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mined by the law of symmetry, - parallelismus membrorum, - the fundamental law of all rhythmical movement, which always consists in a certain uniform return. The Samaritan and Æthiopian languages have merely a measure of lines, without any measure of syllables. In Hebrew poetry, this return is given in its simplest form, in the succession of two corresponding members, as it were the pulse-beat of the discourse, by which the swelling heart expresses its emotions.
- The Hebrew soul,” says a writer, “is the silent, yet still unfathomed deep of the divine in man.
It is not the ocean over which the winds are sweeping, and in which all the floods rush together; but it is the lowest, the living deep and fountain, which only discloses itself in a soft and gentle stream, scarcely perceptible to mortal ear. Hence there is the simple parallelism, which continually recurs, and the unconfined and unadorned heart of poetry, with its uniform beat.”a
הַלְלוּ אֶת־שֵׁם יְהוָה
יְהוּדָה לְקָדְשׁוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל מַמְשְׁלוֹתָיו
: For this discovery we are indebted to Bellermann, Versuch. üb. d. Metrik d. Hebräer; Berl. 1813. But he goes too far when he attempts to prove there is actual versification in the Hebrew poetry. To this it may be added that, perhaps, the shevas when a consonant is closely connected with them, and the composite shevas, form half a short syllable, so that in the last exam
w 1 ple we must scan thus: 572-D. Leutwein, also, has referred to the numerus, Biblische Verskunst; Tüb. 1795.
“Rhythm — which is a fundamental law of the voice can never be entirely wanting in any human discourse. But it appears the more distinctly
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.)
DIFFERENT KINDS OF SYMMETRY OF MEMBERS.
1. SYMMETRY OF WORDS.
Since the Hebrews have no measure of syllables, they cannot mark the symmetry by using an equal number of syllables.
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
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.o
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 —
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. 1815. e Job vi. 5.
? Ps. xx. 9. Prov. x. 15. Ps. xix. 8. Ewald, l. c. vol. i. p. 65. See § 132
הֲיִנְחַק פֶרֶא עֲלֵי דֶשֶׁא אם יִגְעֶה - שוֹר עַל־בְּלֵילוֹ :
o Gen. iv, 23.
עָדָה וְצִכָּה שְׁמַעַן קוֹלִי נְשֵׁי לָמֶךְ הַאזנה אִמְרָתִי כִּי אִישׁ הָרַגְתִּי לְפִשְׁעֵי
לְחַבְּרָתִי : וְיָלָד שָׁכַר הָיִיתִי וַיְפַרְפְּרֵנִי וְאָחַז בְּעָרְפִי וַיְפַצְפְּצני
• Job xvi. 12.
? Job xxxvii. 16. Amos v. 26.
1. Sometimes by synonymes.
Psalm viii. 4.
Psalm viii. 7. "Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands. All thou hast put under his feet.”
Ps. Ix. 2, 9, 10, and many other places. 2. Sometimes by antithesis.
Proverbs x. 3, 4.
But will scatter the substance of the wicked.
Also, 6, 8, 9, 11, and many others. 3. Sometimes by synthesis.
Psalm i. 6.
Psalm iii. 3.
'No help for it in Elohim.'”
See, also, 5, 7, 9, iv. 4, 5, et al. 4. By an identical expression ; that is, by repeating in fuller and stronger form.
Job xviii. 13.
Hos. ix. 14. Ps. xxi. 5, lvii. 4.“
Compare Lowth, De sac. Poesi Heb. Prælect. xix. p. 365, ed. Michaelis. VOL. JI.
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.
Psalm viii. 4.
The moon and the stars, | which thou hast created.”
אֶרְאֶה שָׁמֶיךְ | מַעֲשֶׂה אֶצְבְּדֹתֶיךָ יָרֵחַ וְכוֹכָבִים | אֲשֶׁר כּוֹכָנְתָּה
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.
Let him alone."
Psalm xxxvi. 7.
Thy judgments are a great deep;
חֲבוּר עֲצַבִּים אֶפְריס
הַנַּח לו :
Ps. xxxvii. 13, xlviii. 5, Ixviji. 33. Job xiv. 14. 6 Ps. cxi. 10. Job iii. 5, vii. 11, x. 1, 15, 17, xx. 26. Ps. xv. 4, xlix. 11, xxii. 25, xl. 10, xci. 7, i. 3, lxv. 10. Am. iv. 13.