Psalm 119: The Exaltation of Torah by David Noel Freedman

By David Noel Freedman

From the Preface: "The alphabetic acrostic is among the most simply identifiable poetic varieties within the Hebrew Bible. Examples are available in prophetic discourse (Nahum), the lament over the destruction of Jerusalem (Lamentations), liturgical tune (Psalms), and knowledge literature (Proverbs). but its very obviousness has tended to deflect deeper exploration of its constitution and goal. in view that Mowinckel denigrated the acrostics within the Psalms as a 'disintegration of style,' too frequently students have easily famous after which neglected the form.

"There is not any a priori cause that alphabetic acrostics can be much less inventive, expressive, or complicated than different psalms. therefore the essays accrued right here examine the acrostic layout as a valid alternative for Israelite poets instead of because the shelter of uninspired epigones....The fruit of over two decades' shut interpreting of those psalms, the next essays exhibit the poets' consummate mastery of the hard acrostic shape and deserve incorporation in destiny discussions of biblical poetic art."

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145 v. 169 v. 176 6+4+9 = 19 5+5+7 = 17 6+7+9 = 22 10+5+8 = 23 6+5+7 = 18 4+8+9 = 21 8+5+6 = 19 5+6+8 = 19 5+6+9 = 20 6+5+6 = 17 5+6+9 = 20 7+5+9 = 21 Some of our tricola-line conjectures are more persuasive than others, but a reasonable case can be made for at least half (6) of them, which is the compromise we have adopted elsewhere. Added to the basic 352, that gives us 358 cola, while if we added all of them (12), the total of 364 would be very close to the total for all of the other psalms together.

For two different reconstructions of the psalm’s exilic or postexilic setting, see Soll, Psalm 119, 142–54, and Levenson, “Sources of Torah,” 570–74. 30 David Noel Freedman parallelism, to which we have already alluded, we may point objectively to the very low “prose particle” count of this “late” poem. 6%, which is extremely low by any standard. Thus there would not be a single prose passage of comparable length in the whole Bible that would come anywhere near this level. 4%). In other words, in postexilic times there are numerous examples of good classic Hebrew poetry, along with instances in which there are tendencies toward the mixture or the infiltration of a higher percentage of prose particles, as in the Song of Songs.

In other words, the excess for twrh (the highest frequency for any word in the whole poem, which also matches the number of divine names in the poem, as already shown) is accommodated through the use of a reduced number for its companion word, ªmrh. Nor is this pairing identified solely on the basis of the matching numbers, although correlating numbers would be sufficient reason in itself to reflect the intention [[739]] of the poet. As already noted, these are the only 2 words among the 8 key words that are both feminine and singular; these factors (of gender and number) also provide a clue to the thinking of the poet and serve as a guide to the rest of the pairings among the 8 key words.

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