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In speaking of the variations of the Syriac from the Hebrew text, we have suggested that these probably and naturally arose very often through the misplacing of letters. There is a class of critics in Germany, whose aim it is, by emendation and restoration of the Hebrew text, to bring out a more consistent sense than has usually been found in obscure and contradictory passages. The latest instance in this kind of labor which has come under our notice is a small work of Emil von Ortenberg, in which he attempts, by conjectural rearrangement of the text, to show what is the true meaning of several of the Psalms. Von Ortenberg's sympathies are with the orthodox rather than with the rationalist party. He praises Olshausen and Delitsch as the eminent masters in sacred criticism, and the apparent boldness of his own speculation has in it no temper of destructiveness. His conjectures are all reverent, and he does not wish that one jot or tittle shall be separated from the text. He claims only the right to place the Hebrew letters, without any needless forcing, where, according to the signification of the passage, they seem naturally to belong. If a letter at the end of a word will make better sense for the passage when set in the beginning of the next word, he puts it there. If the transposition of similar letters in a word will make better sense, he does not hesitate to transpose them. If, by altering the position of clauses and .sentences, he can make the whole more harmonious, he is not afraid to do that. What Mr. J. Payne Collier has done for the text of Shakespeare, Von Ortenberg has attempted in the Hebrew Psalter. Some of his experiments are certainly of doubtful value; yet, in several instances, his new reading is an improvement upon the common reading. He has applied this principle of correction to not less than twenty of the Psalms, in some cases only to a single clause, in others to several verses in the Psalms. It would be a needless trial of the patience of our readers to explain fully the critical reasons of all these changes; to show why, in Psalm xvi. 3, he
, word, and putting it on to the other; or how, by leaving out the word disas in the last clause of Psalm xxxii. 9, and recombining the remaining words, the passage becomes intel
taking the first letter from one ,אֶרְצה בהֵמָה to בָּאָרֶץ הִכָּה alters
ligible. We give only a few instances of the results of Von Ortenberg's conjectures, without dwelling upon the process by which he has come to these results. The passage just mentioned (Psalm xxxii. 9) is one instance where the result of this conjectural criticism is good. The passage in our common version is certainly strange enough. “Be ye not as the horse or as the mule, which have no understanding; whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” This is not the reason why bits are put in the horses' mouths, or bridles upon their heads, to keep them away from men. They are treated thus, that they may be “ broken” into the service of men. This forcible method must supply their want of quick insight. Because the mule and horse cannot see their proper function, they must be bridled and bitted. It is evident that the Syriac translator was puzzled by this new statement about the horse and mule, that they were dangerous to man, and to be kept away from him. His rendering, however, does not get rid of the difficulty : 66 Whom men restrain with the bridle from their youth, nor do they come nigh unto him.” But when we translate the passage from Von Ortenberg's new arrangement of the words, it at once becomes reasonable, and fits as an illustration to the rest of the Psalm. The sinner is exhorted here to a willing submission, - not to stay away from God with a rebellious heart, until hard discipline shall subdue him ; to have that better spirit, that wisdom of soul, which yields at
“ Be not as the horse
Or as the mule, — without intelligence:
Until he can be led up to thee.”
But not to dwell upon particular passages, we may take as a whole three Psalms, in which Von Ortenberg has changed the general structure, to show the results of this method, — Psalms xlv., xlix., and lxxx. Psalm xlv. is one of the socalled “ Messianic” Psalms, and is quoted as such in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Yet the commentators have not failed to notice confusion and tautology in its parts, quite dif
ferent from that repetition of the ground tone, the “motive," of the Psalm, which we find in several of the “ songs of praise.” This is a “ Song of loves.” Omitting all preliminary observations, we give the Psalm as Von Ortenberg has arranged it, in parallel columns, and with the place of the verses changed. It will be observed that he reckons the superscription as the first verse, and that accordingly the numbers are slightly varied from their place in our version. There is a parallelism in thought and style in the verses which are set over against each other. And no one can doubt, that the new arrangement makes the Psalm more consistent in its parts, and more orderly in its movement. This, too, is one of the Psalms in which the Syriac varies widely from the Hebrew; and some of its variations fairly support the new conjectural reading.
2 My heart exults ; fair words will I speak!
My work is for the king; my tongue is the pen of a swift writer. 3 Beautiful art thou before the sons 14 A splendid show is the king's
of men; upon thy lips sweetness daughter within.
blessed thee forever. 4 Gird thy sword upon thy side, O 15 In groups they are led up to the hero!
king Thy might and thy glory!
Maidens behind her, her playmates
are brought to thee. 5 Triumphant goest thou on, be- 16 They are led up in joy and re
of truth, justice, and joicing, piety, and wonders will thy They come into the palace of the right hand teach.
king 6 Thy sharp arrows, in the heart 10 The queen has placed herself at
of the king's enemies; nations thy right hand, in the gold of fall prostrate beneath thee.
Ophir. 7 Thy God-throne stands forever; 11 Hear, daughter, and hearken and A sceptre of right is the sceptre of
incline thine ear, thy kingdom.
And forget thy people and thy
father's house. 8 Thou lovest justice and hatest 12 The king longs after thy beauty, crime;
For he is thy lord; incline thee Therefore God has thee anointed, unto him. Thy God, with oil of joy above thy
9 Myrrh and aloes, cassia are all thy 17 In thy father's stead shall come garments;
forth thy sons. From ivory palaces delights thee Thou wilt as princes set them in the play of lutes.
all the land. 13 King's daughters with thine in 18 I will praise thy name from genersignia,
ation to generation, And the daughter of Tyre with Therefore shall the people praise gifts,
thee for ever and ever. The richest of the people court
In Psalm xly. the changes which Von Ortenberg has made in the text are numerous, and, as some may think, too arbitrary to have weight. His dealing with Psalm xlix. is much less radical. He leaves out a single verse, which the other translators had been compelled to put in parentheses; and is able, with a very few verbal changes, to make all the difficulties and obscurity of the Psalm disappear. have it in our version, it is a “ dark saying,” in more senses than one. Not only is verse 8 of our version (which Von Ortenberg calls simply a marginal comment, suggested by Exodus xxi. 30) superfluous, but verse 11, as we read it, makes nonsense. What can we make of the statement, “ This their way is their folly ; yet their posterity approve their sayings”? It is just what their posterity would not be likely to do. And why, in verse 14, do we learn that the “ upright shall have dominion in the morning" over the rich when they are dead? The whole Psalm, as we read it, is confused. We get the general idea that a rich man is a fool, in thinking that his riches will save him from death, and that worldly prosperity is all vain and uncertain; but we do not find that even lyric flow which properly belongs to a Psalm of this kind. Our critic's conjectures, without doing serious harm to the text, give to it this lyric flow and progress. We see the art of the composer, the even measure, the balanced periods, and the returning refrain, the introduction, the burden of the song, and the conclusion of the whole matter. The dark saying becomes clear, and the harp opens this secret meditation. If the conjecture here is not well founded, it is at least well conceived.
“ Se non e vero, e ben trovato."
2 Hear this, all people, Hearken, all dwellers on the earth. 3 Children of men, and sons of man, Rich and poor together. 4 My mouth shall speak fulness of wisdom, And the thought of my heart is
understanding. 5 My ear I incline to the song, With the lute I open my
riddle. 6 Why should I fear in the days of 14 This is their way, in whom folly evil,
dwells; When upon my heels iniquity is And their sons hasten on after pressing,
them. 7 Those who trust in their posses- 15 Like sheep they are sent down to sions,
hell, and death will feed on them. And boast of their abundant rich Their form will waste, hell shall be
their dwelling 8 Verily, no one ransoms himself, 16 Verily, God my soul will ransom Or gives to God his gold of quit From hell, to take me to himself.
tance, 10 That he may live on forever 17 Fear not when one becomes rich, And not see the grave.
When the glory of his house in
creases ; 11 For he sees that wise men die, 18 For he takes away nothing at his Like fools and idiots they fall;
His glory goes not after him. 12 The graves are their eternal home, 19 If he blessed himself in his lifeTheir resting-place from age to
And they praise thee, that thou
doest well to thyself, With their names named they their 20 Thou wilt come to the generation property,
of the fathers, And leave to others their posses Who forever see not the light.
sions. 13 Man in glory has no abiding-place; 21 Man in glory, yet without intelliHe is like the beasts which are gence, dumb.
Is like the beasts, which are dumb.
In this rendering of the Psalm, the first four verses are introductory. The remaining verses are given in parallel passages; and, in place of verse 9, which is entirely omitted, as no part of the original Psalm, verse 12 is represented as double, so that there are eight verses in each column. Of these the third and the eighth in each column closely correspond, and are the emphatic verses. On one side we read that No one ransoms himself; on the other side, God will ransom my soul. On one side, it is Man in glory, with no abiding