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These are trimeters. So likewise,
- In-God I-will-praise his-word;
In-Jehovah l-will-praise his-word.”
“ Wisdom crieth without;
In-the-streets she-uttereth her-voice." “ I am aware, adds he, that some verses are to be found, which I cannot accommodate to these rules and forms; and perhaps a great number. But by observing these things, the intelligent may perhaps receive new light, and discover what has escaped me. However, they may be assured, that all the verses that are found in the Sacred Writings; such as the Song at the Red Sea, of the Well, of Moses, of Deborah, of David, of the Book of Job, the Psalms, and the Proverbs; all of them have an established order and measure, different in different places, or even sometimes different in one and the same poem ;-as we may perceive in reading them an admirable propriety and fitness, though we cannot arrive at the true method of measuring or scanning them.
“ It is not to be wondered, that the same song should consist of different measures; for the case is the same in the poetry of the Greeks and Romans: they suited their measures to the nature of the subject and the argument; and the variations which they admitted, were accommodated to the motions of the body, and the affections of the soul. Every kind of measure is not proper for every subject; and an ode, a panegyric, or a prayer, should not be composed in the same measure with an elegy. Do not you observe, says he, in the Book of Lamentations of Jeremiah, that the periods of the first and second chapters each of them consist of three propositions; and every one of these of a subject, and a predicate, and of the adjuncts belonging to them? The third chapter follows the same method; and for this reason is placed next to them in order : but of this chapter every period is distributed into three initial letters. But the fourth chapter does not perfect the senses in every verse ;* but
all the foregoing examples, whether of the parallelism, or of the metre of things, must appear in an English version, in which many words are almost always necessary to render what is expressed by one word in Hebrew.
* He said above, that in the 1st and 2d chapters each separate verse, or line, was a single proposition: he now says, that this is not the case in the 4th chapter; for it does not perfect the sense in every verse; that is, each verse does not consist of one single proposition. As, for example, the first line or verse
“ How is obscured the gold! changed the fine gold!” " How is obscured | the gold!” makes one proposition, and two measures; “ changed | the fine gold!” another proposition, and two other measures;
consists of two and two, which make four. But the fifth chapter, which contains a prayer, you will find to be built on another plan; that is, one and one, which make two,* or a dimeter; like the verses of the Books of Job, Psalms, and Proverbs. So the Song of Moses, and the Song of Deborah, have a different form; consisting of three and three, which make six ; that is, hexameters ; like the heroic measure, which is the noblest of all measures.
“ Upon the whole, the author concludes, that the poetical parts of the Hebrew Scriptures are not composed according to the rules and measures of certain feet, dissyllables, trisyllables, or the like, as the poems of the modern Jews are: but nevertheless have undoubtedly other measures which depend on things,f as above explained. For which reason, they are more excellent than those which consist of certain feet, according to the number and quantity of syllables. Of this, says he, you may judge yourself in the Songs of the Prophets. For do you not see, if you translate some of them into another language, that they still keep and retain their measure, if not wholly, at least in part? which cannot be the case in those verses, the measures of which arise from a certain quantity and number of syllables.”
Such is R. Azarias's hypothesis of the rhythmus of things ; that is, of terms and of senses; of the grammatical parts of speech and of the logical parts of propositions. The principle seems to be right; but, I think, he has not made the best use of which it was capable in the application. He acknowledges, that it will not hold in all cases. I believe, there is no such thing to be found in the Hebrew Bible, as a whole poem consisting of trimeters, tetrameters, or hexameters only, measured
which, according to him, make a tetrameter. This, he says, makes the difference between the three first and the fourth chapter. But there seems to be no such difference; many single lines in the three first containing two propositions, and many in the fourth containing only one.
* According to the author's own definition of his terms, one and one which make two, should mean, one term and one term making two measures, or a dimeter; but the fifth chapter does not at all seem to answer that description. Besides, he says, the verses of it are like those of Job, Psalms, and Proverbs, of two of which books he said before, that the verses were trimeters. I know not what he means, unless it be that one and one sentences make two, that is a distich; and that this chapter consists of distichs, of two short lines, as the Books of Job, Psalms, and Proverbs, for the most part do; which is true, · + Perhaps the harmony might depend in some degree on both: for it may be often observed, that where the words of an hemistich happen to be longer, and consequently to consist of more syllables than the words of the adjoining hemistich, there the things expressed are fewer; (see, for example, Psal. cviii. 4. 5.); which seems to prove, that the measures of the verses did not depend on the things expressed only, but on the syllables also.
and scanned according to his rules. The Song of Moses, Deut. xxxii. is a very apt example for his purpose; but will not in all parts fall in with his measures. Besides, there is no sort of reason for his making it to consist of hexameters, rather than trimeter distichs; such, as he says, the Psalms and Proverbs consist of. Examine the 11lth and 1/2th Psalms by his rules; and though they will fall into his trimeters for the most part pretty well, yet we are sure that these were not to be coupled together to make hexameters, for they are necessarily divided into twenty-two distinct short lines by the initial letters. The Hebrew poetry, consisting for the most part of short sentences, must in general naturally fall into such measures as Azarias establishes ; or with some management may be easily reduced to his rules. Every proposition must consist of a subject and a predicate, joined together by a copula ; and the predicate including the copula will generally consist of two terms, expressing the action, and the thing acted upon. In Hebrew, sometimes the subject is combined with the copula in one word, and sometimes the predicate; sometimes all three make but one term. In these cases, the addition of a simple adjunct (for the shortness of the style will not admit of much more) to the subject, or the predicate, or both, furnishes a second, a third, and sometimes a fourth term ; that is, makes the verse a dimeter, trimeter, or tetrameter. For instance, in dimeters,
" They-made-him-jealous, with-strange-Gods;
They-provoked-him, with-abominations. ." Deut. xxxii. 16. In trimeters,
“ I-will-bless Jehovah, at-all-time;
His-praise [shall be) in-my-mouth, continually.
Psal. xxxiv. 1-3. In these examples, the first part of every line makes an entire proposition, and the last is an adjunct making the second, or the third term. In the following, the subject, and the predicate, with their adjuncts, consist of two terms, each of them: that is, of two measures: and, being joined together, make a tetrameter :
. “The-counsel of-Jehovah shall-stand for-ever.” The next line is in the same form, except that the verb is un. derstood, and the latter adjunct divided into two terms; and makes a second tetrameter to pair with the first :
"The-thoughts of-his-heart, from-age to-age.”
Something of this kind must necessarily be the result of this sententious way of writing : it is what comes of course, without much study. But whatever attention the Hebrew poets might give to the scanning of their verses by the number of terms, it does not appear to have been their design to confine all the verses of the same poem to any set number of terms; whereas they do plainly appear to have studied to throw the corresponding lines of the same distich into the same number of terms, into the same form of construction, and still more into an identity, or opposition, or a general conformity of sense. I agree therefore with Azarias in his general principle of a rhythmus of things: but instead of considering terms, or phrases, or senses, in single lines, as measures ; determining the nature and denomination of the verse, as dimeter, trimeter, or tetrameter; I consider only that relation and proportion of one verse to another, which arises from the correspondence of terms, and from the form of construction ; from whence results a rhythmus of propositions, and a harmony of sentences.
This peculiar conformation of sentences; short, concise, with frequent pauses, and regular intervals, divided into pairs, for the most part, of corresponding lines; is the most evident characteristic now remaining of poetry among the Hebrews, as distinguished from prose ; and this, I suppose, is what is implied in the name Mizmor;* which I understand to be the proper name for verse; that is, for numerous, rhythmical, or metrical language. This form made their verse peculiarly fit for music and dance; which with them were the usual concomitants of poetry, on occasions of public joy, and in the most solemn offices on religion.f Both their dance and song were on such occasions performed by two choirsť taking their parts alternately in each. The regular form of the stanzas, chiefly distichal, and the parallelism of the lines, were excellently well suited to this purpose, and fell in naturally with the movements of the body, of the voice, and of the instruments, and with the division of the parts between the two sets of performers.
But, beside the poetical structure of the sentences, there are other indications of verse in the poetical and prophetical parts of the Hebrew Scriptures : such are, peculiarities of language ; unusual and foreign words; phrases, and forms of words, uncommon in prose; bold elliptical -expression; frequent and
* mata.mot signifies to cut, to prune, to sing, to play on a musical instrument. Cæsura is the common idea, which prevails in all. + See Exod. xv. 20, 21. 2 Sam. vi. 14. 16.
See 1 Sam. xviii. 6, 7. Ezra iii. 11. Nehem. xii. 24. and Philo's Observations (IIsgo Isweyias) on the Song at the Red Sea.
abrupt change of persons, and an use of the tenses out of the common order; and lastly, the poetical dialect, consisting chiefly in certain anomalies peculiar to poetry ; in letters and syllables added to the ends of words; a kind of licence commonly permitted to poetry in every language. But as these cannot be explained by a few examples, nor perfectly understood without some knowledge of Hebrew ; I must beg leave to refer the learned reader, who would inquire further into this subject, to what I have said upon it in another place;* or rather, to recommend it to his own observation, in reading the sacred poets in their own language.
Thus far of the genuine form and character of the Prophet's composition; which it has been the translator's endeavour closely to follow, and as exactly to express as the difference of the languages would permit; in which indeed he has had great advantage in the habit, which our language has acquired, of expressing with ease, and not without elegance, Hebrew ideas and Hebrew forms of speaking, from our constant use of a close verbal translation of both the Old and New Testament; which has by degrees moulded our language into such a conformity with that of the original Scriptures, that it can upon occasion assume the Hebrew character without appearing altogether forced and unnatural. It remains to say something of the Translation in regard to its fidelity; and of the principles of interpretation by which the translator has been guided in the prosecution of it.
The first and principal business of a translator, is to give the plain literal and grammatical sense of his author; the obvious meaning of his words, phrases, and sentences; and to express them in the language into which he translates, as far as may be, in equivalent words, phrases, and sentences. Whatever indulgence may be allowed him in other respects; however excusable he may be, if he fail of attaining the elegance, the spirit, the sublimity of his author—which will generally be in some degree the case, if his author excells at all in those qualities ; want of fidelity admits of no excuse, and is entitled to no indulgence. This is peculiarly so in subjects of high importance, such as the Holy Scriptures, in which so much depends on the phrase and expression; and particularly in the prophetical books of Scripture; where from the letter are often deduced deep and recondite senses, which must owe all their weight and solidity to the just and accurate interpretation of the words of the prophecy. For whatever senses are supposed to be included in the Pro
* De Sacra Poesi Hebræorum, Prælect, iii. xiv. xy.