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tures. It gives the Scripture as it was read by Syrian Christians in an age when some had memory of the Apostles of Christ. Its singular harmony with the Alexandrian version is an incidental confirmation of the influence of that version upon the opinions of the Jews; while the occasional variations prove that it is a translation from the original, and not from the Greek of the Seventy. Mr. Oliver, in his notes, is careful to mark the points of resemblance or difference between these versions, where they vary from the Hebrew or from the English of our authorized version; and his explanations of the probable cause of the variations are always plausible, and frequently convincing. At the time when the Peshito was made, the Masoretic notation of vowel-sounds had not been invented, and the same letters might signify ideas quite different, as they were sounded in combination. An instance of this is found in Psalm vii. 11. By mistaking the word be! for 58, the translator has exactly reversed the meaning. The Psalmist says that God is angry with the wicked, while the Peshito and the Septuagint say that he is not angry. The Vulgate version, while it usually follows implicitly the Alexandrine rendering, gets over the difficulty here by a convenient question, —“numquid irascitur per singulos dies?” Another instance of the kind is in Psalm lxxii. 12, where the confusion of yun with ?? entirely alters the sense. Perhaps the larger part of the variations of the Peshito from the Hebrew come from thus mistaking one word for another with precisely the same letters. This transforms “ singers” to “princes” (lxviii. 25), the “ stout-hearted” to the “foolish-hearted” (lxxvi. 5), “unite ” to “rejoice” (lxxxvi. 11), “ waves" to “purity” (xciii. 3). The most singular case of this kind is in Psalm xxix. 1, which in the Peshito reads, “ Bring young rams unto the Lord ; offer unto the Lord praise and glory," — where the common English version translates quite correctly, “ Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength.” It needed but the addition of a “jot” to change the sons of God to the sons of an antelope. It is remarkable that the Septuagint keeps both ideas; and on the fifth day of the month, at evening prayer, in all the Episcopal churches of England and America, “the sons of VOL. LXXIII. 5TH S. VOL. XI. NO. II.
the mighty" are earnestly urged “ to bring young rams unto the Lord.” The exhortation does not seem to be habitually obeyed.
Another source of error in the variations of the Peshito and Septuagint from the Hebrew, which Mr. Oliver's notes point out, is in the transposition of letters, quite natural in hasty transcription. That convenient text, so much used during the last year in patriotic pulpits, “ In the name of our God we will set up our banners (Ps. xx. 5), becomes in the Syriac rendering, “ In the name of our God shall we be exalted”; because the place of the middle consonants was accidentally changed in the word “ Nidgol.” The “words of my roaring,” in xxii. 1, are softened in the Syriac to the “ words of my offences,” exhibiting the Psalmist in a more pleasing, if in a less honorable position, because Aleph and Gimel changed their places in the word “ Saagathi”; and in lxii. 10, the Peshito, by a simple transposition of Beth and He in the word Tehbalu, alters vanity in robbery to the lore of robbery. This transposition of letters is a very frequent source of error.
Hardly less frequent is the addition, alteration, omission, and substitution of letters. That “well” in the valley of Baca becomes a “dwelling-place” only by the prolongation of the Yod to the Vau. The light that “is sown for the righteous” has “sprung up,” in the Syriac version, by the change of Ayin to He. One consonant left out from the word Meholâla in cii. 8, makes, in the Syriac version, the disconsolate Psalmist to say that those who praise him are sworn against him, where the original more consistently gives it, “they that are mad against me." The change of one letter makes an entire change in the idea of xviii. 31,the “ bow of steel broken by mine arms” becomes “ hath strengthened mine arms like a bow of steel.” For the same reason, Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns” becomes “my humility from the horn that is exalted.” We might multiply instances of this kind almost indefinitely.
In general, the Syriac renderings are no improvement upon the original, weakening rather than strengthening the idea of
“ Thou, O Lord, shalt make me to dwell in tranquillity,” is not a good exchange for “ Thou, O Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” In the “ Prayer of Moses, the man of God,” which is here only “ a Psalm of Moses," the changes which the Peshito makes do not lend dignity or music to the solemn sentences. The main idea in the second verse is substantially the same in the version as in the original, but how much more feeble the expression, — “ Before the mountains were conceived, and before the earth brought forth, and before the foundations of the world were laid, from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” A strange alteration is that which substitutes for the rushing “flood” and the “sleep,” the sentence, “ Their generations shall continue a year.' Our “ secret sins in the light of thy countenance becomes “Renew our youth in the light of thy countenance.” Almost ludicrous is the substitution for the “ tale that is told” of the years of man (not quite so bad, however, as that which we noticed in a recent issue in the article on the alteration of hymns). The Peshito reads, “Our years come to an end like a spider's web”; a comparison which would seem greatly to increase their length, since a spider's web is, of all fabrics, the most difficult to measure. The Septuagint adopts this rendering, and the Vulgate follows it, varying the idea to read, “ Anni nostri sicut aranea meditabuntur.”
In some of the Psalms, as, for instance, in the favorite ciii., the Syriac version keeps very close to the Hebrew. In this Psalm the Syriac is nearer to the sense of the original than the fine Latin of Sebastian Castellio, or than the English of our common version. In Psalm lxxviii., on the contrary, the Dinner Song of Cambridge Commencement from time immemorial, the variations of the Syriac are very numerous and wide, and in this Psalm the variations give more spirit to the recital. It makes the picture more distinct to say (verse 8), “ The children of Ephraim, who stretched the string and shot with the bow, and yet turned back in the day of battle," and makes the disgrace of their cowardice greater. In verse 41, it adds force to the thought to say that “they provoked the Holy One of Israel.” The rendering in our version, They limited the Holy One of Israel,” is very weak. And in all the
description of the Egyptian plagues, the Syriac is spirited. Perhaps some will prefer the more familiar rendering, in verse 63, “ Their maidens were not given to marriage," to that of the Peshito, “ Their maidens were sorely afflicted”; yet the connection shows why the maidens were afflicted, - that the “fire consumed their young men.” The Syriac not only shows the calamity, but the resulting distress of mind from this necessity of perpetual maidenhood.
As an example of entire change of meaning in the Syriac version, we may take Psalm cxxxix., numbered in this version cxxxviii., “If I take the wings of the morning, (verse 9,) becomes here, “If I lift up my wings like the eagle.” The Psalmist says, (verse 11,)“ I said, surely the darkness shall cover me," but the translator has it, “I said, the darkness shall be light to me," - the very thing which the Psalmist deprecated. It is impossible to recognize the idea of verse 16 — “ Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, while yet there was none of them" - in these words from the Syriac: “Mine eyes have seen my recompense; in thy books shall all these things be written. Behold the days are shortened and there is no man in them.” Strangely changed, too, is the 17th verse:- Hebrew, “How precious are thy thoughts unto me"; Syriac, “ Very dear unto me are they that love thee.” As the same word in Hebrew means “thy thoughts” and “thy friends," the mistake of the translator was natural. This mistake once made, it was easy to mistake in the next clause the word “
sum for “rulers,” the same Hebrew term representing both ideas. The nonsense here, however, becomes palpable. The Psalmist states gravely that the rulers of God's friends, should he number them, “would be more than the sand”; a somewhat extravagant transfer to heaven of the democratic principle. One variation which appears in Mr. Oliver's rendering of this Psalm, we are inclined to think, was not made in the original Syriac, especially as he has not noted any change here from the meaning of the Hebrew,-“ Thou knowest my down-setting and mine uprising.” The change of a letter in the English word sitting makes a singular change in the idea.
The Peshito contains, like the Hebrew, 150 Psalms, which complete its proper collection. The order, however, differs somewhat from the Hebrew, as well as from the Septuagint and Vulgate. As far as Psalm cxiv., the Hebrew and the Syriac numberings are identical. The Syriac joins Psalm cxv. to cxiv.; and afterward restores the order by dividing Psalm cxlvi., so that the last four Psalms are again the same as those in the Hebrew. The collection is conveniently divided and subdivided; and at the close, we have the concise statement, “ The one hundred and fifty Psalms are ended. There are five Books, fifteen Grades, sixty Lauds, and four thousand eight hundred and thirty-two Verses.
There are those who have added twelve others, but we need them not." Precisely what “ Grades” and “ Lauds” are, we are not told. The translator conjectures that they have something to do with musical arrangement and the ritual service. According to the last sentence, additional Psalms are not needed. Yet the Syriac version, like the Alexandrine, appends one of these superfluous songs, the Psalm which David sang when he contended alone with Goliath. In style and dignity, this production is quite unlike those in the lawful collection. It is not found, we believe, in any modern translation of the Bible, even as an apocryphal production. The Syriac and the Greek of this Psalm are in close resemblance, though there are one or two slight differences which Mr. Oliver's notes have failed to mark. We give the Psalm in full as he has rendered it.
“PSALM CLI. This Psalm, peculiar to David, is additional ;. nor is it found in all the copies. — David sang it when he contended alone with Goliath.
1 I was the smallest among my brethren, and a boy in my father's house ;
I fed my father's flocks. 2 My hands made the organ, and my fingers framed the barp. 3 And who shall show it to my Lord ? He is the Lord, and he is my
God. 4 He sent his angel, and took me from my father's sheep; and anointed
me with the oil of his anointing. 5 My brethren were fair and tall; but the Lord delighted not in them. 6 I went forth to meet the Philistine; and he cursed me by his idols. 7 But I, when I had drawn his sword, cut off his head, and took away
the reproach from the children of Israel.”