Saturday, 2 May 2009

Judges through Poets- 11a Poetry contd

Strophic Structure (stanza structure)
Is a structure where parallel lines can be grouped together in a common way.

How do we know there is strophic structure?
1) Look for a refrain.
A refrain is a regularly recurring verse that stands at the end of the stanza. The refrain is also known as the chorus.

For examples see Psalms 39, 42, 43, 62, 67.

See Isaiah 9:8-10:4
See the refrain in verses 9:12b, 9:17b. 9:21b, 10:4b. The division between these chapters is wrong (also the division between Psalm 42 and 43).

2) Look for an alphabetic acrostic
This is a poem where each successive line or verse starts with a new letter of the Hebrew alphabet. See Psalms 9, 10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119 135. Alphabetic acrostics were primarily for remembrance.

Example: Isaiah 44:24-28
V24 Stanza 1 refers to events of the remote past
V25-26 Stanza 2 refers to the present
V27-28 Stanza 3 refers to the future

The movement of tenses may indicate the change of stanza

Figures of speech
A figure of speech translates the ordinary meaning of a word, applies it to a concept to communicate the extraordinary.
For example: ‘The mountains skipped like rams’ and ‘your wife shall be a fruitful vine.’

Figures of speech can be grouped into three categories:
1) Figures of comparison
2) Figures of substitution
3) Miscellaneous

A simile is defined as an explicitly stated comparison declaring the resemblance of one thing to another using the words ‘like’ and ‘as’. For this you need a figurative object and a literal object. These objects are then compared.

Eg: my room mate looks like a pig
As the interpreter we must diagnose which features are applicable to this statement.
This shouldn’t be difficult as similes are intended to be self-explanatory.

A metaphor is comparison by direct assertion. A metaphor is stronger than a simile.
1 Peter 1:24 ‘All flesh is like grass’ is a simile.
Isaiah 40:6 ‘All flesh is grass’ is a metaphor.

Psalm 84:11 ‘The Lord is a light and a shield’
Psalm 119 ‘your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’.


Hypocatastasis is a figure of comparison which is much more subtle than a simile or metaphor. A hypocatastasis doesn’t mention the literal subject.

Simile = My room mate is like a pig
Metaphor = I live with a pig
Hypocatastasis = I live with a pig

Eg David saying ‘for dogs have surrounded me’

Judges through Poets- 10b Poetry contd

Hebrew poetry is structure or cause to vibrate by different means.


The basic unit of a verse consists of two lines called bi-call???
You can get a three-line verse. This is called tri-call???
The different lines in the verse express similar thoughts. They say the same thing with different words.

Psalm 19:8
‘The statues of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;’

The commandments of the Lord are both for the heart and the eyes.

Psalm 104:33
‘I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.’

Types of Parallelism
a) Synonymous Parallelism
This is when two or more lines of poetry express the same idea in different words

b) Complete synonymous Parallelism
This is when every member of the first line has a member in the second line.

Psalm 142:2
‘I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare before Him my trouble’

A = I pour out my, I declare
B = complaint, my trouble
C = Before Him, before Him

c) Incomplete synonymous parallelism

Psalm 103:7
‘He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel’

A = He made known
B = His ways, His acts
C = To Moses, to the children of Israel

A is incomplete here.

d) Antithetic parallelism
This is when two lines of a verse express contrasting ideas in parallel.
This is used extensively in the book of Proverbs

Psalm 20:8
‘They have bowed down and fallen;
But we have risen and stand upright’

A = They have bowed down, But we have rise
B = and fallen, and stand upright

Psalm 119:113
‘I hate those who are double minded,
But I love Your law.’

e) Synthetic parallelism
This occurs when the second colon advances the first of the first colon by adding a new idea.

Psalm 92:9
‘For behold, Your enemies, O Lord,
For behold, Your enemies shall perish; All the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.’

f) Emblematic Parallelism
This is when the poet employs a metaphor in his parallelism.
One line is a literal state or subject. The second line is a metaphor that is parallel to the first line.

Psalm 42:1
‘As the deer pants for the water,
so my soul longs after you.’

This is the inversion of parallel terms in successive lines.

Psalm 78
‘They did not keep the covenant of God
And in His torah they refused to walk’

A = They did not keep
B = the covenant of God
B1= And in His torah
A1 = they refused to walk

The centre of this verse pivots on the covenant and torah.
To be continued.