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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
Book of Psalms
Or Psalter, the first book of the Hagiographa in the Hebrew Bible.
Title and Traditional Authorship
The Hebrew title of the book is o'S7n, tehillim, or o'IM " the book of hymns," or rather " songs of praise." 1 The singular 1 is properly the infinitive or nomen verbi of 1 '7r1 a verb employed in the technical language of the Temple service for the execution of a jubilant song of praise to the accompaniment of music and the blare of the priestly trumpets (1 Chron. xvi. 4 seq., xxv. 3; Chron. v. 1 seq.). The name is not therefore equally applicable to all psalms, and in the later Jewish ritual the synonym Hallel specially designates two series of psalms, cxiii. - cxviii. and cxlvi. - cl., of which the former was sung at the three great feasts - the encaenia, and the new moon, and the latter at the daily morning prayer. That the whole book is named " praises " is clearly due to the fact that it was the manual of the Temple service of song, in which praise was the leading feature. But for an individual psalm the usual name is y in?? (in the Bible only in titles of psalms), which is applicable to any piece designed to be sung to a musical accompaniment. Of this word '/ aXµos, " psalm," is a translation, and in the Greek Bible the whole book is called 1'aXpoi or 1liaXT17Pcov. 2 The title iliaNuoc or MVOs 11 a)pLiv is used in the New Testament (Luke xx. 42, xxiv. 44; Acts i. 20), but in Heb. iv. 7 we find another title, namely " David." Hippolytus tells us that in his time most Christians said " the Psalms of David," and believed the whole book to be his; but this title and belief are both of Jewish origin, for in 2 Macc. ii. 13 Ta Tou Aavtt means the Psalter, and the title of the apocryphal " Psalter of Solomon " implies that the previously existing Psalter was ascribed to David. Jewish tradition does not make David the author of all the psalms; but as he was regarded as the founder and legislator of the Temple psalmody (1 Chron., ut supra; Ezra iii. so; Neh. xii. 36, 45 seq.; Ecclus. xlvii. 8 seq.), so also he was held to have completed and arranged the whole book, though according to Talmudic tradition a he incorporated psalms by ten other authors, Adam, Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, Heman, Jeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korah. With this it agrees that the titles of the psalms name no one later than Solomon, and even he is not recognized as a psalmodist by the most ancient tradition, that of the LXX., which omits him from the title of Ps. cxxvii. and makes Ps. lxxii. be written not by him but of him. The details of the tradition of authorship show considerable variation; according to the Talmudic view Adam is author of the Sabbath psalm, xcii., and Melchizedek of Ps. cx., while Abraham is identified with Ethan the Ezrahite (Ps. lxxxix.). But, according to older Jewish tradition attested by Origen, 4 Ps. xcii. is by Moses, to whom are assigned Ps. xc. - c. inclusive, according to a general rule that all anonymous pieces are by the same hand with the nearest preceding psalm whose author is named; and Ps. cx., which by its title is Davidic, seems to have been given to Melchizedek to avoid the dilemma of Matt. xxii. 41 seq. Origen's rule accounts for all the psalms except i. and ii., which were sometimes reckoned as one poem (Acts xiii. 33 in the Western text; Origen; B. Berakhoth, f. 9b.), and appear to have been ascribed to David. (Acts iv. 25).
The opinion of Jerome (Praef. in ps. heb. ) and other Christian writers that the collector of the Psalter. was Ezra does not seem to rest on Jewish tradition.
Nature and Origin of the Collection
Whatever may be the value of the titles to individual psalms, there can be no question that the tradition that the Psalter was collected by David is not historical; 1 Hippol., ed. Lag., p. 188; Euseb. H.E. vi. 25, 2; Epiph. Mens et Pond. § 23; Jerome's preface to Psalt. juxta Hebraeos. 2 Similarly in the Syriac Bible the title is mazmore. The passages are collected in Kimhi's preface to his commentary on the Psalms, ed. Schiller-Szinessy, Cambridge (1883).
4 Opp. ii. 514 seq., ed. Rue; cf. Hippol. ut supra; Jerome, Ep. cxl. (ed. Cypr.), and Praef. for no one doubts that some of the psalms date from after the Babylonian exile. The truth that underlies the tradition is that the collection is essentially the hymn-book of the second Temple,' and it was therefore ascribed to David, because it was assumed, as we see clearly from Chronicles, that the order of worship in the second temple was the same as in the first, and had David as its father: as Moses completed the law of Israel for all time before the people entered Canaan, so David completed the theory and contents of the Temple psalmody before the Temple itself was built. When we thus understand
its origin, the tradition becomes really instructive, and may be translated into a statement which throws light on a number of points connected with the book, namely, that the Psalter was (finally, at least) collected with a liturgical purpose. Thus, though the psalms represent a great range of individual religious experience, they avoid such situations and expressions as are too unique to be used in acts of public devotion. Many of the psalms are doxologies or the like, expressly written for the Temple; others are made up of extracts from older poems in a way perfectly natural in a hymn-book, but otherwise hardly intelligible. Such ancient hymns as Exod. xv. i sqq., Judges v., i Sam. ii. i sqq., are not included in the collection, though motives from them are embodied in more modern psalms: the interest of the collector, we see, was not historical but liturgical.
The question now arises: Was the collection a single act or is the Psalter made up of several older collections ? And here we have first to observe that in the Hebrew text the Psalter is divided into five books, each of which closes with a doxology. The scheme of the whole is as follows: Book I., Ps. i. - xli.; all these are ascribed to David excepti., ii., x. (which is really part of ix.), xxxiii. (ascribed to David in LXX.); doxology, xli. 13. Book II., Ps. xlii. - lxxii.: of these xlii. - xlix. are ascribed to the Korahites (xliii. being part of xlii.), 1. to Asaph, li. - lxxi. to David (except lxvi., lxvii., lxxi. anonymous; in LXX. the last two bear David's name), lxxii. to Solomon; doxology, lxxii. 18, 19 followed by the subscription " The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." Book III., Ps. lxxiii. - lxxxix.; here lxxiii.- lxxxiii. bear the name of Asaph, lxxxiv., lxxxv., lxxxvii., lxxxviii. that of the Korahites, lxxxvi. of David, lxxxviii. of Heman, lxxxix. of Ethan; doxology, lxxxix. 52. Book IV., Ps. xc. - cvi.: all are anonymous except xc. (Moses), ci., ciii. (David), - LXX. gives also civ. to David; here the doxology is peculiar, " Blessed be Jehovah God of Israel from everlasting and to everlasting. And let all the people say Amen, Hallelujah." Book V., Ps. cvii. - cl.: of these cviii. - cx., cxxii., cxxiv., cxxxi., cxxxiii., cxxxviii. - cxlv. are ascribed to David and cxxvii. to Solomon, and cxx. - cxxxiv. are pilgrimage psalms, LXX. varies considerably from the Hebrew as to the psalms to be ascribed to David; the book closes with a group of doxological psalms.
The division into five books was known to Hippolytus, but a closer examination of the doxologies shows that it does not represent the original scheme of the Psalter; for, while the doxologies to the first three books are no part of the psalms to which they are attached, but really mark the end of a book in a pious fashion not uncommon in Eastern literature, that to book IV., with its rubric addressed to the people, plainly belongs to the psalm, or rather to its liturgical execution, and does not therefore really mark the close of a collection once separate. In point of fact books IV. and V. have so many common characters that there is every reason to regard them as a single great group. Again, the main part of books II. and III. (Ps. xlii. - lxxxiii.) is distinguished from the rest of the Psalter by habitually avoiding the name Jehovah (the Lord) and using Elohim (God) instead, even in cases like Ps. 1.7, where " I am Jehovah thy God " of Exod. xx. 2 is quoted but changed very awkwardly to " I am God thy God." This is not due to the authors of the individual psalms, but to an editor; for Ps. liii. is only another recension of Ps. xiv., and Ps. lxx. repeats part of Ps. xl., and here Jehovah is six times changed to Elohim, while the opposite change happens but once. The Elohim psalms, then, have undergone a common editorial treatment, distinguishing them from the rest of the Psalter. And they make up the mass of books II. and III., the remaining psalms, lxxxiv. - lxxxix., appearing to be a sort of appendix. But when we look at the Elohim psalms more nearly, we see that they contain two distinct elements, Davidic psalms and psalms ascribed to the Levitical choirs (sons of Korah, Asaph). The Davidic collection as we have it splits the Levitical psalms into two groups and actually divides the Asaphic Ps. 1. from the main Asaphic collection, lxxiii. - lxxxiii. This order can hardly be original, especially as the Davidic Elohim psalms have a separate subscription (Ps. lxxii. 20). But if we remove them we get a continuous body of Levitical Elohim psalms, or rather two collections, the first Korahitic and the second Asaphic, to which there have been added by way of appendix by a non-Elohistic editor a supplementary group of Korahite psalms and one psalm (certainly late) ascribed to David. The formation of books IV. and V. is certainly later than the Elohistic redaction of books II. and III., for Ps. cviii. is made up of two Elohim psalms (lvii. 7 - t t, lx. 5-12) in the Elohistic form, though the last two books of the Psalter are generally ' This must be understood of the whole collection as completed, not of all its component parts. (R. H. K.) Jehovistic. We can thus distinguish the following steps in the redaction: (a) the formation of a Davidic collection (book I.) with a closing doxology; ( b ) a second Davidic collection (li. - lxxii.) with doxology and subscription; (c ) a twofold Levitical collection (xlii.- xlix.; 1., lxxiii. - lxxxiii.); (d ) an Elohistic redaction and combination of (b ) and (c); (e ) the addition of a non-Elohistic supplement to (d) with a doxology; (f) a collection later than (d), consisting of books IV. and V. And finally the anonymous psalms i., ii., which as anonymous were hardly an original part of book I., may have been prefixed after the whole Psalter was completed. We see, too, that it is only in the latest collection (books IV., V.) that anonymity is the rule, and titles, especially titles with names, occur only sporadically. Elsewhere the titles run in series and correspond to the limits of older collections.
Date of the Collection
An inferior limit for the final collection is given by the Septuagint translation. But this translation was not written all at once, and its history is obscure; we only know from the prologue to Ecclesiasticus that the Hagiographa, and doubtless therefore the Psalter, were read in Greek in Egypt about 130 B.C. or somewhat later.' And the Greek Psalter, though it contains one apocryphal psalm at the close, is essentially the same as the Hebrew; there is nothing to suggest that the Greek was first translated from a less complete Psalter and afterwards extended to agree with the extant Hebrew. It is therefore reasonable to hold that the Hebrew Psalter was completed and recognized as an authoritative collection long enough before 130 B.C. to allow of its passing to the Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria. Beyond this the external evidence for the completion of the collection does not carry us.
(W. R. S.) But there is absolutely no necessity for supposing that when the grandson of Ben Sira reached Egypt the Psalter had been translated into Greek. for any considerable time. Indeed it is at least equally probable that it was the recent translation of some of the poetical books of the Old Testament which fired him with a desire to translate his grandfather's book, and perhaps add the work of a member of the family to the Bible of the Egyptian Jews. It appears indeed from i Chron. xvi., 2 Chron. vi. 41, 42, that various psalms belonging to books IV. and V. were current in the time of the Chronicler. Unfortunately however it is impossible to date the book of Chronicles with certainty. The argument that the Chronicler must have been contemporary with the last persons named in his book is by no means convincing and on the other hand his account of the Temple services, in which he seems to be describing the Temple of his own days, harmonizes far better with a date at the end of the third, or even in the second, century B.C. than with the close of the Persian or the beginning of the Greek period. For the impression which we get from Nehemiah's memoirs is that in his days the community at Jerusalem was in the main poverty-stricken, while Malachi's exhortations to the people to pay their dues to the priests implies that in the middle of the fifth century B.C. the Temple was by no means wealthy. But in the comparative peace and freedom of the 3rd century B.C. the condition of Jerusalem was greatly ameliorated. Wealth accumulated to such a degree that Simon the son of Oniah was enabled practically to rebuild the Temple, and to maintain its services with a grandeur of ritual which they had probably never known before. It must be admitted that the gorgeousness of ritual described by the Chronicler is far more in harmony with the days of Simon than with any previous post-exilic period. How late the Chronicler wrote cannot perhaps be determined; but it is, at all events, impossible to prove that the author of Ecclesiasticus was acquainted with his work. Ben Sira indeed in his list of worthies mentions Zerubbabel, Joshua and Nehemiah; but Zerubbabel and Joshua he must have known from the books of Haggai and Zechariah, and he may well have been acquainted with that document relating to Nehemiah which the Chronicler incorporated with his book. Ben Sira's omission of the name of Ezra rather militates against the supposition that he had the Chronicler's book before him when he. wrote. The conflict between Saduceeism and the sopherim was hardly so intense in his days as to warrant the supposition that he omitted the name of Ezra intentionally. Moreover, it is not certain that the psalms that the Chronicler quotes (xcvi., cv., cvi., cxxxii.) ' The text of the passage is obscure and in part corrupt, but the Latin " cum multum temporis ibi fuissem " probably expresses the author's meaning. A friend has written to the author that for we ought perhaps to read already existed in their place in our Psalter, or that Ps. cvi. even existed in its present form.
Other evidence of date is to be found in the Levitical psalms of the Elohistic collection. These, as we have seen, form two groups, referred to the sons of Korah and to Asaph. In Nehemiah xii. 46 Asaph is taken to be a contemporary of David and chief of the singers of his time, and in r Chron. xxv. i seq. one of the three chief singers belonging to the three great Levitical houses. But the older history knows nothing of an individual Asaph; in Ezra ii. 41 the gild of singers as a whole is called Bne Asaph, as it was apparently in the time of Nehemiah (Neh. xi. 22, Heb.) . 1 The singers or Asaphites are at this time still distinguished from the Levites; the oldest attempt to incorporate them with that tribe appears in Exod. vi. 24, where Abiasaphthat is, the eponym of the gild of Asaphites - is made one of the three sons of Korah. But when singers and Levites were fused the Asaphites ceased to be the only singers, and ultimately, as we see in Chronicles, they were distinguished from the Korahites and reckoned to Gershom (i Chron. vi.), while the head of the Korahites is Heman, as in the title of Ps. lxxxviii. It is only in the appendix to the Elohistic psalm-book that we find Heman and Ethan side by side with Asaph, as in the Chronicles; but this does not necessarily prove that the body of the collection originated when there were only two gilds of singers.
But here it becomes necessary to ask what is the precise meaning which we are to assign to the phrases, " to David," " to Asaph," " to the sons of Korah." We certainly need not suppose that the Davidic, Asaphic and Korahite psalms severally once existed as separate books, for, if this had been the case, it is probable that the ascription would not have been prefixed to each separate psalm, but rather to the head of each collection (cf. Prov. i. i, x. 1., xxv. 1), together with some such note at the end as is found in Job. xxxi. 40, Ps. lxxii. 20; moreover we should be compelled to assent 'to the view expressed in the Oxford Dictionary that those psalms which have the heading r3?? 1 2 (A. V. " to " - R. V. " for " - " the chief Musician ") also originally formed a separate collection. But against this explanation of the heading ry;p' 2 there is an almost insuperable objection; for, since both the first and second books contain psalms with this heading, it is clear that the " Chief Musician's - or Director's - Psalter " must have been in existence before either of these books; in which case, apart from the difficulty of the antiquity which we should be compelled to assign to this earliest Psalter, it is impossible to understand on what principle the first book of Psalms was formed. If the compiler of the first book aimed simply at making a collection of Davidic psalms from a major Psalter compiled by the " Director," why should he have deliberately rejected a number of Davidic psalm* (Ps. li. sqq.) which, ex hypothesi, lay before him in this Psalter? It is surely as difficult to suppose that the Davidic psalms of the first book are a selection made from a greater collection of such psalms contained in the " Director's Psalter " as it is to imagine that St Mark's Gospel is an abridgment of St, Matthew's. It is true that the preposition " to " O may denote authorship, as it does apparently in Isaiah xxxviii. 9, Hab. iii. 1, but it certainly has a much wider meaning; and indeed in some cases the idea of authorship is out of the question, for the psalms ascribed to the Korahites can scarcely have been supposed to be the joint composition of that body. Moreover, it is very doubtful whether the word r y ?c can be translated " Director." In 1 Chron. xv. 21 the verb of which r.??? is the participle is used of the duty which was discharged by Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-edom, Jeiel and Azaziah (and perhaps, if verse 20 is to be taken in close connexion with verse 21, by Zecharaiah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jeiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benaiah also) on one definite occasion. Unfortunately the exact nature of these men's performances is not quite clear, for it is said to have been connected with " harps set to the sheminith," or according to another interpretation, with " harps over the tenors." But whatever the obscure expression n'i'#1 -1 52 may mean, r7?5 cannot here mean to " direct," for a choir with six " directors " would have been a veritable beargarden. Obviously the word r ' must refer to something in the music; and inasmuch as the cymbals were for the purpose of producing a volume of sound (v'#r), it is reasonable to suppose that the 1 The threefold division of the singers appears in the same list according to the Hebrew text of verse 17, but the occurrence of Jeduthun as a proper name instead of a musical note is suspicious, and makes the text of LXX. preferable. The first clear trace of the triple choir is therefore in Neh. xii. 24.
musicians with treble lutes and with harps an octave lower (or with lutes and harps over the sopranos and tenors respectively) were to lead the singers in giving out the melody. If this explanation be correct - and it certainly accords best with the meaning of r*5 in i Chron. xv. 21 - the my will be that part of the orchestra which played the melody to be sung, virtually corresponding, mutatis mutandis, to what we now call the choir organ, and we need not complicate the compilation of the Psalter by postulating an altogether unnecessary " Director's Psalter." Now we have seen that the 5 prefixed to n-'p 'p cannot refer to authorship; we seem therefore shut up to one of two alternatives, either the psalms inscribed 's? mp belonged to the repertoire of the Korahites, or they were intended to be sung in the Korahite style. It is indeed possible that each division of the Levitical singers had its own collection;. but this is hardl y probable unless we are to suppose that they never officiated simultaneously, in which case we should certainly have expected that the psalm quoted by the Chronicler (i Chron.. xvi.) would be included in the Asaphic collection. But there is no difficulty in supposing that each division of the Levitical musicians had its own traditional music, certain instruments being peculiar to the one and certain to the other, in which case the assignment of a psalm to the Asaphites or Korahites will merely denote the sort of music to which it is set. In like manner it is not improbable that 1 1-;5 meant originally " to be sung in the Davidic mode "; 2 that is, perhaps, " with harp accompaniment " (cf. i Sam. xvi. 16), or, since the Chronicler ascribes to David the initiation of the Temple music, " in the oldest traditional mode." Under such circumstances,. however, a confusion would easily arise between the composer of the tune and the author; and when once the idea had arisen that David was the author of psalms, it would be natural to endeavour to discover in the story of his life suitable occasions for their composition.
The interpretation of the titles here suggested removes an objection brought against the assumption of a Maccabaean date for certain psalms, which lays stress on the fact that some of them, e.g. Ps. xliv., are written in a time of the deepest dejection, and yet are psalms of the Temple choirs; whereas, when the Temple was re-opened for worship, after its profanation by Antiochus, the Jews were victorious, and a much more joyful tone was appropriate.
For if the titles nrp 'i? t ?, 99x L 1, &c., do not denote that the psalms so inscribed were collected by the Temple choirs, there is no evidence that these psahns were originally sung in the Temple. The earlier collections of psalms may well have been used first in synagogues,. and only adapted to the Temple worship when they had become part of the devotional life of the people. It is noteworthy that the psalms. quoted by the Chronicler belong to the last collection, books IV. and V., which, as a whole, is far more suitable for liturgical use.
Since, then, the existence of separate books of psalms anterior to the present divisions of the Psalter is very doubtful, we must look for other evidences of date. Now, both the Korahite and Asaphic groups of psalms are remarkable that they hardly contain any recognition of present sin on the part of the community of Jewish faith - though they do confess the sin of Israel in the past - but are exercised with the observation that prosperity does not follow righteousness either in the case of the individual (xlix., lxxiii.) or in that of the nation, which suffers notwithstanding its loyalty to God, or even on account thereof (xliv., lxxix.). Now the rise of the problems of individual faith is the mark of the age that followed Jeremiah, while the confident assertion of national righteousness under misfortune is a characteristic mark of pious Judaism after Ezra, in the period of the law but not earlier. Malachi, Ezra and Nehemiah, like Haggai and Zechariah, are still very far from holding that the sin of Israel lies all in the past. Again, a considerable number of these psalms (xliv., lxxiv., lxxix., lxxx.) point to an historical situation which can be very definitely realized. They are post-exilic in their whole tone and belong to a time when prophecy had ceased and the synagogue worship was fully established (lxxiv. 8, 9). But the Jews are no longer the obedient slaves of the oppressing power; there has been a national rising and armies have gone forth to battle. Yet God has not gone forth with them: the heathen have been victorious, blood has flowed like water round Jerusalem, the Temple has been defiled, and these disasters assume the character of a religious persecution. These details would fit the time of religious persecution under Antiochus, to which indeed Ps. lxxiv. is referred (as a prophecy) in i Macc. vii. 16. It is contended by those who, like the late Professor W. Robertson Smith, are opposed to the dating of any psalms of the second collection in the Maccabaean period, that, since they are post-exilic, there is one and only one time in the Persian period to which they can be referred, viz. that of the great civil wars under Artaxerxes III. Ochus (middle of 4th Some confirmation of this explanation of the titles may be found in the fact that in place of lam'? (Ps. xxxix. 1) we find in lxii. I,. lxxvii. 1, pnni'-S y, the latter expression being apparently an abbreviation of ianr: Sip; 53?.
century, B.C.). But there is no evidence that the Jews were involved in these; for the account which Josephus gives of Bagoses' oppression of the Jews represents the trouble as having arisen originally from internal dissensions, and does not hint at anything of the nature of a rebellion against Persia. Moreover the statement of Eusebius (Chron. anno 1658 Abr.) that Artaxerxes Ochus in the course of his campaign against Egypt transported a detachment of Jews to Hyrcania does not prove that Judaea as a whole had revolted. There is nothing even to connect these Jews with Palestine; they may have formed a part of the very considerable Jewish community which we know to have been settled in Egypt as early as the 5th century B.C. On the other hand, it is extremely improbable that the Jews of Judaea, whom Nehemiah had entirely detached from their immediate neighbours, would have taken part in any general rising against Persia. Between them and the Samaritans on the north and the Edomites on the south there was the most implacable hostility, which would probably be sufficient in itself to keep them from joining in the revolts in which other parts of Syria were involved.. Moreover, even if the Jews had revolted, it cannot fairly be maintained that such a revolt must necessarily have had a religious character. Even Josephus does not say that the Persians tried to interfere with the Jews in the exercise of their religion; and nothing less than this would satisfy the language of Ps. xliv. 22: " Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long," &c. On the other hand, not only is the atmosphere of the second collection of psalms as a whole the atmosphere of godly Judaism in the 2nd century B.C., but it may fairly be claimed that this collection contains many psalms which may naturally be interpreted in the light of the history of that period, of which no satisfactory explanation (in their details) can be given if they are assigned to any other time. Thus; for example, Ps. xliv., with its description of the sufferings of the righteous for God's sake, would be perfectly appropriate in the mouth of one of the " godly " ( Hasidim ) about 167 B.C. Ps. xlv., though the unsoundness of the text in certain parts makes it difficult to speak with certainty, would suit the marriage of Alexander Balas at Ptolemais in 150 B.C., at which the high priest Jonathan was present as an honoured guest. In this connexion verse 10 is particularly appropriate as addressed to an Egyptian princess whose forefathers, though their rule had not on the whole been tyrannical, had been regarded by the Jews as heathen oppressors. Again, Ps. lx., with its ideal description of Jehovah's kingdom as including Gilead, Samaria, Moab, Edom and Philistia, though the ideal was not realized till the days of John Hyrcanus, would be quite appropriate in the mouth of a Maccabaean patriot. The author of Ps. lxviii. would seem to have been inspired by the sight or the description of the never-to-be-forgotten procession of the victorious Maccabees in 164 B.C. to rededicate the desecrated Temple. Hence the taunt to Bashan, the stronghold of the Seleucid government; hence the mention of Judah and Benjamin with the two Galilaean tribes Zebulon and Naphtali (as in Isaiah ix. 1 - a passage which on independent grounds has been assigned to the time of Simon Maccabaeus), while schismatic Samaria is completely ignored. The historical background of Ps. lxxix. is apparently the same as that of Ps. xliv. Again, Ps. lxxxvii. would seem to date from a time when the Jews, having won freedom to worship God, were able to look forward to the conversion of their former oppressors (cf. Isaiah xi., xix.). That this psalm was composed at least as late as the 3rd century B.C. is made probable by the name here given to Egypt, Rahab. Having regard to Job. ix. 13, xxvi. 12, Isaiah li. 9, there can be little doubt that Rahab is the (? Palestinian) name of Tiamat the dragon of the abyss, the natural symbol of the power of darkness, or of the kingdom of the world as opposed to the kingdom of the people of the saints of the Most High God. It is extremely improbable that such a name was applied to Egypt simply because Egypt possessed the crocodile. The origin of its application must be sought in a time when Egypt was regarded as hostile to the people of the Lord - that is to say, during the Ptolemaic rule over Palestine. These considerations, in addition to numerous phrases and expressions which cannot here be noticed, of which the full force can only be felt by those who have specially studied the Maccabaean period and those other portions of the Old Testament, such as Zechariah ix. - xiv., which may plausibly be assigned to it, make it almost certain that the second collection of psalms was made not earlier than the time of Jonathan or even of Simon.
Now books IV. and V. are, as we have seen, later than the Elohistic redaction of books II. and III., so that the collection of the last part of the Psalter must, if our argument up to this point is sound, fall within the second half of the 2nd century B.C. And here it is to be noted that though no part of the Psalter shows clearer marks of a liturgical purpose, we find that in books IV. and V. the musical titles have entirely disappeared. This does not necessarily prove that " the technical terms of the Temple music had gone out of use, presumably because they were already become unintelligible, as they were when the Septuagint version was made "; for it does not follow that technical musical terms which had originated in the Temple at Jerusalem and were intelligible in Palestine would have been understood in Egypt. The absence of the musical titles, however, ma y be taken as an indication that the last collection of psalms was formed in a different place from that in which the earlier collections had arisen; and if, as seems probable, we may identify this place with the Temple at Jerusalem, the absence of musical titles is easily explained, for the number of skilled musicians who there ministered, and who would, of course, possess the tradition of the various modes and tones, would make precise musical directions superfluous. On the other hand, in a collection intended for synagogue use - and the second collection of psalms is as a whole far more suitable to a synagogue than to the Temple - where there would not be a large choir and orchestra of skilled musicians, it would obviously be desirable to state whether the psalm was to be sung to a Davidic, Asaphic or Korahite tone, or to give the name of a melody appropriate to it. Again, the general tone of large parts of this collection is much more cheerful than that of the Elohistic psalm-book. It begins with a psalm (xc.) ascribed in the title to Moses, and seemingly designed to express feelings appropriate to a situation analogous to that of the Israelites when, after the weary march through the wilderness, they stood on the borders of the promised land. It looks back on a time of great trouble and forward to a brighter future. In some of the following psalms there are still references to deeds of oppression and violence, but more generally Israel appears as happy under the law. The problems of divine justice are no longer burning questions, the righteousness of God is seen in the peaceful felicity of the pious (xci., xcii., &c.). Israel, indeed, is still scattered and not triumphant over the heathen, but even in the dispersion the Jews are under a mild rule (cvi. 46), and the commercial activity of the nation has begun to develop beyond the seas (cvii. 26 seq.). But some of the psalms refer to a time of struggle and victory. In Ps. cxviii. Israel, led by the house of Aaron - this is a notable point - has emerged triumphant from a desperate conflict, and celebrates at the Temple a great day of rejoicing for the unhoped-for victory: in Ps. cxlix. the saints are pictured with the praises of God in their throat and a sharp sword in their hands to take vengeance on the heathen, to bind their kings and nobles, and exercise against them the judgment written in prophecy. Such an enthusiasm of militant piety, plainly based on actual successes of Israel and the house of Aaron, can only be referred to the first victories of the Maccabees, culminating in the purification of the Temple in 164 B.C. This restoration of the worship of the national sanctuary, under circumstances that inspired religious feelings very different from those of any other generation since the return from Babylon, might most naturally be followed by an extension of the Temple psalmody; it certainly was followed by some liturgical innovations, for the solemn service of dedication on the 25th day of Chisleu was made the pattern of a new annual feast (that mentioned in John x. 22). In later times the psalms for the encaenia or feast of dedication embraced Ps. xxx. and the hallel Ps. cxiii. - cxviii.; and though Ps. xxx. may have been adapted from a collection already existing, there is every reason to think that the hallel, which especially in its closing part contains allusions that fit no other time so well, was first arranged for the same ceremony. The course of the subsequent history makes it very intelligible that the Psalter was finally closed, as we have seen from the date of the Greek version that it must have been, within a few years at most after this great event.' From the time of Hyrcanus downwards the ideal of the princely high priests became more and more divergent from the ideal of the pious in Israel, and in the Psalter of Solomon we see religious poetry turned against the lords of the Temple and its worship.
All this does not, of course, imply that there are not in books IV. and V. any pieces older than the completion of books II. and III., for the composition of a poem and its acceptance as part of the Levitical liturgy are not necessarily coincident in date, except in psalms written with a direct liturgical purpose. In the fifteen " songs of degrees " (Ps. cxx. - cxxxiv.) we have a case in point. According to the Mishna (Middoth. ii. 5) and other Jewish traditions, these psalms were sung by the Levites at the Feast of Tabernacles on the fifteen steps or degrees that led from the women's to the men's court. But when we look at the psalms themselves we see that they must originally have been a hymn-book, not for the Levites, but for the laity who carne up to Jerusalem at the great pilgrimage feasts, and who themselves remembered, or their fathers had told them, the days when, as we see in Ps. xlii., it was impossible to make pilgrimage to Zion. They are hymns of the laity, describing with much beauty and depth of feeling the emotions of the pilgrim when his feet stood within the gates of Jerusalem, when he looked forth on the encircling hills, when
he felt how good it was to be camping side by side with his brethren on the slopes of Zion (cxxxiii.), when a sense of Jehovah's forgiving grace and the certainty of the redemption of Israel triumphed over all the evils of the present and filled his soul with humble and patient hope.
The titles which ascribe four of the pilgrimage songs to David and one to Solomon are lacking in the true LXX., and inconsistent with the contents of the psalms. Better attested, because found in the LXX. as well as in the Hebrew, and therefore probably as old as the collection itself, are the name of Moses in Ps. xc. and that of David in Ps. ci., cii., cviii. - cx., cxxxviii. - cxlv. But where did the last collectors of the psalms find such very ancient pieces which had 1 Possibly under Simon; compare the other hallel (Ps. cxlvi. - cl. with 1 Macc. xiii. 50 seq.
been passed by all previous collectors, and what criterion was there to establish their genuineness? No canon of literary criticism can treat as valuable external evidence an attestation which first appears so many centuries after the supposed date of the poems, especially when it is confronted by facts so conclusive as that Ps. cviii. is made up of extracts from Ps.' lvii. and lx. and that Ps. cxxxix. is marked by its language as one of the latest pieces in the book. The only possible question for the critic is whether the ascription of these psalms to David was due to the idea that he was the psalmist par excellence, to whom any poem of unknown origin was naturally ascribed, or whether we have in some at least of these titles an example of the habit so common in later Jewish literature of writing in the name of ancient worthies. In the case of Ps. xc. it can hardly be doubted that this is the real explanation, and the same account must be given of the title in Ps. cxlv., if, as seems probable, it is meant to cover the whole of the great hallel or tehilla (Ps. cxlv. - cl.), which must, from the allusions in Ps. cxlix., as well as from its place, be almost if not quite the latest thing in the Psalter.
For the later stages of the history of the Psalter we have, as we have seen, a fair amount of evidence pointing to conclusions of a pretty definite kind. We have still to consider the two great groups of psalms ascribed to David in books I. and II. We have endeavoured to show that the ascription " to David " in these groups did not originally denote authorship by David, and that, notwithstanding the subscription of Ps. lxxii., which may well be a later note, there is no necessity to suppose an original collection of Davidic psalms from which excerpts were made. It is, however, probable that the title soon came to be understood of David's authorship, with the result that further notes were added indicating the situation in David's life to which the psalms appeared to be appropriate. It is certainly not impossible that the two groups of " Davidic " psalms once formed separate collections independently compiled, and that the subscription to Ps. lxxii. originally stood at the end of the second collection; for in book I. every psalm, except the introductory poems i. and ii. and the late Ps. xxxiii., which may have been added as a liturgical sequel to Ps. xxxii., bears the title " of David," and in like manner the group Ps. li. - lxxii., though it contains a few anonymous pieces and one psalm which is either " of," or rather, according to the oldest tradition, " for Solomon," is composed of " Davidic " psalms. It would seem also that the collectors of books I. - III. know of no Davidic psalms outside of these two collections, for Ps. lxxxvi. in the appendix to the Elohistic collection is merely a cento of quotations from Davidic pieces with a verse or two from Exodus and Jeremiah. Now that the ascription " to David " was understood of David's authorship before the time of the LXX. is clear from such titles as that of Ps. xviii., for example, but there is no evidence that in early times David was regarded as the author of any of the psalms. Even the Chronicler, though he regarded David as the great founder of the Temple music, does not quote any psalm as composed by him, and the Chronicler's omission of 2 Sam. xxii. - xxiii. 7 makes it probable that this section has been inserted in the book of Samuel since he wrote. If, as is possible, Ecclus. xlvii. 8 is a reminiscence of Ps. ix. 2 and Ps. xviii. 2, we should indeed naturally infer that these two psalms were regarded by Ben Sira as the work of David; but this would prove nothing as to the date of the collection in which we now have them. It may fairly be contended therefore that the tradition that David is the author of the psalms which are assigned to him in books I. and II. comes to us from a period later than that in which the Chronicler wrote. And it is not too much to say that that view - which to some extent appears in the historical psalms of the Ehohistic Psalter - implies absolute incapacity to understand the difference between old Israel and later Judaism, and makes almost anything possible in the way of the ascription of comparatively modern pieces to ancient authors. In any case the titles are manifestly the product of the same uncritical spirit as we have just been speaking of, for not only are many of the titles certainly wrong, but they are wrong in such a way as to prove that they date from an age to which David was merely the abstract psalmist and which had no idea whatever of the historical conditions of his age. For example, Ps. xx. xxi. are not spoken by a king but addressed to a king by his people; Ps. v. xxvii. allude to the Temple (which did not exist in David's time) and the author of the latter psalm desires to live there continually. Even in the older Davidic psalm-book there is a whole series of hymns in which the writer identifies himself with the poor and needy, the righteous people of God suffering in silence at the hands of the wicked, without other hope than patiently to wait for the interposition of Jehovah (Ps. xii., xxv., xxxvii., xxxviii., &c.).. Nothing can be further removed than this from any possible situation in the life of the David of the books of Samuel, and the case is still worse in the second Davidic collection, especially where we have in the titles definite notes as to the historical occasion on which the poems are supposed to have been written. To refer Ps. lii. to Doeg, Ps. liv. to the Ziphites, Ps. lix. to David when watched in his house by Saul, implies an absolute lack of the very elements of historical judgment. Even the bare names of the old history were no longer correctly known 1 The explanation of n175 suggested above offers another alternative. - R. H. K.
when Abimelech (the Philistine king in the stories of Abraham and Isaac) could be substituted in the title of Ps. xxxiv. for Achish, king of Gath. In a word, the ascription of these two collections to_David has none of the characters of a genuine historical tradition.
At the same time it is clear that the two collections do not stand on quite the same footing. The second collection of " Davidic " psalms, as well as the Korahite and Asaphic psalms, have been subjected to an Elohistic redaction, for which we must find a reason if the history of the Psalter is to be written. An explanation that naturally suggests itself is that, at the time when books II. and III. (with the exception of the appendix, Ps. lxxxiv. - lxxxix.) were collected, it was already the custom, from motives of reverence, to abstain from pronouncing the Tetragrammaton. Upon this supposition it might be explained that book I. was collected before this scruple arose, and books IV. and V. when the custom had arisen of substituting in reading the word Adonai. But, as we have seen, it is impossible to separate the contents of the Elohistic books from those of the last collection. Both include psalms which are most naturally understood as referring to the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes and to the Maccabaean victories, and cannot therefore be separated by a long interval of time. Moreover the scruple as to the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton seems to have arisen earlier, as in the LXX. version of the Pentateuch rrn' is represented by Kvpws. And further, if the Elohistic redaction was due merely to a desire to avoid pronouncing the divine name, why was not the presumably earlier collection of psalms in book I. subjected to a similar redaction? It is therefore difficult to suppose that the Jewish Church as a whole passed through a stage in which it was felt desirable to substitute o'n'7 H in writing for n¦n'. There is, however, no difficulty in supposing that such a thing was done in some sections of the Jewish Church, and it is probable that we must look for an explanation of the peculiarity not to the time but to the place where the second collection was formed. Now it must be frankly admitted that the earlier books of psalms exhibit no particular suitability for the Temple services. It is only in the last collection, books IV. and V., that we find any number of psalms appropriate to such a ritual as that of the Temple, and it is difficult to resist the conviction that the earlier collections were made for use, not in the Temple at Jerusalem but in some synagogue or synagogues. Thus, for example, the numerous psalms in which the poets, though speaking perhaps, not as individuals but as members of a class, describe themselves as poor and afflicted at the hands of certain ungodly men, who appear to be Jews, can hardly have been originally collected by the Temple choirs. For since the ministers of the Temple at Jerusalem were the aristocracy of the land, and were often, as we know both from the book of Malachi and from the history of the Maccabees, the chief offenders, it is extremely unlikely that they collected for the official services. of the Temple compositions directed against themselves. It is also remarkable that hymns such as Exodus xv., which would be specially suitable to the Temple, find no place in the Psalter. Moreover, in Ps. xl., we have the striking assertion, which surely did not originate in the Temple, that God has no delight in sacrifice and offerings. On the other hand, the first collection of " Davidic " psalms taken as a whole would be perfectly appropriate in the worship of a Judaean community of Hasidim in the Maccabaean period. We have, unfortunately, no information as to the origin of synagogues, but their existence in pre-Maccabaean times may be inferred not only from the statement in Ps. lxxiv. 8, but also from the fact that there must have been some rallying points for the religion of the Hasidim: besides that supplied by occasional visits or pilgrimages to Jerusalem. We need not suppose that congregations gathered together to worship away from Jerusalem, especially in times of distress, would necessarily sing the religious poems which they had collected, though it is by no means improbable that they would do so. At any rate, Ps. cxxxvii. 4 may fairly be taken as evidence that those heathen among whom the Jews dwelt " in a strange land " had heard and admired the " songs of Zion." Certainly in happier times, when the worst period of storm and stress was over, there would be a desire to enliven the services with music, which would naturally be borrowed from the traditional music of the great national sanctuary.
In thus assigning the first collection of psalms to some Judaean community of Hasidim in the earlier Maccabaean period we need not conclude that all the psalms contained in this collection were first composed at this time. Although there is no psalm which can be shown with any probability to be pre-exilic, it is not impossible that there are some which date from as early a time as the age of Zerubbabel, by whose appointment national hopes were raised to so high a pitch. Thus, for example, Ps. xviii., xx., xxi., which in some respects recall the language of the song ascribed to Hannah in I Sam. ii., may possibly, like that song, be referred to this period. It must, however, be admitted that as a whole the psalms of the first collection are more suitable to a later date. Ps. viii., which is almost certainly quoted in Job. vii. 17, need not have been composed long before the book in which it is quoted: the references to the " godly " and to their persecutions at the hands of wicked men, who seem to be Jews, recall the Maccabaean age; in Ps. xxii. the speaker, who is not an individual but speaks in the name of a community, bears a remarkable resemblance to the " suffering servant " of Isaiah lii.
and of this last passage it may be said that all the translatable portions of it can be naturally explained, if it refers to the time when the resistance of the Hasidim, whom the Sadducees had despised and shunned, had won freedom for Israel as a whole, and at no other known period; the fragment, Ps. xxiv. 7-10, is most easily understood of the time when the Lord who had shown Himself strong and mighty by His victories over the heathen returned in triumph to His Temple in 164 B.C. - in the days of Zerubbabel or of Nehemiah Jehovah had not recently shown Himself " mighty in battle." In the light of these circumstances - and space here forbids more than the scantiest reference - we may reasonably suppose that the first book, with the exception of Ps. i., ii. and possibly xxxiii., is a collection of psalms in the shape which it assumed in a Judaean synagogue in the earlier days of the Maccabaean victories.
We have already noticed the difficulty of supposing that the Elohistic Psalter was compiled in a place where a Jehovistic Psalter was already in use. It is therefore probable that the second collection of psalms (books II. and III.), containing as it does an Elohistic recension of a psalm occurring in book I. in a Jehovistic form, must have been compiled for use in some other district. Since the last collection (books IV. and V.) which may reasonably be assigned to the Temple at Jerusalem uses freely the name min', it may be inferred that the district where an objection was felt to writing the Tetragrammaton was some distance from Jerusalem, and probably not in such close touch with it as most of the country districts of Judaea would be. Such a district we may find in southern Galilee, " the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali," apparently the only portion of Palestine north of Samaria where the worshippers of Jehovah existed in any considerable numbers. It is at least remarkable that the names Zebulon and Naphtali in Isaiah ix. i (a passage which, as has been already noted, is probably Maccabaean) denote the region which had felt the brunt of the persecution of the heathen, while in Ps. lxviii. 27 (a poem of which every translatable verse is explicable if it refers to the great procession at the rededication of the Temple in 164 B.C.) the same two tribes are joined with Judah and Ben j amin ( sc. Judaea) as celebrating the Lord's victory. The dissenting inhabitants of Samaria are naturally absent from such a festival. It is not improbable that the Elohistic redaction of the second collection of psalms is due not so much to any Jewish scruples about writing the Tetragrammaton as to the fear that it might fall into the hands of the heathen who were trying to destroy the Hebrew Scriptures, and might thus be desecrated (cf. i Macc. i. 5 6, 57).
We may thus suppose that about the time of Jonathan the Maccabaean High Priest (if our explanation of Ps. xlv. is correct), at all events not earlier than 150 B.C., a south Galilaean synagogue made a collection of the various religious poems current among its members. Perhaps those which were to be sung according to the old Davidic mode formed the nucleus of the collection, and to these were added other poems to be sung according to the more intricate Korahite and Asaphic modes. The appendix to this collection (Ps. lxxxiv. - lxxxix.) being non-Elohistic presumably was collected elsewhere. It is possible that these last-mentioned psalms were originally an appendix to the Judaean collection and have been removed from their original place to after the other Levitical psalms.
In books IV. and V. we have a collection probably made originally for use in the Temple, consisting in the main of recent hymns, but embodying, at least to some extent, older traditional hymns of the Temple. On this hypothesis we are able to explain the presence of certain poetical pieces both in the book of Chronicles and in the Psalter. We need not suppose that the Chronicler quotes from the Psalter or vice versa, the matter which they have in common being probably derived from certain traditional songs current among the Levitical singers. Since this last collection includes a psalm (cx.) which can scarcely refer to any one earlier than Simon the Maccabee, and cannot well be later than his time, we are justified in assigning the compilation of this collection to about the year 140 B.C. But by this time a great change had taken place in the aims and aspirations of the Jews. The earlier Maccabaean policy of concentration had given place to one of expansion. The Jews in Jerusalem could not ignore the Jews of Galilee or even of the Dispersion. The hymns which had brought comfort to the faithful in the time of their distress had become an integral part of their religion which could not be given up. Jerusalem was now the religious metropolis of a great nation. and accordingly it was felt desirable that the hymn-books of the several parts of the nation should be combined into a hymn-book for the whole. The synagogue collections, since they contained psalms which at this time were probably considered to be the work of David, were placed first, and the Temple collection added to them. There was then prefixed to the whole collection a hymn (Ps. ii.) describing the hoped-for greatness of Simon's kingdom, and finally Pharisaic sentiment prefaced the whole by a psalm in praise of the law. In the final compilation, or perhaps in a subsequent redaction, some alterations were made in the original order, some notes were added describing the circumstances in which various psalms had been composed, and lastly, in order to assimilate the outward form of the Psalter to that of the Pentateuch, the three collections were divided into five books. The final redaction is probably to be dated between the years 140 and 130 B.C.
Musical Execution and Place of the Psalms in the Temple Service
The musical notes found in the titles of the psalms and occasionally also in the text (Selah, 1 Higgaion) are so obscure that it seems unnecessary to enter here upon the various conjectures that have been made about them. The clearest point is that a number of the psalms were originally at least set to melodies named after songs,' and that one of these songs beginning m=1-'7:I (Al-tashith in E. V., Ps.
lvii. seq.), may be probably identified with the vintage song, Isa. lxv. 8. The original music of the psalms was therefore apparently based on popular melodies. A good deal is said about the musical services of the Levites in Chronicles, both in the account given of David's ordinances and in the descriptions of particular festival occasions. But unfortunately it has not been found possible to get from these accounts any clear picture of the ritual of any certainty as to the technical terms used. In Egypt by the translators of the Septuagint these terms were not understood.
The music of the temple attracted the attention of Theophrastus (ap. Porph. De abst. ii. 26), who was perhaps the first of the Greeks to make observations on the Jews. His description of the Temple ritual is not strictly accurate, but he speaks of the worshippers as passing the night in gazing at the stars and calling on God in prayer; his words, if they do not exactly fit anything in the later ritual, are well fitted to illustrate the original liturgical use of Ps. viii., cxxxiv. Some of the Jewish traditions as to the use of particular psalms have been already cited; it may be added that the Mishna (Tamid) assigns to the service of the continual burnt-offerings the following weekly cycle of psalms. - (1) xxiv., (2) xlviii., (3) lxxxii., (4) xciv., (5) lxxxi., (6) xciii., (Sabbath) xcii., as in the title. Many other details are given in the treatise Soferim, but these for the most part refer primarily to the synagogue service after the destruction of the Temple. For details on the liturgical use of the Psalter in Christendom the reader may refer to Smith's Diet. Chr. Ant., s.v. " Psalmody." Ancient Versions. - (A ) The oldest version, the LXX., follows a text generally closely corresponding to the Massoretic Hebrew, the main variations being in the titles and in the addition (lacking in some MSS.) of an apocryphal psalm ascribed to David when he fought with Goliath. Ps. ix. and x. are rightly taken as one psalm, but conversely Ps. cxlvii. is divided into two. The LXX. text has many " daughters," of which may be noticed (a) the Memphitic (ed. Lagarde, 1875); (b ) the old Latin, which as revised by Jerome in 383 after the current Greek text forms the Psalterium romanum, long read in the Roman Church and still used in St Peter's; ( c ) various Arabic versions, including that printed in the polyglots of Le Jay and Walton, and two others of the four exhibited together in Lagarde's Psalterium, Job, Proverbia, arabice, 1876; on the relations and history of these versions see G. Hoffmann, in Jenaer Literaturz., 1876, art. 539; the fourth of Lagarde's versions is from the Peshito. The Hexaplar text of the LXX., as reduced by Origen into greater conformity with the Hebrew by the aid of subsequent Greek versions, was further the mother ( d ) of the Psalterium gallicanum - that is, of Jerome's second revision of the Psalter (385) by the aid of the Hexaplar text; this edition became current in Gaul and ultimately was taken into the Vulgate; ( e ) of the SyroHexaplar version (published by Bugati, 1820, and in facsimile from the famous Ambrosian MS. by Ceriani, Milan, 1874). (B) The Christian Aramaic version or Peshito (P'shitta) is largely influenced by the LXX., compare Baethgen, Untersuchungen ilber die Psalmen each der Peschita, Kiel, 1878 (unfinished).
1 Of the various explanations that have been given of Selah the only one which possesses any probability is that given independently by Baethgen and others, viz. that it is a mispronunciation of an original n a=viaxxE. The word, which was probably derived from some Greek bandmaster, was presumably an instruction for a musical interlude. The LXX. translators who render it by SiatbaX a though not recognizing the derivation of the word, knew its meaning.
- R. H. K.
Compare the similar way of citing melodies with the prep. 'al or 'al kaia, &c., in Syriac (Land, Anecd. iv.; Ephr. syr. hymns, ed. Lamy).
This version has peculiar titles taken from Eusebius and Theodore of Mopsuestia (see Nestle, in Theol. Literaturz., 1876, p. 283). (C) The Jewish Aramaic version or Targum is probably a late work.' The most convenient edition is in Lagarde, Hagiographa chaldaice, 1873. (D ) The best of all the old versions is that made by Jerome after the Hebrew in 405. It did not, however, obtain ecclesiastical currency - the old versions holding their ground, just as English churchmen still read the Psalms in the version of the " Great Bible " printed in their Prayer Book. This important version was first published in a good text by Lagarde, Psalterium juxta hebraeos hieronymi (Leipzig, 1874).
While some works of patristic writers are still of value for text criticism and for the history of early exegetical tradition, the treatment of the Psalms by ancient and medieval Christian writers is as a whole such as to throw light on the ideas of the commentators and their times rather than on the sense of a text which most of them knew only through translations. For the Psalms, as for the other books of the Old Testament, the scholars of the period of the revival of Hebrew studies about the time of the Reformation were mainly dependent on the ancient versions and on the Jewish scholars of the middle ages. In the latter class Kimhi stands pre-eminent; to the editions of his commentary on the Psalms enumerated in the article Kimhi must now be added the admirable edition of Dr Schiller-Szinessy (Cambridge, 1883), containing, unfortunately, only the first book of his longer commentary. Among the works of older Christian scholars since the revival of letters, the commentary of Calvin (1557) full of religious insight and sound thought - and the laborious work of M. Geier (1668, 1681 et saepius) may still be consulted with advantage, but for most purposes Rosenmtiller's Scholia in Psalms (2nd ed., 1831-1822) supersedes the necessity of frequent reference to the predecessors of that industrious compiler. Of more recent works the freshest and most indispensable are Ewald's, in the first two half-volumes of his Dichter des alien Bundes (2nd ed., GÃ¶ttingen, 1866; Eng. trans., 1880), and Olshausen's (1853). To these may be added (excluding general commentaries on the Old Testament) the two acute but wayward commentaries of Hitzig (1836, 1863-1865), that of Delitzsch (1859-1860, then in shorter form in several editions since 1867; Eng. trans., 1871), and that of Hupfeld (2nd ed. by Riehm, 1867, 2 vols.). The last-named work, though lacking in original power and clearness of judgment, is extremely convenient and useful, and has had an influence perhaps disproportionate to its real exegetical merits. The question of the text was first properly raised by Olshausen, and has since received special attention from, among others, Lagarde ( Prophetae chald., 1872, p. 46 seq.), Dyserinck (in the " scholia " to his Dutch translation of the Psalms, Theol. Tijdschr., 1878, p. 279 seq.), and Bickell ( Carmina V. T. metrice, &c., Innsbruck, 1882), whose critical services are not to be judged merely by the measure of assent which his metrical theories may command. In English we have, among others, the useful work of Perowne (5th ed., 1883), that of Lowe and Jennings, (2nd ed., 1885), and the valuable translation of Cheyne (1884). The mass of literature on the Psalms is so enormous that no full list even of recent commentaries can be here attempted, much less an enumeration of treatises on individual psalms and special critical questions. For the latter Kuenen's Onderzoek, vol. iii., is, up to its date (1865), the most complete, and the new edition now in preparation will doubtless prove the standard work of reference. As regards the dates and historical interpretation of the Psalms, all older discussions, even those of Ewald, are in great measure antiquated by recent progress in Pentateuch criticism and the history of the canon, and an entirely fresh treatment of the Psalter by a sober critical commentator is urgently needed.
The bibliography up to this point is taken from the article PSALMS by the late Professor W. Robertson Smith (Ency. Brit., 1886), large portions of which are incorporated in the present article. It was the belief of Professor Robertson Smith that the second (Elohistic) collection of psalms originated in a time of persecution earlier than the time of Antiochus Epiphanes which he referred to the reign of Artaxerxes III. Ochus. This theory, which he set forth with all his accustomed learning and force, is still accepted in many quarters, many other passages of the Old Testament bei
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Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Book of Psalms'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/b/book-of-psalms.html. 1910.
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20