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to place him in the number of poets of the very first order. It is marked by a deeper vein of thought, and a loftier tone of sentiment, than any of the compositions of David. In Asaph, the poet and the philosopher are combined.” (p. 25.)
In successive sections, our translator treats of the Titles of the Psalms, their Collection and Division into Books, and the means of understanding them. Under the last head, he speaks of the characteristics of Hebrew Poetry; giving, from De Wette, a full account of Parallelism, which, to our modern ears, is its distinguishing mark.
Among the means of understanding the Psalms, and verifying the dates of their composition, we would refer, in passing, to that observation of the names which they respectively apply to the Supreme Being, of which Bishop Colenso has made such important use, in his work on “ The Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua.” The fact is certainly significant of the late introduction of the name “Jehovah" into general use, that, in the psalms composed in David's earlier life, the name “ Elohim” occurs frequently, while that of “ Jehovah ” is scarcely employed at all. (See Colenso, part ii. p. 168.)
While speaking of the authorship of the Psalms, we may be pardoned for an allusion to one recently deceased, to the grief of a wide circle of friends, who had given to this subject peculiar attention. The author of "Hebrew Lyrical History "* had devoted to the task which interested him so deeply an amount of labor of which few were aware. letter now before us, he says, “I studied German, and imported several volumes of the critics of that language, that I might have the benefit of their aid.” He adds, “ I was careful to keep my learning out of sight, and not one word of any foreign language deforms my page.” The article on the " Authorship of the Imprecatory Psalms,” in the number of this periodical for March, 1852, was another result of his labor on the same favorite task.
Hebrew Lyrical History; or, Select Psalms, arranged in the Order of the Events to which they relate. With Introductions and Notes, by THOMAS BCLFINCH. Boston: Walker, Wise, & Co. New York: C. S. Francis & Co. 1853.
Dr. Noyes's translation of the Proverbs is preceded by a brief Introduction, in which he compares the grounds for the opinions held by those who receive, and by those who deny, the claim of Solomon to be the principal author or compiler of the book; himself favoring the affirmative view. He repels the injurious inferences drawn from the Proverbs by Dr. G. L. Bauer, who represents them as inconsistent with pure morality, and with the character of God. The Introduction closes with some interesting remarks on the personification of Wisdom in chap. viii. and elsewhere.
We present a few instances taken from the Psalms, to show the light shed by the labors of Dr. Noyes upon portions of sacred poetry hitherto obscured.
PSALM XXII. 21.-.“ Save me from the lion's mouth : for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns."
Dr. Noyes translates :
“ Shield me from the horns of the buffaloes.”
XLIX. 8. — “For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever." Dr. Noyes :
“ Too costly is the redemption of his life,
And he giveth it up for ever.” 18. Though while he lived he blessed his soul (and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself).” Dr. Noyes :“ Though in his life he thought himself happy,
Though men praised thee, while thou wast in prosperity."
Lvii. 9. — “Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath." Dr. Noyes :
“ Before your pots feel the heat of the thorns,
Whether fresh or burning, may they be blown away!” Lxvi. 13. — “Though ye have lain among the pots, yet shall
be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold."
“Truly ye may repose yourselves in the stalls,
Like the wings of a dove covered with silver,
And her feathers with shining gold.” Cxli. 5,
“Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness : and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities. When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words ; for they are sweet.” Dr. Noyes translates this passage :"Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness;
Let him reprove me, and it shall be oil for my head ;
When their judges are hurled over the side of the rock, They shall hear how pleasant are my words." In the valuable remarks of Dr. Noyes on Hebrew Poetry, in his Introduction to the Psalms, while presenting fully the subject of Parallelism, he, like most of the writers on the same theme,, takes little notice of rhyme and measure. These, however, if they existed, must have struck most forci. bly the attention of the greater part of listeners. In all other languages, so far as we are informed, the possession of one or both of these peculiarities is the primâ facie evidence of poetry; their absence, that of prose. The distinction may be merely superficial: so is that of texture and color in the human countenance; yet the latter has much to do with our recognition of beauty, If we take up a volume of Bohn's Library of the Classic Poets, we call it a prose translation ; and faithful as the rendering may be, and though it may retain every element of sublimity and tenderness in the origi. nal, a prose translation it is, because it does not possess poetic measure. If, then, measure exists in all other poetry, we should be slow to admit its absence in the Hebrew. Many of the psalms have, in their titles, words which appear to designate the tunes to which they were sung of old; and, at the present day, one who has heard them, as we have, sung to
the piano in an accomplished Jewish family, will not readily admit the entire absence of those externals of poetry which adapt it to music.
The reason why so little that is satisfactory has been attained with regard to the Hebrew metre, is in part to be found in the extreme views taken by those ancient scholars who thought that all poetry must follow the rules of Greek and Latin versification. While one class of writers, following the guidance of these, have claimed too much of regularity for Hebrew poetry, others, driven to the opposite extreme, have left the subject as one on which nothing satisfactory could be ascertained. The thought naturally occurs, is there not some middle path? Can we know nothing of Hebrew versification, unless we know every thing? If the language was ever pronounced by human organs, it must have had something of cadence, of the distinction of long and short, or accented and unaccented, syllables. Can we not observe the arrangement of these in individual instances, and thus ascend by the inductive method from particulars to some generalization which may be of value, even if we cannot attain to a complete theory of Hebrew versification ?
But it is argued by Lowth (“Lectures on Hebrew Poetry," Lecture III.), that "the true Hebrew pronunciation is totally lost.” Discrediting the Masoretic system of the vowel-points, he says, “ If, in reality, the Hebrew language is to be conformed to the positions of these men, we must be under the necessity of confessing, not only what we at present experience, that the Hebrew poetry possesses no remains of sweetness and harmony, but that it never was possessed of any." The Hebrew,“ destitute of vowel-sounds, has remained altogether silent - if I may use the expression, incapable of utterance upwards of two thousand years." In conformity with these views is the brief and scornful condemnation, annexed to Lowth’s Lectures, of Bishop Hare's system of Hebrew metre. But Lowth, with all his great merits, shared the tendency of his age to an undue depreciation of the vowel-points, which resulted at length in their rejection, and the introduction of a pronunciation of mere guess-work. The language
was rendered wonderfully easy; but whether its attainment, with so much left out, was worth the little trouble it cost, might be questioned. That period has passed away; and Hebrew scholars admit that the points and accents affixed by the Masorites, complicated as they are, and often erroneous as they may probably be, are yet, on the whole, our true guide to the pronunciation of the language.
The assertion of Lowth, that the Hebrew remained silent two thousand years, is happy in its elegance of expression, rather than in its truth. Gesenius, and Stuart after him, have shown the falsity of the opinion that the Hebrew became a dead language during the exile at Babylon. In the time of the Maccabees, it was still used in inscriptions and in books ; the latter evidenced by the Hebrew portions of the Book of Daniel. At that period, however, a change had begun, which gradually converted it into the Hebræo-Aramaan, spoken at the Christian era. But the ancient Law was still read in the synagogues every sabbath; the sacred guild of the Rabbis received its formation; and the traditions began to gather, which were afterwards embodied in the Talmud. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the schools of Tiberias and Babylonia preserved the literary treasures of the nation with jealous care; and in the latter of these, at least as early as the ninth century, the Masora was composed. Its authors, then, did not invent vowels and punctuation for a language of which only the consonants remained: they but affixed marks to show the traditional reading of a language to whose study their close attention, and that of their predecessors, had been devoted, and which had been read aloud at least every seventh day since the period when it ceased to be in common use.
As we find reason, then, for modifying greatly one assertion of Bishop Lowth, we are emboldened to differ from another, - that which declares the utter deficiency of the Hebrew, as read with the points and accents, in sweetness and harmony. The peculiar beauty of the language, certainly, was not in these. It was,
It was, far more, in its wonderful power of condensation; each word in Hebrew, on an average, answering to two