen certain names (among the 80 or so found in the ancient treatises) which are found in all the early sources; their lists assign one of these names to each "grammatical accent" used in the text. Haik-Vantoura’s key assigns (from the same group of names) one name for each graphical form used; the names she rejects can be accounted for as later, secondary names added to distinguish between the different grammatical placements of certain signs. Since (as is acknowledged) the grammatical rules of the Masoretes are an arbitrary imposition upon the syntax of the verbal text, only a decipherment of the te‘amim independent of the names given to various signs could clearly demonstrate which names are ancestral and which were added by the Masoretes and later scribes." For the full book see here.

By Silluk the tone then diminishes.

 Silluk is the tonic, assumed if not specified and returned to at the end. So yes, the tone (volume) will likely diminish.

The tone of Mercha is according to its name, andante and sinking into the depths; the tone of Tarcha corresponds to adagio.

 Tone and tempo should not be confused with each other.

Further hints cannot be traced: though we may infer with respect to Ole we-jored (Mercha mahpachatum) and Athnach, that their intonation ought to form a cadence, as that Rebia parvum and Zinnor (Zarqa) had an intonation hurrying on to the following distinctive accent.

 Yes these are the two major cadences, the Atnah in all books, and the ole-veyored only in the poetry books.

Further, if we place Dechi (Tiphcha initiale) and Rebia gereshatum beside the remaining six servi among the notes, we may indeed produce a sarka-table of the metrical accentuation, although we cannot guarantee its exact agreement with the original manner of singing.

 There is no guarantee associated with any zarka-table.

Following Gerbert (De musica sacra) and Martini (Storia della musica), the view is at present very general that in the eight Gregorian tones together with the extra tone (tonus peregrinus)* used only for Ps. cxiii (= cxiv-cxv in the Hebrew numeration), we have a remnant of the ancient Temple song; and this in itself is by no means improbable in connection with the Jewish nationality of the primitive church and its gradual severance at the first from the Temple and synagogue. 

That Dr. D mentions tonus peregrinus is significant. This is the only 'modern' mode with a variable reciting note. Why would the variation in reciting note have been dropped?  It is very expressive of tone of voice. The 'tune' for Psalms 114 as derived from the deciphering key of Haïk-Vantoura is variations on tonus peregrinus. She herself did not notice this. Her key provides a crucial test case for any other deciphering of the music of the accents. (For more on modes see these posts.)

Here is the score for the psalm 114 showing its similarity to tonus peregrinus.

Thursday 24 February 2022

Temple Music and Psalmody

 Delitzsch begins this section with a note:

The Thôra contains no directions respecting the use of song and music in divine worship except the commands concerning the ritualistic use of silver trumpets to be blown by the priests (Numb. ch. x). David is really the creator of liturgical music, and to his arrangements, as we see from the Chronicles, every thing was afterwards referred, and in times when it had fallen into disuse, restored.

There are a few claims for the instruments that he states. 

In a Psalm where slh is appended (vid. on Ps. iii), the stringed instruments (which hgion slh ix. 17 definitely expresses), and the instruments generally, are to join in* in such a way as to give intensity to that which is being sung.

The footnote he gives, I think, he considers as a contrasting theory: 

Comp. Mattheson's "Erläulerties Selah" 1745: Selah is a word marking a prelude, interlude, or after-piece with instruments, a sign indicating the places where the instruments play alone, in short a so-called ritornello.

But if Torah gives little instruction on this, later books are not lacking. He specifically suggests these verses in this sequence as having information from which we can infer things about the performance of the music in temple:

  • 1 Chron 25:2 "So long as David lived, the superintendence of the liturgical music was in his hands"; 
  • 1 Chron 15:17-21 "the harps (nblim) represented the soprano, and the bass (the male voice in opposition to the female) was represented by the citherns an octave lower, which, to infer from the word lnxk used there, were used at the practice of the pieces by the mnxk appointed", [I don't follow this inference]
  • 2 Sam 6:5, instruments with harps and with lutes and with timbrels and with sistrums and with cymbals,
  • Ps 150, for the instruments, shofar, lute, harp, drum, harp-strings, pipes, cymbals,
  • Ps 5:1, not to omit the flute which  "formed the peculiar musical accompaniment of the hallel ... and of the nightly torch-light festival on the semi-festival days of the Feast of Tabernacles", 
  • "The trumpets (kxxrot) were blown exclusively by the priests to whom no part was assigned in the singing (as probably also the horn)" Ps 81:4, Ps 98:6,
  • 2 Chron 5:12 "where the number of the two Mosaic trumpets appears to be raised to 120", 
  • 2 Chron 7:6 "At the dedication of Solomon's Temple the Levites sing and play and the priests sound trumpets", 
  • 2 Chron 29:26-30 "and at the inauguration of the purified Temple under Hezekiah the music of the Levites and priests sound in concert ... In the second Temple it was otherwise: the sounding of the trumpets by the priests and the Levitical song with its accompanying music alternated, they were not simultaneous. The congregation did not usually sing with the choir, but only uttered their Amen; nevertheless they joined in the Hallel and in some psalms after the first clause with its repetition, after the second with hallelujah (Maimonides, Hilchoth Megilla, 3)."
  • 1 Chron 16:36 the amen of the people and a whole chapter of music, "points to a similar arrangement in the time of the first Temple" i.e. more congregational antiphonal singing - 
  • "Just so does " Jer 33:11 the promise of restoration with singing, 
  • "Antiphonal singing on the part of the congregation is also to be inferred from" Ezra 3:10 trumpets and cymbals under the hand of David (conducting and chironomy); 
  • The Psalter itself is moreover acquainted with an allotment of the ylmot, comp. mwrrot" Ezra 2:65 (whose treble was represented by the Levite boys in the second Temple, vid. on " Ps. 46:1 "in choral worship and speaks of a praising of God in full choirs." Ps. 26:12, Ps. 68:27,
  • "And responsive singing is of ancient date in Israel: even Miriam with the women answered the men (lhm " Ex. 15:21 ") in alternating song, and " Nehemiah 12:27 " at the dedication of the city walls placed the Levites in two great companies which are there called todot, in the midst of the procession moving towards the Temple."
  • "In the time of the second Temple each day of the week had its psalm." Sunday 24, Monday 48, Tuesday 82, Wednesday 94, Thursday 81, Friday 93, the Sabbath 92.

This arrangement is at least as old as the time of the Ptolemies and the Seleucidae, for the statements of the Talmud are supported by the inscriptions of Ps. xxiv, xlviii, xciv, xciii in the LXX, and as respects the connection of the daily psalms with the drink-offering, by Sir. 1. 14-16.

(Sirach 50:14) Finishing the service at the altars,
and arranging the offering to the Most High, the Almighty,
15 he held out his hand for the cup
and poured a drink offering of the blood of the grape;
he poured it out at the foot of the altar,
a pleasing odor to the Most High, the king of all.
16 Then the sons of Aaron shouted;
they blew their trumpets of hammered metal;
they sounded a mighty fanfare
as a reminder before the Most High.

"The psalms for the days of the week were sung, to wit, at the time of the drink-offering (nsç) which was joined with the morning Tamid: two priests, who stood on the right and left of the player upon the cymhal (Zelazal) by whom the signal was given, sounded the trumpets at the nine pauses (prqim), into which it was divided when sung by the Levites, and the people bowed down and worshipped. The Levites standing upon the suggestus (ducn) — i. e. upon a broad staircase consisting of a few steps, which led up from the court of the laity to that of the priests, — who were both singers and musicians, and consequently played only on stringed instruments and instruments of percussion, not windinstruments, were at least twelve in number, with 9 citherns, 2 harps, and one cymbal: on certain days the flute was added to this number."

One complaint I have of the older writers. They do not sufficiently separate paragraphs. We have almost reached the end of the first paragraph with this last note. I may add some paragraphs in the epub - but I haven't to date.

I should comment on the nasal singing technique, but I don't approve! [Sounds like the cantors were having fun.] You can read the emerging epub and all its sections here.

Words related to music are collected in the glossary page of the concordance here.

Some parts of what might be precursors of current design for naves are suggested by the word suggestus in his text (ducn ? Aramaic - not Hebrew in any case). 

(per Google:) suggestus m (genitive suggestūs); fourth declension. elevated place made of materials poured out; raised place, height, elevation. platform, dais, stage, tribune, pulpit. hint, intimation, suggestion. higher part of the stage.

I suggest that my translation of Hebrew ymd preceded by yl (on by a standing-place, pillar etc) could stand some suggestions towards clarity, interpreting yl as 'on' rather than 'by' and using dais, stage, platform, pulpit(?) or some such - perhaps some day.

Note also that spelling of sections of Rabbinic material is different, e.g. Erechin is Arakhin. But I haven't find my way around these implications on Sefaria yet. One thing about Delitzsch that sets him above other commentators is his knowledge of Hebrew tradition.

In the next section, he defines all the accents and modes, mostly compatible names but not entirely as I would expect and also not with anything that is out of place with what I have seen through the deciphering key of Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura. I will look at these in a separate post.

Wednesday 23 February 2022

the so-called parallelismus membrorum

 Delitzsch begins his examples on the "so-called parallelismus membrorum" with Ps 48:6-7:

The relation of the two parallel members does not really differ from that of the two halves on either side of the principal caesura of the hexameter and pentameter; and this is particularly manifest in the double long line of the caesural schema (more correctly: the diaeretic schema) e. g. Ps. xlviii. 6, 7:

They beheld, straightway they marvelled, | bewildered they look to flight.
Trembling took hold upon them there | anguish, as a woman in travail

Here the one thought is expanded in the same verse in two parallel members. But from the fact of the rhythmical organization being carried out without reference to the logical requirements of the sentence, as in the same psalm vers. 4,8:

Elohim in her palaces | was known as a refuge
With an east wind Thou breakest | the ships of Tarshish

we see that the rhythm is not called into existence as a necessity of such expansion of the thought, but vice versa this mode of expanding the thought results from the requirements of the rhythm. Here is neither synonymous or identical (tautological), nor antithetical, nor synthetical parallelism, but merely that which De Wette calls rhythmical, merely the rhythmical rise and fall, the diastole and systole, which poetry is otherwise (without binding itself) wont to accomplish by two different kinds of ascending and descending logical organization. The ascending and descending rhythm does not usually exist within the compass of one line, but it is distributed over two lines which bear the relation to one another of rhythmical antecedent and consequent, of πρῳδός and ἐπῳδός.

(My italics.) What is he saying here? That parallelism is not as important as everyone makes it out to be, but that poetry exists like the heartbeat of the text. I am unfamiliar with the terms proodos and epodos. They sound a bit like organizational sections of a text. But the text - the distich as he calls it or sometimes tristich is fundamental to Scriptural poetry from the first breath of it in Genesis 4:23. Sure we can see parallelism, but he says, it is like a heartbeat rising and falling rather than needing analysis. (I've never particularly liked the analyses of parallelism offered by Lowth.)

Were Lamech's words music to his wives' ears?

Gen 4:23 - the music encompasses the whole verse,
Not just the parallelism

I am definitely happier with starting from the music for all strophic analysis, whether of a single distich or groups of them. The music provides rhythm as needed - though clearly irregular.

But is this what Delitzsch intends? He uses some odd words, like diaeretic schema, which today might relate to a medical procedure. In his day perhaps it is about poetry as Henry Peachum might write:

Diaeresis in Latine Divisio, is a forme of speech which divideth the generall kind into special kinds, yet not in a dialecticall forme, but in a rhetorical maner for amplification sake, whereof this saying of Job may be an example: “Aske the cattaile, and they shall inform thee, ye fowles of the aire & they shal tel thee, the increase of the earth, and it shal shew thee, or the fishes of the sea, and they shal certifie thee” Job. 12., by which answere of Job to his frends he declareth ye their wisedome was no other then such as the very brute beastes do daily teach, which he divideth into sundry kinds, wherby he doth pithily & elegantly set forth & amplifie their grosse ignorance.

I think I will have to avoid such precise archaisms since I have no idea if they are helpful. What is helpful is what the Masoretic tradition received as the accents. These make very clear where the accents are even if the music fail 'to certifie thee'.

The tri-colon (tri-stich) is an outgrowth of the bi-colon (di-stich) - I'm reverting to my terminology. Dr. D's suggestions indicate his feel for poetry. He appeals for an example to Psalms 25:7. 

Have not the sins of my youth and my transgressions in remembrance,
According to Thy mercy remember Thou me
For Thy goodness' sake, O Jahve!

He carries this through to examples from Lamentations, and from Psalms 37 to 4 and 5 cola strophes. The results are subjectively fine, but they don't say much about criteria for larger groupings. Lamentations is a great study - note the simplicity of the opening verse. I have set the first four verses of chapter 1 for chorus and orchestra - mechanical performance here.

I have examined many psalms and there are a few that stand out for larger structures, notably Ps. 96. This is clearly in three 'stanzas', each with a 'refrain' that rises to the high C. This larger structure is determined by the accents. The performance, using the deciphering key I have described over the last 10 years, is the only one that shows the aural structure clearly. I have developed this (using the earlier Leningrad codex accents) into an English score.

Alas, Dr. D mentions the law of dichotomy for which we all require a lobotomy. I am glad to see that he takes no conclusion based on it, and tears it asunder from its need to continuously bisect phrases. (That is no way to describe music!) He lists a number of possible strophe forms (consisting of multiple similar length groups of cola?) but gives no example from which we could decipher his measure. Without the music we are left to make it up as we go along. This study of possible forms requires much more detail time. 

It is possible that some work could be done in the abstract by examining the accents using a computer, but this could only uncover possibilities where further work to perform or develop the music could be done. It would be hard to see what can so easily be heard in Ps. 96 above from this sort of visual analysis:

Score letter A First Strophe: verses 1-6; changes in reciting note: 6-6-5-6-6-5
B g B ^A f e 
B g B ^A f e 
e B ^A e 
f C B ^A f e 
C B ^A e f e 
e f ^A f e 
Score letter B Second strophe: 7-10; 7-8-6-7
e B g B ^A f e 
e B g B ^A e f e 
e B g ^A f e 
e C B g ^A f e 
Score letter C Third strophe: 11-13; 8-6-9
e B g B ^A e f e 
e B g ^A f e 
e C f d f e f ^A e 

As noted before - all the music is now available in a beautiful and readable form, and there are dozens of performances listed on this blog. E.g. here and here. The differences between the accents of the WLC and the Letteris edition as sung by Esther Lamandier in multiple modes (without retuning her harp), you can hear her here. and watch the music below.

Don't let anyone, famous or not, tell you that parallelism, the music of the accents, recurrence, or the sense of the text are in conflict with each other. I have not found such an instance anywhere. And the complaints I have noted from Wickes to Kugel have not stood up under detailed analysis given the deciphering key. Of course there are copying errors in the accents and particularly the premature drawing of the reciting note down to the tonic caused by spurious methegs (which are not music-related) over the last millennium.

There is also a point in the above performance of Ps. 48 which appears to have a missing atnah. The performer skips over it quickly in verse 5 and seems to miss it entirely in verse 6. Her performance is nonetheless pleasing and clear with subtle variations in modality. I have found the music of the deciphering key I use from Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura to be fully reliable. The performances illustrate how much variety of rhythm there is in the prosody. Interesting that both performances above disagree (slightly) with my score - partly because of copying errors and particularly the extraneous use of the short stroke of the metheg in the Letteris edition, 1000 years later than the Aleppo codex. And partly because of my program's rigid interpretation of the ornamentation of the accents above the text. I note also a significant difference in the Letteris underlay of the inscription. There's no lack of detail work to be done (by the next generation of students).

The time needed to hear and examine these texts is not to be found in abstraction or sound-bite but in the joy of intensive discovery and work. As Bach said to someone who asked him how to be successful, if you want to be successful - then work as hard as I do.

I hope to continue with Dr. D's next section:  Temple Music and Psalmody. There are four more sections to be edited before the beginning of the detail sections on the psalms themselves. It is going to take time.

Monday 21 February 2022

The Strophe System continued

 We didn't get past the first sentence in that last post. And we won't get too much further in this post.

The first paragraph is delightfully vague following Augustine, "certis eos constare numeris credo illis qui eam linguam probe callent" - I believe that they appear in certain numbers to those who are well versed in that language. - and later - "All metre is rhythmic not all rhythm is metric."

But Dr. D insists, "and I agree", as I meekly play the role of the Bishop's wife in the Warden (Trollope), 

Yet there is not a single instance of a definite rhythm running through the whole in a shorter or longer poem, but the rhythms always vary according to the thoughts and feelings. 

This is not to be discovered with abstraction - but with concrete individual analysis of each song and story. Neither God nor the text can be reduced to our formulaic understandings. "Ah, this is how they did things."

as e. g. the evening song Ps. iv towards the end rises to the anapaestic measure: ki atta Jahawe lebadad, in order then quietly to subside in the iambic: labetach toshibeni. With this alternation of rise and fall, long and short syllables, harmonizing in lively passages with the subject, there is combined, in Hebrew poetry, an expressiveness of accent which is hardly to be found anywhere else to such an extent.

 Psalms 4 - OK - here it is. All the music of the psalms and all the other books of the Bible is available for you to read with a music program or visually in PDF form here.

Is this really anapest? ..-..-..- yes a three-foot anapestic line if you allow the divine name three syllables, (or substitute adonai). But you can't add a fourth foot because of the rest. And then does an iambic foot or two follow? Doesn't sound at all like iambic to me. There is too little data for such a conclusion.

Returning briefly to Psalms 2, he writes about verse 5: Thus e. g. Ps. ii. 5a sounds like pealing thunder, and 5b; corresponds to it as the flashing lightning.
Psalms 2:5
I think he is reading a theophany into Psalms 2 as in Psalms 18. The music of Psalms 2 is more subdued than thunder and lightning.

Next - Dr. D's explanation of parallelism.

Saturday 19 February 2022

The Strophe-System of the Psalms

This is a huge topic. I have spent the last 10 years working on the music of the accents. When I read Delitzsch, however much I admire his excellent scholarship, I do not expect to find myself in full agreement. Nor do I necessarily have full agreement with myself at this point. I wonder if Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura would have had access to his work. I doubt it, because she approached the accents as a musician, not as a Hebrew scholar. 

I have much greater confidence concerning what I read in Dr. D, in contrast to my reading in Dr. F. LLD, where I am thoroughly skeptical because of what I regard as a fundamental and fatal flaw in his approach to the text. We cannot approach a text to prove a point about what we think we have to believe. That is to approach the tree of the knowledge of good and evil while thinking we know what we are doing.

But my words may not stand as I approach a real reader of the text who has some knowledge of poetry and its reception in Rabbinic discourse. I hope I can help you hear the music, Dr D. And we can rejoice together.

Here is the opening sentence: "The early Hebrew poetry has neither rhyme nor metre."

Yes - in general I agree about rhyme. Rhyme arises incidentally from enclitic word-endings and is not a deliberated act of construction in Hebrew poetry. Metre in the sense of total regularity for a stanza as we find in forms of English poetry is also not characteristic of any Hebrew poem that I have noted, but metre in a particular verse or stich is both clear and deliberate. The opening of Psalms 150 was noted yesterday here. It seems to me that metre takes its shape from the music of the accents embedded in the text. This is the ancient poetry.

Dr. D. cites Ps. cvi. 4-7 cf. Jer. iii. 21-25

Here is 106:4-7. The repetition of pronoun endings in the second person singular and first person plural is clear. It is evident as a rhetorical technique - anaphoric assonance if you like such terms. It is an accidental rhyme.  It is immediately evident when singing the text.

Psalms 106:7-9 anaphoric repetition of pronouns
This technique extends across languages and is used repeatedly in the Psalms.
Look at the 67 repetitions of c in Psalms 145, 34 of them final c.
Or look at the striking change at the opening of Book 2 - 
How Psalms 44 uses the final nu 40 times.

Notice the subdued music of verse 6 - no internal cadence and no rising of the tone of voice beyond the second note of the scale.

זָכְרֵ֣נִי יְ֭הוָה בִּרְצ֣וֹן עַמֶּ֑ךָ
פָּ֝קְדֵ֗נִי בִּישׁוּעָתֶֽךָ
4 Remember me Yahweh in the acceptance of your people.
Visit me in your salvation.
d zocrni ihvh brxon ymç
poqdni biwuytç
zcr\ni ihvh b/rx\vn ym\c
pqd\ni b/iwvy\tc
לִרְא֤וֹת ׀ בְּט֘וֹבַ֤ת בְּחִירֶ֗יךָ לִ֭שְׂמֹחַ בְּשִׂמְחַ֣ת גּוֹיֶ֑ךָ
לְ֝הִתְהַלֵּ֗ל עִם־נַחֲלָתֶֽךָ
5 To see the good of your chosen, to be glad in the gladness of your nation,
to praise with your inheritance.

h lraot b'tobt bkiriç lwmok bwmkt goiiç
lhthll ym-nkltç
l/ra\vt b/'tvb\t bkr\ic l/wmk b/wmk\t gvi\c
lht/hll ym nkl\tc
חָטָ֥אנוּ עִם־אֲבוֹתֵ֗ינוּ הֶעֱוִ֥ינוּ הִרְשָֽׁעְנוּ 6 We have sinned with our ancestors. We have been perverse. We are wicked.
v k'tanu ym-abotinu hyvvinu hrwynu 15
k'ta\nv ym ab\vtinv h/yv\inv h/rwy\nv
אֲב֘וֹתֵ֤ינוּ בְמִצְרַ֨יִם ׀ לֹא־הִשְׂכִּ֬ילוּ נִפְלְאוֹתֶ֗יךָ לֹ֣א זָ֭כְרוּ אֶת־רֹ֣ב חֲסָדֶ֑יךָ
וַיַּמְר֖וּ עַל־יָ֣ם בְּיַם־סֽוּף
7 Our ancestors in Egypt did not have insight into your wonders. They did not remember your many kindnesses,
but they were provocative over the sea, at that sea of reeds.
z abotinu bmxriim la-hwcilu nplaotiç la zcru at-rob ksdiç
vimru yl-im bim-suf
ab\vtinv bm/xr\im la h/wcl\v n/pla\vtic la zcr\v at rb ksd\ic
vi/mr\v yl im b/im svp

Here is Jeremiah 3:21-25. Many of the same endings are clear, particularly the we/us/ours in verse 25. Can this be seen or heard in translation? What is the rhetoric of the prayer? Here is the music.
Jeremiah 3:21-25 - Notice the appeal from the opening high C in the first two verses.
ק֚וֹל עַל־שְׁפָיִ֣ים נִשְׁמָ֔ע בְּכִ֥י תַחֲנוּנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל
כִּ֤י הֶעֱוּוּ֙ אֶת־דַּרְכָּ֔ם שָׁכְח֖וּ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיהֶֽם
21 ♪C A voice over protruding places was heard, the weeping supplications of the children of Israel,
for they have perverted their way. They have forgotten Yahweh their God.
ca qol yl-wpiim nwmy bci tknuni bni iwral
ci hyvu at-drcm wcku at-ihvh alohihm
qvl yl wp\iim n/wmy bc\i t/knvn\i bn\i iwral
ci h/yv\v at drc\m wck\v at ihvh alh\ihm
שׁ֚וּבוּ בָּנִ֣ים שׁוֹבָבִ֔ים אֶרְפָּ֖ה מְשׁוּבֹֽתֵיכֶ֑ם
הִנְנוּ֙ אָתָ֣נוּ לָ֔ךְ כִּ֥י אַתָּ֖ה יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
22 ♪C Turn, turncoat children. I will heal your turning away,
Behold us. We are yours, for you, Yahweh, are our God.
cb wubu bnim wobbim arpa mwuboticm
hnnu atanu lç ci ath ihvh alohinu
wvb\v bn\im wvb\bim a/rp\h m/wvb\ticm
h/n\nv at\nv l\c ci ath ihvh alh\inv
אָכֵ֥ן לַשֶּׁ֛קֶר מִגְּבָע֖וֹת הָמ֣וֹן הָרִ֑ים
אָכֵן֙ בַּיהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵ֔ינוּ תְּשׁוּעַ֖ת יִשְׂרָאֵֽל
23 Notwithstanding, falsely among the hillocks, the tumult of hills,
notwithstanding, in Yahweh our God is the salvation of Israel.
cg acn lwqr mgbyot hmon hrim
acn bihvh alohinu twuyt iwral
acn l/wqr m/gby\vt hmvn hr\im
acn b/ihvh alh\inv t/w\vyt iwral
וְהַבֹּ֗שֶׁת אָֽכְלָ֛ה אֶת־יְגִ֥יעַ אֲבוֹתֵ֖ינוּ מִנְּעוּרֵ֑ינוּ
אֶת־צֹאנָם֙ וְאֶת־בְּקָרָ֔ם אֶת־בְּנֵיהֶ֖ם וְאֶת־בְּנוֹתֵיהֶֽם
24 And shame has devoured the labour of our ancestors from our youth,
their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.
cd vhbowt aclh at-igiy abotinu mnyurinu
at-xanm vat-bqrm at-bnihm vat-bnotihm
vh/bw\t acl\h at igy ab\vtinv m/nyvr\inv
at xan\m v/at bqr\m at bn\ihm v/at bn\vtihm
נִשְׁכְּבָ֣ה בְּבָשְׁתֵּ֗נוּ וּֽתְכַסֵּנוּ֮ כְּלִמָּתֵנוּ֒ כִּי֩ לַיהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהֵ֜ינוּ חָטָ֗אנוּ אֲנַ֙חְנוּ֙ וַאֲבוֹתֵ֔ינוּ מִנְּעוּרֵ֖ינוּ וְעַד־הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה
וְלֹ֣א שָׁמַ֔עְנוּ בְּק֖וֹל יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ ס
25 We lie down in our shame and our humiliation covers us, for to Yahweh our God we have sinned, we and our ancestors from our youth, and till this day,
and we have not heard with the voice of Yahweh our God.
ch nwcbh bbowtnu utcsnu climtnu ci lihvh alohinu k'tanu anknu vabotinu mnyurinu vyd-hiom hzh
vla wmynu bqol ihvh alohinu s
n/wcb\h b/bw\tnv vt/cs\nv clm\tnv ci l/ihvh alh\inv k'ta\nv anknv v/ab\vtinv m/nyvr\inv v/yd h/ivm h/zh
v/la wmy\nv b/qvl ihvh alh\inv

Thursday 17 February 2022

Arrangement and Inscriptions

 Thesis: (per Dr. D)

that psalms with similar prominent thoughts, or even with only markedly similar passages, especially at the beginning and the end, are thus strung together, may be observed throughout the whole collection...

This is somewhat helpful and is among many things I noted when writing my own book on the Psalms 10 years ago. Is it enough? It is enough for a few local 'arrangements', but not for the overall purpose of organizing a book of praises. And by itself it does not indicate sequence but only adjacency.

His first example - Psalms 1 and 2 connected by awri is much stronger than mere similarity in that what begins and ends must be also sequential. As book ends enclose books on a shelf, so psalm 2 must follow psalm 1 by virtue of the enclosing verses and not vice versa. Similarly Psalms 2 and 149 enclose the whole set of praises. This principle of grouping by enclosure is stronger than mere similarity. The content of the enclosing elements allows insight into the purpose: viz of psalms 1 and 2 - happiness, and of psalms 2 and 149 - judgment of the nations, tribes, and sovereigns by the merciful (ksdim).

lywot bhm mwp't ctub hdr hua lcl-ksidiv hllu-ih

To make in them judgment inscribed. This honour to all under his mercy. Hallelu Yah.

There is no rest in this verse - no atnah, nor ole-veyored..

Closely connected with this principle of arrangement is the circumstance that the Elohimic psalms (i. e., those which, according to a peculiar style of composition as I have shewn in my Symlolae, not from the caprice of an editor, almost exclusively call God alhim, and beside this make use of such compound names of God as ihvh alhim xbaot, ihvh xbaot and the like) are placed together without any intermixture of Jehovic psalms. 

This is certainly well known - the Psalter as a sandwich, Yahweh the bread, Elohim the meat. I had not thought of it as mirroring the source-critical idea from the Pentateuch, but perhaps.

Community in species of composition also belongs to the manifold grounds on which the order according to the subject-matter is determined. Thus the mwcil (xlii-xliii. xliv. xlv. lii-lv) and mctm (lvi-lx) stand together among the Elohim-psalms. In like manner we have in the last two books the wir hmylot [ed. correcting the typo hmxlot] (cxx-cxxxiv) and, divided into groups, those beginning with hodu (cv-cvii) and those beginning and ending with hlluia (cxi-cxvii, cxlvi-cl) — whence it follows that these titles to the psalms are older than the final redaction of the collection.

N.B. his conclusion with respect to the titles and inscriptions. He holds back no disdain for those who put down the inscriptions as late or irrelevant. Also he notes the lack we have due to the loss of the understanding of these words.

Instances like Hab. iii. 1 and 2 Sam. i. 18, comp. Ps. lx. 1, shew that David and other psalm-writers might have appended their names to their psalms and the definition of their purport. And the great antiquity of these and similar inscriptions also follows from the fact that the LXX found them already in existence and did not understand them; that they also cannot be explained from the Books of the Chronicles (including the Book of Ezra, which belongs to these) in which much is said about music, and appear in these books, like much besides, as an old treasure of the language revived, so that the key to the understanding of them must have been lost very early, also appears from the fact that in the last two books of the Psalter they are of more rare, and in the first three of more frequent occurrence.

There is a great deal said about the music indeed. The undoing of our misunderstanding is a long journey. This will become more obvious in the next several posts.

Tuesday 15 February 2022

Another brief introduction to SimHebrew - for the record

SimHebrew is a tool for learning, using, and understanding the Hebrew language. It helps those who are not used to the traditional Hebrew script to learn, read, write and know Hebrew using a precise and consistent mapping from square text to Latin characters.

Reading and writing Hebrew in one's locally used character set is an ancient practice. Hippolytus in Greek characters, calling the book of psalms Σέφρα θελείμ (Sepra theleim). Jerome in Latin characters, called it SEPHAR THALLIM. In SimHebrew it is spr thlim, (roughly pronounced sefer tehelim) the book of praises. If you are learning Hebrew whether reading a fully spelled modern Hebrew text or the Biblical traditional text, The SimHebrew Bible will give you insight into the sound of the language using letters that you are familiar with. You will rapidly learn to sound it out, just as an English speaker can learn how to sound out French or Italian. All these languages, English, French, Italian, and SimHebrew use the same Latin letters, but they all use them with differing conventions.

Look at that word thallim that Jerome used. The word has a root made up of three consonants - hll. The leading t is a consonant that in this case creates a noun from the root. It is pronounced as the English 't'. The 'im', pronounced as you see it, a short 'i' and the same 'm' sound as in English, is a plural ending. The root by itself is a verb meaning praise or boast. It could be read as 'he praised'. It is pronounced hallel as in hallelujah. Here is the first few words of Psalms 150: 

hllu-ih hllu-al bqodwo. 

It is a trochee: -..- / -..-..- Hallelu-ia / Hallelu-al beqodwo  - where the w is an sh sound. With a two-beat pause at the /, the music of the psalm (embedded in the text itself) opens with a triple rhythm.


SimHebrew limits its use of vowels so that it can be exactly mapped back and forward from Latin characters to the traditional Hebrew script (commonly known as "Square Hebrew", since its characters are based on a square template). This allows for the technical use of SimHebrew within URL's and computer programming.

For biblical researchers—or anyone interested in the Hebrew Bible— square text is a visual and often technical hindrance that gets in the way of the language itself. To the untrained eye, some characters look alike, so errors are often made in word spellings, and spelling patterns or word roots are not readily apparent. Even modern copy and paste can be unreliable. In some instances, Hebrew characters are not even technically accessible and will turn into a series of question marks, or if they are accessible, the letter or word order is corrupted, given that not all environments correctly handle right-to-left text. Errors happen on web pages and even in ancient and modern scholarly books. The proof-readers miss them. 

SimHebrew (simulated Hebrew in Roman characters) eliminates these problems by providing a precise one-to-one simulation of the Hebrew text in Roman characters, based on historical affiliations between the two scripts, and a "reverse engineering" of the process by which the ancient Hebrew/Canaanite alphabet gave rise to the ancient Greek and Roman alphabets.

When you use SimHebrew, you can read, copy, paste as reliably as you do in English and with English interspersed to explain whatever you are doing. There are no right-to-left and left-to-right problems. Whatever word-processor you are using, (and they all implement these rtl and ltr mixed text differently), you can be sure of clarity and correctness. There will be no confusion with numbers and punctuation, parentheses, reversed letters or any of the other nuisances noted with mixed text.

The result enables the average Western reader to appreciate the many unique hallmarks of the the text in Biblical Hebrew—such as its brevity; its use of prefixes and suffixes to denote conjunctions, prepositions, possessives, plurals, and verb forms; its frequent wordplay; and above all, the consonantal roots that are fundamental to the language. 

Fully electronically searchable, and coupled with an English guide side-by-side, The SimHebrew Bible offers unprecedented access to the Hebrew of the Hebrew Bible, without the distraction of having to master the Square Hebrew script. It also makes learning the traditional script far easier for those who want to persevere with it.

Origin of the Collection of the Psalms

Modern day church choir psalm singers can be forgiven for not seeing the Psalter as a sequential book. Snippets and favorites sung through the year are not conducive to seeing a historical whole. It is clear from both Forbes and Delitzsch and via Delitzsch, many earlier writers also, that the sequential coherence of the psalms is not a new idea in the 20th century.

This text has been transcribed and corrected in a number of places on the web already - e.g. here, so when I continue this exercise, I will be a bit freer and probably include some translation for readers  (like me) without Greek, or others without Hebrew, or Latin.

The origin or formation starts with the idea that the five books of the Psalms are a deliberate imitation of the five books of Moses.

The Psalter, as we now have it, consists of five books. Τοῦτό σε μη παρέλθοι, ω φιλόλογε — [Let it not pass, O philologist] says Hippolytus, whose words are afterwards quoted by Epiphanius — ότι και το ψαλτήριον εις πέντε διείλουν βιβλία οι Εβραίοι, ώστε είναι και αυτό άλλην πεντάτευχον [That the Jews also divide the psalter into five books, so that it also is another fivefold]. This accords with the Midrash on Ps. i. 1: Moses gave the Israelites the five books of the Thôra and corresponding to these (cngdm) David gave them the book of Psalms which consists of five books (spr thlim bo kmwh sprim). The division of the Psalter into five parts makes it the copy and echo of the Thôra, which it also resembles in this particular: that as in the Thôra Elohistic and Jehovistic sections alternate, so here a group of Elohistic Psalms (xlii-lxxxiv) is surrounded on both sides by groups of Jehovistic (i-xli, lxxxv-cl). The five books are as follow: — i-xli, xlii-lxxii, lxxiii-lxxxix, xc-cvi, cvii-cl.

He notes particularly in the doxologies that "The amn vamn coupled with v (cf. on the contrary Num. v. 22 and also Neh. viii. 6) is exclusively peculiar to them in Old Testament writings."

This comment on the time of the Chronicler certainly has come curiosities in the English translation of the German - like the use of pontificate.

Even in the time of the writer of the Chronicles the Psalter was a whole divided into five parts, which were indicated by these landmarks. We infer this from 1 Chron. xvi. 36. The chronicler in the free manner which characterises Thucydidea or Livy in reporting a speech, there reproduces David's festal hymn that resounded in Israel after the bringing home of the ark; and he does it in such a way that after he has once fallen into the track of Ps. cvi., he also puts into the mouth of David the beracha which follows that Ps. From this we see that the Psalter was already divided into books at that period; the closing doxologies had already become thoroughly grafted upon the body of the Psalms after which they stand. The chronicler however wrote under the pontificate of Johanan, the son of Eliashib, the predecessor of Jaddua, towards the end of the Persian supremacy, but a considerable time before the commencement of the Grecian.

 Comparing 1 Chr 16:36 with Psalms 106:48:

bruç ihvh alohi iwral mn-hyolm vyd hyolm // viamru cl-hym amn vhll lihvh w 
Bless Yahweh the God of Israel from the everlasting and unto the everlasting,
and let all the people say amen and praise Yahweh. W

bruç ihvh alohi iwral mn-hyolm vyd hyolm vamr cl-hym amn hllu-ih [no rest in the psalter]
Bless Yahweh the God of Israel from the everlasting and unto the everlasting and let all the people say, Amen. Hallelu Yah. [no vav and a different word form for the name. The people are singular collective where in 1 Chr, the people are taken as plural.]

But overall - this does seem to imply a fivefold Psalter at the time of the Chronicler. I wonder why it does not seem to have been noted at the Oxford conference of 2010.

Dr. D raises a number of questions on the end of book 3: what is the collection of prayers referred to as David's at the end of the psalm 72 beginning 'of Solomon'?  Did the primary collection contain only Davidic psalms?

If we adopt the latter supposition, one is at a loss to understand for what reason only Ps. l. of the Psalms of Asaph was inserted in it. For this psalm is really one of the old Asaphic psalms and might therefore have been an integral part of the primary collection. On the other hand it is altogether impossible for all the Korahitic psalms xlii-xlix to have belonged to it, for some of them, and most undoubtedly xlvii and xlviii were composed in the time of Jehoshaphat, the most remarkable event of which, as the chronicler narrates, was foretold by an Asaphite and celebrated by Korahitic singers. 

An obvious question is - Does he attribute Psalms 1 to Asaph? - no it's an OCR error. Should be l = 50. And clearly there are several psalms within 1-72 that are marked as 'of the children of Korah'.

It is therefore, apart from other psalms which bring us down to the Assyrian period (as lxvi, lxvii) and the time of Jeremiah (as lxxi) and bear in themselves traces of the time of the Exile (as lxix, 35 sqq.), absolutely impossible that the primary collection should have consisted of Ps. ii-lxxii, or rather (since Ps. ii appears as though it ought to be assigned to the later time of the kings, perhaps the time of Isaiah) of Ps. iii-lxxii.

To summarize the remaining points of development: (in his words)

  • The chief bulk of the oldest hymn book of the Israelitish church is contained in Ps. iii-lxxii.  
  • The two groups iii-lxxii, lxxiii-lxxxix, although not preserved in the original arrangement, and augmented by several kinds of interpolations, at least represent the first two stages of the growth of the Psalter.
  • The after portion of the second group was, at the earliest, added in the time of Jehoshaphat... with a greater probability of being in the right we incline to assign them to the time of Hezekiah
  • of Hezekiah it is recorded, that he brought the Psalms of David and of Asaph ... into use again (2 Chron. xxix. 30 - [And Hezekiah the king and the nobles said to the Levites to praise Yahweh with the words of David, and Asaph, the visionary]).
  • In the time of Ezra and Nehemiah the collection was next extended by the songs composed during and (which are still more numerous) after the Exile. [Some substantiation of this claim later on in his introductory paragraphs.]
  • On the whole there is unmistakeably an advance from the earliest to the latest; ... in Ps. i-xli the real bulk of the Davidic and, in general, of the older songs is contained, in Ps. xlii-lxxxix predominantly songs of the middle period, in Ps. xc-cl the large mass of later and very late songs.

I expect from a brief search before correction of my source, that Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah play a significant role in his theory of the formation of the Psalter. I must say that Dr. D is not the easiest author to read. Like many of his time, his paragraphs are long, and there appears to be a great breadth of knowledge focused on the issue.

We have often already referred to one chief point of view of this arrangement according to matter, viz., the imitation of the Thôra...

I first encountered this idea of "David's Torah" in Kimhi's commentary. I am really happy to see it here. The later books of the Bible are keys to reading the earlier books. This becomes clearer and clearer as the historical critical methods and other analysis uncover the composition and internal reception history of the 1000 year period in which the body of the work was written.

I invite readers to look further in the emerging book. I think I will have to look at the detail of his psalms to understand more fully why he expresses himself this way in the summary - itself likely written and revised after many years of thought and detail work. If I live long enough, this could be my entry into a complete update and revision of Seeing the Psalter.

Sunday 13 February 2022

History of the composition of the psalms

Before tackling the formation of the collection of the psalms, Delitzsch asks who wrote them and when? 

His summary of the Mosaic stimulus is an example of integrated thinking the like of which I find hard to imitate in this age of constant electronic interruption. I could spend several posts on this one paragraph.

The time of Moses was the period of Israel's birth as a nation and also of its national lyric. The Israelites brought instruments with them out of Egypt and these were the accompaniments of their first song (Ex. xv.) — the oldest hymn, which re-echoes through all hymns of the following ages and also through the Psalter (comp. ver. 2 with Ps. cxviii. 14; ver. 3 with Ps. xxiv. 8; ver. 4, xiv. 27 with Ps. cxxxvi. 15; ver. 8 with Ps. lxxviii. 13; ver. 11 with Ps. lxxvii. 14, lxxxvi. 8, lxxxix. 7 sq.; ver. 13, 17 with Ps. lxxviii. 54, and other parallels of a similar kind). If we add to these, Ps. xc and Deut. xxxii, we then have the prototypes of all Psalms, the hymnic, elegiac, and prophetico-didactic. All three classes of songs are still wanting in the strophic symmetry which characterises the later art. But even Deborah's song of victory, arranged in hexastichs, — a song of triumph composed eight centuries before Pindar and far outstripping him, — exhibits to us the strophic art approximating to its perfect development. It has been thought strange that the very beginnings of the poesy of Israel are so perfect, but the history of Israel, and also the history of its literature, comes under a different law from that of a constant development from a lower to a higher grade. The redemptive period of Moses, unique in its way, influences as a creative beginning, every future development. There is a constant progression, but of such a kind as only to develope [sic] that which had begun in the Mosaic age with all the primal force and fulness of a divine creation. We see, however, how closely the stages of this progress are linked together, from the fact that Hannah the singer of the Old Testament Magnificat, was the mother of him who anointed, as King, the sweet singer of Israel, on whose tongue was the word of the Lord.

Echoes of the oldest hymn? 

Here's a table where you can see the translations in the tooltip and I will point out the allusions - if any. The allusions Delitzsch points out are not as strong as I expected in the use of the language of Exodus. In fact it does suggest that the Psalms are generations later than this Exodus poem.

Postulated source stimulusPsalms allusionOther commentsCommon Hebrew phrase
Exodus 15:2Psalms 118:14=Isaiah 12:2,
contrast Job 13:16 gm-hua-li liwuyh
yozi vzmrt ih vihi-li liwuyh
Exodus 15:3Psalms 24:8 limited, only yhwh as subject of lkmSimilar to Isaiah 42:13lkm modifying ihvh
Exodus 15:4, 14:27Psalms 136:15The allusion to 14:27 is not requiredpryh vkilo.
Exodus 15:8Psalms 78:13no other usescmo-nd an archaic particle? - 139 uses and widespread - so maybe not.
Exodus 15:11Psalms 77:14, 86:8, 89:7Job 19:22?cmo-al? Psalm allusions are single words only.
Exodus 15:13,17Psalms 78:54

Ex. 15:17 shares a pair of roots pyl yhvh in sequence with Psalms 28:5 and 46:9,  Verse 13 has no pairs in sequence with any psalm. Ex 15 has a lot of unique language use. It is good to be introduced to this as a source for some Psalm allusions, but it is nowhere near as important a source for the Psalms as Ex 34:6. 

Still Dr D is very impressed with the poetry going back to the Song of deliverance from Egypt. 

It's a start - now I see I must do a lot more checking of his lists concerning e.g. Psalms 90 and Deuteronomy 32, a pair that Forbes also discusses, noted here, Deborah's song (several verses Judges 5:3,4,5,16 anticipate Psalms 68:9, 14), the Old Testament Magnificat (1 Samuel 2), and any other songs in other books.

There are a few unexpected suggestions as to source. It appears that he will admit composition right up to the time of the Maccabees. It's a long section that you can find at the link to my editing in process.

Ending with this conclusion (revealing his real attitude to the powers of the time):

And if Maccabean psalms be supposed to exist in the Psalter they can at any rate only be few, because they must have been inserted in a collection which was already arranged. And since the Maccabean movement, though beginning with lofty aspirations, gravitated, in its onward course, towards things carnal, we can no longer expect to find psalms relating to it, or at least none belonging to the period after Judas Maccabaeus; and from all that we know of the character and disposition of Alexander Jannaeus it is morally impossible that this despot should be the author of the first and second Psalms and should have closed the collection.

To be fair to the despot, I don't think I would have felt comfortable in  the company of either David or Solomon either. Abuse of power is there in every age. Psalms 146 gets it - Do not trust in princes, in a human child where there is no salvation to it. Its spirit goes forth. It returns to its humus. In that day its gleams perish.

Thursday 10 February 2022

The Psalter and its names

As I noted in my first post on this book, Delitzsch begins by placing the Psalter 'among the writings'. 

Then he introduces several possible names for the poetry in the Psalter, asking 'What are the psalms called?'  He cites first Psalms 72:20

colu tpilot // dvid bn-iwi which he translates as Are ended, the prayers of // David, the son of Jesse.

So are they prayers? But only a few, he says, are called prayers. Also note that the break in the line, the rest in the music comes right in the middle of the construct. [If it is feminine plural, then it maybe is not construct. The placement of the rest gives me pause.] 

Dr D. concludes that prayer is a good name for the contents:

The essence of prayer is a direct and undiverted looking towards God, and the absorption of the mind in the thought of Him. Of this nature of prayer all Psalms partake; even the didactic and laudatory, the containing no supplicatory address, — like Hannah's song of praise which is introduced with וַתִּתְפַּלֵּ֤ל (1 Sam. ii. 1).

Something to think about - perhaps that is why the Psalms move us to such an extent. 

The title thlim also we might think is strange, 

for the Psalms for the most part are hardly hymns in the proper sense: the majority are elegiac or didactic; and only a solitary one, Ps. cxlv, is directly inscribed thlh. But even this collective name of the Psalms is admissible, for they all partake of the nature of the hymn, to wit the purpose of the hymn, the glorifying of God.

The footnote here was interesting: Hippolytus (ed. de Lagarde p. 188) testifies: Έβραίoι περιέγράφαν τὴν βίβλoς Σέφρα θελείμ.* - Just what are those last two words? You guessed: Aramaic transliterated into Greek letters. The footnote shows the first use of transliteration into Latin letters (a thoroughly disciplined transcription is followed in the SimHebrew Bible.) *Jerome (in the Preface to his translation of the Psalms juxta Hebraicam veritatem) points it still differently: SEPHAR THALLIM quod interpretatur volumen hymnorum.

So the psalms are prayers, praises, and hymns.

He takes time to correct a colleague:

It is an erroneous opinion of Buxtorf in his Tiberias and also of Jewish Masoretes, that the Masora calls the Psalter hlila (hallèla). It is only the so-called Hallel, Ps. cxiii—cxix, that bears this name, for in the Masora on 2 Sam. xxii. 5, Ps. cxvi. 3a is called kbro dhlila [ed. his partner in the night?] (the similar passage in the Hallel) in relation to xviii. 5a.

Anyone else have an idea as to what kbro dhlila signifies?

He concludes this section with another thought - the psalms are lyric poems in the strictest sense - the name deriving from the word for lyre.

In Hellenistic Greek the corresponding word ψαλμοί (from ψάλλειν = zmr) is the more common; the Psalm collection is called βίβλoς ψαλμων; (Lk. xx. 42, Acts i. 20) or ψαλτήριον, the name of the instrument (psanterin in the Book of Daniel) *** being transferred metaphorically to the songs that are sung with its accompaniment. Psalms are songs for the lyre, and therefore lyric poems in the strictest sense.

And the footnote is all about the instruments. 

Ναβλα — say Eusebius and others of the Greek Fathers — παρ Εβραιοις λεγεται το ψαλτηριον, και δη μονον των μουσικων οργανων ορθοπαιον, και μη συνεργουμενον, εις ήχον εκ των κατωτατω μερων, αλλ' άνωθεν έχεις τον υπηχουντα χαλκον. Augustine describes this instrument still more clearly in Ps. xlii and elsewhere: Psalterium istud organum dicitur quod de superiore parte habet testudinem, illud scilicet tympanum et concavum lignum cut chorda; innitentes resonant, cithara vero id ipsum lignum cavum et sonorum ex inferiore parte habet. In the cithern the strings pass over the sound-board, in the harp and lyre the vibrating body runs round the strings which are left free (without a bridge) and is either curved or angular as in the case of the harp, or encompasses the strings as in the lyre. Harps with an upper sounding body (whether of metal or wood, viz. lignum concavum i. e. with a hollow and hence sonorous wood, which protects the strings like a testudo and serves as a tympanum) are found both on Egyptian on Assyrian monuments. By the psalterium described by Augustine, Cassiodorus and Isidorus understand the trigonum, which is in the form of an inverted sharp-cornered triangle; but it cannot be this that is intended because the horizontal strings of this instrument are surrounded by a three-sided sounding body, so that it must be a triangular lyre. Moreover there is also a trigon belonging to the Macedonian era which is formed like a harp (vid. Weiss' Kostümkunde, Fig. 347) and this further tends to support our view.

Part of the interest for me has been the need to search online resources to restore the correct Greek and Latin. I have many options for the Hebrew or Aramaic, but Greek is mostly Greek to me. During the process I uncovered a host of useful sites taking me back to Philo, Eusebius of Caesurea, Hippolytus, Epiphanius, Basil, and the very useful google search often interpreted obscure characters.

During this searching, I came across the Catholic Encyclopedia with some square letter errors. 

The Hebrew name is תתלים [sic]‎, "praises" (from הלל‎, "to praise"); or םפר תתלים [sic]‎, "book of praises". []

This should read thlim תהלים in both cases, not ttlim, a word that doesn't exist in Biblical Hebrew. And as we can see - praise הלל names only one psalm, and prayer פלל fewer than a half-dozen, but they are all prayers תהלים and indeed praises תפלים.

The emerging epub is here. Feedback/corrections/ideas can be tweeted via DM or otherwise to @drmacdonald or as a comment on this post.