Download Psalm 119: The Exaltation of Torah by David Noel Freedman PDF

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By David Noel Freedman

From the Preface: "The alphabetic acrostic is without doubt one of 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 music (Psalms), and knowledge literature (Proverbs). but its very obviousness has tended to deflect deeper exploration of its constitution and function. when you consider that Mowinckel denigrated the acrostics within the Psalms as a 'disintegration of style,' too usually students have easily famous after which missed the form.

"There is not any a priori cause that alphabetic acrostics will be much less artistic, expressive, or complicated than different psalms. hence the essays accrued the following examine the acrostic structure as a valid choice for Israelite poets instead of because the safe haven of uninspired epigones....The fruit of over 20 years' shut analyzing of those psalms, the subsequent essays show the poets' consummate mastery of the hard acrostic shape and deserve incorporation in destiny discussions of biblical poetic art."

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Extra info for Psalm 119: The Exaltation of Torah

Sample text

This element can hardly be accidental, because the alphabet plays such a prominent part in the whole structure of the poem. [[741]] If we are able to predicate anything about the state of mind of the poet, it is that it is saturated with notions of the alphabet, its uses and potentialities. The poet is acutely aware of the alphabetic implications and connotations in his poem: every line reflects this feature, and everything in the poem is designed not only to mirror the alphabet, but also to lead the reader into the deeper meaning and significance of its usage, in particular the notion of totality or completeness embodied in the alphabet.

Thus the 8 lines of the first stanza all begin with ªalep, while each of the 8 lines of the second stanza begins with bet, and so on to the last stanza, whose 8 lines all begin with taw. There are no exceptions as far as the letters at the beginning of the lines are concerned, so that we may be reasonably sure that we have the complete poem as devised by the author, with its original intentional structure intact. This datum does not automatically guarantee that the poem has been preserved in perfect pristine condition, but it may serve as a caution against excessive freewheeling emendation of the text as scholars seek to maintain or improve its balance or symmetry.

The second argument is that the duplicated words in v. 48 do not make much sense in their context. They are quite appropriate in v. 47, but in v. 48 the 3 words written above seem to be out of place and inconsistent with the preceding words, if not incoherent. As the text stands, a literal rendering of both verses would be roughly as follows: v. 47 And I will delight myself in your commandments, which I love; v. 48 And I will lift up my hands to your commandments, which I love; and I will meditate on your statutes.

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