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(Examiner in Hebrew and Greek Testament in the University of London) 






AN apology is perhaps needed for writing a book on the 
Psalms^ a subject which has been so admirably treated 
by a number of the most eminent scholars, which has 
been approached from almost every conceivable stand 
point, and which, therefore, embraces a literature which 
is already exceedingly voluminous. The writer s 
apology must be that, in spite of all that has been 
written, there is one aspect of the subject which, he 
ventures to think, has not been sufficiently taken into 
consideration, namely the Jewish. The attempt is, 
therefore, made in the following pages to give some 
idea of the place which the Psalms have occupied, and 
do now occupy, in the Jewish Church. This, it is true, 
involves touching upon some subjects which have been 
far better treated by other writers ; but in dealing with 
the place and use of the Psalms among the Jews, such 
topics as their musical accompaniment, their poetical 
structure, etc,, can scarcely be left out of account. The 
author has, however, sought to lay more stress on 
matters which are, as a rule, not dealt with, or only 
incidentally touched upon, in Commentaries on the 
Psalms, and the like. Excepting in the case of the 
introductory chapter and the final one, use has been 


-*$ (ptefafotg (ftofe 

made, in the main, of Jewish authorities, a fact which, it 
is hoped, may make the book useful to some who have 
not access to this class of literature ; thus, the informa 
tion to be gained from Mishnic tractates and from 
Midrashic works has been freely utilised, while the works 
of modern Jewish scholars, both German and English, 
have afforded the writer a great deal of help. 

For one who is not a Jew either by race or religion 
to take upon himself the task of discussing the Jewish 
use of the Psalms may appear presumptuous ; but the 
sympathy engendered by personal intercourse with 
Jews, interest in Jewish institutions, and the study of 
Jewish literature, can to some extent qualify a Christian 
to write on things Jewish, even though in many 
respects he may feel the want of more adequate know 

The writer desires to express his hearty thanks to the 
Rev. G. E. Friedlander, minister of the Western 
Synagogue, for a number of details which were of much 
help in writing Chapter IX., " The Psalms in the 
Modern Synagogue " ; also to Miss Dampier for supply 
ing him data regarding the use of the Psalms in the 
Sephardic Ritual. Thanks are also due to the Rev. 
Sir W. Robertson Nicoll for permitting the writer to 
reprint his " Commentary on Psalm xci. " from the 


Hatch End, Middlesex, 
October, 1910. 







I. The origin of " Music." 

II. Music among uncultured peoples. 

III. Music among the ancient Egyptians. 

IV. Music among the Assyrians. 

V. Music among the ancient Greeks. 

VI. Music among the Arabs. 



I. The Primitive Period. 

II. The Davidic Period. 

III. The Post-exilic Period. 

IV. The Greek Period. 


+ Confenfe. 





I. Instruments used by the Israelites. 

(a) Instruments of percussion. 

(b) Wind instruments. 

(c) String instruments. 

II. Data concerning instrumental accompani 
ment to the Psalms. 



I. Songs in honour of the Deity ; and songs 

which commemorate the heroic deeds 

of ancestors. 
II. Songs which preserved the memory of 

great national events. 
III. Folk-songs, including Vintage and Harvest 

IV. Meditations and Prayers. 




I. The composite character of the Psalms. 
II. Some examples of developed forms of 
earlier types of song : 

(a) Songs in honour of the Deity. 

(/;) The Historical Ode. 

(c) Harvest and Vintage songs. 

(d) Meditations and Prayers. 

(e) New types of song. 







I. The characteristics of Hebrew poetry. 
II. Forms of Hebrew poetry. 

(a) The Trimeter. 

(b) The Tetrameter. 

(c) The Pentameter. 

(d) The Hexameter. 

(e) The Kin ah measure. 
III. Parallelism. 

(a) Synonymous. 

(b) Antithetic. 

(c) Complementary. 
(a!) Introverted. 

IV. Acrostic poems. 


I. The Musical accompaniment of the 

Psalms in the Temple Worship. 
II. The Psalms used in the Temple Worship. 
(a) The Psalms in the Daily Services. 
(6) The Psalms in the Sabbath Services. 
(c) The Festival Psalms : The " Hallel" 
used at the Feasts of Passover, 
Tabernacles, Weeks, Dedication, 
and at New Moons. 
III. The Songs of Ascents. 



I. The original object of the Synagogue : 

Evidence of Philo, Josephus, the New 
Testament, Post-biblical Jewish 
II. The Order of Service in the ancient 

III. The Music of the Ancient Synagogue. 


$ Content. 




I. The Psalms in the Daily Services. 
II. The Psalms in the Sabbath Services. 
III. The Psalms in the Festival Services. 
IV. The Psalms on the Fast Days. 
V. The Method of rendering the Psalms in the 
Modern Synagogue. 



I. The private use of Psalms among the 

ancient Israelites. 
II. The private use of Psalms among the 

III, Sepher Shimmush Tehillim. 


I. Some miscellaneous examples of Jewish 

II. Some examples of interpreting passages as 

referring to the Law. 

III. Some examples of Messianic interpretation. 
IV. Some passages from the Psalms quoted in 

the New Testament. 








IT is often said that we are wholly in the dark 
regarding the musical performances, whether vocal 
or instrumental, of the Hebrews; in a modified 
sense it is, perhaps, true to say that " we know 
nothing whatever of the nature of the music per 
formed by these (Hebrew) singers and players"; 1 
nevertheless, there are certain lines of investigation 
which, if carefully followed out, will, we venture to 
think, be not without results in enabling us to form 
some definite ideas as to the character of both vocal 
and instrumental music among the ancient Hebrews. 
It is proposed, in the present introductory chapter, 
to indicate briefly what these lines of investigation 

1 J. Millar in Hasting s Diet, of the Bible> iii. 547. 

+$ ge (ggfme in tge 3wisfl Cgutcfl* 

arc ; not to follow them out in detail, but merely to 
show, by a few examples, that a more adequate 
study of them would, in all probability, yield really 
tangible results. But even the cursory glance which 
it is here intended to give may, it is hoped, be to 
some extent helpful in obtaining some idea of the 
music among the Hebrews as it existed both in the 
very early days of their history, as well as in later 
times, after the Exile and onwards, when music played 
such an important part in the Temple worship. 

We shall, therefore, first of all, make a brief reference 
to some of the data regarding the earliest forms of 
music known to us. There are certain fundamental 
facts concerning music, which seem to be in accordance 
with natural laws, and may therefore, presumably, 
apply to the ancient Hebrews as they do to the men 
of every other race whose music has been studied. In 
the next place, a few details of ancient Egyptian music 
will be considered, together with a glance at its form 
among modern Egyptians, for evidence is forthcoming 
that in some respects the latter has close affinities with 
the former. The well-known conservatism of Oriental 
peoples is a factor not to be lost sight of in this 
connexion. Egyptian influence upon the Hebrews has 
during certain periods of their history been very 
marked, and it is more than probable that this 
influence was exerted in the domain of culture as well 
as in other directions. Music among the Assyrians will 
also be referred to, for they, too, exercised a great 


among (glncient (freoyle0. s 

influence over the Hebrews, during the seventh and 
eighth pre-Christian centuries. In later times Hellenic 
culture left indelible marks upon the Hebrews, 
and the supposition is reasonable that here, too, 
musical taste was affected ; so that some reference to 
music among the Greeks must also find a place. 
Lastly, and perhaps most important of all for gaining 
some idea of Hebrew music in ancient times, there is 
the music of the Arabs ; a few words will, therefore, 
also be said about this. 

I. The origin of " Music" 

The desire to express the emotions is proper to the 
whole of animated Creation ; and the chief, though not 
the only, way whereby the inward working of emotions 
is made outwardly apparent is by means of vocal 
expression. But the existence of variety of emotion 
demands a corresponding variety in the mode of 
expression; this is true of the lower Creation, as 
well as of man ; for example, the difference between 
the joyous bark of a dog, a growl of anger, and a 
whine expressive of pain some of Nature s primitive 
"musical" sounds is recognised by dogs themselves; 
and it is at least conceivable that something cor 
responding to these audible expressions of joy, anger, 
pain, etc., exists in a considerable portion of the 
Animal Kingdom, even though man may be unable 
to detect them in some cases. The most beautiful 
of Nature s music is, of course, the song of the birds ; 


(ftcafmg in tfle Jewtgfl Cgutcfl. 

it is, therefore, to be expected that among some 
specialists it should be held that music first 
came into existence among men from the desire to 
imitate the song of birds. As far as is known, 
Lucretius 1 was the first to put forth the theory that 
men first learned music from the birds. 

"Other theorists," according to Dr. C. S. Myers, 2 
"looking to the value of rhythmical music in 
furthering work 3 and dancing, and having regard to 
the delight taken by primitive people in the beats 
of the tom-tom, have laid chief stress on rhythm 
as the source of all music." This theory fails, apart 
from other reasons, in view of the fact that examples 
of primitive music exist which " are characterized 
by a total absence of rhythm." 4 More plausible is 
the suggestion, also mentioned by Dr. Myers, which 
has been put forward that " music began when 
primitive man vied one with another in exhibiting his 
superior attractiveness before women " ; 5 this theory 
is presumably based upon the analogy of a similar 
procedure in the lower creation, 6 and it only takes 
one type of emotion into consideration, whereas those 
of joy, sorrow, and anger, are just as elemental in 
human nature as the erotic emotion. Theorizing on 

1 In his De rerum natura ; quoted by Forkel, Allgemeine Litteratur 
der Musik, p. 3 ( 1 792) ; Lucretius lived in the former half of the first cen. B. c. 

2 " The Ethnological Study of Music," in Anthropological Essays 
(P- 237), 1907. 

3 For examples of this, see p. 16. 4 Op. cit. p. 237. 5 Ibid. 
6 See the section on " Sexual Selection " in Darwin s Origin of Species. 


(Jtlustc among ^Indent (peoples $+ 

the subject is exceedingly fascinating, but it is also 
very precarious, for in our present state of knowledge, 
we are largely working in the dark ; far more numerous 
and reliable data are required than are at present 
available before our knowledge of the place of music 
among uncultured peoples, their ideas of rhythm, 
melody, harmony, tonality, pitch, and intervals, is 
sufficiently increased to enable us to arrive at scientific 
conclusions based on the sure ground of ascertained 
facts. Some data we have ; these will be referred to 
presently, and as far as they go they are of value, 
but they do not go very far. At present it is safest 
to say, concerning the origin of music, with Dr. Myers 
that " we may regard musical and verbal language 
as derived from a common source; namely, from the 
tendency to give vent to feelings by vocal expression." 1 

11. Music among uncultured peoples. 

Uncivilized man is stirred most by the rhythmical 
element in music ; " the widespread occurrence of 
complex rhythms among primitive peoples is perhaps 
intimately related to their generally scant feeling for 
harmony." : The emphasis laid on rhythm, which has 
been noticed among savages all the world over, is a 
fact of the highest importance, we shall have to refer 
to it again more than once. The immediate, result of 
this characteristic in very early forms of music is that 
it, almost of necessity, excludes the use of any great 

1 Myers, Op. cit. p. 237. 2 Myers, Op. cit. p. 237. 


+ t$t (pgaftng in tye fcwtsfl Cftutcfl. 

compass ; the number of different notes used must 
necessarily be small ; and this is exactly what is found 
to be the case in the most primitive forms of niusic 
known. Another result which follows naturally is that 
no great importance is attached to melody ; if rhythm 
is more important than melody, it does not matter 
much, it would seem, what the melody is, and one can 
well understand that one melody should do duty on all 
sorts of occasions, which, again, is actually the case 
among primitive peoples. In speaking of music among 
savage races Ambros 1 says, that if there is a melody 
among them it is of the most primitive kind, and it is 
brought forth originally on the spur of the moment ; if 
it finds favour it is repeated again on all kinds of 
occasions ; in this way, he maintains, folk-song first 
originates, The following example is given ; it was 
obtained by the Polar explorer, Elisha Kent-Kane, 
from the Eskimos of Anoatok : 

With strongly marked rhythm this is repeated over 
and over again. Here is another example from the 
same source, which well illustrates the characteristic of 
constant repetition : 

1 A. W. Ambros, Geschichte der Musik (1887), Second Division, Dit 
Musik der Culturvolker des Orients, pp. 538 ff, 


Qttumc among (gUctent (fteopfe0 4 "< 

It is interesting to notice in this example how the 
rhythm comes to the fore ; if one hums it one will 
inevitably accentuate the second c in each bar. Both 
examples illustrate very pointedly some words of 
Dr. Myers ; in discussing the subject of tonality among 
primitive peoples, he says : " By the feeling for tonality 
we mean the underlying recognition of a tonic ; that is 
to say, a certain tone of a melody is regarded as the 
centre of gravity, to which all the other tones come to 
have a felt reference, and seek, for the sake of restful- 
ness, to return. The tonic is not necessarily the lowest, 
nor need it be the final note of the melody. The feeling 
for tonality may have developed pari passu with the 
growing feeling for harmony ; but in a low degree it 
may certainly exist independently of the latter." 1 The 
second of the above examples illustrates also another 
fact, and that is that the earliest intervals, apart from 
the octave, which were apprehended, were the fifth 
and the fourth. This apprehension of the perfect 
intervals before the imperfect seems to be in accordance 
with a natural law ; the distinction between the two 
has been observed for many centuries, says Mr. R. H. M. 
Bosanquet, "but neither ancients nor moderns have 
adduced any explanation of the phenomenon, and the 

1 Op. cit. p. 246. 

7 B 

3wi$ Cflurcg. 

wondrous fact that perfect intervals differ in constitu 
tion and treatment from other intervals appears to defy 
reason, and not even to incite speculation." 1 The 
following Soudanese melody, which is repeated many 
times, again illustrates what has been said 2 : 

The natives of the Sandwich Isles, we are told, know 
only four notes, together with the octave of the lowest 
of these ; so, too, the natives of Tongatabu, who also 
know only four or five notes, but not the octave of 
any of them ; 3 of an even less developed type is the 
music of the natives of Tahiti, which is a " sleep-inducing 
murmuring without a vestige of melody or any kind 
of time." * How similar in general characteristics the 
music is of uncultured peoples in widely separated 
parts of the world will be seen by comparing the 
following examples with those already given. Two 
Jesuit missionaries working in Abyssinia took down 
from the natives there these two very simple 
melodies 5 : 

1 Encyd. Brit. xvii. 78 (ninth ed.). 2 Ambros, Op, cit. p. 546. 

r> Ambros, Op. cit. p. 543. 4 Ibid* 

5 J. N. Forkel, Allgemeine Geschichtt der Musik, i. 94 (1788). 


Qtusic among Ancient (freoyfea, &+ 

Quite similar melodies are to be heard among the 
North American Indians. 1 

The next is a melody sung by the Maoris of New 
Zealand 2 :~ 

An interesting thing about this melody is that while 
it was being sung some of the natives joined in, singing 
it a third lower ; that points to a great development in 
musical culture among the Maoris, which is further 
illustrated by the following dirge, sung very slowly 3 : 

One other example may be given here ; it is of 
special interest, for it offers a fully developed theme, 
while its rhythmical character is strongly marked ; it is 
from Senegal 4 : 

1 Atnbros, Op. cit. p. 541. a Ambros, Op. cit. p. 545. 
8 Ibid-. 4 Ambros Op t cit p, 546. 

Though somewhat monotonous when repeated many 
times, this would make quite a passable march ; its 
developed character is certainly striking, and it would 
be both interesting and important to know whether it 
belongs to the older music of the Senegalese or not ; 
for, as Dr. Myers says, " some of the changes which the 
music of a given people has undergone in the course of 
its development may be revealed by a careful com 
parison of the older with the more modern tunes." 
And he goes on to say, what is as true as important, 
that " nearly every people, however primitive, preserves 
what we may term its classical music. Such music 
often becomes invested with a sacred character. It 
may be performed only in secret initiation ceremonies, 
or during religious observances. In this connexion the 
native myths regarding the origins of music and 
musical composition should be studied." 1 

It should be mentioned in connexion with the 
examples of melody among uncultured races given 
above, that in almost every case they are accompanied 
by a dance, and it is the dance which gives the rhythm 
to the music. 2 Ambros, from whose important work 
most of the examples are taken, lays special stress on 
this fact ; this only further emphasizes the truth that 
among primitive folk rhythmical accentuation is more 

1 Op. tit. p. 240. 

2 For examples of the combination of dances and singing, usually in 
ceremonies of a religious character, see J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough t 
i. 33 ff., 465 ; ii. 326 f., 381 ff. ; iii, 255, etc,, etc. (1900), 


Qttustc among (Ancient (fteoyfeg* $ 

easily perceived than variations in tone ; the organ of 
time manifests itself more than apprehension of tone 
distances. It follows, therefore, that what one may 
call the " recitative " mode preceded melody in the 
stricter sense. Finally, in the words of Dr. Myers : 
" In the tunes of very primitive people, who always 
sing in unison, and have no knowledge of polyphonic 
music, we often meet with successive tones which, if 
sounded together, would pronounce true consonances. 
It has been suggested that such consonances have been 
actually heard by these people, owing perhaps to their 
chance occurrence in nature, or to the occasional want 
of strict time when members of a chorus are singing 
together. We may reasonably question whether such 
accidentally occurring instances of fusion are respon 
sible for the existence of harmonic intervals in the 
melodies of very primitive folk who never practise 
polyphonic music. The appreciation of a relation 
between consecutive tones is a far more plausible 
explanation, but we are entirely ignorant of the 
psychological and physiological basis of such apprecia 
tion. So far as the smaller intervals are concerned, we 
have to bear in mind that approximately whole-tone 
and semi-tone intervals (seconds) are exceedingly 
common among such people, and that in folk-music 
generally the frequency with which the various intervals 
are used decreases proportionately with their size. It 
is highly probable that the smaller intervals have been 
determined rather by the feeling for equal tone- 



distances than by the feeling for simultaneous harmony. 
The feeling for tonality may also have helped in the 
definition of and preference for the smaller intervals in 
melody." 1 

It will be well to summarize now the main points 
yielded by our cursory survey of music among un 
cultured races. 

i. The origin of music is wrapped in obscurity ; but it 
can be said that it is due to the desire, universal in 
Creation, to express the emotions; this is done 
primarily and mainly by vocal expression. There is 
variety in this mode of expression because there is 
variety in the emotions to be expressed. 

ii. Among uncultured peoples the rhythmical element 
is of far greater importance than the melodic ; this 
characteristic asserts itself also in more developed 
forms of music. 

iii. The number of tones known to men of limited 
culture is restricted to four, or five at the most. 

iv. The earliest intervals apprehended are the perfect 
intervals, i.e. the octave, the fifth, and the fourth ; 
this is probably the order in which they became 

v. Primitive melody is of the simplest kind ; it 
probably did not consist of more than the equivalent 
of two bars originally, which were repeated many times, 
on different occasions ; and therefore, presumably 
different sets of words were sung to the same melody. 
1 Op t dt. p. 246. 


Qjtugic among (Ancient (peoples* $* 

vi. The feeling for tonality, i.e. the underlying recog 
nition of a tonic, is seen to be a characteristic of the 
melodies of uncultured races. 

vii. The most ancient among the melodies of primitive 
peoples tend to assume a sacred character ; this fact 
justifies the belief that many of the folk-songs among 
such peoples are of great antiquity. 

viii. Among uncultured races there is an indissoluble 
connexion between dancing *x*A music ; the former gives 
the rhythm to the latter. 

ix. The " recitative " method preceded melody in the 
stricter sense ; this was necessarily the case, owing to 
the fact that the rhythmical element was more important 
than the melodic. 

x. Polyphonic music is unknown among primitive folk. 

These points will be seen to have a not unimportant 
bearing on the subject of music among the ancient 
Hebrews ; for they hold good regarding the music of 
races in widely separated parts of the world, a fact 
which suggests that they represent some fundamental 
elements in music which are common to all races of men. 

For further details regarding music among un 
cultivated peoples, see Ambros, Op. cit. i. pp. 537-548; 
J. G. A. Forster, Reise um die Welt wahrend der 
Jahren, 1772-1775, i. 166, 221, 343 ; ii. 252 ff,, etc., etc. 

III. Music among the ancient Egyptians. 
According to Plato, 1 the Egyptians said that their 
1 Born 428 B.C. 

$ fle (ftsafmg in tge Jewisg Cgutcg, 

most holy melodies originated from Isis, 1 ; this suggests 
great antiquity regarding these melodies, which agrees 
with the well-known conservatism of the ancient 
Egyptians, and illustrates what was said above re 
garding the antiquity of sacred songs among uncul 
tured races. An extremely interesting piece of 
information is given us by Herodotus, 2 who, in speak 
ing of music among the Egyptians, says : " They have, 
among other strange pieces, a song which is sung in 
Phoenicia, Cyprus, and elsewhere, but which goes by a 
different name in each race. It is similar 3 to that which 
the Greeks sing under the name of Linos. I marvel 
concerning many things in Egypt, and I also wonder 
how ever it was that they got hold of the Song of Linos; 
yet, as it seems to me, they have been accustomed to 
use it from time immemorial. Linos is called Maneros 
in the Egyptian language, and was, as they tell, the only 
son of the first King of Egypt, 4 and his early death 
was mourned in dirges. This is said to be their first 
and only 5 song. 6 " Herodotus is here referring to a 
legend which, in different forms but with the identical 
underlying idea, was very widespread among the nations 
of antiquity ; for this Linos-dirge 7 is the same as the 

1 Cp. Ambros, Die Musik der Culturvolker des Orients, p, 347. 

2 Born 484 B.C. 3 owu^perai. 

4 I.e. Menes, not a god, according to Wiedemann. 
6 This is obviously a mistake. 

6 ii. 79 ; Wiedemann, Herodofs Zweites Buch, pp. 333 ff. (1890). 

7 It is a confusion of ideas when Plutarch says (On Music, iv.) : " At 
the same time [z., when Amphion discovered how to accompany song 


tc among Ancient 

" mourning " for Adonis, Tammuz, Attis, Osiris, 
Lisyerses, 1 which was known and sung in Syria and 
Babylonia and Phrygia, as well as in Egypt and Greece. 
That the Israelites observed this annual mourning is 
clear from Isaiah xvii. 10, u, Ezekiel viii. 14, Zechariah 
xii. 10, cp. Judges xi. 40. The legend which attached to 
the name of Adonis 2 was only a later " explanation " 
of the original celebration of the rite ; Adonis was 
" one of those local gods who live with and in nature, 
who suffer in summer s drought, die with the winter, 
and live again with the early spring ; " 3 hence the rite 
was twofold, the mourning for the death of the god, 
and, afterwards, rejoicing for his resurrection. The 
" strange pieces " to which Herodotus refers in the 
quotation given above were evidently popular folk 
songs; the words of one such song has come down 
to us, for on one of the Egyptian monuments are 
depicted representations of oxen treading out corn 
(cp. Deut. xxv. 14), with the following inscription : 

" Thresh, ye oxen, 
Thresh the sheaves; 
Thresh for your owner, 
Thresh for yourselves." 

with the Kithara\ he [i.e. Ileraclides] says that Linos of Euboea . . . 
composed dirges" (ed. Westphal, p. 3), Linos, or Linus, is a shortened 
form for Ailinus, and is in reality only the cry at lanu ("Woe to us") 
which the Phoenicians uttered when they mourned for Adon or Adonis. 

1 Cp. J. G. Frazer, Op. cit. ii. 224 f. 

- See Lucian, De dea Syria^ vi. ff. 
Encycl. Bill. i. 69. 

4 Ambros, Op. cit. p. 348. 



Similar songs, which are sung during labour, whether 
while harvesting, or at vintage-time, or while rowing, 
drawing water, etc., are habitually sung in Eastern 
countries even at the present day ; they consist of 
very few notes which are sung over and over again, and 
the rhythm is set by the particular work engaged in at 
the time. The monuments of ancient Egypt, which 
have preserved for us data regarding both private and 
public life, teach us that customs, thousands of years 
old, were the same as those in vogue at the present 
day. What Mr. Lane says of the modern Egyptians is 
true of ancient times as well : " The natural liking of 
the Egyptians for music is shown by their habit of 
regulating their motions, and relieving the dulness 
of their occupations, in various labours, by songs or 
chants. Thus do the boatmen in rowing, etc., the 
peasants in raising water, the porters in carrying heavy 
weights with poles ; men, boys, and girls, in assisting 
builders by bringing bricks, stones, and mortar, and 
removing rubbish ; so also the sawyers, reapers, and 
many other labourers." 1 It is an interesting fact that 
the ancient Egyptians appear to have discerned some 
kind of connexion between nature and music, for, as 
is pointed out by Mr. Bosanquet, 2 they " perceived the 
distinction of the perfect intervals from others, and 
regarded them as typical of the seasons, spring bearing 

1 An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Moder Egyptian!) 
ii. p. 59. 

2 Encycl. Brit. xvii. 78. 


tc among (glnctent (freopteg* 

the proportion of a fourth to autumn, of a fifth to 
winter, and of an octave to summer." 

Mr. Lane gives an example of a modern Egyptian 
melody 1 which, on examination, however, will be seen 
to be quite in the style of the primitive melodies given 
above ; rhythm, tonality, and monotony are strongly 
marked ; it will be noticed, too, that it is within the 
compass of a fifth : 

" Most of the popular airs of the Egyptians," says 
Mr. Lane, " though of a similar character, in most 
respects, to the music of their professional performers, 
are very simple, consisting of only a few notes which 
serve for every one or two lines of a song, and which 
are, therefore, repeated many times." 2 

Mr. Lane does not mention anything about harmony ; 
but there would appear to be some grounds for believing 
that even amongst the ancient Egyptians, at all events 
among skilled professional musicians, some rudi 
mentary elements of harmony were not unknown. 
Mr. Bosanquet says : " We have Egyptian paintings of 
the period of the fourth dynasty and Greek sculptures 

1 Op. cit. ii. p. 85. 2 Op, cit. ii. p. 50, 



of players on pipes of different lengths which must 
have produced notes of different pitches ; and some 
times the same party plays on string instruments with 
necks whereon two strings, differently stopped and yet 
sounded together, would have yielded a combination 
of different notes ; and this, though a speechless, is a 
strong evidence that the musicians so represented made 
at least a forecast of modern harmony. 1 " Egypt was 
the country which originally gave the Greeks their 
music ; and it was from the Egyptians that the Greeks 
imported a stringed instrument which had a bridge 
"placed under the strings, so that one-third of the 
entire length was on one side and two-thirds on the 
other ; the shorter division when sounded was, of 
course, an octave higher than the longer ; this was used 
by Anacreon (middle of sixth century B.C.) to accom 
pany his singing ; it was called a Magadis ( doubling 
bridge )." 2 

From the ancient Egyptian monuments we learn 
further, that music must have occupied an important 
place in the life of the people ; the inscriptions tell us 
that musicians held high places at the Court ; sacrifices 
were accompanied by music ; dancing and music went 
together, as we should expect ; and music was played 
at feasts. Music was also necessary at the burial of 
the dead, and the mourning for the departed consisted 
of instrumental as well as vocal music. One inscrip 
tion gives a representation of the ceremony of mourning 

1 Encycl. Brit. xvii. 78. 2 Ibid. 


(tftuatc among (glnctent (fteoptee. $> 

for the dead ; it takes place in the chamber of the dead, 
and harp-players, singers, and dancers are represented. 1 
On Egyptian musical instruments, see Ambros, Op. 
cit. pp. 346 ff., Forkel, Op. cit. i. pp. 72 ff. 99 ; Riehm, 
Handivorterbuch des Biblischen Alter turns > art. 
" Musik " ; and the art. " Musik " in the Encycl. Bibl 

IV. Music among the Assyrians. 

We have, it appears, a good deal to learn yet about 
the place music occupied among the Assyrians ; for, 
while our knowledge of the subject is very limited, 
there are certain indications which suggest that the 
Assyrians had some distinctly advanced ideas regarding 
music. The fact, for example, that a different musical 
tone was believed to have first emanated from each of 
the seven planets 2 points to a somewhat developed 
musical conception. From the sculptures which adorned 
the palace of Sennacherib 3 we learn that music, both 
vocal and instrumental, contributed to the glorification 
of the Assyrian kings. One inscription represents 
women singing and clapping their hands at the same 
time ; this points again to the important place occupied 
by the rhythmical element. Another inscription 
supplies us with a detail of particular interest, a 

1 For illustrations of this kind, see Rosellini, Les Monutnens dc 
I Egypte et de la Nubie, PI. xciv. fig. 2, PI. xcvi. fig. 6. Lepsius, 
Denkmaler aus Aegypten tind Aelhiopien, Div. ii. PI. 52, 53. 

2 Cp> Jeremias, Das alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients, p, 334 

3 Situated near the present village of Koujundjik. 



woman is depicted singing with her hand at her 
throat ; this is characteristically oriental, and is 
constantly to be seen at the present day among 
Persian and Arabian women ; it is done in order to 
enable the singer to bring out a shrill and vibrating 
tone. 1 This is another instance of the continuance to 
the present time of customs which have been in vogue 
for millenniums. That music among the Assyrians was 
used for religious as well as secular purposes is proved 
by the fact that on various inscriptions there are 
representations of sacrifices being accompanied by 
music. Important for the history of music among the 
people of Judah, is an inscription from the palace of 
Asshurbanipal, 2 which tells, among other things, of how 
the Assyrian king took captive from Hezekiah, King 
of Judah, both male and female musicians ; the 
inscription thus witnesses to the existence of music in 
Jerusalem 3 in pre-exilic times, and the fact is not 
without importance regarding the question of the 
Temple music before the Exile. Another item of 
interest, for it illustrates a practice of which mention is 
made in both the Old and New Testaments, is the 
allusion to music and singing in the mourning for the 
dead ; thus, it is said that at the funeral of an Assyrian 
king, women wailed when all the mourners had 
assembled ; elsewhere it is said that " the wives (of 

Ambros, Op. cit. p. 388. 2 668-626 B.C. 

3 The context in the inscription states definitely that the musicians, 
together with other captives, were taken from Hezekiah s palace in 
Jerusalem to Asshurbanipal. 


(gtugtc among (glncient (fteoyleg. $+ 

the deceased) mourned, and the friends made response " 
(Cp. also Jer. xlviii. 36-38 ; 2 Chron. xxxv, 25 ; 2 Mace, 
iii. 19 ff; 2 Mace. i. 18, 19; Mark v. 38), 

V. Music among the ancient Greeks. 

It has been most truly said, in reference to music 
among the nations of antiquity, that " it is a fact which 
is seen to recur among all races that a period of artistic 
production never runs simultaneously with a period of 
the development of theory. The artist produces, but 
he does not reflect upon what he has brought forth." 1 
In no instance is this more true than in that of the 
ancient Greeks ; much, very much, was produced before 
Aristotle, and his pupil, Aristoxenus, taught, in truly 
wonderful style, their theory of music. Aristoxenus 
was the first to explain, on scientific lines, the 
difference between melody and rhythm in music ; 
he taught that " Melos is all that is concerned with the 
varying quality of tones such as is conditioned by their 
high or low pitch, both in reference to melody and 
accompaniment. Rhythm, on the other hand, is the 
quantitative difference in time of consecutive tones." 2 
He observes that there are two kinds of Melos, the 
Melos of that which is sung, and the Melos of that 
which is spoken ; from this it is clear that already in 
the fourth century B.C. 3 the difference between cantilla- 

1 B. von Sokolowsky, Die Musik des griechischen Alterthums und des 
Orients, in A. W. Ambros Geschichte der Musik , p. 35 (1887). 

2 Quoted by von Sokolowsky, Op. dt. p. 37. 

8 Aristoxenus lived in the latter part of the fourth century B.C. 


$ e aamg n 

tion and melody proper must have long been recognised 
among the Greeks ; and this fact is perhaps not without 
some bearing upon what the style and character of the 
music must have been in the Jewish Temple during the 
two centuries immediately preceding the beginning of 
the Christian era ; for already previous to these cen 
turies the influence of the Greek spirit had become very 
marked upon the Jewish nation, while at the commence 
ment of the second century B.C., under the Seleucid 
rule, this influence was greatly increased, Hellenic 
thought and culture being pressed upon the nation 
from without, but also welcomed by the nation from 
within. 1 The protest against this influence which cul 
minated in the Maccabaean struggle was not aimed so 
much against Hellenic culture as against the deliberate 
attempt on the part of Antiochus Epiphanes 2 to root 
out the Jewish religion. The presumption seems justi 
fied that the influence of Greek culture manifested 
itself in the domain of music as well as in other 
directions (though it must be confessed that actual data 
on the subject are wanting), and if so, then it is more 
than probable that the music in the Temple-worship 
was developed in accordance with it. 

But, as already pointed out in the opening words of 
this section, there was a period of production before the 
period of the development of theory began, and we are 
not without some indications as to what the character 

1 See e.g. i. Mace. i. 11-15, ii. Mace. iv. 7-15, etc. 

2 He reigned from 175-164 B.C. 


among Ancient (Peoyfeg* $* 

of these musical productions must have been. One 
fact of prime importance is that, even in a compara 
tively speaking advanced stage of Greek music, the 
number of tones available was small. " In the develop 
ment of European scales," says Dr. Myers, " it would be 
rash to suppose that the octave has always been the 
distance theoretically subjected to division. The earliest 
Greek melodies, for example, appear to have had a 
much narrower compass. The tetrachord is thought to 
have been the first attempt at a scale in Greece. It 
consisted of the interval of a fourth divided into three 
parts. Another added tetrachord subsequently com 
pleted the octave. The mode of construction of the 
particular scales is found to vary widely among different 
peoples, and even among the same people at different 
times and in different kinds of music. Most usually the 
octave of the particular scales is divided into five or 
seven tones. The five-toned or pentatonic scale occurs 
in every continent. A common form of it, found, for 
example, in Chinese, Japanese, and Scottish music, 
omits the fourth and the seventh. . ." l The origin 
of the pentatonic scale is not known. 

A few specimens of ancient Greek music have been 
discovered ; the first of these to be brought to light 
were three hymns, to Apollo, Nemesis, and Calliope 
respectively ; they were first discovered by Vincentio 
Galilei ; he got them from a rich Florentine, who had 
copied them carefully from a manuscript in the library 
1 Op:dt. pp. 241 f. 

23 c 

in tfle 

of Cardinal St. Angelo, in Rome ; they were first 
published in 1581. A copy of them was found later 
among the papers of Archbishop Ussher, and published 
in I672. 1 The date of these is some time during the 
second century A.D., 2 though an earlier date has been 
claimed for them. 3 A few bars of one of these hymns, 
that to Nemesis, may be given ; it is ascribed to 
Mesomedes, who lived during the reign of the Emperor 
Hadrian. 4 The following portion of the hymn is taken 
from Janus : 5 

h n^ 







- r ^t-j * 









a .J i 





Ed c 


"Apparently the Greeks employed different modes 6 
[/.*., scales] according to the metre chosen, and they 

1 See Forkel, Op. cit. I. p. 421 ; he gives all three hymns in full 
on pp. 427 ff. 

2 D.B. Monro, The Modes of Ancient Greek Music, p. 87 (1894). 

3 R. H. M. Bosanquet, EncycL Brit., xvii. 79. 4 117-138 A.D. 

5 Carolus Janus, Musici Scriptores Greed, Supplementum Melo- 
diarum, Reliquioe, pp. 55 ff. (in Bibliotheca Scriptorum Gracorum et 
Ronianorum Teubneriana, Leipzig, 1889). 
6 Corresponding to the modern major and minor modes. 




came to attach broad distinguishing characteristics to 
each of the modes. 1 The Dorian mode, for example, 
was reputed to be severe and virile, others to be 
smooth, erotic, suitable for boys, and so forth. But 
writers differ so much in their attitude to the various 
modes that it is impossible to lay much stress on their 
opinions." 2 Another specimen, written in the Ionian 
mode, was found by Mr. R. H. Ramsay on a grave 
stone near Tralles ; it professes to have been written 
by one Seikelos ; the words of the inscription are 
written in larger character than the " notes/ and the 
discovery that the small letters between the lines were 
musical notes was made by Dr. Wessely. 3 The following 
transcription into modern notation is from Monro, 
Op. cit. p. 89 : 

3w =t=irm=:q_ ~ p __ \~ | =3 zjznzqzii 

zi *z=?z=r^z: =?zr:tz:^=: E3E 


1 The more important are : The Lydian, Mixolydian, Syntonolydian, 
Ionian, Phrygian, Aeolian, and Dorian. 

2 Myers, Op. cit. p. 243. Monro, Op. cit. p. 133, 



One other example, for which greater antiquity is 
claimed, must be referred to. " The most ancient con 
nected specimen of music which we have is the famous 
Greek paean to Apollo in the Phrygian scale of the 
Doric mode, which was discovered at Delphi in 1893 
by the members of the French School of Archaeology 
at Athens 1 . . * . it is in the regulation five-time 
peculiar to the paean, and is undoubtedly very ancient, 
although it may be doubted whether the air is as old as 
277 B.C., the date of the establishment of the Soteria 
Festival, at which it was sung." The ode was accom 
panied by the flute and the kithara? The following 
few bars of it may be added : 

..^i ] 1 i 


These examples, it must be remembered, are speci 
mens of Greek music at times when this had been 
greatly developed, and when performed must have had 
an entirely different effect from that gained by playing 
them or singing them as they now stand. We know 
very little about the time at which they were taken, 

1 Revue des Etttdes Grecques^ vii. 5 

* Encycl. Bibl.> iii. p. 3242. 


(JttuBtc among Ancient 

and we cannot state with absolute certainty the value 
of the different notes ; moreover, we have very slight 
knowledge regarding the kind of harmonies used in 
Greek music, but that they cannot have been unpleasant 
may be gathered from the words of Aristotle when 
describing what he calls antiphonal singing. He says 
that it is the singing of a melody by men an octave 
lower than is being sung by boys, and that this is 
the only perfect interval which is allowable in singing 
together, the other perfect intervals, the fourth and the 
fifth, being excluded. 1 This prohibition almost compels 
one to suppose that the singing together of other 
intervals was not unknown, in which case it is fair 
to assume that the result was not a " Kakomusia," 
as Aristides calls the music of the Phoenicians. 2 
At any rate, the advanced stage which music had 
reached among the Greeks in the fourth century B.C., 
and the influence which Hellenic culture had upon the 
Jews, are facts which must be taken into consideration 
in seeking to gain an insight into the character of 
the music of the Temple-worship as this existed during 
the two or three centuries immediately preceding the 
Christian era, up to the time of the destruction of 
Jerusalem in 70 A.D. 

VI. Music among the Arabs. 

Finally, we must try and gather a few data regarding 
music among the Arabs ; this is particularly important, 

1 R. H. Bosanquet, Op, cit. xvii. 79. a Ambros, Op. cit. p. 395. 


-os gfle (pggfms in tfle 3*wt6fl Cflutcfl. 

because the Arabs have in so many respects retained 
customs and manners which go back to a high 
antiquity, 1 that in respect of music, too, it is very 
probable that present-day practice has retained much 
that is ancient. On the other hand, there seems no 
doubt at all that among some classes of Arabs there 
has been considerable development ; this is seen, apart 
from other indications, in the fact that the mediaeval 
Arabs employed musical notation, and in certain of the 
more modern Arabic music a heptatonic scale is used. 
" Arabian theorists included quarter-tones in the scales 
which they constructed, and it has been stated that in 
Syria a scale occurs consisting of equally tempered 
quarter-tones. The various quarter- and third-tone 
scales described by Arabian and other writers are 
probably always general scales ; they are rarely, if ever, 
particular or instrumental scales. When quarter-tone 
intervals occur in any piece of Arabic music, the notes 
concerned are only grace notes, or play an otherwise 
unimportant part in the melody." 2 It seems clear that 
among the Arabs, then, two musical stages are to 
be discerned an advanced and a primitive one; 
it is, of course, only the latter that at present interests 
us. 3 In this earlier type of music it is rarely that 
the compass of notes in a melody reaches five ; 

1 Cp. Conder, Tent Work in Palestine, p. 332 (1889). 

2 Myers, Op. cit. p. 245. cp. Forkel, Op. cit. i. 426. 

3 It is worth noting that the ancient world ascribed much in the way 
of musical invention to the Arabti, see Forkel, Op, cit. i. 426. 


Qftu6tc among (gUctenf (freopfe0+ $+ 

that is evidently a trace of ancient times. Another 
point of interest is that in the early form of 
music harmony is unknown among modern Arabs ; 
Benzinger tells that when Egyptian or Turkish military 
bands play their own oriental tunes all the instruments 
play in unison. 1 It will give us some insight into the 
music of the Arabs, and the effect it has upon European 
listeners, if we quote from the impressions of the three 
well-known travellers, Niebuhr, Lane, and Thomson. 
The first of these speaks of the love that all Arabs 
have for music, and how widely it is practised ; he says 
that for every respectable Turk or Arab it would be 
considered unfitting not to understand music and 
dancing. When he says, further, that "neither in 
Egypt, Arabia, or India was I able to discover that 
they understood how to put a melody on paper," he 
shows that he is giving us an account of the music 
of the people, i.e. of the primitive, traditional 
form; for it is well-known that both Indian and Arabian 
theorists had a system of notation ; 2 but he speaks also 
of a different type of music of which mention will be 
made in a moment. It is, again, probably, traditional 
melody which is referred to when he says : " I have 
often heard sheikhs sing a passage out of the Koran 
which I liked well on account of the natural kind of 
music, for they never forced their voices in the effort to 

1 See his art. on "Musik" in Hauck s Realencyklopadie fur 
Frottsiantische Theologie und Kirche, 

2 Myers, Op. cit\ p. 240, 

2 9 

*s 0e (ftggftng in tfle Jwtsfl 

sing too high." 1 He tells, further, of how he heard 
some sailors singing their love-songs, and says : " The 
melodies of all their songs were different, one of the 
singers who took the part of leader, sang one line, 
then the others repeated the same words and the same 
melody three, four, or five tones lower, this was done 
line by line to the end ; they kept time by clapping 
their hands as they had no drum." That this must 
have represented a later stage of musical development 
than that represented by the singing of the sheikhs, 
just mentioned, seems evident from the fact of more 
than one part having been sung simultaneously ; sailors 
were the most likely people of all to have come under 
the influence of other than native music. In speaking of 
oriental music generally, Niebuhr says : " The melodies 
of all orientals are solemn and simple. It is demanded 
of all singers that they sing so distinctly that every 
word can be understood." He says, finally (in spite of 
what was said just now), that when several instruments 
and voices play or sing together, it is always done 
in unison. 2 

Next, Mr. Lane writes as follows : " The most 
remarkable peculiarity in the Arab system of music is 
the division of tones into thirds . . . these small 
and delicate gradations of sound give a peculiar soft 
ness to the performances of Arab musicians, which are 
generally of a plaintive character/ 3 Like Niebuhr, he 

1 The same melody would be sung on a variety of occasions, cp. 


2 Reisebeschreibung nach Af alien und andcrn umliegendcn Landem, 
i. pp. 175 ff. (1774)- 3 Op. cit. ii. p. 60. 


among Ancient (fteopfes, &+ 

evidently found the music of the Arabs not unpleasant 
to the ear. Mr. W. M. Thomson, on the other hand, thinks 
differently; in speaking of the public music he had 
heard in Damascus, he says : " The music was 
excruciating, and the singing the most outrageous 
concert of harsh, nasal sounds I ever heard. The 
same nasal twang and grating gutturals is heard in all 
the singing of every denomination throughout the 
East. The Orientals know nothing of harmony, and 
cannot appreciate it when heard, but they are often 
spellbound or wrought up to transports of ecstasy by 
that very music which has tortured your nerves. I 
have rarely known song to be more truly effective than 
among these stolid children of the East, especially in 
such places of public resort. Seated on a raised 
platform at one end of the coffee-shop, half-a-dozen 
performers discourse strange music from curious 
instruments, interspersed occasionally with wild bursts 
of song, which seem to electrify the smoking, coffee- 
sipping company. They usually have a violin, two or 
three kinds of flutes, a tambourine, kettle-drums, and a 
derbekkeh. One man plays a large harp, lying upon 
his lap, called a kanun, and an expert performer often 
makes very agreeable music with it ... There are 
also players on the guitar, or kamanjeh, and one of 
them has a very large instrument of that kind, over 
whose few chords his nimble ringers sweep at times 
like magic." 1 This is an interesting account, but it will 

1 The Land and the Book (Lebanon, Damascus, and beyond Jordan), 
pp. 392 f. (1886). 


-*$ fle (ftggftns in tfle Jetmsfl Cgutcg. 

be obvious at once that it is modern oriental music 
which has been described ; it is a good illustration of 
the truth that two types of music exist at the present 
day among the Arabs, which must be sharply 
differentiated ; this is not difficult to do when one 
remembers the prime characteristics of the early type. 
But it is a striking fact how in some respects the 
primitive is mixed up with the more developed ; for 
example, the old-world derbekkeh (practically a tom 
tom), with the chord-producing kamanjeh. But it 
bears out what Dr. Myers says, that " there is hardly 
any other branch of ethnology where so much remains 
to be done, and where the opportunities for research 
are so rapidly vanishing beyond recall, as the study of 
comparative music. The borrowing and adultera 
tion of music proceed apace. When tribes, formerly 
hostile, become pacified, fresh routes are opened up for 
the mutual exchange and contamination of different 
styles of primitive music. When sacred and profane 
European tunes are introduced by the missionary or 
the trader, unpolluted aboriginal music soon has a 
precarious existence. We have evidence of these 
conditions in the influence of Arabic or Portuguese 
tunes introduced into Africa, and in the spread of 
favourite native airs throughout North America and 
throughout Australia." 1 We shall have to refer again 
to the music of the Arabs in the next chapter. 

1 op. dt. p. 236. 

among Ancient Qf)eo}>fe0. 

Although the above data offer little more than a 
glimpse into the subjects concerned, it is, nevertheless, 
possible and permissible to draw some conclusions 
from them regarding music and song among the 
Israelites. This must be the subject of our next two 




IN the preceding chapter certain data have been 
brought together concerning music among a variety 
of different peoples. From these data one is justified 
in drawing some conclusions regarding the character 
of music among the Israelites. While it is fully 
realized that there is a certain precariousness in 
forming conclusions which are based solely on analogy, 
there is this to be said in justification for doing so, 
namely, that there is no alternative. We have but 
few data in the Old Testament regarding the character 
of Israelite music ; certain inferences of a general kind 
may be drawn, no doubt, but as to the manner of singing, 
the kind of melodies, their structure and compass, etc., 
etc., we are almost wholly in the dark if we have to 
rely solely on the Old Testament. We are, therefore, 
thrown upon the argument from analogy; and, as 
will be seen, in the present case at all events, this 
method can be used with a good deal of force. 

I. The Primitive Period. 

In the preceding chapter we dealt, first of all, 


QttuBtc among tfle fa&etitt*. $* 

with music among uncultured peoples ; we were able to 
gather here the following definite facts, among others : 
In the music of peoples in a not very advanced stage 
of culture there are certain characteristics which are 
invariably manifested ; since this is always seen to be 
the case, the inference seems justified that the earliest 
form of music among the Hebrews was similar in these 
fundamental characteristics to that of other races in 
a corresponding stage of civilisation, For example, 
the earliest stage of which we have any echoes, as 
far as the Hebrews are concerned, is the nomadic ; 
we know something about the music of peoples who 
are still, of others who have been, in the nomadic 
stage, and on the analogy of what we know 
of the music of these, we may, with some show 
of reason, claim to know something about the 
music of the Hebrews in the nomadic stage, 
so far as these fundamental characteristics are concerned. 
First and foremost among these is the predominance 
of the rhythmical element over all else. " Singing " was 
originally, above all things, rhythmical declamation. 
Here it is worth while to draw attention again to the 
music of the Arabs, 1 especially as in Arabia and in parts 
of Syria, these are still in the nomadic stage ; and all 
authorities are agreed that the nomadic Arabs of 
to-day are in all essentials what they have been for 

1 We refer, of course, to the primitive music of the Arabs, not to its 
later development; cp. what was said on . 28. 


-$ fle (pgaftng in flk Jwfcfl Cflutcg* 

Benzinger holds, without doubt rightly, that, 
speaking generally, we must picture ancient Hebrew 
music to ourselves as corresponding largely to that 
of the modern Arabs. " It would," he says, " be a 
grievous error to despise this latter, because it does not 
appeal to our ears i.e. because our ears are not 
accustomed to it and because it knows nothing of 
harmony. With the same right the Orientals regard 
our beautiful harmonious music as a dreadful noise." 1 
But it is one of the main characteristics of Arab music 
that rhythmical accentuation is the most important 
element ; to quote Benzinger again ; " For the proper 
estimation of both ancient Hebrew and modern 
oriental music, one must above all realize that with 
both, rhythm plays an exceedingly important role 
at the cost of melody." 2 The rhythmical element is 
still the dominant one in Arab folk-songs which are 
sung at the present day ; and there can be little 
doubt that these folk-songs, at any rate in their musical 
structure, go back to a great antiquity. It is well 
known that in early forms of song two accompanying 
actions usually assisted in marking the rhythm, namely, 
the playing of the drum, and dancing ; it is interesting, 
therefore, to find that in what may certainly be regarded 
as an echo of the kind of music which obtained among 
the Hebrews while still in the nomadic stage, these 

1 Art. " Musik," in Hauck s Reahncyklopddie fur Protestanische 
Theologie und Kirche, xiii. 599. 

2 Ibid. 


(Music among tffe far&tttte*. $+ 

two accompanying actions are mentioned in connexion 
with song. After the " Song of Moses" in Exod. vi. 1-18, 
we read in verse 20: "And Miriam the prophetess, the 
sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand ; and all the 
women went out after her with timbrels and with dances" 
The Hebrew word for " timbrel " is t bph, probably 
the most primitive musical instrument among the 
Hebrews ; it would be better described as a hand-drum, 
or tom-tom ; it was " simply a ring of wood or metal, 
covered with a tightly drawn skin, occasionally provided 
with small pieces of metal hung around the rim, 
exactly like those on the modern tambourine, of which 
the toph was the prototype. The instrument was 
held up in one hand and struck with the other." 1 

But where rhythmical accentuation plays this leading 
part in music, two things are almost certain to follow 
they do follow in every case that has been observed 
melody is subordinated, and there is but the scantiest, 
if any, feeling for harmony ; indeed, melody, in the 
music of the early Hebrews (judging from the analogy 
of the Arabs), could better be described as a kind of 
declamatory recitative ; while harmony, if such existed 
at all in the early stage of which we are thinking (which 
is exceedingly doubtful, for the modern Arabs know no 
harmony) would, at the outside, have consisted in the 
singing or playing of two parts, one an octave lower 

1 J. D. Prince, in EncycL Bibl. iii. 3226. 



than the other. 1 Again, when so little stress was laid 
on melody, it is an obvious inference to suppose that 
its compass was very limited, in other words, that only 
a few notes were made use of, and that the intervals 
were small. Indeed, that melodies had not many tones, 
and were of limited compass, is proved by what we 
know of primitive musical instruments ; stringed 
instruments and flutes had in ancient times very few 
tones ; the two earliest forms of harps of which we have 
record on inscriptions cannot possibly have had many 
notes. It is in the highest degree improbable that the 
ancient Hebrews would have had musical instruments 
of a more elaborate kind than those, for example, of the 
Egyptians or Assyrians; everything points the other 
way. We shall probably be not far wrong in saying 
that a compass of four notes was very rare in ancient 
Hebrew melody ; three notes is more likely to have 
been the extent of the compass. Then, once more, 
where so little importance was attached to melody, 
there were not likely to have been many melodies in 
existence ; and, therefore, one melody would serve for 
the words of different songs. This is borne out by the 
fact that even in much later times ancient melodies 
were utilized for more than one song. 2 From the 
analogy of the music of other peoples, we may assume 

1 This is often, though quite erroneously, spoken of as "singing in 
unison" ; to sing in unison the two parts must sing the same note together ; 
if one part is sung an octave lower than the other, that is not singing in 
unison, but in harmony the simplest form of harmony, it is true. 

2 See, on this, p. 74. 


among tffe 

that early Hebrew melodies, and the same is probably 
true of post-exilic times, were very short, consisting 
probably of not more than two of what we should call 
bars nowadays; from this it follows that a melody 
must have been repeated over and over again in singing 
a song. We shall see presently that there is another 
reason which justifies the assumption that Hebrew 
melodies were very short. There is one more element 
in the music of the Arabs which must be taken into 
consideration in trying to gain some insight into the 
character of ancient Hebrew music ; we give, in sub 
stance, the words of Benzinger (and the judgment of 
most travellers is the same concerning the music of the 
Arabs) : in the first place, all tones are played and sung 
" out of tune," according to our judgment (generally 
speaking, they play and sing in a minor key) ; 1 but it 
is certain that their playing and singing out of tune is 
not due to what we should call a " bad ear," because 
their mode of playing and singing is "constant"; and 
they maintain, moreover, that Europeans play and sing 
out of tune. In the second place, their intervals are 
different from ours, which they regard as unmusical ; 
their intervals are of a different character from those of 
European music, they are smaller, and consequently 
more in number. " This has not taken place," says 
Benzinger, " in Christian times ; it is ancient ; and one 
may say with certainty that the same obtained among 
the ancient Hebrews." 

1 This is also the case, as a rule, among other peoples of limited culture. 

39 D 

+$ ffe (ftgafmg in tfle 3wieg Cflutcg. 

Apart, however, from what may be reasonably 
inferred from analogy, it is evident from the Old 
Testament that the old Hebrews loved music ; their 
tradition that Jubal was the father of music (Gen. 
iv. ai) 1 shows that the use of instrumental music, 
still more so then in the case of song, was very 
ancient ; and this is borne out by such passages as 
Exod. xv. 20, Judges ix. 27, xxi. 21, which re-echo 
conditions of life in the more or less nomadic stage. 

II. The Davidic Period. 

In the next place, we drew attention in the 
preceding chapter to a few details about the music 
of the ancient Egyptians. This is important from 
our present point of view, because we know the 
influence of Egypt upon the Israelites to have been 
very marked at certain periods of their history ; and 
that this influence was exercised in the domain of 
musical culture, as well as in other respects, is a reason 
able assumption. The period during which Egyptian 
influence was most likely to have been felt by the 
inhabitants of Palestine coincides more or less with 
the establishment of the monarchy. Of course this 
influence had been exercised in earlier times as well 
(e.g. during the Tell-el Amarna period) 2 ; but it is 
probable that it was more far-reaching in its effects 

1 Cp. the Egyptian tradition that their holiest melodies originated from 
I sis, and the Assyrian belief that musical tones first emanated from the 
planets ; cp. also the Greek Muses. 

a I4th cen. B.C. 


Qtuetc among tge 

when settled life among the Israelites had taken the 
place of the conditions which had prevailed during 
earlier periods, such, for example, as that which 
immediately preceded the establishment of monarchy, 
namely, during that of the so-called Judges. 
It is not without interest that the new era in 
the domain of music among the Israelites, inaugurated 
by David, should have more or less coincided with 
the renewal of more intimate relationships between 
Egypt and Palestine. That the name of David is 
rightly connected with a development of music 
among the Israelites as universally recognized, though 
authorities may differ as to the actual role that David 
played in this development. And that there was closer 
intercourse between Egyptians and Israelites not long 
after the time of David is certain ; our records are 
scanty as to details, but of the main fact there can be 
no doubt. That the Israelites were helped by the 
Egyptians in their wars against the Philistines is 
distinctly stated in I Kings ix. 16; "Pharaoh king of 
Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer^- and burnt it 
with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the 
city, and given it for a portion unto his daughter, 
Solomon s wife." This union between the two royal 
families points to a close intercourse between the two 
nations. Professor Miiller says : " About 950, one 

1 That Gezer had hitherto been in the possession of the Philistines 
is clear from 2 Sam. v. 25, where it is mentioned as the limit of David s 
pursuit of these ; it was on the border of the Philistine territory. 


in ffle 3<W"*fl Cflutcfl, 

family of Libyan officers had become so influential, 
that they could venture to put one of themselves 
upon the throne, Sosenk I. This Pharaoh, the con 
temporary of Solomon and his son, who reigned at 
least twenty-one years, was more energetic, and again 
exercised influence upon Syria. He seems to have 
assisted Israel against the Philistines." 1 The infor 
mation, though scanty, is sufficient to show that 
renewed and close intercourse between Israel and 
Egypt took place not long after the opening of a new 
era in the history of music among the Israelites. The 
belief is, therefore, an entirely reasonable one, that 
at this period the development of Israelite music 
received a further impetus from the influence of 
Egypt. It is known that in later days a similar 
influence on the part of Egypt was exercised upon 
the music of the Greeks. 2 

In what precise details Egyptian influence at this 
period is likely to have affected the music of the 
Israelites is obviously a question impossible to answer ; 
the fact that such an influence was exercised is, as we 
have seen, almost inevitable ; but as to the details, we 
are wholly in the dark. All that can be said is that, in 
view of the comparatively advanced state of Egyptian 
civilisation, musical culture must have been consider 
ably more developed among the Egyptians than among 
the Israelites, and therefore the effect of Egyptian 
influence upon the music of the Israelites must have 

1 Encycl. BibL li. 1243. 2 See H . 18. 


been in the direction of developing and improving it. 
This is the more likely to have been the case because, 
what one may call the Davidic school, had been the 
means of preparing a receptive soil. " The role which 
singing and music played in the second Temple, and 
the place taken up by singers and musicians in the 
personnel of the Temple, is only comprehensible on 
the supposition that music had a definite place in 
the Temple-worship before the Exile. And when 
tradition traces all this back to David, and makes 
him the real founder of the Temple music, it is not 
mere phantasy which has spun itself out of the early 
indications of David s proficiency in musical art. It 
is in the nature of things highly probable that the King 
who clearly took great delight in music, and who had 
at his court his men and women singers, his musicians 
and dancers, should have employed these in worship as 
well." 1 

III. The Post-exilic Period. 

It is probable that when the Israelites returned 
from the Exile they brought with them the seeds of 
further development in the domain of music. By say 
ing this it is not intended to imply that the music of 
Babylonia and Assyria was of a more developed char 
acter than that of Egypt ; what is meant is that during 
the seventy years of Captivity the Israelites must have 
been frequent witnesses of the elaborate ritual of Baby- 

1 Benzinger, Op. cit. p. 598, 


gge (frggfmg in tfle 3wt60 Cgutcg. 

Ionian worship, in which music played a considerable 
part, and that this actual seeing and hearing must have 
been deeper and more lasting in its effect than that of 
the Egyptian music during the earlier period ; the 
difference was, roughly speaking, that between actually 
hearing and hearing about. In the forms of the 
musical instruments depicted on Babylonian-Assyrian 
and Egyptian monuments there is great similarity ; the 
music of these nations must, therefore, have been 
similar in many essential points ; and the influence 
under which the Israelites came, in this respect, during 
the Exile was rather to emphasize and drive home 
something with which they were already to some extent 
familiar. A small, though not altogether unimportant, 
indication of Babylonian interest in music during the 
Exile is afforded in Psalm cxxxvii., 1 where the singing 
of Jehovah s songs (i.e. songs which had been part of 
the Temple-worship) is mentioned in connexion with 
the playing of harps at least, this is the implication ; 
the refusal of the captives to do so does not disprove the 
fact that their oppressors desired to hear these songs. 
Attention must also be called again to the inscription 
of Asshurbanipal, mentioned above, as showing that 

1 Cheyne (7 he Origin and Religious Contents of the Psalter, p. 70) 
places this psalm "in the time of Simon the Maccabee " ; Briggs 
(The Book of Psalms, I. p. Ixxxix.) assigns it to the period of the Exile. 
There does not seem sufficient reason for denying this latter date to the 
psalm : on the other hand, it will be granted that it is extremely probable 
that all the earlier psalrns have been " worked over " by later redactors ; 
this must have presented itself as a duty very often. 


(ffluaic among tge fautites. + 

there must have been a good deal for Babylonian 
influence to work upon. 1 After the Exile we are told 
of numerous singers and musicians who returned with 
Zerubbabel. This may be taken as pointing to a two 
fold truth ; it proves, on the one hand, that the tradition 
regarding the Temple music was not lost, but was 
preserved and handed down (cp. Psalm cxxxvii.) ; and, 
on the other hand, it may be taken to show that Baby 
lonian influence upon the music of the Israelites was a 
real factor in the development of the latter. In connex 
ion with what has just been said, the following passages 
should be consulted : Ezra ii. 41, iii. 10 ff., vi. 8 ff., vii. 
20 ff. ; Neh. vii. 44, xi. 22, 23, xii. 28, 37 ff. 47, xiii. 10. 
Just as a new era in the history of Israelite music 
was opened soon after the establishment of the 
monarchy which, for convenience sake, may be 
termed the Davidic Era during which Egyptian 
influence made a mark on the national music, so after 
the Exile another era was opened, the Post-exilic Era, 
during which the results of Babylonian influence had a 
further effect upon the national music. In this Post- 
exilic Era, there were, we may believe, in the music of 
the people melodies in the stricter sense ; but here, 
too, declamation caused the melody to be subordinated. 
We get some clue as to the structure of melody from 
the Hebrew text of the Psalms. Here the strophes and 
verses are uneven as regards the number of words and 
syllables ; the melody must, therefore, have been 

1 See p. 20. 


<? 6e QpeAfms in i$t 3wieg Cflurcfl. 

variable in the sense that some notes were longer and 
some shorter in different verses. From the analogy of 
other early music, we are justified in taking it for 
granted that Hebrew melodies were not long. More 
over, the fact that some psalms were sung antiphonally 
makes it highly probable that the same melody went to 
each verse, or for several verses in succession ; for 
indications as to the antiphonal singing of some psalms, 
see Jer. xxxiii. 2, Ezra iii. 2, and especially i Sam. 
xviii. 7, Ps. cvi. 48, cxviii. 1-14, 29, cxxxvi, (cp. also 
the Hebrew psalm appended to the Hebrew of 
Ecclesiasticus li. 12; this is, in structure, based on 
Ps. cxxxvi.). Benzinger thinks that the melody was 
sung to each half-verse, possibly to each verse, and was 
repeated over and over again for each half- verse or 
verse ; and that, therefore, this melody must have 
varied in the length of its different notes because of the 
various lengths of the verses ; he points to present-day 
use among the Arabs as supporting this view. In 
general he holds, with regard to the character of Hebrew 
music during the Post-exilic period, that we must 
strike a mean between the exaggerated praise bestowed 
upon it in the Talmud, and the contemptuous estimate 
which would class it as quite beneath notice, and which 
would regard it simply as a barbaric noise. 

IV. The Greek Period. 

Finally, there is one other stage in the history 
of music among the Israelites which must be mentioned, 

among tfle 3*Tkttiie&. <* 

that, namely, during which it is to be supposed that 
the influence of Greek music played some part in the 
development of Hebrew music. It must be confessed 
that we have no direct data upon which to base this 
supposition other than the probability of the case ; but 
the influence of Hellenic culture upon the Jews during 
the two last centuries B.C., referred to in the preceding 
chapter, makes it very probable that, to some extent, 
Greek music influenced that of the Jews. It is certain 
that in this period the taste for music of a secular kind 
increased greatly ; this is graphically brought out by Ben- 
Sira, who seems to have been a great lover of music 
(see Ecclus. xxxii. 3-6, xl. 20, 21) ; and it is improbable 
that sacred music remained untouched if the general 
taste for music had increased. Ben-Sira refers with 
evident satisfaction to the Temple music when he 
says : 

" And they sang the song with their voice, 
Yea, to the music they uttered a joyful strain." 1 

(see Ecclus. 1. 18, cp. 1. 16) 

This increased taste for music can scarcely be 
unconnected with the Hellenizing movement. 2 

It would seem, then, that, roughly speaking, the 
history of music among the Israelites can be divided 
into four periods, viz. : 

1 According to the Hebrew text, emended. 

2 Cp. also the Aramaicized Greek names of musical instruments 
in the book of Daniel ; see p. 52. 


$ fle (ftgafnte in tffe 3tm*$ Cflurcfl. 

The " Primitive " Period. 

The Davidic Period. 

The Post-exilic Period. 

The Hellenistic Period. 

In the first of these the characteristics of Israelite 
music did not, presumably, differ from those of the 
music of other peoples in the nomadic stage. In the 
second, an indigenous development was influenced and 
furthered by the music of the Egyptians. In the third, 
Assyro-Babylonian influence assisted in this develop 
ment ; and in the fourth, Greek music helped still 
further in the development and improvement of 
Israelite music. 




I. Instruments used by the Israelites. 

FROM one point of view instrumental music among 
the Israelites played an altogether subordinate part, 
for it was never regarded as anything but an accom 
paniment to the singing. But this instrumental 
accompaniment tended to become more and more 
elaborate, so that it ultimately assumed a place of 
great importance in the Temple worship, and especially 
during the singing of the Psalms. This fact makes it 
advisable that we should gain some definite ideas 
about the musical instruments in use among the 
Israelites. These can be divided into three classes : 

(a) Instruments of percussion. These represent the 
most primitive type of musical instruments ; and the 
earliest form of them was the Toph, or " Drum " (cp. 
i Sam; x. 5, xviii. 6; I Chron. xiii. 8; Ps. Ixviii. 26, 
Ixxxi. 3, cxlix. 3, cl. 4; Is. v. 12, etc., etc.). A modi 
fication of this is seen in the Zelzelim, "Cymbals," 
i.e. something that makes a clashing sound (cp. 2 Sam. 
vi. 5 ; i Chron. xiii. 8 ; Ps. cl. 5) ; closely connected 



with these were the Meziltaim^ also translated 
"Cymbals" (both words come from the same Hebrew 
root), and sometimes mentioned together with the 
preceding (cp. 2 Sam. vi. 5 ; i Chron. xiii. 8, xv. 19, 28, 
xxv. 1-6; 2 Chron. v. 12, 13 ; Ezra iii. 10 ; Neh. xii. 27, 
etc.). It is difficult to determine the character of 
another ancient instrument, the Shalishim, mentioned 
in connexion with the drum in I Sam. xviii. 6 (its 
only occurrence in the Old Testament); its name 
implies that it had something to do with "three" things, 
but what these were is a difficult question to answer. 
The fact that this instrument was used by the women 
who came out to meet David returning from the 
slaughter of the Philistines, shows that it was in use 
among the common people, and that, therefore, like 
the drum, it must have been a simple instrument 
requiring no skill to play. As it was evidently a some 
what primitive instrument, the "three" cannot refer to 
different-sounding tones, and therefore the idea of its 
being a three-stringed instrument (R.V. marg.) is very 
improbable ; for the same reason its seems unlikely 
that it corresponded to the Egyptian sistrum. The 
suggestion may be hazarded that it was a form of 
drum, differing from this in having the skin drawn over 
three pieces of stick fixed together in triangular shape. 
This would be easier to construct than the circle-shaped 
Toph, One other instrument belongs to the percussion 
class, the MenctaneHm (only mentioned in 2 Sam. 
vi. 5) ; the root from which this word comes means 


3n0ttumentaf dttusic among tfle 

" to shake," and it may therefore represent something 
in the shape of a " rattle," thus corresponding to the 
Egyptian sistrum which, among the Egyptians, was 
" a small metal frame with loose metal bars carrying 
loose rings, borne and swung or shaken in the hand " j 1 
among the early Israelites it was presumably of a 
less elaborate character. 

(b) Wind Instruments. The most primitive of these 
was the Shofar? " Ram s-horn," which is synonymous 
with Keren, " Horn " (cp. Josh. vi. 5 ; i Chron. xxv. 
5 ; Ps. xlvii. 6, xcviii. 6, cl. 3, etc.). Chazozerah was 
the " Trumpet," in the more modern sense (cp. Num. 
x. 2, xxxi. 6 ; I Chron. xv. 24, xvi. 42 ; 2 Chron. 
v. 12 f., vii. 6, xxix. 26 f. ; 2 Kings xi. 14 ; Hosea v. 8 ; 
Ecclus, 1. 16 ff.). Another instrument belonging to 
very early times was the Chalil, also called Nechilah^ 
"Flute." This had originally only one note, like the 
two instruments just mentioned ; but, later on, holes 
were bored in the flute, thus giving two or three 
notes, which in course of time were increased by 
making more holes. The earliest Hebrew flute was 
made of reed ; later of wood, and, still later, of metal 
and ivory. The Ugab (cp. Gen. iv. 21 ; Ps. cl. 4) 
seems to have been "some development from the 
double flute, such as a mouth-organ or pan s-pipe" ; 3 it 
was, in all probability, the same instrument as the 

1 Oxford Hebrew Lexicon, s.v. 

2 The only instrument still in use in the modern Synagogue. 

3 EncycL Bibl. iii. 3229. 


<*$ gge (fteafme in fge 3*wt08 Cgutcfl* 

Mashrokitha (only in Dan. iii. 5, 7, 10, 15), from a root 
meaning "to whistle." Lastly, there is the Sumponya 
or "Bag-pipe" (Dan. iii. 5, 15, called "Dulcimer" in 
the Revised Version, but " Bag-pipe " in the margin). 

(c) String Instruments. These appear to have 
occupied the most important position of all instruments 
among the Hebrews, from the Davidic period onwards, 
a fact which points to a comparatively advanced 
musical taste. The general name for stringed instru 
ments is neginoth ; the verb naggen means " to play a 
stringed instrument " (cp. i Sam. xvi. 16 f. 28, xviii. 
10; 2 Kings iii. 15; Ps. xxxiii. 3; Is. xxiii. 16 ; 
Ezek. xxxiii. 32, &c.). The word zammer, which is so 
frequently used in the Psalms, implies, "singing with 
musical accompaniment," see Ps. Ixxi. 22, cxliv. 9, 
"to sing with the accompaniment of the Kinnor" 
(cp. Amos vi. 5 ; i Chron. xvi. 42 ; 2 Chron. v. 13, 
vii. 6, xxxiv. 12). Kinnor, "lyre," nebel, "harp," 
are the only two stringed musical instruments 
mentioned in the Old Testament outside the Book 
of Daniel, where kitharis (iii. 5 ff.) = kinnor, 
pesanterin (iii. 5 &) = nebel> and sabbekha (iii. 5, 7, 
10), " sackbut," also occur. The strings were made 
of sheep s gut ; the metal strings used by modern 
Arabs were, of course, unknown. 

11. Data concerning instrumental accompaniment to 
the Psalms. 

We have in various passages in the Old Testament, 


3n0trumenfgf (gtusic among fge 

and especially in the Psalms, a number of miscellaneous 
data regarding music and song among the Israelites ; 
in the majority of cases these give us some insight 
into the musical accompaniment of the Psalms. Some 
of these passages we must now draw attention to, though 
to deal with them exhaustively is not our intention. 

In the first place, whatever the character of Hebrew 
music from the point of view of western ideas, it is 
certain that it exercised often a striking effect upon its 
hearers (see e.g. Sam. xvi. 16 ff., ; 2 Kings iii. 15). 
We get an indication of another kind in Amos v. 
22, 23, where we read : " Yea, though ye offer me your 
burnt- offer ings and meal-offerings, I will not accept 
them : neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your 
fat beasts. Take thoii away from me the voice of thy 
songs ; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols" 
The mention here together of sacrifices with songs and 
music suggests a close connexion between them ; 
indeed, there is no reason to doubt that what we know 
to have been the case in later days happened also in 
the time of Amos, namely, that certain psalms were 
sung during the offering-up of sacrifices; this must 
greatly have enhanced the solemnity of the sacrificial 
rite. Then, in reference to rather later times, we read 
in Is. xxx. 29 : " Ye shall have a song, as in the night 
when a holy feast is kept ; and gladness of heart, as 
when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of 
the Lord" The instrumental accompaniment to song, 
clearly sacred song, which is implied in these two 


0e (foafmg in tge Jewieg Cflutcg, 

passages, is explicitly expressed in Is. xxxviii. 20 : 
" 7$^ Z<?n/ /!$ ready to save me, therefore we will sing my 
songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life 
in the house of the Lord" 1 

One clear indication of the relation between the 
singing and the accompaniment is given in 2 Chronicles, 
v. 13 : " The tnunpeters and singers were as one, to 
make one sound to be heard in praising aud thanking 
the Lord" These words suggest that the instru 
mentalists and singers joined in unison. 

In turning now to the Psalms themselves, we have 
a few indications in the titles of some of these. In 
fifty-five Psalms a note in the title says that the psalm 
is " For the chief musician ; " some guide as to the 
meaning of this may be gathered from i Chronicles 
xxiii. 4, where the verbal form of this word 
(lamnazeach) occurs, and means " to preside over," 
and from i Chronicles xv. 21, where it means "to 
lead," in reference to instrumental accompaniment. 
What the direction contained in this title meant, 
therefore, probably was that the psalm in question had 
been written for the " leader " of the singers ; the 
reference being, of course, to the Temple singers. 
This title, in fact, implied that the psalms to which 
it was prefixed were composed specially for use in the 
public worship of the Temple. This does not mean 
that psalms not bearing this title were not intended 

1 See further Exod. xv. 20 ; i Sam. xviii. 6 ; and important are I Sam. 
x, 5 ; xix. 20. 


3n0frumenfdf (Jttuatc 

for public worship ; but it gives a definite character 
to those which have it, and stamps them as belonging 
to a specific category. It is also very probable that 
some psalms, which originally were without this title, 
received it in later times when they were adapted to 
use in the worship of the Temple. 

Three psalms have the title, " Upon " or " According 
to Gittith" (R.V. "set to Gittith"), It is possible 
that this refers to a particular kind of instrument, 
to the accompaniment of which the Psalms in question 
were sung. This is implied in the Targum to the 
Psalms, where it is said that " Gittith " referred to an 
instrument that came from Gath ; the grammatical 
form of the word would support this. A more probable 
explanation, however, is that " set to Gittith " refers 
to the tune of a vintage song ; for in the Midrash on 
the Psalms, it is said to refer to the words in Joel 
iii. 13 : "Put ye in the sickle, for the vintage is ripe ; 
come, tread ye^ for the wine-press (the Hebrew word is 
gath] is full, the fats overflow It is quite possible 
that these words are from some popular vintage song, 1 
the melody of which was well known, and that the 
psalmist intended the psalms in question to be sung to 
this tune. 2 

We get a more definite indication as to the kind of 

1 The adaptation by the prophet of a quotation from such a song, 
utilising it for the purpose of pronouncing a doom, would have brought 
home his message with all the greater force to the hearts of his hearers. 

2 See what is said on p. 74. 

55 E 

in ffle 3wt0fl Cflutcfl. 

musical accompaniment in the case of the titles to 
Psalms iv., vi., liv., lv., Ixvii., Ixxvi. : " With stringed 
instruments " (BinZgtnoth) ; this means that the singing 
of these psalms was to be accompanied by stringed 
instruments, i.e. harps (see I Chronicles xv. 21). In the 
same way Psalm v. was to be sung, according to the 
direction in the title, to the accompaniment of flutes or 
pipes (see Isaiah xxx. 29). Again, in the title to 
Psalm xlvi., it is directed that the psalm is to be 
sung "Upon Aiamoth;" 1 this, in all probability, 
refers to instruments with strings of a high pitch ; the 
expression occurs also in i Chronicles xv. 20, in 
connexion with stringed instruments. Once more, 
in the titles to Psalms vi. and xii., the direction given is 
that they are to be accompanied "on the octave" 
{Al-hashsheminitK}^ i.e.^ an eight-stringed instrument 
tuned an octave lower than the voices. 2 

Apart from the titles we have in the Psalms them 
selves some further data as to the part played by the 
musical accompaniment. First, as to two difficult 
terms the meaning of which can be only tentatively 
put forth. In Psalm ix. 16 occurs the word higgaion, 
as a musical direction ; and it means there, probably, 
that the musical accompaniment is to burst forth with 
a deep, solemn sound. The word occurs elsewhere in 
the Psalter, though not as a musical expression, but in 

1 Lit. "After the manner of maidens," i.e., in reference to high- 
pitched voices ; see further on this, p. 116. 

2 Cp. Midrash Tehillim on these two psalms. 

3nstrumenfaf (fflusic among tffe 

the text ; thus in Psalm xcii. 3 the Psalmist says he 
will praise God " with a solemn sound " ; in Isaiah xxxi. 4 
a word from the same root is used of the deep growling 
of a lion, in Isaiah xxxviii. 14 of the low cooing of a 
dove, and in Isaiah xvi. 7 of the moaning of those in 
grief. This use of the root seems to imply that as a 
musical direction it meant that the accompaniment of 
the instruments was, at the point indicated, to be of a 
low, solemn character ; this would, in the one place in 
the Psalms where it occurs, be peculiarly appropriate, 
for the words of the passage are : The Lord liath made 
Himself known^ He hath executed judgement^ the wicked is 
snared in the work of Jiis own hands ; i.e. the pro 
nouncement of doom. The other expression is Selah ; 
this occurs seventy-one times in the Psalter, but never 
in a title, always in the body of the psalm, and 
practically always at the end of a strophe or a 
division. " Its reference to the Temple music is 
evinced by the fact that thirty-one of the thirty- 
nine Psalms containing it are ascribed in their titles 
for the chief musician. " 1 The meaning of the 
word has been much disputed, so that here again one 
cannot speak with certainty ; some scholars regard it as 
derived from a root meaning " to lift up " ; in this case, 
the direction being to the instrumental accompaniment, 
it must have meant that the instruments were to play 
loudly. There is, however, good reason for the view 
that it meant a break in the music (see Oxford Hebrew 

1 Hastings D.B. iv. 43ib. 


(pggfms in fge 3^*60 Cflurcfl. 

Lexicon^ s. v.). It is used in the Shemoneh Esreh after 
the Third and Eighteenth Benedictions, and in other 
early Jewish prayers, showing knowledge of its use in 
practice about 100 A.D. St. Jerome classes Selah with 
Amen and Shalom, " Peace." "It probably came into 
use in the late Persian period in connexion with psalms 
used with musical accompaniment in public worship, to 
indicate the place of Benedictions." x 

Next, we must turn to the actual text of some of the 
Psalms, as here, too, we are enabled to gain some 
information regarding the musical accompaniment to 
the singing. 

Psalm xxxiii. 2, 3 : " Give thanks unto the Lord 
with harp (kinnor\ sing praises unto Him with the 
psaltery (nebel} of ten strings. Sing unto Him a new 
song, play skilfully with a loud noise " (/#., play skil 
fully on stringed instruments with a shout). 

The Hebrew word for " Give thanks" is the regular 
one used for ritual worship, and is perhaps better 
rendered by " Praise," cp. Psalm xxviii. 7 : " With 
my song will I praise Him." The words "with the 
harp " illustrate the way in which the singer accom 
panied his song, cp. Psalm Ivii. 8. (l Sing unto Him a 
new song" means, according to Briggs, 2 a fresh outburst 
of song ; the expression occurs several times in the 
Psalms (xl. 4, xcvi. i., xcviii. i., cxliv. 9, cxlix. i). 
"Play skilfully" refers to the accompaniment of the 

Ibid. This would point, therefore, to a break in the music. 
* Op. cit. i. p. 292. 


Jnsftumentaf Qttugic among tffe 

harp, in Hebrew the word Is nagg$n, the regular word 
for playing on a stringed instrument. " With a shout " 
is either to be taken literally as the sacred shout 
(i Sam. iv. 5, 6, Psalms xxvii. 6, Job viii. 21, xxxiii. 26), 
or else it may refer to the trumpet-sound, as in 
Psalm xlvii. 5. 

Psalm xliii. 4 : " Upon the harp (kinnor) will I praise 
thee, O God, my God." As it was only the Levites 
who in the Temple praised God with the accompani 
ment of the harp, this verse shows that the Psalm was 
composed by one of the Temple musicians. 

Psalm Ixviii. 24, 25. "They have seen thy goings, 
O God, even the goings of my God, my King, into 
the sanctuary. The singers went before, the minstrels 
followed after, in the midst of the damsels playing with 

This does not refer to worship, but to a procession 
formed in order to go up to the Temple to worship ; 
the mention here, therefore, of damsels is no proof 
that these took part in the actual Temple worship. 1 
The verse describes the ascent of the Temple musicians 
on their way to the sanctuary; the damsels accompany 
them, but do not form part of the procession. 
The Revised Version makes the meaning of the 
Hebrew clear, "in the midst of the damsels." As a 
rule, the singers accompanied their song themselves ; 
in this passage the singers and instrumentalists are 
differentiated. The Hebrew word for " minstrels " is 

1 See further on this, p, 116 ; and cp. Exod. xv, 20, 


in flfc 3en>i00 Cflurcg. 

"players on stringed instruments." We learn from 
this passage that the stringed instruments were, there 
fore, not too large to carry in procession (cp. 2 
Chron. xx. 28). 

Psalm Ixxi. 22 : " I will praise thee with the psaltery," 
lit. " with the instrument of the harp." This is the 
only place in the Psalms where this expression occurs, 
though once elsewhere in the Bible it is used (i Chron. 
xvi. 5) in the plural. That it was played only as an 
accompaniment is seen from the words which follow : 
" My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing praise unto 

Psalm Ixxxi. 1-3 : " Sing aloud unto God our 
strength ; make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob. 
Take up the psalm, and bring hither (better "strike") 
the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery. 
Blow up the trumpet in the new moon." 

This is an instructive passage, for it describes the 
singing of the psalm as being accompanied by an 
instrument of percussion (timbrel=^^), by stringed 
instruments (harp = ;/#/, psaltery=*V**tff) and by a 
wind instrument (trumpet -=shophar, properly ram s- 
horn). The harp and psaltery would perhaps be 
better rendered by " harp and lyre " ; the two are 
often mentioned together (e.g. Psalms xcii. 3, cviii. 2, 
cl. 3), the difference between them being probably in 
the number of the strings (see below). In Psalm 
xxx. 2, the nebel i.e. harp in the more usual sense 
is spoken of as having ten strings ; in connexion with 


Jnsfaumentaf Qttugtc among fge 

this it is well to remember what has been said in an 
earlier chapter, that among Orientals the intervals 
from note to note are smaller than a semitone, so that 
a ten-stringed harp would not necessarily have a 
compass of more than from three to four tones. It was 
evidently a larger instrument than the lyre (kinnor) 
which, according to St. Jerome (Comm. in Psalm xxx. 2) 
had six strings. The trumpet (shbphar) was originally 
a ram s-horn, and therefore curved in shape ; later 
on it was made of metal, and straightened, as can be 
seen from the bas-relief on the arch of Titus. The 
ram s-horn is still used on certain occasions in the 

Psalms xcii. 1-3 : " It is a good thing to give thanks 
unto the Lord . . . With an instrument of ten strings 
and with the psaltery ; with a solemn sound upon 
the harp." 

The words, " with an instrument of ten strings and 
with the psaltery" do not refer to two different 
instruments ; they might equally well be rendered, 
" with an instrument of ten strings, yea with the psaltery 
(nebet)." The Septuagint reads " a ten-stringed nebel." 
In Hebrew, " a solemn sound " is "higgaion " [on this, 
see p. 56] ; this word used in connexion with harp 
(better " lyre " = kinnor) suggests that the kinnor 
was a lower-pitched instrument than the nebel. 

Lastly, in Psalm cl. 3-5, we have apparently an 
enumeration of all the musical instruments used in 
Temple worship to accompany the singing of psalms ; 


ge (ftggfnts in tge Jwtgfl Cflutcfl, 

trumpet (shophar), psaltery (nebel\ harp (kinnor), timbrel 
(toph\ stringed instruments (minim), pipe (ugab), 
cymbals (zelzelim). Reference has been to all of these 
above, with the exception of minim, a word which 
occurs here only (perhaps also in xlv. 9, according to 
the emendation suggested by some scholars) ; it is a 
loan-word from the Aramaic, and is a general term for 
" strings " (cp. Oxford Hebrew Lexicon, s.v.), and refers 
to the stringed instruments mentioned in the context. 




THE earliest Hebrew words for " song " are shir and 
shir ah ; in their origin neither necessarily connoted 
anything sacred. 1 The most developed stage in the 
history of song among the Israelites is represented by the 
Psalms. But development implies an antecedent of 
some kind ; there must, therefore, have been some form, 
or forms, of song which preceded that with which we 
are now familiar in the Psalter. Further, even a super 
ficial glance at the Psalms shows that the)/ vary greatly 
in subject-matter and character ; this variation is so 
pronounced that one is justified, as we shall try and 
show, in regarding different Psalms as the representa 
tives of different types of song. The Psalms representing 
these various types must, then, be regarded as the same 
in kind, though differing from them in form, as earlier 
songs belonging to the same types respectively. Is it 
possible to indicate the nature of the earlier songs 
belonging to the several types? The object of this 

1 See e.g., Gen. xxxi. 27. 



chapter is to try and show that there is some justifica 
tion for answering this question in the affirmative. We 
shall be guided in this partly by analogy, partly by the 
nature of things, and partly by the contents of some of 
the Psalms. 

But it must be added, and stress is laid on the fact, 
that not all the psalms necessarily represent developed 
forms of particular types. Circumstances may arise 
under the influence of which wholly new types are 
called into existence ; and that such circumstances did 
arise during the history of Israel, and became the 
means of originating some entirely new types of psalm, 
can be proved. Attention will be called to these later 
on. For the moment we are concerned with types of 
which, it is contended, representatives existed before 
the Psalms, as we now have them, took their present 

I. Songs 1 in honour of the Deity ; and songs which 
commemorate the heroic deeds of ancestors. 

Although these two types came in later times to be 
wholly differentiated, in their earlier forms this was not 
the case ; an instance will be given presently. Two 
subjects which all peoples, when they have reached a 
certain stage of culture, love to commemorate and to 
dwell upon in song are the wondrous acts of their gods 
and the heroic deeds of their ancestors in days gone by. 

1 We use the word "song" because it best represents the Hebrew 
shir; but it will be understood that it is used in the widest sense. 

(glntecebentg of 

" We have in epic poetry and legend the romantic and 
heroic tales of the great civilized races, or races which 
have proved capable of civilization. These are the 
Indians, the Greeks, Romans, Celts, Scandinavians, and 
Germans. These have won their way into the national 
literatures and the region of epic. We find them in 
the Odyssey r , the Edda> the Celtic poems, the Ramazana^ 
and they even appear in the Veda. They occur in the 
legends and pedigrees of the royal heroes of Greece 
and Germany. . . . The characters are national 
heroes, such as Perseus, Jason, CEdipus, and Olympian 
gods." 1 The forms in which these traditions now exist, 
viz. in the Odyssey, etc., are highly developed ones, and 
they must have existed in substance for a long period 
of time before they assumed the form in which we 
know them now. But these traditions are not confined 
to the peoples enumerated, to them might well have 
been added the Egyptians, 2 Babylonians, 3 and Israel 
ites, who also have their poetry and legend containing 
romantic and heroic tales, though, in the case of the 
two former, they have not come down to us in the same 
developed form as in the case of the other peoples 
mentioned ; while, as regards the Israelites, the form is 
for the most part so spiritualized that it is only here 

1 Andrew Lang, Myth, Ritual, and Religio", ii. p. 304 (The Silver 
Library). Cp. further Gunkel, Genesis, Einleitung, i-iv. (1901). 

2 See e.g. Andrew Lang, Op. cit. ii. pp. 106 ff. 

8 See e.g., C. J. Ball, Light from the East, pp. I ff., 34 ff. (1899) ; 
J. G. Frazer, I he Golden Bough, Hi. pp. 160 ff. (1900). 



and there in their songs that one is able to discern 
signs of the early traditions. 

Tacitus, in his De Sttu y Moribus et Popults 
Germaniae (chap, ii.), tells us concerning the German!, 
that " in their ancient songs for it is among them 
the only method whereby they remember things and 
record their past history they celebrate Tuisco, an 
earth-born god, and his son Mannus, as the originators 
and founders of their race ; " x and, in the next chapter, 
in speaking of their war-songs, he says that they tell 
of how once Hercules sojourned in their midst, and 
that when they go into battle they sing of this man, 
the greatest of all heroes. 2 Many other examples of 
this kind of thing could be given ; all ancient races 
preserved legends of their gods and records of the 
heroic deeds of their ancestors in the national songs ; 3 
and, according to the earliest traditions, the greatest 
national heroes were gods, or at all events descended 
from gods. That this was a very natural proceeding 
among the races of antiquity will be obvious to anyone 
who considers the matter ; there is, therefore, no need 
to labour the point. The analogy of the custom 
among many races is presumptive evidence of the 
existence of a like custom among the ancient Israelites 

1 Celebrant carminibus antiquis quod nnum apud illos memoriae et 
annalium genus est Tuistionem deum terra editum, et filium Mannum, 
originem gentis conditoresque. 

2 Fuisse apud eos et Hercule memorant, primumque omnium virorum 
fortium. Ituri in proelia canunt. 

* Cp. e.g., Andrew Lang s Custom and Myth, passim. 


of tfle 

and their ancestors ; but we have in the Old Testament 
more tangible proof than this, to which reference will 
be made presently. It must be remembered, let it be 
said in passing, that topics such as those just referred 
to would clearly have occupied the minds of men in the 
nomadic stage far more than when settled life brought 
with it agricultural pursuits and the like, and therefore 
the songs in which they were commemorated would 
represent a type which must be regarded as the most 
ancient. It is, of course, not to be expected that in 
the Old Testament any of the songs in vogue during 
the nomadic stage of Israel s ancestors have been 
preserved ; the development of religious belief would 
preclude the possibility of this, apart from other 
reasons ; but echoes of the type of song we are 
considering are certainly to be found there. For 
example, Judges v. is, as regards subject-matter, exactly 
the kind of song which, in much simpler forms, had 
been sung from time immemorial. Later generations 
always adapt traditional modes to changing circum 
stances, but the various types are the same ; and in 
Judges v. we have the representative of a particular 
type. This song has a special interest because it 
exhibits what later on became two different types of 
ancient song. On the analogy of the custom among 
other races the assumption may be made that in the 
earliest form of this type among the ancestors of the 
Israelites, the race s gods, and the national heroes, 
were not differentiated. With a deeper knowledge of 


$ gge (ftggfmg in tfle 3wfc$ Cflurcfl. 

Jehovah came the realisation of an infinite difference 
between God and men, and the songs which had as 
their subject the mighty deeds of Jehovah in ancient 
days became a different type from those which 
commemorated the heroic deeds of ancestors. Now, 
Judges v. seems to reflect a transitional stage in the 
history of this type of song among the Israelites ; 
for, while differentiating between the " leaders of 
Israel " and Jehovah, both are commemorated as 
warriors in this song. It must surely be an antique 
conception of Jehovah which is expressed in these 
words : 

" Lord, when Thou wentest forth out of Seir, 
When Thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, 
The earth trembled, the heavens also dropped, 
Yea, the clouds dropped water " (verse 4). 

Or again : 

" The Lord came down for me against (or " among ") 
the mighty " (verse 13). 

And once more : 

" Curse ye, Meroz, said the angel of the Lord . . . 
Because they came not to the help of the Lord, 
To the help of the Lord against (or "among") 
the mighty " (verse 23). 

It must be remembered that even in much later 
times it was believed that supernatural beings came to 


of tfle 

the help of Israel in battle (see 2 Samuel v. 23-25, 
2 Mace. iii. 24-26, x, 29, 3O). 1 In Judges v., then, 
the leaders of Israel, and Jehovah, are both celebrated 
for championing the cause of Israel in battle ; but they 
are differentiated ; that is a modification of the earlier 
form of this type of song. Later on, as we shall see, 
some songs told of the mighty acts of Jehovah in 
ancient days, while others commemorated the heroic 
deeds of the nation s ancestors ; and thus, two entirely 
different types of song arose. 

What may be regarded as a further indication of 
the existence of songs which told of the mighty 
acts of Israel s God is the reference in i Samuel 
v. 8 ; here we have the account of how the Israelites 
brought the ark of God into the battle against the 
Philistines, and these latter say : " God is come into 
the camp ; woe unto us ! for there hath not been such 
a thing heretofore. Woe unto us ! these are the gods 
that smote the Egyptians with all manner of plagues in 
the wilderness." It is the last sentence here which is 
important in the present connexion, for it points to the 
existence of a popular traditional account of the mighty 
acts of the national God of Israel ; if such existed and 
it is hardly possible to doubt that this was so it is 
certain to have been set in rhythmical form. The way 
in which the subject is brought in in the passage before 
us implies that what is referred to was well-known, and 

1 How widespread this belief was may be seen by consulting Dr. J. 
Rendel Harris Th Cult of (he Heavenly Tivins, passim (1906). 


*; 0e (fteafme in t0e Jetmgfl Cgurcfl. 

for things of this kind to be well-known meant, in the 
case of ancient peoples, that they were commemorated 
in song. Things of national concern, like the deliver 
ance from Egypt, tend to assume a stereotyped form ; 
they are also more easily recited and more easily 
remembered when this form is rhythmical ; besides 
which, the fact of their dealing with a subject which 
was sacred, i.e., the interposition of Jehovah, neces 
sitated, according to a general custom among ancient 
peoples, something in the shape of poetical structure 
which was recited according to a set mode. When we 
read, therefore, in Exodus xiii. 8 : " And thou shalt tell 
it thy son in that day, saying, It is because of that 
which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of 
Egypt," we may feel tolerably certain that this handing- 
down from father to son of the account of the mighty 
acts of Jehovah was recited from generation to genera 
tion in the form of song, though the form was 
undoubtedly very simple, and the " melody " little more 
than a modulated monotone. 

We conclude, therefore, that among the antecedents 
of the Psalms there were, firstly, two types : that in 
which the mighty acts of Jehovah were celebrated, and 
that in which the heroic deeds of the nation s ancestors 
were commemorated. 

II. Songs which preserved the memory of great 
national events. 

It is not to be expected that one type of song 



can always be kept wholly differentiated from all 
other types ; in the main, no doubt, special features 
are seen to be characteristic of a particular type, but 
from the nature of the case it happens sometimes that 
in certain respects two types become related. One of 
the two types of song referred to in the preceding 
section, namely, that which commemorated the heroic 
deeds of ancestors and to some extent the other as 
well must in time have given rise to another type, 
which one may call the historical ode, i.e., a song which 
preserved the memory of some great national event. 
A song of this kind, which represents a distinct type, 
will, however, be sometimes associated with the God of 
Israel, sometimes with one of the nation s heroes, and, 
in so far, partakes of the characteristic feature of some 
one or other type ; that is inevitable, because great 
national events are usually associated with some out 
standing character, or else, especially among the 
Israelites, with the national God. Nevertheless, the 
historical ode, which deals with some particular event, is 
in its essence different from the two types already referred 
to, and may therefore be regarded as a distinct type, 
though lineally descended from these. Then, again, 
the historical ode will, according to its tenor, be either 
a song of victory or a lament ; for example, the song in 
Numbers xxi. 27-30, <( Come ye to Heshbon," is a song 
of victory ; while David s lament over Saul and Jonathan 
(2 Samuel i. 19-27) is a dirge ; each preserves the 
memory of a national event. So that the historical ode 

71 F 

in tge 

must be sub-divided into two classes : the song of 
triumph, and the dirge. 

111. Folk- Songs. 

In Num. xxi. 17, 18, occurs the so-called " Song of 
the Well": 

" Spring up, O well ; sing ye unto it ; 
To the well which the princes digged, 
Which the nobles of the people delved, 
With the wand, and with their staves." 

This song belongs to the class of what one may call 
the early popular poetry of the Israelites. " Such 
poetry consisted especially of short snatches sung in 
honour of the vine at time of vintage, or of wells and 
springs, and even, as Ewald put it, of popular songs 
accompanying the alternate strokes of hard labour. 
No complete vintage song survives, though a line of 
one is probably quoted in Is. Ixv. 8. \cp. Ps. Ivii. title, 
see below], and imitations of the class may be found in 
Is. v. i ff., xxvii. 2-5. The present lines are a complete, 
or all but complete, popular song, addressed to a well, 
in which, perhaps, as W. R. Smith suggested, the 
Hebrew women, as they stand round the fountain wait 
ing their turn to draw, coax forth the water, which 
wells up all too slowly for their impatience. 
Budde may be right in detecting in the song an 
allusion to a custom, by which when a well had 
been discovered it was lightly covered over, and then, 


(glnfecebenfe of 

on a subsequent occasion, solemnly opened with a 
symbolic action of the sceptre-like staves of the 
Sheikhs of the clan, and formally declared clan 
property. Two interesting parallels are cited ; Kazwini 
(i. 189) relates: t When the water [of the wells 
of Ilabistan] failed, a feast was held at the source, 
with music and dancing, to induce it to flow 
again/ And Nilus (Migne, Patrologia Grceca, torn. 
Ixxix. col. 648), as Goldziher (Abhandlungen, i. 58) has 
pointed out, reports of the nomadic Arabs, that when 
they found a well they danced by it and sang songs to 
it. Modern travellers speak of the songs used by the 
Bedawin as they draw water for their flocks (Seetzen, 
Reisen, ii. 223). " l 

These indications all point to the fact of the existence 
of early popular poetry among the Israelites. A poem 
of this class was usually of a joyous character, into 
which, generally speaking, a certain religious element 
entered ; and such poem or song was called a shir. 
Robertson Smith traces a distinct connexion between 
an example of this type of song, and one of the 
Psalms : " A curious and interesting feature in the 
musical titles in the earlier half of the Psalter is that 
many of them indicate the tune to which the Psalm 
was set, by quoting phrases like Aijelelh\hash-~\ 
shahar, or Jonath elem rechokim, which are evidently the 
names of familiar songs. Similarly the ancient Syrian 

1 Buchanan Gray, Numbers, pp. 288 f. (International Critical Com 


in tfle 

hymn-writers prefix to the compositions such musical 
titles as * To the tune of / will open my mouth ivith 
knowledge? Of the song which gave the title Al- 
taschith^ Destroy not, a trace is still preserved in 
Is. Ixv. 8 : ( When the new wine is found in the 
cluster, says the prophet, ( men say, Destroy it not 
for a blessing is in it? These words in the Hebrew 
have a distinct lyric rhythm. They are the first line of 
one of the vintage songs so often alluded to in Scripture. 
And so we learn that the early religious melody of 
Israel had a popular origin, and was closely connected 
with the old joyous life of the nation." 2 Regarding the 
other title mentioned here by Robertson Smith, Jonath 
elem rechokim (" The silent dove of them that are far 
away "), which is evidently the title of some ancient 
popular song, we may perhaps discern a reference to it in 
Ps. Iv, 67 : " O that I had wings like a dove, then would 
I fly away and be at rest ; lo, then would I wander far 
off; I would lodge in the wilderness." Briggs, in 
referring to titles like those cited, says : " It is hardly 
possible that the reference could have been to a melody. 
It was doubtless to a tone for cantillation, as the tones 
of the early Synagogue and early Church, which are 
capable of use in pieces of different measure and 
different strophical length." 3 This does not, however, 
necessarily controvert Robertson Smith s contention, 

1 Pss. Ivii. lix., Ixxv. 

3 The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, p. 209. 

1 The Book of Psalms i p. Ixxv. (International Critical Commentary). 


t&nfecebenfg of tfle (ftgqftng. s* 

for by the word " melody," one does not, when speaking 
of ancient times, understand it to mean anything like 
the modern idea of a tune ; nevertheless, it is worth 
remembering that some early forms of tune contain 
the elements of what even in modern times may be 
regarded as quite passable. 1 

Another type, therefore, of ancient song in Israel 
was the folk-song, under which we include harvest and 
vintage songs. Folk-songs in the ordinary sense of the 
word, cannot, strictly speaking, be spoken of as among 
the antecedents of the Psalms, though even here it is 
well not to speak dogmatically ; but in the case of 
harvest and vintage songs it is different, and we shall 
try and show in the next chapter that certain psalms, 
or at any rate, parts of certain psalms, may quite 
possibly contain, in a developed form, echoes of this 
type of song. 

IV. Finally, one other type of song was that which 
expressed a prayer, or hope, or, perhaps chiefly, a 
meditation. This would certainly have been one of the 
latest types of all, but that something of the kind must 
have come into existence at a comparatively early date, 
can scarcely be doubted when it is remembered how 
abundantly the religious instinct found expression 
among the Israelites of all ages. An example of this 
type is the Song of Hannah (though this is evidently 
a somewhat developed form of song). 

Of the various types of "song" mentioned, all, 

1 See above, Chap. I. 


in tfle 3wt60 Cgutcfl. 

excepting the last, were intended for public use ; but 
even in the case of this, it would be precarious to assert 
that it was necessarily restricted to private use. 
David s Lament was, as we know, meant for public 
recitation (see 2 Sam. i. 18) in spite of its being 
individual in form. 

It is certain that none of these various types of song 
were written down when first uttered, though their 
developed counterparts in later days were probably, at 
any rate in many instances, very soon committed to 
writing. " The old poets did not write their poems. 
Each of them had his rawi, or reciter/ who learned 
each poem, and transmitted it to others." 1 

The types of " song " which (with the exception 
perhaps, of the last) we have assumed to have been in 
existence in some form or another, long before the time 
of the monarchy, and which may therefore be regarded 
as the antecedents of the Psalms, are the following : 

(i.) Legends, or the like, concerning the mighty 
deeds of Jehovah in primeval days ; these 
developed later into songs of praise. 

(ii.) Songs commemorating the heroic deeds of 
ancestors ; these developed later into the 
historical ode, of which two kinds existed : 
the song of triumph and the dirge. 

(iii.) Harvest and Vintage songs. 

(iv.) Meditations, issuing later into the " Individual " 
psalms proper. 

1 Encycl. Bibl. 3943. 

(&ntecebentg of 

There may, probably enough, have been other types 
as well, but we are only concerned with those which 
may reasonably be regarded as antecedents of similar 
types to be found among the Psalms. 

Our next task must be to try and show by means of 
definite examples that there are grounds for believing 
that many of the psalms, as we now have them, are 
developed forms of types which were in existence long 
before the earliest psalms in the Psalter were composed. 




BEFORE seeking to substantiate what has been said 
in the preceding chapter it is essential to realise how 
composite, both in structure and authorship, the 
contents of the Psalter are. Its composite character 
is seen not only in the fact that it embodies 
collections of songs belonging to different ages 
and to different authors ; but, what is still more 
important from our present point of view, that 
individual psalms are also composite. 

I. The composite character of the Psalms. 

There is abundant evidence in the Psalter itself, as 
will be seen presently, to show its composite 
character; but it may be well, first, to draw atten 
tion to one or two authoritative dicta in Jewish 
writings ; what is said in these would not be 
accepted nowadays as witnessing to the actual facts 
of the case, but they prove that in the Jewish Church 
itself the composite character of the Psalter was 
recognised as an indubitable fact. We find, for 


Constituent (Bfementg of ffle 

example, a difference of opinion as to how many 
psalms the Psalter in its present form contains ; 
thus, it is said at least twice that there are only 
a hundred and forty-seven psalms, so in the 
Babylonian Talmud Sopherim xvi. ii: "The 147 
songs which are written in the book of the 
Psalms are according to the years of Jacob " (see 
Genesis xlvii. 28) ; the same is said in Berakhoth 
qb loa ; this number was gained because Psalms i. 
and ii., xlii. and xliii., Ixxi. and Ixxii., were respec 
tively reckoned as one psalm. On the other hand, 
a hundred and fifty is stated to be the number in 
Kiddushin $oa. 1 The psalms without a title, thirty- 
five in all, are not ascribed to David, but are simply 
called the "Orphan Psalms" (Abodah Zara 2$b). 
Then again, it is recognised that the Psalms have 
been edited ; not of course in the sense in which we 
should use the word in reference to the Psalter now ; 
but, at any rate, it was realised that the form in 
which we now have the Psalms was not the original 
one; thus in the Talmud, according to Hamburger 
(though the reference is not given), Samuel both col 
lected and edited the Psalms. 2 A different tradition 
is contained in a BaraithcP of the Talmudic tractrate 
Baba Bathra (quoted by Briggs, Op. cit. I. p. 54) : 

1 In the Greek Bible there are 151 psalms. See further, on the 
numbering of the Psalms, Briggs, Op. cit. I. p. Ixxxviii. 

2 Possibly a reference is intended to Psalm xcix. 6. 

3 The Baraithas are ancient traditions not incorporated in the Mishna. 



" David wrote the Book of Psalms with the aid 
of ten ancients, with the aid of Adam the first, 
Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, Heman, Jeduthun, 
Asaph, and the three sons of Korah"; as Briggs 
says : " The writing of David here is evidently 
editorship .... the statement comes from the 
second century A.D., and is stereotyped in Jewish 
tradition." The titles to many of the Psalms 
witness, further, to the belief in the Jewish Church 
that the Psalter was of composite authorship ; only 
seventy-four are ascribed to David, twelve are 
ascribed to Asaph, eleven to the sons of Korah, one 
each to Moses, Solomon, Heman, Ethan, and 
Oni ("the afflicted one"), while forty-eight are 

It is, however, more important for our present 
purpose to show that many of the individual 
psalms are composite in structure and authorship ; 
they have not, in many cases, come down to us in 
their original form ; additions have sometimes been 
made for liturgical purposes; some psalms, origin 
ally forming one whole, have been divided into two ; 
in the case of some of the earliest psalms it is highly 
probable that they have undergone revision in order 
to adapt them to the religious thought of later 
times. We can only give a few examples (the 
subject is exhaustively dealt with in commen 
taries on the Psalms), 1 as our object is merely to try 

1 E.g. those of Ewald, Baethgen, Duhm, Cheyne, Kirkpalrick, Briggs. 


Congttfuent (Sfewenfa of ffle fl)0affet, 

and show that many of the psalms have a history 
behind them. 

A striking instance of the mutilation of a psalm is 
seen in Psalms ix., x. ; that these in an earlier stage 
formed one is proved by the fact that each is an 
acrostic of halfttie alphabet 1 ; Psalm ix. goes to "K," 
Psalm x. commences at "L"; the object of dividing the 
original psalm in this way is difficult to determine 2 ; 
but in view of the distinct difference both in tone 
and subject between the two halves, it is possible 
that the amalgamation as given in the Septuagint 
and in the Vulgate represents a second stage in the 
literary structure of the two psalms, and that the 
Hebrew form reflects the earliest stage : that an 
editor, say of the early post-exilic period, should 
take a delight in moulding two originally distinct 
psalms into one acrostic whole is quite com 
prehensible both the psalms in question bear 
considerable marks of text manipulation the desire 
to produce a literary curiosity, as regards structure, 3 
sufficiently explains the object of this. Such a pro 
ceeding would only offer an interesting example, in 
addition to many others, of the freedom with which 
the early scribes adapted their literary possessions 

In the Septuagint and in the Vulgate the two form only one psalm. 

2 Kirkpatrick (in loc.) says; <( The two psalms present an unsolved 
literary problem .... Ps. ix., however, appears to be complete 
in itself, and it seems preferable to regard Ps. x. as a companion piece 
rather than a part of a continuous whole." 

8 Cp. other acrostic Psalms, such as xxv., cxix., etc. 


$ t$t (foaftne in fge 3*wt60 f urcf . 

to changing circumstances. Again, that Psalms xlii. 
and xliii. were originally one needs no proof, one 
has but to read them to become convinced of the 
fact ; the two " form a connected poem, consisting of 
three equal stanzas, each ending with the same 
refrain. The same circumstances appear to lie in 
the background, and the tone, spirit, and language 
are the same throughout. The prayer of Psalm xliii. 
is needed to supplement the complaint of Psalm 
xlii." 1 The separation of what was originally one 
psalm was due in all probability, as Dean Kirk- 
patrick points out, to liturgical reasons. It is 
evidently also due to the same cause that we have 
a number of instances of the inverse process, 
namely those in which different psalms have 
been combined into one ; these are enumerated by 
Briggs 2 ; to give but two examples out of about 
twenty-five: Psalm cviii. is composed of vv. 1-6 
(= Ivii. 8-12) and vv. 7-14 (= Ix. 7-14); not that 
the redactor of this Psalm necessarily used parts of 
Ivii. and Ix., but that he used some antecedent form 
of them. 

Again, on comparing Ps. xl. 13-17 with Ps. Ixx. 
one sees at once that the former is really an edited 
form of the latter appended to xl. 1-12. The follow 
ing should also be compared, xxxi. 1-13 with Ixxi. 
1-3, cxv. 4-18 with cxxxiv. 15-21. These are all very 
obvious cases of the process of adding pieces of one 

1 Kirkpatrick in loc. 2 Op. cit. I. pp. xlix, ff. 

Constituent (Sfemenfg of t$e 

psalm on to another ; and this, again, illustrates the 
truth that many of the psalms have, for one reason 
or another, been altered and adapted. But there are 
many other instances of this kind of thing having 
taken place, and a careful study of the Psalms leads 
to the conviction that Briggs is right when, in 
speaking of the various kinds of glosses found in 
them, he says : " The simplest and most natural are 
liturgical in character, petitions, intercessions, calls 
to worship, expressions of praise, and the like. 
Psalms expressive of piety and protestations of 
integrity are modified by the insertions of confessions 
of sin and pleas for forgiveness. Protestations of 
innocence are inserted in psalms which lament the 
sufferings of the people of God from vindictive and 
cruel enemies. Personal, local, and earlier national 
relations are generalised so that earlier psalms might 
with propriety be used in the public worship of later 
times. Early psalms were adapted to the time of the 
supremacy of Law by legal glosses, to the times of 
Hebrew Wisdom by legal glosses, to the Maccabaean 
times by lamentations for defeat, imprecations upon 
enemies, and other warlike expressions appropriate 
to a period of persecution and conflict. Early psalms 
were enriched by illustrations from earlier literature, 
or by fuller and expansive statements. Several 
psalms were given a Messianic reference in this way. 
Thus the editors of the various Psalters did exactly 
what the editors of prayer-books, liturgies and hymn- 


^ gfle (psafms in tfle 3ewt0fl flurcfl. 

books have always done. They had greater interest 
in editing the psalms for public worship than in 
preserving their original literary form and meaning. 
Accordingly, many of the psalms have lost their 
original literary form. They express varied states of 
mind, differences of experience, inconsistent situa 
tions ; there are sudden and unexpected changes in 
tenses of verbs, and in person and number of 
pronouns and suffixes. All this makes the Psalms 
richer in the expression of religious experience, and 
in this respect more suited to the varied needs of the 
congregation, but greatly injures their literary and 
historic value." 1 

There is thus every justification for the belief that 
many of the psalms as we now have them have gone 
through a process of evolution, and this not only in 
structure, but also in content. This is a considerable 
step towards establishing the further contention that 
many of the psalms as they now appear are 
developed forms of types which were in existence 
long before the earliest psalms in the Psalter were 

II. Some examples of developed forms of earlier types of 

In the preceding chapter it was suggested that the 
antecedents of the Psalms comprised at least four 
different types of song whose developed counterparts 

1 Op. cit. I. p. 1. 
8 4 

CottBtttuent (Bfemenfg of tffe (Rafter* 

were to be discerned in the Psalter ; to try and 
substantiate this is our present task. The attempt 
is worth making, for among many critics of to-day 
there is a tendency to regard the whole Book of the 
Psalms as a, comparatively speaking, late literary 
production ; we are far from denying that a large 
number of the psalms were originally composed in 
post-exilic times, some belonging to as late a time 
as the Maccabsean period ; but to maintain that not 
one, or scarcely one, of the Psalms is pre-exilic, as 
some writers have done, is difficult to believe ; for it 
must be remembered, on the one hand, that among 
the Israelites, as among other ancient peoples, the 
earliest form of literary production was the poetic ; 
and, on the other hand, that the Israelites were 
essentially a musical and poetical people, and the 
national genius which produced the admittedly late 
Psalms is unlikely to have been inactive in earlier 
times. All critics are agreed that we have, outside 
the Psalter, some really ancient poetical pieces in the 
Old Testament, 1 which witness to the existence of 
the national poetical genius ; but if it be said that 
practically none of the Psalms belong to pre-exilic 
times, this seems to create a strange hiatus in 
the history of song among the Israelites which is 
not easy to account for. Our contention is that 
in substance, though not in form, a considerable 

1 Such as Gen. iv. 23, 24, Num. xxi. 14, 15, xxi. 17, 18, Judg. 
v. 2-31. 

in tfle 3wtgg Cflutcfl. 

proportion of the Psalms belong to pre-exilic times. 
The preceding chapters have, it is hoped, suggested 
the probability of this. We proceed now to try and 
show that the study of certain psalms bears out this 

(a) The first type of song regarded, in the last 
chapter, as being antecedent to some of the psalms 
was that which spoke of the mighty deeds of the 
national God in primeval days. An example of this 
is the fragment of an ancient ode which is one of 
two elements (see further under (c)} incorporated 
into Ps. Ixv. ; verses 6, 7 (7, 8 in Hebr.) run literally : 

" Who arrangeth the mountains by His strength, 

Girded with might ; 
Who stilleth the raging of the seas, 
The roaring of their waves." 

The reference here is to the Creation and to 
Jehovah s conflict with Tehom, the primeval watery 
monster. A distinct community of ideas seems to 
exist between this passage and Jer. x. 12, 13 : "He 
hath made the earth by his power, he hath estab 
lished the world by his wisdom, and by his under 
standing hath he stretched out the heavens [the 
words which follow, " when he uttereth his voice," 
are omitted by the Septuaginf\ ; there is a tumult of 
the waters in the heavens. . . ." These identical 
words occur again in Is. li. 15, 16, a fact which 
strengthens the supposition that they represent part 


Constituent (gfemenfs of tfle 

of a well-known ancient song ; possibly Ps. Ixv. 6, 7, 
belongs to the same song from which the Jeremiah 
passage has been taken. In each case, at any rate, 
it is the distant past to which reference is made ; 
and this act of Jehovah s must have been com 
memorated in song from very ancient times ; x part 
of this song was utilized to proclaim the might of the 
God of Israel in the psalm of praise which we now 
have in Ps. Ixv. That the subject of this ancient 
song should have been handled by David in a hymn 
of praise would have been a very natural thing, so 
that it is quite possible that, in this case at all 
events, the Davidic ascription in the title may rest 
on sound tradition. The subject of this fragment is 
more elaborately dealt with in Ps. Ixxiv. ; here we 
have in verses 12-15 tne following extract from (or, 
at any rate, reminiscence of) this ancient song : 

" God is my king from of old, 
Working salvation in the midst of the earth ; 
Thou didst split in twain the Sea in thy strength, 
Thou didst break in pieces the heads of the dragons in the 

waters ; 

Thou didst shatter the heads of Leviathan ; 
Thou wilt give him for food, for food to the denizens of the 

waste ; 

Thou didst cleave fountain and flood ; 
Thou didst dry up ancient rivers." 

The same notes which are sounded in the previous 


1 See, further, the writer s The Evolution t>f the Messianic Idea, pp. 
60 ff. 

in tfle 

passage recur here, only in more detail ; the reference 
is to something which happened long ago ; the God 
of Israel overcame a great monster, who is the Sea 
personified, and who is also called Leviathan. The 
occurrence is clearly regarded as well known, and 
must have been the subject of song for ages before 
it appeared in its present form. It is also worth 
noticing that in the verses which follow (16, 17) 
there is a reference to the Creation ; the same is the 
case in the context of the former passage cited ; it is 
very probable that the great creative acts of Jehovah 
were also the subject of song long before they 
appeared in some of our psalms in their present 

Again, in Ps. Ixxxix., 8-10 (9-11 in Hebr.), the 
primeval conflict of Jehovah is the subject of song : 

" Jehovah, God of hosts, who is like unto Thee, Mighty Jah ? 
And thy faithfulness is round about thee. 
Thou hast the pre-eminence over the Sea when she ariseth, 
Thou stillest her waves when they roar (cp. the Scptua^inf)^ 
Thou didst humble (cp. the Septuagint] Rahab, as one that is 

dishonoured (cp. Ezek. xxi. 30) ; 

With thy mighty arm (cp. verse 13 of this Ps.) hast thou 
scattered thine enemies." 

Again it is something which happened in the 
distant past which is sung of here, a glorious act on 
the part of Israel s national God; it is also again 
brought in incidentally, as being a thing of common 
knowledge (see, in this connexion, Ps. Ixxvii. 16-19, 


Constituent (Bfementg of tfle (pgafter+ 

Is. li. 9, 10, Job ix. 13, xxvi. 12, 13, xli. 1-34, Ezek. 
xxix. 3, xxxii. 2), and it appears to be the central 
part of a song which, as it now stands, is comprised 
in verses 5-18 of this psalm, for there are in this 
passage several other very old-world traits, especially 
verses 5-y. 1 

One other example may be given, namely Ps. civ., 
which is a good illustration of the way in which 
ancient matter (which must in earlier days have 
been the subject of song) has been adapted to 
the requirements of later ages ; the first few verses 
contain echoes of the creation of the heavens, then 
follow these words (verses 5-9) : 

He founded the earth upon her pillars ; she shall not move for 

Tehom covered her like a garment ; upon the hills the waters 

stood ; 
At thy rebuke they fled ; at the voices of thy thunder in terror 

they fled. 
Mountains rose up, valleys sank down into the place which 

thou didst fix for them. 
A bound thou didst set which they may not pass ; they may 

not return to cover the earth." 

Here the reference to the ancient story of Jehovah s 
victory is sufficiently obvious not to require insisting 
upon (cp. also verse 26). The rest of the psalm deals 
in the main, with the many blessings which Israel s 
God has given to His people ; all the good things 

1 These are dealt with in the writer s book referred to above, pp. 96-104, 

8 9 


which men enjoy have been given them by Him. 
The point of importance is that the ancient story of 
how Jehovah slew the primeval watery monster, 
Tehom, is here sung. It must have been sung for 
ages before it was embodied in this hymn of praise ; 
its presence in the psalms which have been referred 
to can only be explained on the supposition that it 
had been handed down in song for many generations, 
because the Jewish doctrine of God underwent a 
great change after the Exile, the conceptions con 
cerning Jehovah became more spiritualized, and 
anthropomorphisms were largely toned down. It is 
inconceivable that psalms composed originally in 
post-exilic times should have dealt with this antique 
story of a material combat between Jehovah and 
Tehom ; strong as Babylonian influence was upon 
Jewish thought, during and after the Exile, the ideas 
concerning Jehovah, the God of Israel, could not 
have been influenced in a retrograde direction. It 
was different when it was a case of songs which had 
been hallowed by use for many generations among 
the Israelites ; the form of such songs might well 
undergo change, but their substance would remain, 
and be adapted to changing circumstances. So that 
we may conclude that in the few examples which 
have been considered we have the remains of ancient 
literature which have, probably enough, gone through 
more than one process of editing. Compiled from 
written sources which, as literature, must have had 


Constituent (gfemenfe of tfle 

a history behind them, and which were themselves 
adaptations of previously existing material which 
embodied some of the traditional beliefs held for 
ages, and which even during an oral stage must 
have undergone many modifications it is not to be 
wondered at that only fragments have remained. 
But the ancient songs which told of the mighty 
deeds of Jehovah in days of old were very precious 
because they magnified the national God; in later 
days the conceptions concerning Jehovah s Person 
ality underwent change, which necessitated some 
modifications in the form of praise offered to Him, 
and therefore the form in which the old hymns of 
praise were set was altered ; but the type was the 
same. Thus it has come about that only echoes of 
the early form of hymns of praise are to be discerned 
in the psalms in question ; but the type continued 
to exist, as it had existed for many centuries. 

(b) The second type of ancient song to which 
reference was made was that which commemorated 
the heroic deeds of ancestors. Songs of this kind 
were naturally connected with the history of the 
nation, and we saw that this type, therefore, 
developed into the historical ode ; but it is probable 
that the two were originally distinct. In the Psalms 
there are but faint traces of the type in which the 
heroic deeds of the nation s ancestors are com 
memorated, see Psalms xcix. 6, 7 ; cv. 41 ; cvi. 23, 
30 ; but the historical ode proper is well represented, 


(pggfme in ffle Jetmafl Cflutcg. 

see .. Psalms xliv, 1-8; Ixxviii., Ixxxi, Ixxxiii., cv., 
cvi., cvii., cviii. 7-13, cxiv. ; national history thus 
became incorporated in the Temple hymns. An 
example of the more specific historical song of 
triumph, Psalm IxviiL, is a magnificent illustration of 
a type which in earlier days was represented, ., by 
the song in Judges v. On the other hand, Psalms 
xliv. 9-26, Ix. 1-4, cxxxvii. may be instanced as 
songs of the type of the dirge in 2 Samuel i. 19-27. 
It is unnecessary to go into details concerning these 
types, the reading of the psalms in question will 
illustrate what has been said ; they are probably all 
late in date, but that does not affect the types they 

(c) It might be thought that folk-songs, such as 
were sung at harvest and vintage time, represent a 
type which is not likely to be found in the Psalms ; 
in their old form we shall certainly seek them 
there in vain. But it must be remembered that such 
songs were always to some extent expressions of 
gratitude to Jehovah for His bounty, and as such 
they would naturally develop into psalms of thanks 
giving for material benefits. In Psalm Ixv. 9-13, for 
example, we have a harvest-song which is of striking 
beauty : 

" Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it, to enrich it ; 
The river (better brook ) of God is full of water. 
Thou preparest corn for them, yea, thus thou preparest it, 
Watering her furrows, settling her ridges ; 

Constituent <5fement0 of 

Thou makest it soft with showers, thou blessest its growth. 

Thou crownest the year with thy goodness, 

And thy paths drop fatness ; 

The pastures of the wilderness trickle (with fatness), 

And the hills gird themselves with joy. 

The hills clothe themselves with flocks, 

And the valleys cover themselves with corn ; 

They shout for joy, and they sing." 

This may well be the developed form of an 
ancient song incorporated into a psalm of later 
date ; it certainly proves that this type of song is 
represented in the Psalms. Another example of 
this type is to be found in Psalm cxlvii. 7-9, where 
Jehovah is praised for His gifts of rain and the 
fruits of the field ; and a reminiscence of both a 
harvest and a vintage song is evidently contained 
in Psalm civ. 13-15. 

(d) A large proportion of the Psalms are, to 
judge from their form and contents, to be regarded 
rather as prayers intended for private use than as 
hymns of praise to be used in public worship, and 
which were, therefore, never meant to be sung and 
never were sung. Psalm vii., for example, which is 
probably one of the oldest in the Psalter, is of this 
nature, so, too, Psalms iii., xiii., xxiii., among the 
older ones, and many others of later date. That 
psalms of this nature represent a type, much 
developed of course, which is of great antiquity, 
seems to lie almost in the nature of things ; for they 
witness to the inevitable need of man to commune 



with his Maker; this applies with special force to the 
Israelites, among whom the religious instinct has 
always been a marked characteristic. One has only 
to read such a passage as Judges vi. 12-15, to see 
how natural, and therefore how common, must have 
been these individual outpourings of the heart to 
God. In later times many prayers of this kind 
became stereotyped, and were ultimately adapted 
for use for any individual. Their incorporation into 
the Psalter did not imply that they were intended 
for public worship, but rather for the use of 
individuals in the Temple. The custom of going 
up into the Temple to pray (see Luke xviii. loff) 
only reflects what must have been done from time 
immemorial ; before the existence of the Temple 
the local sanctuaries would have been used for this 
purpose. Psalms of this kind, therefore, represent a 
type which may well be regarded as having been 
in existence in the earliest times (see further 
Chapter X.) 

In the Psalms, then, we must recognise types of 
songs of praise, and of prayers, which have, in 
differing forms, been the possession of the Israelites 
from almost the beginning of their history ; and the 
bulk of them represent songs, or prayers, of great 
antiquity, which have been adapted to the changing 
circumstances of the times, but which have been 
altered not so much in substance and context, as in 


Constituent (gfemente of fge (ftsaffer, 

(e) Lastly, there are a certain number of psalms 
which are not adaptations of ancient songs, but 
which represent an altogether new type brought into 
existence by new conditions ; such are, for example, 
the "Hallel" group (on these, see pp. 120 f), the 
"Songs of Ascents" (see pp. 125 ff.), and others. 



A BRIEF consideration of Hebrew poetry, especially 
in reference to the poetical structure of the Psalms, is, 
apart from the general interest of the subject itself, 
of importance, because it is of the greatest use in 
helping to discern what psalms are composite, and thus 
of throwing some light upon the way in which many 
of the psalms have been constructed. The rules of 
Hebrew " metre " are simple, as will be seen ; and 
when the structure of a psalm is broken, which is not 
difficult to discern on account of the general simplicity 
of Hebrew " metre," one is able to see at once where 
and how its original form has been altered. But 
apart from this, some insight into Hebrew poetical 
structure even without any knowledge of Hebrew is 
useful, because by means of it one is often enabled 
to understand better the meaning of a psalm. 

I. The Characteristics of Hebrew Poetry. 

Poetry, like music, is a means of expressing the 
emotions ; the former may be said to represent the 

(ftoettcaf Structure of tge (fteafms, ^ 

brain, the latter the heart ; the ideal way of giving 
outward expression to the emotions is by means of 
the combination of music and poetry. Among cultured 
peoples these two have become separated to a much 
larger extent than was the case among less cultivated 
races, among whom the two are indissoluble; with 
them poetry is never said, it is always sung. But 
just as, among these, the term " music " is to be under 
stood in a sense which will not bear comparison with 
the modern connotation of the word, so it is with 
poetry. If one listens to a class of children in a 
National School reciting poetry, two things strike 
one : the " sing-song," and the rhythm. These are 
two elementary characteristics which attach to the 
recitation of poetry. The way in which children 
naturally recite their poetry is an illustration of the 
method of uncultured man. Again, anyone who reads 
the attempts which children sometimes make at writing 
poetry will notice two characteristics which usually 
assert themselves : the rhythmic element is sufficiently 
discernable, but the metre is defective. It is primarily 
the rhythm, corresponding to the " musical " element 
when the poem is recited, which differentiates poetry 
from prose ; for the essential difference between these 
two, as far as the form is concerned, is that the 
expression of emotion, which in prose is continued 
uninterruptedly, is checked periodically in poetry, as 
though to set in relief the variations of the emotions 
expressed. Now the characteristics of the child s 


*s gfle (p0afm6 in tge Jwtsfl Cflurcg. 

poetry represent two elements in Hebrew poetry which 
are the first to be noticed. Hebrew poetry has no 
regular metre, but its rhythm is strongly marked ; the 
constant number of syllables to a line, to which we 
are accustomed in modern poetry, is not found in 
Hebrew poetry ; so long as the rhythm is distinct the 
number of syllables in a line is immaterial. This can 
be seen in the following transliteration : 

Ladondi ha aretz umelo ah (ten syllables) 

To the Lord the earth and its fulness 

T6bel wejoshbu bah (six syllables) 

The world and the dw611ers therein 

Ki hu al-yamim ySsadah (eight syllables) 

For H6 on the waters hath set it 

We al-neharoth yekon6heh (ten syllables) 

And on rivers established it. 1 

It will be seen at once here that while the number 
of syllables varies in each line, the rhythmic three 
beats to each line is quite distinct. The principle 
embodied in this example holds good for all Hebrew 
poetry whatever the number of "beats" to a line, and 
that there are different modes of this kind will be seen 
presently. Hebrew poetry, therefore, is not based on 
quantity, but on accentuated syllables ; it is true that 
there are other accents than those indicated in the 
example given above, but the minor accents are dis 
regarded as far as the rhythm is concerned, and only 

1 Ps. xxiv. i, 2. 


(ftorftcaf ^frucfute of tfle (ftgafms. s 

the important accents come into consideration j 1 this 
holds good of all Old Testamentt Hebrew poetry. 
From what has been said it follows that in Hebrew 
poetry we are not to look for lines of corresponding 
lengths ; where the main desire is to express thought 
or emotion in the most telling way that could be, sym 
metrical lines did not come into consideration. 

Another characteristic of Hebrew poetry is that the 
ends of the lines do not rhyme ; it happens often 
enough that lines end with similar-sounding syllables, 
as, for example, in the quotation given above, in which 
each line ends with ah ; this is, however, due to the 
form of the Hebrew suffixes, not to the desire to make 
a rhyme. Instead of rhyme similar-sounding words 
occur (not necessarily at the end of a line) ; thus 
in Ps. cxlviii., e.g. t each of the verses 2-4 begins 
with Halleliihu "Praise Him;" and verses 3-5 begin 
respectively thus : 

" HalUltiku shemesh weyateach . . ." 

" Praise Him, sun* and moon . . ." 

" Halleluhu shemc hashamditn . . ." 

" Praise Him, Heaven of Heavens . . ." 

" Ye/iallclu eth-shem Adonai . . ." 
" Let them praise the name of the Lord . . ." 

l Cp. Ugolino, Thesaurus xxxii., pp. 389!"., where he says, after enu 
merating the accents in the Psalms : Nota hoc loco accentus hosce musicos 
non ad canendum tantum, sed ad pulchram pronunciationem esse institutos, 
ut scias scilicet, ubi suspendere spiritum, quo loco versum distinguere, 
ubi comma figere, ubi colon apponere debeas, ubi versus claudatur, ubi 
inc>piat, quid lentius, celerius, concitatius lenius denique ac temperatius 
tardiusque sit efierendum. 

2 These italicized words are the similar-sounding ones in Hebrew. 


in tge 

Moreover, many examples of alliteration could be 
given ; one of the most striking is to be found in 
Ps.. cxxii. 6 : 

Sha alu shelom Jerushalaim yishlaiu ohabaik ; this 
is reproduced by the English version : " Pray for the 
/eace of Jerusalem, may they/rosper that love thee." 

Again, a favourite device in Hebrew poetry is the 
use of Catchwords ; for example, it strikes the eye at 
once when one sees three successive lines (Ps. xiii. 
2 > 3)> beginning with ad-anah, " How long"; that is, 
as it were, the motto of the psalm. Striking, again, is 
the catchword Qpl-Adonai, "The voice of the Lord," 
which occurs no less than eight times in Ps. xxix. 
Somewhat similar to these catchwords, as indicating 
the main idea of a psalm, only more elaborate, are the 
Refrains which are characteristic of some psalms ; for 
example, in Ps. xlii. 5, n, xliii. 5 (the two originally 
formed one psalm), a refrain is repeated three times : 
" Why art thou cast down, my soul ? And why art 
thou disquieted within me ? Hope in God, for I shall yet 
praise Him, (who is) the health of my countenance, and 
my God." More pronounced is the refrain, repeated 
twenty-six times, of Ps. cxxxvi,, " For His mercy 
endureth for ever ; " this refrain occurs also in the 
psalm which is inserted in the Hebrew of Ecclesiasticus 
after li. 12 ; it is repeated fourteen times. 

Lastly, Hebrew poetry is characterised by the use of 
archaic words ; these consist not only of nouns, but 
also of prepositions, suffixes, and case-endings. 


(ftoettcdf Structure of fffe (Pggfms, $ 

II. Forms of Hebrew Poetry. 

The individual lines in Hebrew poetry belong to 
different classes according to their "measure," or, in 
other words, according to the number of (< beats " in a 
line. These classes are clearly defined, and are as 
follows : 

(a) The Trimeter; this is the most common 
measure in the Psalter, and consists of three 
rhythmic beats to a line, viz. : 

Adonai, mah-rabbu zarai 

Lord, how are my foes multiplied, 

Rabbim karnim alai 

There are many that rise against m6. l 

(<) The Tetrameter; this measure occurs far less 
frequently in the Psalter, it consists of four rhythmic 
beats to the line, viz. : 

Hoshi ah Adonai ki-gamar chasid 

Save Lord for the godly man ceaseth to be", 

Ki-passu emunim mibene adam 

The faithful have failed from the sons of men. 2 

Not infrequently in this class a caestira comes in 
the middle of the line, i.e,, it is cut into two divisions, 
each division having two beats ; a good example of 
this is the following : 

Ad- anah Adonai \\ tishkacheni nezach 

How long, O Lord || wilt Thou ever forget me ? 3 

1 Ps. iii. 2, cp. also Ps. xxiv. I, 2, cited above. 2 Ps. xii. I, 
3 Psalm xiii. 2. 


ff)0aftng in 

This caesura is usually found in lines of ten or more 

(c} The Pentameter ; the five beats to a line is a 
measure which occurs slightly oftener in the Psalter ; 
it always has the caesura, sometimes after second, but 
more frequently after the third beat, e.g. : 

Ashre nesui pesha || kesui chata ah 

Blest the forgiv n of trespass || whose sin is cover d. 1 

(d) The Hexameter ; this measure has six beats in 
a line, the position of the caesura varies, coming mostly 
after the third beat, though sometimes after the 
second ; there are instances of two caesuras in one 
line, dividing it into three sections of two beats each. 
A good instance of the hexameter is Psalm cxxi., of 
which the first verse runs : 

Essa eynai el-heharim || me ayin yabo ezri 
I will lift mine eyes to the hills ; || from whence will come 
my help ? 

(e) The Kinah measure ; this is the measure proper 
to elegiac poetry in Hebrew ; its usual form is a line of 
three beats followed by a shorter one of two beats, e.g., 
Psalm xix., 8-ro, contains this measure; the first line 
of verse 8 runs : 

Torath Adonai temimah meshibath nephesh 
The Law of the Lord is perfect restoring the soul. 

1 Psalm xxxii. I. 

(poeftcaf Structure of tfle $)0afmg. &, 

Other examples occur in Amos v. 2, Ezek. xix. i, 
and almost the whole Book of Lamentations. 1 These 
different measures are not necessarily confined to 
special psalms, two or more are sometimes represented 
in the same psalm ; for example, the first four lines 
of Psalm xxiii. are trimeters, the second four 
tetrameters, and the last four pentameters. Other 
psalms have still greater variety. But as a general 
rule a particular metre runs through one psalm. 

We have dealt with the varying measures of the 
lines in Hebrew poetry ; we have next to consider 
what in modern poetry corresponds to the verse ; for 
this purpose we must put aside altogether the system 
of verse-divisions as found in the English Psalter, 
whether in the Bible or in the Prayer Book Version, 
which is very misleading. 

We have in Hebrew poetry, and especially in the 
Psalms, groups of lines, or "stichs," 2 which form 
something corresponding roughly to the verse in 
modern poetry. These verses, or " strophes," 3 vary 
according to the number of lines they contain. 
Monostichs l verses consisting of a single line, do not 
come into consideration because they do not, properly 
speaking, constitute a poetical verse ; if, however, such 

1 On this A7wa/$-measure see further Budde in the New World for 
March, 1893, and in the Zeitschrift fiir die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 
ii. 45. 

2 From the Greek stichos, "a row," or " line." 

3 From the Greek strophe, lit. " a turning," i.e., the part of a song 
sung in turning from the right to the left of the orchestra, in the Greek 

103 II 

$ e (ftgafms in tfle 

a psalm as cxlv. could be said to have strophes we 
should have to define each of them as a monostich> 
because each individual line is a self-contained unity. 
Strophes of this kind occur but rarely in the Psalter 
or elsewhere. Distichs, verses consisting of two lines, 
abound in the Book of Proverbs, e.g. : 

" The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge ; 
But the foolish despise wisdom and instruction." 

There are but few of these in the Psalter, some 
examples occur in Psalms xiv. : 

" The scorners say in their heart, there is no God; 
Corrupt are they, shameful in act, not one does good " (v. i). 

" The Lord looked from heaven upon the sons of men, 
To see if any were wise, and seeking God " (v. 2). 

And so on to the end of verse six, the last being a 
tristich. Like distichs, tristichs, three lines to a verse, 
are rare in the Psalter (see xiv. 7 as an instance). By 
far the most usual form of verse in the Psalter is the 
tetrastich, four lines to the verse ; one out of a great 
many may be given, Ps. iii. I, 2 : 

" Lord, how many are my adversaries, 
Many that rise against me, 
Many that say of rny soul : 
4 No salvation for him in his God. " 

The whole psalm is divided in this way, There are 


gfle (ftoeftcaf Structure of tfc (fteaftns. s 

a certain number of pentastichs, five lines to a verse, but 
more frequent are the hexastichs, six lines to a verse, in 
the Psalter. A good example of this is the first 
psalm, which consists of two hexastichs, with a tetrastich 
dividing them. Heptastichs, seven lines to a verse, are 
rare ; one of the best examples is Ps. ii., which is made 
up of four of these. There are also verses with eight, 
and more, lines ; but these do not occur often. Some 
of the psalms have verses with varying numbers of 

The number of verses, or strophes^ which are combined 
to make up a song, differs considerably according to 
the content of the song. Some of the psalms, for 
example, contain only a single strophe, such as most of 
the "Songs of Ascents," or "Pilgrim Psalms " (cxx.- 
cxxxiv.) ; the most usual number of strophes to a 
psalm is two, three, and four ; the longer psalms 
have, of course, a larger number ; Ps. Ixxviii., for 
example, has twenty tetrastichs ; other psalms contain 
verses varying from five to eleven in number. 

III. Parallelism. 

A characteristic of Hebrew poetry which must 
be specially dealt with is the variety of Parallelisms 
with which it abounds. These cannot be appreciated 
unless examples are quoted ; it will be best, therefore, 
to mention the name of each variety, and give one 
illustration of each. 

(a) Synonymous Parallelism. This is the commonest 


in f ge 3w*gfl Cgutcfl. 

form ; it is the kind in which the second line repeats, in 
effect, what has been said in the first, only it puts it in 
a different way, e.g. Ps. i. 2 : 

" But his delight is in the law of the Lord, 
And in His law doth he meditate day and night." 

(b) Antithetic Parallelism. In this case the second 
line expresses the contrast, or the antithesis, to what is 
said in the first, e.g., Ps. i. 6 : 

" For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; 
But the way of the wicked shall perish." 

(c) Complementary Parallelism. In this type of 
parallelism one line is the complement of the other; 
neither line is complete without the other, as a rule ; 
but a large variety of this type is found, and sometimes, 
though a line may be complete in itself, the thought 
expressed is enhanced or emphasized by what the 
second line says. Under this heading comes, also, the 
couplet which offers a comparison ; this variety is 
found mostly in the Wisdom-literature. A few 
examples, illustrating several of the varieties, may be 
given : 

O Lord my God, in Thee do I take refuge, 

Save me from all that pursue me, and deliver me/ 

(Ps. vii. 2.) 
1 06 

(poettcaf ^Structure of tfle (freafms. j 

Here the second line is the complement of the first. 

" Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, 
And grant us thy salvation." 

(Ps. Ixxxv. 7.) 

In this case the second line is an enhancement of the 

" As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, 
So panteth my soul after thee, O God." 

(Ps. xlii. i.) 

This couplet is an example of a comparison. 

" Make glad the soul of thy servant, O Lord, 
For uuto thee I lift up my soul." 

(Ps. Ixxxvi. 4). 

The first line here gives the reason for what the 
second says. 

There are other varieties of " complementary " par 
allelisms, but the examples cited show the genera 
nature of this type. 

(d} Introverted Parallelism. This is the name given 
to those cases in which, for example, the first line 
corresponds to the fourth, and the second to the third ; 
different varieties of this type also occur ; the following 
is an example : 

"To thee, Jehovah, I cry: and to the Lord I make supplication. 
What profit is there in my blood when I go down to the pit ? 
Shall dust praise thee, shall it declare thy truth ? 
Hear, Jehovah, and be gracious to me : Jehovah be my helper." 


in tge 3ewig^ Cflurcfl. 

In this case it will be seen that the first and fourth 
lines are parallel, while the second and third are, as it 
were, in parenthesis, but also parallel. 

IV. Acrostic Poems. 

These constitute an interesting element in Hebrew 
poetry ; one of the most striking examples is Psalm 
cxix., in which each line of each division begins 
with the same letter, running through the whole 
alphabet in order. Other examples, of a less elabor 
ate character, are Psalms xxv., xxxiv., xxxvii., 
cxlv., and others ; also Ecclus. li. 13-29, though this is 
incomplete in its present form. 

Generally speaking, Hebrew Poetry may be divided 
into three great classes : Lyric, Gnomic, and Elegiac 
Poetry; the two former greatly preponderate. By 
Lyric poetry is meant the expression of emotions of 
every kind, joyous and sorrowful ; everything that 
expresses the feelings of the individual. Gnomic 
poetry deals with conduct of life, and ethics generally. 
The Book of Lamentations is the great example of 
Elegiac poetry. The Epos and the Drama seem to 
have been foreign to the Hebrew genius ; they are 
only very slightly represented, and that in a modified 
form, in ancient Hebrew poetry. Some scanty 
remnants of the former are to be discerned in some 
of the Psalms (see e.g., Ixxiv. 12-15, Ixxxix. 8-10). 
The Song of Songs, and the Book of Job are the only 
examples of the latter, and these only in a modified 


(poeftcaf fracture of 

sense; "in structure the Book of Job is of the nature 
of a drama, and may be termed a dramatic poem ; its 
principal parts are constructed in the form of a 
dialogue, in which characters are introduced advocating 
in their speeches different theories of providence, and 
so contributing to the development of a comtmon 
theme." 1 

1 Driver, The Book of Job, p. x. 





I. The Musical Accompaniment to the Psalms in 
the Temple Worship. 

It is not infrequently said that the Psalter was 
the Hymn-book of the Second Temple ; but the 
statement is not strictly accurate ; for while there 
can be little doubt that all the psalms which were 
sung in the Temple worship are contained in the 
Psalter, it is reasonably certain that it contains in addi 
tion a good many which were not, and were never 
intended to be, sung at public worship. 

Our authorities for the use of the Psalms in the 
Temple are the Old Testament and some Mishnic 
tractates, as well as scattered references in the Gemara. 
The data given in the books of Chronicles refer only to 
post-exilic usage, 1 indeed, so far as the use of the Psalms 
is concerned there are only scanty details as to what 
was done in pre-exilic times. In i Kings viii. there is 
a long account of the service at the dedication of 

1 On this, see Btichler, Zur Geschichte der Tempel Musik und 
der Tempel Psalmen, m the "Zeitschrift fur die alt-test. Wissenschaft," 
xix. pp. 133 ff. 



Solomon s Temple ; here prayer and sacrifice are very 
prominent ; but it is inconceivable that no music and 
no singing of psalms took place. When we read in 
i Kings viii. 1-6 of the assembling of ft the elders of 
Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the princes of the 
fathers houses of the children of Israel, unto King 
Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the 
covenant of the Lord out of the city of David. . . . 
And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant 
of the Lord unto its place, into the oracle of the house, 
to the most holy place . . . ," we are irresistibly re 
minded of 2 Samuel vi. I ff. where the account is given 
of David gathering the people together in order to 
bring the ark of God up to the city of David. It is 
there said : " And David, and all the house of Israel 
played before the Lord with all manner of instruments 
made of fir wood, and with harps, and with psalteries, 
and with timbrels, and with castanets, and with cym 
bals ; " and again in verse 15: " So David and all the 
house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with 
shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet/ It is 
impossible to believe that the earlier usage was not 
followed by Solomon ; and we may take it for granted 
that songs of praise, accompanied by musical instru 
ments, 1 were a leading feature in this service ; nor were 

1 With the exception of the blowing of the trumpet and of the sh&phar 
(cp. Numbers xxxi. 6, Joshua vi. 4 ff.) the idea of instrument il music 
apart from singing was foreign to the Israelites ; in Hebrew, musical instru 
ments are called Kcle hashshir, " instruments of song," and only come 
into consideration as forming an accompaniment to song. 



they likely to have been wanting subsequently in the 
Temple worship. But while the fact is incontrovertible, 
the details of what was sung during this early period 
are wanting. 

The tradition that David organized the Levitical 
singers into three classes under the leadership respec 
tively of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, 1 accords with 
the manifold evidence of David s love for music. Of 
these three, Asaph is always mentioned first, and he seems 
to have occupied the position of leader of the music in 
the Temple generally. In later days these three names 
became the designations of guilds of Temple-singers 
and musicians, 2 but it is more than probable that the 
office which Asaph was the first to fill continued as 
long as the Temple stood. We are told in later days 
of a Temple official whose special duty it was to 
superintend the psalmody ; 3 there were, under him, a 
large number of musicians, including singers and 
instrumentalists; these had to accompany the daily 
burnt-offering as well as the solemn festival services 
with singing of Psalms and playing on stringed instru 
ments 4 but we shall return to this later on. An 
interesting account of the musical liturgical service is 
given in 2 Chron. xxix. 26-30, the reference is to the 

1 Sometimes called Ethan. 

2 Cp. the term "sons of Asaph," in I Chron. xxv. I ; 2 Chron. 
v. 12, xxxv. 15 ; Ezra ii. 41 ; Neh. vii. 44. 

8 See further Herzog, Real-Encyd. fur Bibel nnd Talmud, x. 
pp. 387 ff. 

4 Mishna, Yoina iii. u, Tamid\\\, 3 


gfle flWmg in tfle empfe 

Passover service : " And the Levltes stood with the 
instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 
And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt-offering 
upon the altar. And when the burnt-offering began, 
the song of the Lord began also, and the trumpets, 
together with the instruments of David, King of Israel. 
And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers 
sang, and the trumpeters sounded ; all this continued 
until the burnt-offering was finished. And when they 
had made an end of offering, the King and all that 
were present with him bowed themselves and 
worshipped. Moreover, Hezekiah the King and the 
princes commanded the Levites to sing praises unto 
the Lord with the words of David, and of Asaph the 
seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they 
bowed their heads and worshipped." 1 When it is said 
here : " The song of the Lord began also, and the 
trumpets, together with the instruments of David," the 
reference is to the singing of psalms with the accom 
paniment of the stringed instruments, i.e. harps and lutes ; 
the music of the Temple is constantly spoken of as 
iieginah, which means the music of stringed instru 
ments, 2 and it was, with the exception of the cymbals, 
generally speaking, restricted to harps and lutes. It 
was only on certain special occasions that there was an 
accompaniment of flutes, viz. on the two first days of 

1 See also Ecclus. 1. 15-21. 

2 Cp. the titles of Pss. iv. , vi., liv., lv., Ixi., Ixvii., Ixxvi. ; Is. xxxviii. 
20 ; Heb. iii. 19. 

in tfle 

Passover, the first day of unleavened bread, Pentecost, 
and the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles ; l 
"quite in accordance with the social character of these 
feasts, the flute was also used by the festive pilgrim- 
bands on their journey to Jerusalem, to accompany the 
1 Psalms of Degrees/ or rather ( Ascents, 2 sung on such 
occasions. ... In the Temple not less than two nor 
more than twelve flutes were allowed." 3 Trumpets 
were, as a rule, only used for the purpose of giving 
signals at certain places during the service ; they were 
blown by the priests ; in 2 Chron. v. 11-13, however, it 
is stated that the trumpets accompanied the singing, 
this is exceptional. 4 This passage is interesting from 
another point of view, it runs : " And it came to pass, 
when the priests were come out of the holy place . . . 
it came even to pass, when the trumpeters and singers 
were even as one, to make one sound to be heard in 
praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted 
up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and 
instruments of song, and praised the Lord . . . "; 

1 CP. the Miahna, ^Arakhin ii. 3, 4. 

2 Cp. Is. xxx. 29 : " Ye shall have a song as in the night when 
a holy feast is kept ; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a 
pipe to come into the mountain of the Lord." 

3 Edersheim, The Temple and its Services, p. 56 (1874); he adds, 
quoting Leyrer (art. "Music" in Herzog s Encyd.}\ "The flute was 
used in Alexandria to accompany the hymns at the love-feasts of the early 
Christians, up to the year 190, when Clement of Alexandria introduced 
the harp in its place." 

4 In later times it appears to have become more usual to use trumpets 
in the worship itself, see I Mace. iv. 40, v. 33. 



the Chronicler evidently regards this unison between 
the singing and the instrumental accompaniment as the 
ideal way of rendering the vocal and instrumental 

We have, further, in the Talmud and elsewhere, 
some few more or less reliable data of the usage 
in later times concerning instrumental music in the 
Temple. According to the Talmud, i Arakhin io, 
iitf, there was in use in the Herodian Temple a 
Magrtphah} which accompanied the singing ; this was 
a wind instrument, and was apparently, a kind of 
primitive organ. It is said to have been able to produce 
a hundred different tones ; this latter is evidently some 
what of an exaggeration. Then again, Maimonides 
(Kfle hainmikdah iii.) tells us that there was in the 
Herodian Temple an orchestra consisting of from two 
to six players on the nabla (" harp "), six who played 
the kinnor ("lyre"), and one who struck the cymbals ; 
to these were added, according to the Talmud, from 
two to twelve flute-players, and two trumpeters. 2 
The extravagant praise accorded elsewhere in the 
Talmud to the musical element in the Temple-worship 
cannot always be taken seriously. 

1 See further Ugolini (Thesaurus xxii. pp. 353 ff.) who says the 
Magrephah had thirteen pipes and two bellows ; an illustration is given 
on p. 371, see also pp. 1121 ff. It was used, according to Maimonides, 
in order to summon the priests to worship, and the Levites to their song 
during certain parts of the services, cp. Edersheim, Op. cit. p. 140 note. 

a Cp. Benzinger, Op. cit. p. 598. 

(ftgafms in fge 3^tg^ Cflurcfl* 

As regards the singers 1 themselves, it is sometimes 
stated that these included women at one time ; this is 
said to be gathered from Ps. Ixviii. 24-25 : " They 
have seen thy goings, O God, even the goings of my 
God, my King, into the sanctuary. The singers went 
before, the minstrels followed after, in the midst of the 
damsels playing with timbrels/ 2 More pointed, how 
ever, is Ezra ii. 65, where mention is made of "two 
hundred singing men and singing women," and Neh. 
vii. 67, ..." and they had two hundred forty 
and five singing men and singing women." The 
musical direction al * alamo th (see i Chron. xv. 20, 
Pss. ix. I. xlvi, i, xlviii. 15) means literally "according 
to " or i( after the manner of maidens." This certainly 
seems to point to women s voices. According to the> 
probably correct, emendation of part of Amos viii. 3, 
this passage should be read : " Then will the women- 
singers in the Temple howl." In later times women s 
voices were no longer heard in the Service, Levitical 
singers alone being employed ; in the Temple of 

1 Called in Hebrew MZshorMm, so often mentioned in the books of Ezra 
and Nehemiah ; in Greek ^aArwSot, so e.g. in Ecclus. xlvii. 9 ; they were 
originally distinct from the Levites, but according to the Mishna the 
Temple musicians were synonymous with " Levites," e.g.- Tumid vii. 3. 
Arakhin ii. 6. 

2 This passage must not, however, be pressed, for it is doubtful 
whether the reference is to actual worship ; it seems to be rather a descrip 
tion of a procession on its way to worship, and accompanied by damsels 
who would presumably remain behind when the actual place of worship 
was reached. See what has been said on, p. 59. 


(frgaftng in ffle etnpfe 

Herod Levite boys voices became a regular feature 
in worship. 1 

.11. The Psalms iised in the Temple- Worship. 

We come next to consider the actual Psalms which 
were used in the worship of the Temple. It will be 
most convenient if we deal first with the psalms used in 
the daily services, then with those sung during the 
services on the Sabbath, and finally with the special 
Psalms chosen for the Festivals. 

(a) The Psalms in the Daily Services. 

During the daily sacrifices 2 the priests blew on their 
trumpets ; while the burnt-offerings was being presented 
the Levites sang and played, 3 and after the sacrifices 
had been offered, one of the priests struck the cymbals. 
This was the signal for the Levitical Choir to sing the 
psalm for the day, which was accompanied by stringed 
instruments. This special psalm varied with each day 
of the week. In the Mishna 4 the daily psalms, together 
with the reasons why they were chosen, are given as 
follows : 

On the first day of the week, xxiv., " The earth is the 

1 See further below, on the singing of the Psalms in the ancient 

2 i.e. The burnt -offerings, the sin and trespass-offerings, the peace- 
offerings, and the drink-offering. 

3 It is not stated what precise psalms were sung here. 

4 Tamid vii., and Babylonian Talmud, Roth Hashshana 30^, 310. 
Sopherim xviii. I . 



Lord s, and the fulness thereof," sung in commemora 
tion of the first day of Creation. On the second day, 
xlviii., " Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised " ; 
on the third, Ixxxii., " God standeth in the congrega 
tion "; on the fourth, xciv., "O Lord, Thou God to 
whom vengeance belongeth " ; on the fifth, Ixxxi., 
" Sing aloud unto God our strength " ; on the sixth, 
xciii,, " The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with 
majesty " ; and on the Sabbath, xcii., "It is a good 
thing to give thanks unto the Lord." With the 
exception of the first it is difficult to see any connexion 
between the reason of the choice of the particular 
psalm, and its contents. In most cases, the third and 
fifth day only excepted, the Septuagint, in the titles of 
the respective psalms, corroborates what the Mishna 
states as to these being the special daily psalms. Regard 
ing the last, the Hebrew Bible also mentions in the title, 
" A Song for the Sabbath day." According to Tamid 
vii. 3, the singing of the psalm for the day was com 
menced when the priest began to pour out the drink- 
offering ; but the sources are somewhat ambiguous 
regarding the time at which this psalm was sung. On 
the other hand, it seems certain that it was sung in 
three parts, after each of which there was a pause in 
the singing and music ; during this pause, two of the 
priests blew their trumpets, this was the signal for the 
congregation to fall down and pray. Here, again, we 
must deplore the want of more precise information ; 
for we are not told whether this was silent prayer, or 


gfle (pgafntg in ffle getnpfe Wotsgip. $ 

whether it was offered by one of the officiating minis 
ters on behalf of the worshippers, nor how long the 
pause lasted. One point comes out strongly, namely, 
that the sacrifices were the really important element in 
the worship, while the singing of psalms and the music 
were both intended primarily to be merely the setting 
of this central act of worship. 

(b) The Psalms in the Sabbath Services. 

The sacrifices offered on the Sabbath were at each 
service (morning and evening) as many as those offered 
at the daily morning and evening services together. 1 
It is, therefore, to be presumed that the praise portion, 
i.e. the singing of psalms with their musical accompani 
ment, was likewise fuller ; but direct evidence as to 
this is not forthcoming. The only definite statement 
that we have is that at the pouring-out of the drink- 
offering at the usual morning sacrifice, the Levites sang 
the special psalm for the Sabbath, xcii., just as at the 
week-day services ; this was, in like manner, also sung 
in three sections a liturgical psalm was usually divided 
into three parts 2 at the close of each section the priests 
blew three times upon their trumpets, and the people 
fell down and worshipped. 3 In addition to this we are 
also told that " at the close of the additional Sabbath 
sacrifice, when the drink-offering was brought, the Levites 

1 Cp. Num. xxviii. 9, 10 ; this is also mentioned by Josephus 
Antiq. III. x. i. 

8 So the Mishna, Sukkah iv. 5. 3 Cp, Tamid\\\ 3. 

119 I 

(frgatnf0 in tge Jewiefl Cflurcfl, 

sang the " Song of Moses " in Deut. xxxii. This 
"hymn" was divided into six portions, for as many 
Sabbaths (verses 1-6, 7-12, 13-18, 19-28, 29-39, 40 
end). Each portion was sung in three sections with 
threefold blasts of the priests trumpets, the people 
worshipping at each pause. If a Sabbath and a " new 
moon " fell on the same day, the Sabbath hymn was 
sung in preference to that for the new moon ; if a feast- 
day fell on the Sabbath, the Sabbath sacrifice was 
offered before that prescribed for the feast-day. At the 
evening sacrifice on the Sabbath the song of Moses in 
in Exod. xv. was sung." 1 

(c) The Festival Psalms. The most important of 
these was the "Hallel." The "Hallel" is the name given 
in Rabbinical writings to the six psalms cxiii.-cxviii. ; 2 
these were always considered as forming one whole. 
" Hallel " means " Praise," and the name is given on 
account of the oft-recurring word " Hallelujah " ("Praise 
ye the Lord ") in these Psalms. The " Hallel " was 
sung on the following occasions : 

At the Feast of Passover. 
When the Passover lambs had been slain two rows of 

1 Edersheim, Op. cit. pp. 158 f. 

a Called the " Egyptian Hallel" to distinguish it from the "Great 
Hallel " (Pss. cxx.-cxxxvi.), and from Pss. cxlvi.-cxlviii. Tradition is un 
decided as to whether these really did form the " Hallel " ; see Hamburger 
Op. cit., art. Hallel. According to Bar Kapara, Ps. cxxxvi. constituted 
the "Great Hallel"; in Berakhoih 56 a Pss. cxiii., cxiv. are called the 
" Egyptian Hallel," see Midler s notes on his edition o Sopherim, p. 
288, and cp. the Mklrash Peiikta 117-7, 118 a. 



priests were drawn up in the Court of the Priests, in 
which the great altar stood, and received into gold and 
silver bowls the blood from the lambs which the head 
of each family had to offer at this Feast ; these bowls 
were passed up to the officiating priest at the great 
altar ; as he received each bowl he emptied it out at 
the base of the altar, and then handed the empty bowl 
back. This ceremony lasted from the ninth till the 
eleventh hour (i.e. 3-5 p.m.). 1 Now it was during this 
ceremony that the " Hallel " was sung by the Levites. 
The people repeated the first clause of each of the 
six psalms, and after every other clause or line they 
shouted " Hallelujah " ; when they came to the last of 
the six (Psalm cxviii.) they repeated not only the first 
clause, and shouted " Hallelujah " after each clause, 
but also repeated after the Levites the three clauses 
contained in verses 25, 26 : 

" Save now, we beseech Thee, O Lord ; 
O Lord, we beseech Thee, send us now prosperity. 
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." 

The "Hallel" was repeated in this manner until the 
whole ceremony was completed. 

There was also, according to Miiller, 2 a special 
Psalm (cxxxv.) sung at this Feast ; this was chosen 

1 The number of lambs sacrificed must have been very large ; Josephus 
(Be//. Jud. VI. ix. 3) tells us that on one occasion 256,000 were offered 
allowing, even, for the obvious exaggeration, there must have been a 
very large number. 

* See his note on Sopherim xviii. 2. ^ 



on account of the reference to the deliverance from 
Egypt in verses 8, 9. We are not told, however, at 
what particular part of the celebration this psalm 
was sung. 

At the Feast of Tabernacles. 

The first ceremony during this Feast which comes 
into consideration in the present connexion is the 
water-libation. " The libation of water 1 was a 
ceremony to which grave importance was attached. 
The custom may perhaps be traced to the very ancient 
practice of drawing and pouring out water at religious 
services as reported in I Sam. vii. 6. It is regarded as 
symbolic of rain 2 ... A prayer for rain is recited 
on the eighth day." 3 The ceremony was as follows: 4 
A priest went from the Temple with a golden pitcher 
to Siloah ; he filled it there with water, and returned 
with it through the water-gate. As he entered the gate 
the people sang : " Therefore with joy shall ye draw 
water out of the wells of salvation." 5 This water was 
then poured out as a libation upon the altar, and 
together with it a libation of wine; trumpets were 
sounded while this was being done. Thereupon the 
Temple music began, and the " Hallel " was sung in 
the same way as at the Feast of Passover. On this 
occasion, however, it was sung to the accompaniment of 
flutes, excepting on the Sabbath, and on the first day 

1 Described in the Mishna, Svkkah iv. I. 2 See Zech. xiv. 16, 17, 
a Friedmann in the Jewish Encycl. xi. 660 . 
4 Sukkah iv, 9, 10, 5 Is. xii. 3. 


in tfle empfe TPotaflty. 

of the Feast, 1 because these were regarded as especially 
holy. When, in singing this, the Levites came to the 
words : "O give thanks unto the Lord " (Ps. cxviii. i), 
and to the words : " Save now, we beseech Thee, 2 O 
Lord . . . blessed is he that cometh in the name 
of the Lord " (Ps. cxviii. 25, 26), and again to the 
concluding words : " O give thanks unto the Lord, for 
He is good " all the people shook their lulabs* towards 
the altar. 

After the sacrifices had been offered on each of the 
seven days of this Feast the priests marched in 
procession round the altar and again sang Ps. cxviii. 
25, " Save now . . ." On the seventh day a seven 
fold procession round the altar took place. This was 
also done at all the great Feasts after the daily 
sacrifices had been offered. 4 

Psalms were also sung at another ceremony during 
this Feast, a ceremony of which it is said that whoever 
has not seen it has never seen a real Feast. 5 " In the 
brilliantly illuminated court of the women, before the 
assembled multitude occupying the double gallery 

1 Originally it lasted seven days ; Josephus (Anliq. VIII., iv. I), speaks 
of it as an eight-day Feast ; in the modern Synagogue it lasts for nine 

2 The Hebrew for, " Save (now), we beseech Thee," is Hoshi l ah-na 
" Hosanna ; see Matt. xxi. 6-n, John xii. 12-16. 

:J The lulab is the * palm-branch which was, and is still, used during 
this Feast ; this is done in accordance with the command given in Lev. 
xxiii. 40, "And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, 
branches of palm-trees . . ." 

4 Sukkah iv. 2. Sukkah v. I . 


*g Cfle (ftsafntg in tffe Jwiafl 

erected by the priests and Levites, the most prominent 
Israelites took part in a torch-dance, reciting at the 
same time hymns and songs of praise. Meanwhile, on 
the steps of the inner court stood the Levites singing 
Pss. cxx.-cxxxiv., 1 accompanied by various musical 
instruments. The celebration continued till cockcrow, 
when the two priests at the Nicanor gate sounded the 
signal, and the crowd departed, facing about, however, 
at the eastern, when the priests recited, " Our fore 
fathers in this place turned their backs on the altar of 
God, and their faces to the east, worshipping the sun ; 
but we turn to God," 2 This ceremony has been dis 
continued since the destruction of the Temple, 70 A.D. 

At the Feast of Weeks. 

During the offering of various sacrifices prescribed 
for this Feast, the " Hallel " was sung ; it was 
accompanied by one flute. What gave special charm 
to it on this occasion was that the sons of the Levites 
sang it together with their fathers. The part taken by 
the congregation was the same as at the Passover 

At the Feast of Dedication. 

In i Mace. iv. 54 we are told that the Dedication of 
the Temple by Judas Maccabaeus, after its profanation 

1 Mishna, Middoth ii. 5 ; these are the so-called "Songs ot Ascents," 
or " Pilgrim Songs/ see below iii. 

2 Friedmann, Op. at. p. 661 6. ; cp. Ezek. viii. 15, 16, Sukkah v. 1-4. 

3 See Num. xxviii. 26-31. 

I2 4 


by Antiochus Epiphanes, was celebrated with " songs 
and citherns, and harps and cymbals," We know from 
other sources that the " Hallel " was sung at this 
Feast 1 ; therefore, it seems certain that the " songs " 
spoken of in this passage refer to this. Furthermore, 
the title of Ps. xxx. states definitely that it was a song 
sung at the Dedication of the House (of God), so that 
clearly this psalm also belongs to those which were 
used at this Feast. 

At the New Moons. 

The New Moon was celebrated in the Temple by the 
offering of special sacrifices, 2 and by the blowing of 
trumpets by the priests. 3 We have no data as to 
whether any psalms 4 were sung at the ordinary New 
Moon Festivals, but the celebration in the seventh 
month was regarded as a more sacred Feast. A special 
Psalm (Ixxxi.) was appointed to be sung on this 
occasion 5 ; it was sung by the priests and Levites at 
the pouring-out of the drink-offering ; there was also a 
special Psalm (xxix.) for the evening sacrifice. 

III. The Songs of Ascents. 

The fifteen Psalms, cxx.-cxxxiv. are called " Songs 
of Ascents," or " Pilgrim Songs," because they were 

1 E.g. in the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 21 b. 

2 See Num. xxviii. 11-15. 3 See Num. x. 10. 

4 Later on, in the Synagogue, the " Hallel" was sung at New Moons. 

5 If the Feast fell on the fifth day of the week, which already had 
this as its special psalm, it was repeated from verse 6 (verse 7 in the 
Hebrew Bible). 


in tffc 3wtgg Cgutcfl. 

sung by those who came up every year to Jerusalem 
for the three great festivals, in accordance with the 
command given in Deut. xvi. 16, " Three times in a 
year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy 
God in the place which He shall choose ; in the feast of 
unleavened bread, 1 and in the Feast of Weeks, 2 and in 
the Feast of Tabernacles ; and they shall not appear 
before the Lord empty." Edersheim s graphic account 
of one of these pilgrimages is worth quoting in full 3 : 
" The journey was always to be made slowly, for the 
pilgrimage was to be a joy and a privilege, not a toil or 
weariness. In the morning, as the golden sunlight 
tipped the mountains of Moab, the stationary man of 
the district, who was the leader, summoned the ranks 
of the procession in the words of Jeremiah xxxi. 6 : 
Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion, and unto Jehovah 
our God. To which the people replied, as they 
formed and moved onwards, in the appropriate 
language of Ps. cxxxii. : I was glad when they said 
unto me, Let us go into the house of Jehovah/ First 
went one who played the pipe ; then followed a sacri 
ficial bullock, destined for a peace-offering, his horns 
gilt, and garlanded with olive-branches ; next came 
the multitude, some carrying the baskets with the 
first-fruits, others singing the Psalms, which many 
writers suppose to have been specially destined 
for that service, and hence to have been called c the 
Songs of Ascents ; in our Authorized Version, the 

1 I.e. Passover. a I.e. Pentecost. 3 Op. cit. pp. 337 ff. 


(fraafme in tfle etnpfe 

Psalms of Degrees. The poorer brought their gifts in 
wicker baskets, which afterwards belonged to the 
officiating priests ; the richer theirs in baskets of silver 
and gold, which were given to the Temple treasury. 
. . . . And so they passed through the length and 
breadth of the land, everywhere wakening the echoes 
of praise. As they entered the city, they sang 
Psalm cxxii. 2 : Our feet stand within thy gates, O 
Jerusalem. A messenger had preceded them to 
announce their approach, and a deputation from the 
Temple, consisting of priests, Levites, and treasurers, 
varying in numbers according to the importance of the 
place from which the procession came, had gone out to 
receive them. In the streets of Jerusalem each one 
came out to welcome them, with shouts of Brethren of 
such a place (naming it) ye come to peace ; welcome, 
ye come in peace, ye bring peace, and peace be upon 
you ! As they reached the Temple Mount, each one, 
whatever his rank or condition, took one of the baskets 
on his shoulder, and they ascended, singing that appro 
priate hymn, Praise ye Jehovah ! praise God in His 
sanctuary ; praise Him in the firmament of His 
power. . . . (Psalm cl.). As they entered the 
courts of the Temple itself, the Levites intoned 
Psalm xxx. : I will extol Thee, O Jehovah ; for Thou 
hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice 
over me. . . . Then the young pigeons and turtle 
doves which hung from the baskets were presented for 
burnt-offerings. After that, each one, as he presented 


in ffle 3*tm00 Cflurcg. 

his gifts, repeated the solemn confession : * I profess 
this day unto Jehovah thy God, that I am come unto 
the country that Jehovah swore unto our fathers for to 
give us (Deut. xxvi. 3.). At these words, he took the 
basket from his shoulder, and the priest put his hands 
tinder it and waved it, the offerer continuing : A 
Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went 
down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and 
became there a nation great, mighty, and populous/ 
Then, reciting in the words of inspiration the narrative 
of the Lord s marvellous dealings, he closed with the 
dedicatory language of verse 10: And, now, behold, I 
have brought the first fruits of the land which Thou, O 
Jehovah, hast given me. So saying, he placed the 
basket at the side of the altar, cast himself on his face 
to worship, and departed." 




I. The Original Object of the Synagogue. 

IT will be necessary to consider the worship of the 
Synagogue as a whole in order to gain some clear idea 
of the part assigned here to the Psalms. For this 
purpose it will be well to gather, first of all, some of the 
evidence as to the original object of the meeting 
together in synagogues, which, as will be seen, was for 
the study of the Law, rather than for worship. 
The earliest evidence is that of Philo : 1 

" Moses sat on the seventh day, surrounded by the priests, 
while all the people streamed together in order to be taught. 
For it was the custom in those far-off days and especially on 
the Sabbath day to philosophize ; the leader discussed and 
taught concerning that which ought to be done and spoken, 
in order that the people might be encouraged in virtue, for the 
bettering of character and manner of life. Thus it has come 
about that now, too, the Jews devote themselves on the seventh 
day to the study of the philosophy inherited from their fore 

1 His date is approximately 20 B.C. 40 A.D. ; his home was 
Alexandria. Most of the quotations from this writer here given are 
taken from M. Friedlander s Synagoge und Kirche in ihren Anfiingen> 
pp. 6l ff. 

I2 9 

in tfle 

fathers, and they dedicate this day to the study and contempla 
tion of Nature. For what are the Jewish prayer-houses in the 
cities other than places of instruction in wisdom, caution, 
moderation, and righteousness, in piety and holiness, in short, 
in every virtue which recognises and accepts both human and 
divine goodness ? J 1 

Again : 

" On every Sabbath in every city there are numberless places 
of instruction opened for the teaching of wisdom, moderation, 
excellence, righteousness, and other virtues ; in these the 
listeners sit in perfect order and absolute stillness, eagerly 
drinking in the most excellent doctrines. For here one of the 
most experienced puts forth the most perfect and most useful 
teaching by which human life can be adorned in the most 
beautiful way. For among the numerous precepts there are two 
of supreme importance; one deals with the Godhead, and is 
concerned with piety and holiness ; the other deals with one s 
fellow-creatures, and is concerned with love and righteousness ; 
each has many divisions dealing with conceptions so beautiful 
as to be beyond praise." 2 

Once more, in a fragment of Philo s preserved by 
Eusebius, we have the following : 

" Moses commanded the people to assemble themselves 
together in one place on the seventh day in order to listen with 
fear and reverence to the reading of the Law, so that each one 
might become conversant with the contents thereof. And in 
truth they meet together regularly, sitting side by side, the 
congregation usually silent, excepting where it is customary 
for them to join in in what is read. 8 One of the priests present, 

1 Vita Mos. ii. 168. a De septen* ii 282. 

This must refer to responses ; the most important of these was the 
"Amen," cp. Deut. xxvii. 15, Tobit viii. 9, I Cor. xiv. 16 ; it is referred 
to in the Mishna, e.g.) Berakhoth viii. 8. 



or one of the elders, reads to them the holy laws and explains 
each fully until the evening ; thereupon they return home, 
enriched with the knowledge of the holy laws and making 
progress in piety. Does there exist a more striking institution 
than this one ? Therefore, they have no need to go to the 
expounders of the laws in order to enquire concerning this and 
that ; for by means of this institution they become learned in the 
Law, and do nothing that is contrary to it. And if thou shouldest 
ask any of them about the laws of their fathers, he would be 
able to give information regarding all of them with the greatest 
precision. Thus each one, whether husband, father, or master, 
is fully able to teach the Law to his wife, his children, or to his 
servants." 1 

These references are to the ordinary synagogues of 
the Jewish colonies in the Dispersion ; Philo speaks in 
another place of the synagogues of the Essenes : 

" For the seventh day is kept holy. On this day they rest 
from all work, and betake themselves to holy places, called syna 
gogues, where they sit down in order, the younger ones behind 
the older, and listen with fitting demeanour. Thereupon one of 
them takes up one of the books and reads, while another, among 
the more experienced, steps forward and explains the difficult 
passages ; for, according to the ancient method, these are for 
the most part interpreted symbolically, i.e. allegorically."* 

Elsewhere Philo speaks of synagogues as being places 
for prayer (In Place. 6, 7 ; Leg. ad Gaium 20, 23, 43, 46 ; 
Vita Mos.) iii., 27), and in one passage he refers to 
chants, hymns, and songs" 3 as being sung there. 

1 Prcep. evan. viii. 7. 

2 Quod omil, prob t ., 458. 3 In Place. 14 rrcuai/es, vpvoi, wfia/. 


s gfe (fteaftna in tfc 3eweg Cgurcg. 

The evidence of Josephus is as follows. In a decree 
of Caesar Augustus, quoted by him, occurs this passage : 

" Since the nation of the Jews hath been found grateful to 
the Roman people ... it seemed good to me and to my 
counsellors, according to the sentence and oath of the people 
of Rome, that the Jews should have liberty to make use of 
their own customs, according to the law of their forefathers. 
. . . But if anyone be caught stealing their holy books, or 
their sacred money, whether it be out of the synagogue, or 
public school, he shall be deemed a sacrilegious person. . . ." 

Elsewhere he speaks of the synagogue as a Proseucha> 
" Place of prayer " ; he says it was " a large edifice, and 
capable of receiving a great number of people " ; the 
reference is to the synagogue at Tiberias. 2 In another 
passage he speaks of Moses having commanded the 
people to assemble every Sabbath-day for the hearing 
of the Law : " . . . . permitting the people to leave 
off their other employments, and to assemble together 
for the hearing of the Law, and learning it exactly ; 
and this not once or twice, or oftener, but every 
Sabbath." 3 

The evidence of Philo and Josephus is, thus, to the 
same effect ; the synagogue was primarily a place for the 
study of, and instruction in, the Law; it was also a 
house of prayer, though in a less degree ; Philo uses 
the name "house of prayer" (a-poo-ei^) more often than 
"place of assembly" (o-vwryay/;) ; Josephus uses the 

1 Antiq. XVI., vi. 2 (Margoliouth s ed., 1906). 2 Vita liv. 
8 Contra Ap. II. 17. 


(psafnts in flfc jSgnagogue 

latter term several times, the former only once. On 
the other hand, Philo does once refer to singing in the 

We turn next to the New Testament ; only those 
passages are referred to which may be thought to throw 
some light on the question of the nature of the service 
in the synagogue. 

As a place of teaching, the synagogue is referred to 
in the following passages : Matth. iv. 23, ix. 35, xiii. 54 ; 
Mark i. 21, 22, vi. 2; Luke iv. 15, 31, 32, vi. 6, 
xiii. 10 ; John vi. 59, xviii. 20; Acts xvii. 2 ff., 17, 
xviii. 4, 19, 26, xix. 8. As a place of preaching, usually 
associated with teaching, the synagogue is referred to 
in: Matth. iv. 23, ix. 35 ; Mark i, 39; Luke iv. 44 ; 
Acts ix. 20, xiii. 5, 16 ff., xiv. I, xv. 21. The reading 
of the Scriptures in the synagogue is spoken of in : 
Luke iv. 16-30 (the Prophetical books), Acts xiii. 14, 
15 (the Law and the Prophets), xv. 21 (the Law), xvii. 
10, II (studyiug the Scriptures). In only one passage 
is Prayer mentioned in connexion with the synagogue 
(Matth. vi. 5), but here it is implied that it was the 
regular practice there (cp. Acts iv. 24, the place where 
St. Peter and St. John met their followers evidently 
corresponded to the synagogue proper, cp. v. 31, "and 
when they had prayed, the place was shaken wherein 
they were gathered together }| ). 1 Other passages show 
that the synagogue was by no means restricted to the 
purposes of worship in the wider sense. Cases of 



in tge 3ewt60 Cflutcg. 

healing^ etc., are mentioned as taking place therein : 
Matth. iv. 23., ix. 35, xii. 9 ff. ; Mark i. 23-28, iii. 1-6 ; 
Luke iv. 33-35, vi. 6-11, xiii. 10-17; it was also used 
for holding judicial enquiries and for carrying out the 
sentence of punishment, see Matth. x. 17, xxiii. 34; 
Mark xiii. 9; Luke xii. n, xxi, 12. Once a reference 
is made to the singing of psalms (i Cor. xiv. 26, " When 
ye come together, each one hath a psalm . . . ") ; 
although it is a Christian assembly which is spoken of 
here there can be no doubt that the first Christian 
congregations followed the procedure of the Synagogue 
in their form of service ; the earliest Jewish-Christians 
worshipped in the synagogue (see Acts xxii. 19, 
xxvi. u), and in the Temple (see Acts ii. 46, 47, iii. i, 
v. 42, xxi. 26, xxii. 17, xxiv. 17, 18). 

We come now to the evidence to be gained from post- 
biblical Jewish literature. There is every reason to 
believe that the tradition, according to which the 
Synagogue service was made to correspond as far as 
possible with that of the Temple 1 contains some truth. 
" The earliest elements of synagogal worship," says 
Prof. Blau, " were developed from the Temple service 
and the custom of sacrificial watches (Ma amad), as 
well as from private and public worship, from psalms 
and prayers which were composed at different times 
for special occasions .... It took centuries 
before the order of prayer as found in the Babylonian 

1 The east end of the Synagogue is called the Hekal (" Temple ") or 
Kodesh (" Sanctuary ") even at the present day. 


(fteafmg in tfle jSgnagogue ^otsfltp. $ 

Talmud became established ; it was neither desired nor 
was it possible to give it a fixed and definite form." 1 
The Rabbis taught that for the sacrifices of the altar 
was substituted the study of the law ; in the Midrash 
Si/re So a it is said : "Just as the service at the altar 
was called an Aboda (i.e. sacrificial service), so also is 
the study of the Law " ; and according to Sifra 80 a, 
prayer is equivalent to the offering of sacrifice. 2 In 
the Talmud, Berakhoth 24 b 26 b, it is taught that the 
daily prayers of the Synagogue have taken the place of 
the daily sacrifices in the Temple ; thus, the Morning 
Service corresponds to the morning offering, for which 
reason it may be said any time before mid-day ; the 
Miucha or Afternoon Service corresponds to the 
evening offering, for which reason it may be postponed 
until the evening ; while the Evening Service corre 
sponds to the burning of the sacrifice, for which reason 
it may be said any time during the night. 3 

This illustrates what Bacher says, 4 that " As the 
place of public worship, the synagogue became the 
pivot of each community, just as the Sanctuary at 
Jerusalem had been the centre for the entire people. 
Ezek. xi. 16, Yet ivill I be to them as a little sanctuary , 
was rightly interpreted, therefore, to mean that in its 

1 Prof. Blau in the /ewvti EncycL viii. 137^; see also Zunz, Die Rilus 
des synagogalen Gottesdienstes, pp. I ff. Josephus once ( Bdl Jud. VII., 
iii. i) speaks of the synagogue at Antioch as TO it P 6v "the Holy Place," 
which is otherwise only applied to the Temple. 

2 See Weber, fiidische Theologie^ pp. 39 f. 

a Weber, Op. cit. p. 40. 4 Jewish, EncycL xi, 62$a 

135 K 

? gfc (ftgftfntB in t0e Jetotgg Cflurcfl. 

dispersion Israel would retain the synagogue as a 
sanctuary in miniature in compensation for the loss of 
the Temple, and the community crystallized around the 
synagogue, the only possible organisation for the Jews 
of the Diaspora. Synagogal worship, therefore, how 
ever much it might vary in detail in different countries, 
was the most important visible expression of Judaism, 
and the chief means of uniting the Jews scattered 
throughout the world." As illustrating further how the 
thought of the Temple always lay behind that of the 
Synagogue, Dembitz refers to the prohibition in 
the Mishna 1 about using the Temple Mount as a 
thoroughfare, which has always been applied to the 
Synagogue ; the prohibition is as follows : " One may 
not walk upon the Temple Mount with a stick, nor 
with shoes on, nor with a bag of money, nor with dust 
upon one s feet ; nor must it be used as a short cut ; 
as to spitting there, that is altogether forbidden." 

II. The Order of Service in the Ancient Synagogue. 

There existed in the Temple, apart from the offering 
of sacrifices, an elaborate liturgy, the central part of 
which was the singing of Psalms with the accompany 
ing music ; these have always occupied an important 
part in the liturgy of the Synagogue. " Those Psalms 
which are cast in the form of prayers and hymns soon 
took their place as hymns in the service of the sanc 
tuary, even though they were not originally composed 

1 Berakhoth ix. 5. 


(ftsafme in tfle jSgnagogue 

for this purpose, and they were sung, especially on 
feast-days, in the synagogue, and in private gatherings. 
In its descriptions of Temple festivities the Book of 
Chronicles alludes to them, especially to the eighteen 
Hallelujah/ Hallel, and Hodu Psalms (Pss. cv-cvii., 
cxi-cxviii., cxxxv., cxxxvi., cxlvi-cl.) . . . Prophecy 
and Psalmody were gradually typified in two persons, 
Moses and David. . . . Even after the destruction 
of the Temple these united elements left their impress 
upon the Synagogue ; the readings were devoted to 
the Law, and the discourses to the Prophets, while 
entire Psalms, or verses from them, were used as 
prayers." 1 Professor Blau says : " In the ritual of the 
Synagogue the Psalms retain their ancient position, at 
least as regards the text of the prayers ; in the 
Sabbath and Festival discourses the wise man becomes 
the prophet, and the leader in prayer the psalmist. " 
The Psalms are represented in a further way in the 
liturgy of the Synagogue, viz., in the utterance of 
doxologies during public worship ; to quote Prof. Blau 
again : " The adjuration Praise God was probably 
addressed to the people of earlier times only in the 
flush of victory after deliverance from the dangers of 
war (Judg. v. 2. 9), but later, when a regular Temple cult 
had been instituted, it may have been uttered daily, so 
that it became a liturgical formula with which Divine 
worship was generally concluded (Ps. Ixviii. 26, c 4, 

1 Zunz, Synagogale Poesie des Mittdalters, pp. 4. ff., quoted by Prof. 
Blau, Op. at. viii. 132 b> * Ibid. 


in ffle Jewiefl guvcfl> 

etc.). In Ps. cxxxv (cp. also cxviii. 2-4) Israelites, 
priests, Levites, and the pious are summoned by groups 
to Bless the Lord ! and it is noteworthy that this 
invitation is placed at the conclusion of the Psalm. 
The final verse : Blessed be the Lord out of Zion, 
which dwelleth at Jerusalem ; praise ye the Lord/ con 
stituted the benediction spoken by those who had 
been summoned. The benedictions that conclude the 
closing chapters of the five books of Psalms (xli., Ixxii., 
Ixxxix., cvi., cl.), all being in substance one and the 
same eulogy, may represent synagogal formulas from 
the time of the Temple, which the people intoned after 
completing the singing of the several books, Occasion 
ally, however, the people concluded with a simple 
c Amen (cp. the Psalms quoted and i Chron. xvi. 36). 
It may also be assumed that such benedictions were 
not reserved for public worship exclusively, but were 
also pronounced in private : I will bless the Lord at 
all times ; his praise shall continually be in my mouth 
(Ps. xxxiv. 2, cp. cxv. 1 8, cxlv. 2). Mention is made 
of supplications at evening and morning, and at noon 
(Ps, lv: 17), and of praise offered seven times a day 
(Ps. cxix. 164), while in another passage only praise 
rendered in the morning is mentioned. The origin of 
this liturgical usage was the custom, on joyful occasions, 
of praising God for His goodness/ 1 

Thus the reading of Scripture, the Prayers, and the 
Psalms (not necessarily in this order) formed, from the 

1 Op. cit. viii. 134 b. 


in tfle 

beginning, the component parts of the worship of the 
Synagogue. Schiirer is, therefore, right (excepting 
for one important omission) when he sums up what is 
said about the worship of the Synagogue in the Mishna 
(Megilla iv. 3) : " The chief parts were, according to the 
Mishna, the recitation of the Shema*, 1 Prayer, the 
reading of the Torah, the reading of the Prophets, the 
Blessing of the priest. To these were added the 
translation 2 of the portions of Scripture read, which is 
assumed in the Mishna, and the explanation of what 
had been read by an edifying discourse. 3 To this should 
be added the praise portion of the service, which, as we 
have seen, occupied an important place in the worship 
of the Synagogue. 

Scattered about in various Jewish writings there 
are a number of details regarding the different parts 
of Synagogue-worship ; some of these throw sidelights 
upon the subject under discussion, others have an 
interest of their own. A small selection of these may 
be appropriately added here. 

In the Mishna (Nedarim v. 5) certain things are 
enumerated which are the property of a community ; 
among these are reckoned, " the Synagogue (Beth ha- 
Kencseth) the ark, and the books " ; by the " books " 

1 Le. Deut. vi. 4-9, xi. 13-21 ; Num. xv. 37-41 ; and certain 
"Benedictions " attached to it. 

2 Aramaic had displaced Hebrew as the vernacular before the 
Hasmonean period, the middle of the 2nd cen. B.C. 

3 The Jewish People in the time of Jesus Christ (Engl. Transl.), 
Div, II., Vol. II., p. 76. 


in f6e 

are meant primarily, the rolls of the Law ; it was (and 
is) usual to have more than one copy of this ; besides 
these, there was the roll containing the prophetical 
books ; it must also be assumed that other rolls, con 
taining books of the Hagiographa, were also included. 
In some parts of the East, Nehardea in Babylonia is 
specially mentioned, it was customary to read portions 
from the Hagiographa, at the Sabbath afternoon 
service, 1 as well as from the Law and the Prophets. 
Some books of the Hagiographa have been used on 
special occasions for many ages, the Megilloth (Song of 
Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ealesiastes, Esther), for 
example, of which Esther is read right through at the 
Feast of Purim, 2 and Lamentations is read on the ninth 
of Ab, 8 the fast kept in memory of the destruction of 
Jerusalem. How far the books of the Hagiographa 
were studied, in early days, in the way in which the 
rest of the Scriptures were is uncertain ; there is a 
Targum to the Psalms and Job, which apparently 
belong together ; this must, in its origin, be ancient, for 
in it Rome and Constantinople are mentioned as the 
two capitals of the Roman Empire, thus presupposing 
a date of compilation at the latest before the fall of 
Rome in 476 A.D. Important in this connexion is 
Luke xxiv. 44 : " These are my words which I spake 
unto you, while 1 was yet with you, how that all things 

1 Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 116 a b ; whether this was done in 
the West cannot be said, there is no evidence for it. 

2 Babylonian Talmud, Megilla 70 a. 

3 Masscchct Sopherim xviii. 4. 


(pggftng in 

must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the Law of 
Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms, concerning 
me" (cp. Acts i. 20, ii. 25-28, 34, 35 ; iv. 25, 26), which 
implies a study of the Psalms apart from their use in 
the service of praise ; it is, therefore, possible that some 
of the psalms were at one time read and commented 
upon in the Synagogue. 

In the Talmudic tractate Sopheriit a number of 
particulars are given about the use of the Psalms 
in the Early Synagogue ; here we are often told about 
what psalms were used on special occasions, and why 
they were chosen. For example Ps. vii. was one of 
those sung at the Feast of Purim because it speaks of 
vengeance on the adversary, 2 see verses 6, 11-16, cp. 
Esth. ix. 13 ff. ; on the other hand, in the Midrash 
Tehillim (in loc.) " Cush the Benjamite," mentioned in 
the title of this psalm, is said to refer to Saul. Ps. xxx. 
was sung on the Feast of Dedication (Channukah, 
called also " The Feast of Maccabees "), 8 as its title 
says ; it was transferred from the Temple, after the 
destruction, to the Synagogue. 4 Another example of 

1 The text, with notes has been published by Joel Miiller (Leipzig 
1878) ; this tractate belongs, according by Zunz (Die gottesdienstlichen 
Vortrdge der fuJen, p. 101, 2nd ed.) to the period of the Geonirn, 
which began in 589 A.D., and extended to the eleventh century. 

2 Sopherim xviii 2. 

3 See I Mace. iv. 59, 2 Mace. i. 18 ; in the Talmud it is usually 
called the " Feast of Illumination " (cp. Josephus, Antiq. XII., vii. 7, where 
it is called " The Feast of Lights, *wra), on account of the lamps lighted 
on each day of the feast, eight on the first day, and one less on each 
succeeding day. 4 Sopherim xviii. 2. 


og gge (ftgafme in tfle 3*tmgfl Cgutcfl. 

earlier usage, which is preserved in this tractate, is in 
regard to the special psalm (xlvii.) sung at the festival 
of the New Year j 1 this psalm was evidently chosen on 
account of v. 5 (in Heb. v. 6) : " God is gone up with a 
shout, the Lord with the sound of the trumphet " 
(shophar)\ the blowing of the ram s-horn, or " shophar" is 
one of the characteristic ceremonies of this festival ; but 
the special psalm for this festival is elsewhere given 
as Ixxxi., 2 chosen because of the reference to the 
"sf&ph&r" in v. 3 (Hebr. v. 4). Again, two special 
psalms are mentioned for the festival of the New 
Moon, Ps. xcviii. on account of the reference in v. 6 
to the shophar, which, according to Num. x. 10, was 
blown on the New Moons, and Ps. civ., 3 because of verses 
I, 2 ; in later times, the latter of these two alone 
became the proper psalm for this festival. The special 
psalm for the Feast of Tabernacles is given as Ixxvi. 4 ; 
Ps. cxviii. 25 to the end, which appears originally to 
have been a separate psalm, was also proper to this 
festival. 5 Ps. cxxx. is explained in reference to the 
Day of Atonement. 6 We are told, further, and the 
fact is interesting, that the " Hallelujah "-psalms were 
known by heart by the people, 7 these Psalms are civ.- 
cvi., cxi.-cxiii., cxv.-cxvii., cxxxv., cxlvi.-cl. ; in some 

1 Ibid. xix. 2. 2 Rosh Hashshana-$ob, see also Midrash Tehil/im 

on this psalm. 3 Sopherim xvii. ir. 4 Ibid. xix. 2. 

-> Mishna, Sukkah iv. 3., and see Miiller s note in his edition of 
Sopherim, p. 288. G Sopherim xix. 2. 

7 See Miiller s note in his edition of Sopherim, p. 263. 

8 Jewish Encycl. vi. 179 a. 


(frgafmg in tge lEgnagogue 

of these psalms, as Dembitz points out, 8 " this opening 
phrase is developed in the words which follow it ; in 
others, such as cxi., cxii., it does not run naturally in 
the psalm, and seems to have been prefixed by the 
authorities of the Temple to fit the psalm into public 
worship." According to Rab, 1 the name of the whole 
Psalter should be called " Hallelujah," because this word 
contains both the name of God (Jah, cp. Ps. Ixviii. 4) 
and its glorification (Hallelu " Praise ye "). 2 It is said 
(cp. Scpherim xvi. 11, 12) that the "Hallelujah" was 
uttered one hundred and twenty-three times by the 
people ; the reference is to the singing of the Hallel^ 
for, as we are told in the Talmud (Sukkah 38 b\ the 
people responded with " Hallelujah" after each verse- 
division of the HalleL MUller, in his note on this 
passage in Sopherim, says that if one counts up the 
verse-divisions in the Hallel according to its poetical 
structure, it will be seen that these number exactly one 
hundred and twenty-three. 3 It was a later and fanciful 
idea, which held that this number was chosen because 
it corresponded with the years of Aaron s life (see Num. 
xxxiii. 39). As in the Temple, so in the Synagogue 
the Hallel has always occupied a position of peculiar 
importance, and the Temple usage of singing this at the 
great festivals has been followed in the Synagogue. 

1 I.e. Rabbi Abba Arika ; he lived early in the 3 cen. A.D. 

2 Midrash Tehillim i. I. 

3 The frequent utterance of " Hallelujah " in early forms of Christian 
worship, was obviously borrowed from this Jewish usage, 



From what has been said, therefore, the order of 
worship in the ancient Synagogue may, with much 
probability, be described as follows ; some elements in 
the following description have not been touched upon 
in what has been said above, because our main object 
has been to try and ascertain the place of the Psalms in 
the Synagogue-worship ; but there is evidence, which 
will be briefly indicated in foot-notes, to show that 
these other elements may with practical certainty be 
regarded as having constituted essential parts of the 
earliest form of Synagogue-worship. 

1. The offering-up of Prayer by a recognised 
official minister ; l we are definitely told that 
the prayer called Ahabah Kabbah* ("Great 
Love ") was said before the reading from the 
Law. 3 

2. The reading of passages from the Law, 4 such 

1 In the Midrash Bereshith Rabba, in the comment on Genesis xviii. 23, 
mention is made of one of the ministers, who stood before the Ark in 
order to offer up prayer. The technical name for this official was Shiliach 
Zibbor, called later Chazzan, see Zunz, Op. cit. p. 393. 

2 A Benediction founded originally, it is supposed, on Jer. xxxi. 3 
(" . . . Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love ; therefore 
with loving-kindnesses have I drawn thee ") ; it was a thanksgiving for 
God s love in having given the revelation of the Torah to Israel. 

3 Mishna, Middoth v. i. 

4 This is based on ancient custom, possibly on Deut. xxxi. 12., 
" Assemble the people , . . . that they may hear, and that they 
may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words 
of this law." In later times the lesson from the Law was technically 
known as the Parashah ("Section") ; this was read on Sabbaths, and 
the first part of it on the following second and fifth days of the week at 
Morning Prayer. 


(P0dfnt6 in ffle jSgnagogue 

as the Sterna 1 and the Ten Commandments. 
These were read in Hebrew, and as each verse 
was read it was translated into the vernacular 
(Aramaic) by the Methurgeman^ or officially 
appointed translator. 

3. The offering up of Prayer, namely the Tephilla 
(" Prayer ") or Shemoneh l Esreh (" Eighteen 

Benedictions.") 2 

4. The reading of a passage from the Prophetical 
books. 3 

5. An exhortation based on what had been read. 4 

6. The offering of Praise ; it is probable that this 
was introduced by the singing, or recitation of 
the Trisagion (" Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord 
of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory," 
Is. vi. 3.), and the Baruk Kebod Adonai 
(" Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his 

1 As a constituent element in Synagogue-worship this is very ancient ; 
it must have been in use before the beginning of the Christian Era at 
the latest, as Rabbi Gamaliel (end of first century, A.D.) regards it as 
a fixed element in worship in deciding that it can be recited till dawn 
(Mishna, Berakhoth i. I.) 

2 For the great antiquity of this prayer, especially its earliest portions, 
see Zunz, Op. cit. pp. 380 ff. Regarding prayer in the Service see also 
the Mishna, Berakhoth v-5, and Rosh Hashshana iv. 9 

3 In later days this portion of Scripture was technically known as the 
Haphtarah (" Conclusion "). This was translated by the Methurgtman 
after every three verses ; both in regard to this and to the lesson from the 
Pentateuch, the sense of the passage was taken into consideration, so that 
often more or less than one verse from the Law, and more or less than 
three verses from the Prophets, might be read before being translated. 

4 Cp. Acts xiii. 15, xiv. i. 


s t$t (ftgaftng in tge Jettnefl 

place," Ezek. iii. 12); this was uttered both in 
Hebrew at Aramaic. 1 After this it is prob 
able that the psalm for the day was sung. 
Excepting for the final Blessing this concluded 
the service. The custom of finishing the daily 
prayers with praise to God is very ancient. 2 
7. The " Aaronic Blessing," with the " Ameii " by 

the people (see Num. vi. 24 ff.). 
With what has been said cp. Matth. iv. 23, ix. 
35, Mark i. 29, Luke iv. 17 ff., 44, John xviii. 20, 
Acts xiii. 5, 14, 15, xiv. i, 2 Cor. iii. 14, 15. 
As Muller truly says : " A similar order of worship 
was in vogue in the Church during the earliest cen 
turies, where the reading from the Old Testament was 
followed by a reading from the Gospels, the praise 
portion proper coming at the end of the service." 3 In 
this connexion the following from the Peregrinatio 
Etheriae* is of interest ; it is taken from the Sunday 
offices, Vigil : " And when the people have entered, 
one of the priests says a psalm to which all respond, 
and afterwards prayer is made ; then one of the 
deacons says a psalm, and prayer is again made ; a 
third psalm is recited by one of the clergy, prayer is 

1 See Miiller s notes on Sopherim, pp. 226 f. 

2 See Muller, Op. fit. p. 226, and cp. the prayer of Hezekiah (Is. xxxvii. 
15-20), which is preceded and concluded with praise to God. 

3 Op. cif. p. 227. 

4 Reprinted, from Duchesne s Christian Worship, by the Society for 
Promoting Christian Knowledge, under the title, " Holy Week in 
Jerusalem in the fourth century," p. 550. 


(freafme in ffle ^gnagogue Tffotrsflty, 

0?- //^ third time, and there is a commemoration 
for all .... After the reading of the Gospel the 
Bishop goes out, and is accompanied to the Cross by 
all the people with hymns, there again a psalm is said 
and prayer is made> after which he blesses the faithful, 
and the Dismissal takes place/ 

Here praise, followed by prayer, occurs at the 
beginning as well as at the end of the service, but, 
broadly speaking, the component parts of the service 
are : Praise and Prayer, then the central Prayer 
portion (the " commemoration of all "), after that the 
reading of Scripture, concluding with Praise and 
Prayer ; then the final Blessing. This corresponds in 
the main outline with the earliest form of Synagogue 
Worship. 1 

III. The Music of the Ancient Synagogue. 

With regard to the Music of the Synagogue the 
following words from Mr. F. L. Cohen s able article on 
" Music" in the Jewish Encyclopedia* are worth 
quoting : " The earliest synagogal music was founded 
upon the same system and method as prevailed in the 
orchestra of the Temple itself. Joshua Ben Hananiah, 
who had served in the sanctuary as a member of the 
Levitical choir, 3 told how the choristers went in a body to 

1 Most of the "Korah" psalms end with praise, viz., xlii. 2, xliii. 5 
[not xliv], xlv. 17, xlvi. n, xlvii. 9, Iviii. 14 [not xlix], Ixxxiv. II, 12 
[not Ixxxv.], [not Ixxxvii], [not Ixxxviii] ; this very possibly points to 
a tendency to conclude prayer with praise ; cyJ.Ps. vii. 17. 

2 ix. 120 a. 3 Babylonian Talmud, Arakhin II b. 


in tfle 3wtgfl Cgutcfl. 

the Synagogue from the orchestra by the altar, 1 and so 
participated in both services." It is also important to 
note that when, later on, after the destruction of the 
Temple, instrumental music was no more heard in 
Jewish worship, the method of singing was not thereby 
altered ; u as the part of the instruments in the Temple 
musical ensemble was purely that of accompaniment, 
and the voices could have given arr adequate rendition 
without accompaniment, the absence of instruments 
from the Synagogue in no way modified the system of 
the song itself." It follows, therefore, that although the 
old Synagogue music that has come down to us is 
post-Christian, it is not for that reason not ancient. 
The earliest Synagogue choir consisted of at the least 
twelve Levites, in addition to boys voices ; the Mishna 3 
tells us, further, that the kinnor was played by nine of 
the singers, the nebel by two, and the cymbals by one ; 
the flute was only played on holy days. 4 It is, 
thus, clear that originally the Psalms were sung, and not 
said, in the Synagogue ; this is true of the Jerusalem 
synagogues, and therefore probably also of the 
Palestinian synagogues generally ; with regard to those 
of the Dispersion the evidence is less clear, but see the 
reference to Philo above, p. 131. Rabbi Hirsch 5 

1 The singers stood at the east end of the bronze altar of the burnt- 
offering (see 2 Chron. v. 12). 

2 ^Arakhin 13 b. ;J Arakhin ii. 3-5. 

4 Mishna, ^Arakhin ii. 3. 5 Jewish Encycl. x. 247 b. 


(p0afm0 in i$t JSgnagogue 

" In the synagogues the Psalms were chanted antiphonally, 
the congregation often repeating after every verse chanted by 
the precentor the first verse of the psalm in question. 
Hallelujah was the word with which the congregation was 
invited to take part in this chanting. Hence it originally 
prefaced the psalms, not as in the Massoretic text, coming at the 
end. At the conclusion of the psalms, the makre, or precentor 
added a doxology ending with And say ye Amen, whereupon 
the congregation replied Amen, Amen (Monatschrift 1872, p. 

" The contemporaneous fashion of the outer world 
has ever found its echo within the walls of the 
synagogue, so that in the superstructure added by 
successive generations of transmitting singers, there 
are always discernible points of comparison, even. of 
contact, with the style and structure of each 
successive era in the musical history of other 
religious communions. Attention has frequently 
been drawn to the resemblances in manner, and even 
in some points of detail, between the chants of the 
muezzin and of the reader of the Koran with much of 
the chazzanut} not alone of the Sephardim, who 
passed so many centuries in Arab lands, but also of 
the Ashkenazim, equally long located far away in 
northern Europe. The intonations of the Sephardim 
even more intimately recall the plain-song of the 
Mozarabian Christians, which flourished in their 

1 I.e. The traditional mode of intonation of the Chazzan, the Synagogue 
official who conducted the musical and other portions of the service, 
see Sopherim x. 7, and, for many other details of the office, Zunz, Synagogale 
Pocsie des Mittelalters^ pp. 144 ff. 


in t$e fywitfy Cflutcfl, 

proximity until the thirteenth century. Their chants 
and other set melodies largely consist of very short 
phrases, oft repeated, just as Perso-Arab melody so 
often does ; and their congregational airs usually 
preserve a Morisco or other Peninsular character." 1 
There can be little doubt that, in some cases, very 
ancient traditional musical pieces are embodied in 
the music of the modern Synagogue ; such pieces 
have, no doubt, tended to become modified in the 
course of centuries, but, even in their primitive form, 
it is very questionable whether they are pre-Christian. 
The data as to early song in general given in the 
introductory chapter permit us to form some idea of 
what the original melodies of the Temple, and there 
fore of the ancient Synagogue, must have been, but of 
their actual form we cannot claim to know anything ; 
that is to say, we cannot take even the simplest 
synagogal melody of the present day and say that in 
its present form it was used in the ancient synagogue. 
The introduction of Piyyutini* were certainly, in part, 
responsible for this, because the singing of these 
required more elaborate melodies than had hitherto 
obtained ; and, as we shall see, they drove the 
Psalms into a subordinate position in the service. 
It followed, therefore, that many of the ancient 
melodies were lost irretrievably. But though we 
have lost the actual melodies of ancient synagogal 
worship, there is no sort of doubt as to the fact that 

1 Jewish Encycl. ix. 121 b. On these, see the next two chapters. 


(ft0afmg in tffe jSgttagogue 

a fairly elaborate use of music existed in the 
Synagogue, even in pre-Christian times. We have 
already seen that the Levitical choir came direct to 
the synagogue after its duties in the Temple had 
been fulfilled. Mr. F. L. Cohen, in his excellent 
article on "Music" in the Jewish Encycl., already 
quoted, gives further evidence as to this during the 
early Christian centuries, and there is no reason to 
doubt that this reflects earlier usage. u The dispersal 
of the Temple singers/ he says, " and the cessation 
of the performances of the musicians in the sanctuary 
influenced but slightly the synagogal cantillation, 
since the desire of many authorities that song should 
be abstained from in lasting mourning for fallen 
Zion, was never generally heeded when it became a 
question of song in worship. Indeed, from the 
earlier centuries there had been an evident desire to 
enhance the importance of the singing in the 
synagogal ritual. The officiant was required to have 
a pleasant voice and a clear enunciation, and the 
voluntary assistance of good vocalists was regarded 
as meritorious . . . The Psalms were chanted 
originally in a responsive antiphony ; but soon the 
antiphony developed into a general unison . . , ;1 

For many ancient synagogal melodies given in 
full, see De Sola, The Ancient Melodies of the Spanish 
and Portuguese Jews (1857). 

1 Copious references to original authorities are given in support of all 
the statements made. 

151 L 



SOME insight into the use of the Psalms in the 
modern Synagogue will be found of interest from 
several points of view. To begin with, it is clearly 
a question of interest to know the position which 
the Psalms now occupy in public worship among 
those people whose forefathers first gave them to 
the world. Although the Church has made the 
Psalms peculiarly her own her use of them is 
greater than has ever been the case in the Jewish 
Church and although she has, generally speaking, 
been more thorough in her recognition and appreci 
ation of their unrivalled beauty, and of the intense 
religious feeling which permeates them, nevertheless 
the Psalms are the product of the Jewish Church, 
a possession which that Church preserved and 
cherivshed long before the Christian era. It is, 
therefore, we repeat, a matter of interest to see 
what use is made of the Psalms in the Jewish 
Liturgy of to-day. Then, again, this question is not 
without importance for the study of the history of 
Synagogue-worship generally. Towards the end of 


(ftgafmg in tfle Qttobetn ISgnagogue. $* 

the eighteenth century a revivification took place in 
the liturgical worship of the Synagogue, which for 
many centuries previously had been suffering 
grievous decay ; an intense desire arose to reform 
the Liturgy. It is interesting to note, by the way, 
that in one respect, at least, the deadness in public 
worship from which the Synagogue suffered re 
sembled a similar deadness which characterized 
the worship of the Church of England at one time ; 
instead of making the use of the Psalms one of the 
most prominent elements in the service, as had been 
done in the early Synagogue, following herein the 
worship of the Temple, the recitation of numberless 
Piyyutim^ came into vogue, with the result that the 
Psalms were pushed into quite a subordinate position. 
This procedure is strongly reminiscent of the time 
when Tate and Brady s " New Version of the Psalms 
was used in place of the Psalter, At the same time, 
the analogy only holds good in part, for it is neces 
sary to emphasize the fact that in the Synagogue the 
use of the officially selected psalms of the Liturgy 
was never discontinued ; these psalms were over 
weighted, and pushed into a position of inferiority, 
by the Piyyutim. The latter came to occupy the 
central place of importance, while the psalms were 
hurriedly recited, as though an insignificant, albeit a 
necessary, part of the service. 

1 I.e. Poems, of much later times, many of which were quite 
inferior productions; see further on this subject below, pp. 179 ff. 


in t$e 3wifig Cflutcfl. 

When the reform of the Liturgy took place it was 
in three directions, mainly, viz. : in the introduction 
of new elements, in alterations of the prevailing use, 
and in the re-introduction of ancient and genuine 
liturgical forms ; 1 but, of these three, the last con 
stituted by far the most important factor. So that in 
studying the use of the Psalms in the modern Jewish 
Liturgy we shall, in reality, be gaining, in this par 
ticular at all events, some insight into the early 
custom of the Synagogue. 

The two great bodies into which orthodox Jews 
are divided, the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim, have 
each their own Liturgy, and these differ in some 
respects as to the psalms used on different occasions. 
It will, therefore, be necessary to indicate where they 
differ in important places ; but there will be no need 
to point out every variation between the two uses. 

I. The Psalms in the Daily Services. 

There are three daily services in the Synagogue- 
worship, viz, Shacharith (Morning Prayer), Minchah 
(Afternoon Prayer), Maarib (Evening Prayer). To 
deal with the Morning Service first. On entering the 
synagogue each worshipper says, privately, a number 
of verses taken from different psalms, beginning 
with : " As for me, in the abundance of Thy loving- 
kindness will I come into Thy house ; I will worship 

1 Zunz lays much stress on this ; see the many details he gives to 
prove his statements in Die gottesdienstlichen Vortrage der Jucten, pp. 
490 ff. 


in f#e (JJlobern 

towards Thy holy temple in the fear of Thee" 
(Psalm v. 7). 

In connexion with some congregations there exists what is 
known as a Chevrah Tehillim, i.e. a society the members of 
which make a point of reading the Psalms before the daily 
Morning Service. In this way they read through the whole 
Psalter once a week. Although this is done in the synagogue 
the institution is a private and voluntary one ; and the saying 
of psalms by the members of a Chevrah Tehillim has nothing 
to do with the official service of the synagogue. 

After a hymn of praise, and readings from the 
Mishna and the Old Testament, which include 
passages from the Psalms, Psalm c. is said, " Shout 
for joy unto the Lord, all ye lands"; this is an 
invitation, as it were, to all peoples to join in 
worshipping the One God. There follow then, after 
some words of praise, to which the preceding psalrn 
has given the keynote, Psalms cxlv.-cl., the last verse 
of the last psalm being repeated. These are preceded 
by the versicles : " Happy are they that dwell in Thy 
house, they will be ever praising Thee. Happy is 
the people that is in such a case ; happy is the 
people whose God is the Lord " (Psalms Ixxxiv. 4, 
cxliv. 15). These versicles are always used in 
introducing the recitation of Psalm cxlv. In the 
Babylonian Talmud, Berakhoth 45 a, Psalm xxxiv. 3 
(4 in Hebrew) is explained as referring to the 
manner in which the Psalms should be sung, namely, 
first a blessing (" O magnify the Lord with me "), 


*g 6e (ftsafma in f 6e 3wt0g Cflutcfl. 

and then the praise ("And let us exalt His name 
together"). 1 This Psalm (cxlv.) is said no less than 
three times during Morning Service. The following 
words from Berakhoth 4 b are of interest in this 
connexion : " He who says Psalm cxlv. three times 
daily may rest assured that he will inherit the life 
eternal." The Talmud suggests as a reason for this 
that the psalm in question teaches the universal 
providence of God, which is set forth in such verses 
as 15, 1 6, " The eyes of all wait upon Thee, and Thou 
givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest 
Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living 
thing;" the psalm is regarded in the light of a 
prayer for all flesh, and the material blessings asked 
for are an earnest of the far greater spirtual 
blessings to be enjoyed hereafter. Further, when in 
this service, the prayer called the Amidah ( = " Stand 
ing/ because it is said standing) is said, it is 
prefaced by the versicles ; " O Lord, open Thou our 
lips, and our mouth shall show forth Thy praise " 
(Psalm li. 15). According to the Talmud (Berakhoth 
4 b\ the Amidah should conclude with, "Let the 
words of my mouth and the meditation of my 
heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock, 
and my Redeemer" (Psalm xix. 14). This was 
evidently the ancient usage, and it seems a pity that 
the modern practice has deviated from this by 
adding instead the words from Job xxv. 2, "He 

1 See Muller s note in his edition of Sopherim, p. 290. 


in t0e (fflobetn 

maketh peace in His high places," for nothing could 
be more appropriate than Psalm xix. 14 as a 
conclusion to the Amidah. Later on in the service, 
Psalm vi. is said, (" O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine 
anger"). On Mondays and Thursdays, the two 
week-days on which the Law is read, Psalm xxiv. is 
said after the reading ; and when the Sepher (i.e. the 
" Scroll " of the Law) has been replaced in the Ark, 
Psalms cxlv., xx., are said. 1 They are preceded by the 
versicles quoted above in connexion with Psalm cxlv. 
It is not until towards the end of the service that the 
special psalm for the day is sung ; 2 this, with the 
exception of the reading of the Law on Mondays and 
Thursdays, is the only part of the daily Morning 
Prayer that varies. 3 The daily special psalms are : On 
the first day of the week, Psalm xxiv. ; on the 
second, Psalm xlviii. ; on the third, Psalm Ixxxii. ; 
on the fourth, Psalm xciv. ; on the fifth, Psalm 
Ixxxi. ; on the sixth, Psalm xciii. ; and on the 
Sabbath, Psalm xcii. The psalm for the day is 
always prefaced by the words : " This is the -- 
day of the week, on which the Levites in the Temple 
used to say psalm ." According to the Mishna (see 
above, pp. 117 ff.), the psalm for the day was always 
said ; this is also stated in the Gemara, the words 
used being amar and dabar respectively, both of 

1 These are also said every day whether the Law is read or not. 

2 Custom varies, however, as to the precise place in the service at 
which this is sung. 

3 Sabbaths, Festivals, and Fasts are, of course, excepted. 


in f#e 3 

which are only used in reference to saying, not to 
singing ; but it must be added that, in spite of this, 
there is justification for the statement of Mr. Box 
(Encycl. Bibl., col. 4955) that " the choir of Levites, to 
the accompaniment of musical instruments, 1 sang the 
psalm of the day " ; for at the close of each of the 
three sections into which the psalm of the day was 
always divided, the priests blew three blasts on the 
silver trumpets. Now the saying of a psalm would not 
be in keeping with these interludes of trumpet- 
blowing, the mention of which rather implies that 
the psalm was sung ; and besides this, the psalm of 
the day is always sung in the modern Synagogue ; 2 
and when it is remembered that emphasis is laid on 
the fact that the use of the special daily psalm in the 
Synagogue has been taken over from the Temple- 
worship, it is right to assume that the mode of 
rendering it is likewise based on the usage of the 
Temple. After the special psalm for the day, 
Psalm Ixxxiii. (" O God, keep not Thou silence ") is 
added, though there are some exceptions to this ; 
during part of the year, Psalm xxvii. is also said 
daily at Morning Prayer after Psalm Ixxxiii. 

In the Sephardic Ritual the psalms for this service 
are somewhat different; they are: xxx., ciii., xix., 
cxlv.-cl., xxv., xx., Ixxxvi. (the last two are omitted on 

1 This is not specifically stated in the Mishna passage in Tamid^ nor in 
the Gemara to it. 

2 In spite of the fact that in the Rubric in the Jewish Prayer Book the 
psalm is spoken of as being said. 


in i$t Qttobern 

the days when no " supplicatory prayers " are said) ; 
the special psalm for the day is the same as in the 
Ashkenazic Ritual. 

The daily Afternoon Service is a shortened form of 
Morning Prayer; only three psalms figure here, cxlv., 
xxiv. (this psalm is, however, only said at this service 
on Saturdays and on Fast days, when the Law has to 
be read), and vi. ; but the Sephardic Jews say Psalms 
Ixxxiv., cxlv., xxv., Ixvii during this service. At the 
daily Evening Service Psalm cxxxiv. 1 is said, according 
to both Rituals, but in the Sephardic Psalm cxxi. is 
also said. Among the Ashkenazic Jews, however, 
if Evening Prayer is said after night-fall the pre 
scribed Psalms are xxiv., viii., xxix. The Ritual of 
these latter has also special psalms which are said at 
this service on the " Days of Omer" ; 2 they are xxv. 
xxxii., xxxviii., li., Ixxxvi., on the first five days of 
the week respectively. 

II. The Psalms in the Sabbath Services. 

Among the Ashkenazic Jews there are, strictly 

1 This psalm is omitted when the Evening Service is said immediately 
after Mincha, which is often the case. 

2 I.e., the days between the first day of Passover (eve of 15 Nisan) 
and Pentecost ; the " counting of the Omer " is still practised (see Lev. 
xxiii. 10, 11), but the bringing of the Omer has ceased since the destruc 
tion of the Temple. " Omer" means "sheaf," though the early Rabbis 
interpreted it in the sense of a " measure " (cp. Exodus xvi. 36). In the 
Synagogue the bringing of the Omer is stated to be the repayment to 
the Almighty for having given the Israelites manna in the wilderness. 


$ ge (fteafms in t$e 

speaking, six Sabbath Services, but these are not all 
separated from each other. 1 During the service for 
the Inauguration of the Sabbath, Psalms xcv.-xcix, 
xxix., xcii. (this is the special psalm for the day), 
xciii. are sung. 2 The Sephardic Jews at their 
service on the Eve of the Sabbath, which corresponds 
to that just mentioned, sing Psalms xxix., xcii,, xciii., 
xxiii. At Morning Service, according to the Ashke- 
nazic Ritual, the ordinary week-day psalms for the 
corresponding service are said, viz., c., cxlv.-cl., and, 
in addition to these, Psalms xix, xxxiv., xc., xci., 3 
cxxxv., cxxxvi,, xxxiii., xcii., xciii. ; further, after the 
reading of the Law, Psalm xxix. or xxiv. is used. 
Most of these, but not all, are also found in the 
Sephardic Ritual, viz., Psalms xxxiii., xxxiv., xc., 
xci., xcviii., cxxi.-cxxiv., cxxxv., cxxxvi., xcii., xciii., 
cxlv. Among the Sephardic, as well as the 
Ashkenazic Jews, there is, after the Morning Service, 
what is called the Additional Service for Sabbaths^ 
and Festivals, this is called Musaf. 5 During this 
service the extract from the Mishnic tractate 
Tamid is read which contains the passago 

1 C/>. the modern practice in the Church of combining the Litany with 
Morning Prayer. 

2 Regarding the singing, or saying of the Psalms, see below, V. 

8 Whenever Psalm xci. is said, the last verse is invariably repeated. 

4 This service is also used, with slight variations, at Festivals and New 
Moons, and on the Day of Atonement. 

5 The Musaf Services take the place of the additional sacrifices brought 
on festive occasions, as commanded in the Law, see Numbers 
xxviii., xxix. 

1 60 

in tfle Qttobern 

enumerating the special daily psalms which the 
Levites used to sing in the Temple. The only 
psalm used at this service is xcii., which is sung at 
the conclusion, after the "Unity Hymn for the 
Sabbath Day." 1 At the Afternoon Service for Sabbaths, 
Psalm xcii, is sung a while the vestments are being 
placed upon the scroll of the Law, prior to its being 
put back into the Ark ; the psalms which are then 
said are the same as those used at the Morning 
Service after the reading of the Law. In the 
Sephardic Ritual, in addition to the ordinary week 
day psalms for this service, Psalm cxi. is also said. 
At this Afternoon Service, from the first Sabbath 
after Simcath Torah ("The Rejoicing of the Law") 
until the Sabbath before Passover, Psalms civ,, cxx.- 
cxxxiv., are said. 

The Evening Service begins with two special 
Psalms, cxliv., Ixvii., which are sung to a melody used 
by all Ashkenazic Congregations. Finally, there 
is the Service for the Conclusion of the Sabbat h } at which 
Psalms cxliv., Ixvii., are sung. These are chanted 
by the congregation before the ordinary Evening 
Service. The Sephardim also say privately, before 
this concluding service begins, Psalms cxviii.- 
cxxxiv., xvi., Ixxv. In the Ashkenazic Ritual the 
service closes with Psalm cxxviii. But immediately 

1 This hymn is not recited by all Congregations. 

2 There is a lively traditional melody to which this psalm is sung 
common to all Ashkenazic and Polish Congregations. 


in tfle Jwtsfi Cflutcfl* 

after this service, forming in reality one with it, the 
Habdala l Service is said ; this is introduced by 
various quotations from the Psalms, but no complete 
psalms are used. Besides what has been said, there 
is a special extra psalm for every Sabbath according 
to the lesson of the Sedrah? 

III. The Psalms in the Festival Services. 

As the Ashkenazic and Sephardic Rituals differ 
somewhat in the selection of the psalms used during 
the Festivals, it will be best to take each separately, 
beginning with the former. 

There are certain features, as regards the use ot 
the psalms, which are alike at all the greater 
Festivals ; thus, at the Afternoon Service for the Eve 
of a Festival, the versicles : " Happy are they that 
dwell in Thy house . . ." (Psalm Ixxxiv. 4) ; 
" Happy is the people . . ." (Psalm cxliv. is), 3 
followed by Psalm cxlv., which belongs to the 
introductory part of the services, is common to all 
Festivals. 4 At the Afternoon Service of every Festival 
(if it does not fall on the Sabbath) Psalm xxiv. is 
read when the Roll of the Law is being returned to 

1 /.<?., " Separation" ; the service has for its purpose the emphasizing 
of the difference between the Sabbath and ordinary days from which 
it is separated. 

2 The Sedrah ("Order") is the special portion of the Law read at 
Sabbath Morning Service. 

3 See I. above. 

4 This is, of course, the ordinary Afternoon Service without "Suppli 


(ftgafmg in tge Qjtobetn js&gnagogue. $ 

the Ark. Again, at the Morning Service of all the 
greater Festivals the passage from Tamid vii., 
enumerating the special psalms for each week-day 
as sung in the Temple, is read. Further, the Hallel 
(Psalms cxiii.-cxviii.) 1 is said prior to the reading 
from the Law ; but the last Psalm (cxviii.) is said 
thus : the first four verses are chanted by the reader, 
the congregation responding with the first verse at 
the end of each of these four verses; up to verse 21 
the psalm is recited in the ordinary way (i.e., alter 
nately by the reader and the congregation, but there 
is no fixed custom for this ; it is sometimes said 
silently, see V. below); verses 21-24 inclusive are 
each repeated ; each clause of verse 25 is chanted 
first by the reader, and then by the congregation ; 
verses 26-29 are each repeated. The Hallel is used 
at all the Festivals, excepting that of New Year ; 
it is not said at this Festival because there is no 
miracle connected with the history of Israel which 
is commemorated by this day ; moreover, it is the 
" Day of Judgement," 2 and therefore not a day on 
which God s praises, which are contained in the 
Hallel, should be recited. 3 Another feature, as far 

1 On the last six days of Passover, and on New Moon Festivals, 
Psalms cxv. and cxvi. are omitted. 

2 In the Mishna (Rush Hashshana i. 2) it is taught that on New Year s 
Day all the inhabitants of the world pass before the Lord for judgement 
as the sheep before a shepherd (cp. Matthew xxv. 31 ff.). 

3 Mr. I. Abrahams has, in his Festival Studies t an excellent chapter 
(xxii.) on the use of the Hallel at Festivals. 


in f ge 

as the psalms are concerned, common to all the 
great Festivals, is that at the Evening Service Psalms 
xcii., xciii., are said ; moreover, at the Morning 
Service for Festivals after the " Hymn of Glory " 
(this hymn contains many verses from the Psalms) 
has been sung, i Chronicles xvi. 8-36 is read, and 
this is followed by Psalms xix., xxxiv., xc., xci., 
cxxxv., cxxxvi., xxxiii., xcii., xciii., cxlv.-cl., the 
last verse of Psalm cl. is repeated. Lastly, the 
Memorial for the Departed, which figures at all 
Festivals, 1 is followed by the recital of Psalm cxlv. ; 
the Memorial is, as a rule, read on the last day of a 

The special psalms for the Festivals are as fol 
lows : 

On the first two days of Passover? Psalms cv. 
(" O give thanks unto the Lord "), which tells of the 
deliverance from Egypt, and Psalm Ixxx, (" Give ear, 
O shepherd of Israel "), respectively ; this psalm also 
refers to the deliverance from Egypt in verse 8. 
On the last two days, Psalms Ixxvii. (" I will cry 
unto God with my voice "), chosen on account oi 
verse n, and Ixvi. ("Make a joyful noise unto 
God "), respectively, chosen on account of verses 
5-12 ; these are all said at the Morning Service. At 

1 An exception to this is the New Year Festival, because the ten days 
of penitence, of which the first two are the two days of the New Year 
Festival, form one period, and terminate with the Day of Atonement, on 
which the Memorial Service is held. 

2 This Festival lasts eight days. 


tn fffe Qtlobevn jSgnagogue. g 

Pentecost 1 the proper Psalms for the two days 
respectively, which are sung at the Morning Service, 
are Psalm Ixviii. (" Let God arise "), and Psalm 
xxix. (" Give unto the Lord ") ; the former of these 
is chosen because of the reference, in verse 8, to 
the presence of God on Mount Sinai, for, according 
to the ancient tradition, the Festival of Pentecost 
was kept as the birthday of the Law. For the same 
reason Psalm xxix. is a special psalm for this 
Festival, since the expression " The Voice of the 
Lord " occurs in it seven times ; for the Law was 
given on Mount Sinai by the Voice of the Lord 
(cp. Exodus xix. 19, xx. i). 

On the two first days of the Feast of Tabernacles? 
Psalms xlii., xliii., are said respectively ; the former 
because of verse 4, where mention is made of " The 
voice of joy and praise, a multitude keeping holy 
day ; " the second because of the reference, in verse 3, 
to "tabernacles." On the last day of. this Feast, 
Psalm xii. is said ; this day is also called Simcath 
Torah ("The Rejoicing of the Law"), which is 
observed because it is the day on which the cycle 
of the readings from the Law is completed for the 
year. Psalm xii. is, therefore, chosen for this day 
because of verses 6, 7, "The words of the Lord are 
pure words . . ." 

1 This Festival lasts two days ; it is also called Skabnoth (the Feast of 

2 This Feast last eight days ; it is also called Sukkoth (" Booths ") 


(ftsaftns [in t$t Qttobern jSgnagogue* $ 

The special Psalm for the New Year Festival is 
Ixxxi., because of verse 8, " Hear, O My people, and I 
will testify unto thee," which contains the thought of 
judgement (see above). As this Festival falls within 
the penitential season, there is also a special " psalm 
of penitence," viz., Psalm xxvii., see verses 7-14. 
On New Year s Day the shophar ("ram s horn") is 
blown in order to arouse people to repentance (so 
the Mishna, Taanith i. 6) ; prior to its sounding, the 
following versicle is said : " Blessed is the people 
that knoweth the trumpet sound, they walk, O Lord, 
in the light of Thy countenance ; " then Psalm xlvii. 
is said, in which mention is made of the trumpet 
in verse 5 : " God is gone up with a shout, the Lord 
with the sound of the trumpet." 

At New Moon Festivals Psalm civ. is used because 
the New Moon is a symbol of God s Providence in 
renewing the face of the earth (see verses 19, 31). 
At the Festival of Channukah ("Dedication") 1 
Psalm xxx. is chanted verse by verse alternately 
by the Chazzan and the congregation ; this practice 
is very ancient. The title of this Psalm has, " A 
Song at the Dedication of the House/ and according 
to Sopherim xviii. 2, the Levites sang it in the 

At the Feast of Purim, Psalm vii. is said ; and on 
Shushan Purim- Psalm Ix. 

1 Also called the " Feast of the Maccabees," see I Mace. iv. 59. 

2 /.<?., the day following the Feast of Pwzm. 

1 66 


In the Sephardic Ritual the Festival psalms are 
as follows : 

At Passover, on the eve of the Festival, Psalms 
cvii., cxiii.-cxviii. (Hallel), are said, while cxiv. is 
repeated at the end of the service. During Morning 
Service Psalm cvii. is said, also the Hallel, complete, 
on the two first days, and half- Hallel on the middle 
and last two days ; at the Afternoon Service Psalm 
cvii. is again said. On the Sabbath that falls within 
this Festival, Psalm xciii. is chanted after the 
reading of the Law ; if the Sabbath falls on one 
of the middle days of the Festival, then Psalm cxi. 
is chanted. The psalms for the Evening Service are 
the same as those for the eve of the Festival. The 
special psalm for Pentecost is Ixviii., which is used at 
all four services ; besides this, Psalm cxxii. is said on 
the eve, and the complete Hallel at Morning Service. 
At Tabernacles Psalms xlii., xliii. are said at all 
services, Psalm cxxii. at the eve, and Psalm xii. at 
the Afternoon Service if a Sabbath ; Hallel is said at 
Morning Service. On the eighth day of the Festival 
Psalm xii. is said in place of Psalms xlii., xliii. ; on 
Simcath Torah the service is the same as on the 
eighth day. The special Psalms at the New Year 
Festival are cxlv., xxv., cxxx., and at the Afternoon 
Service Psalm Ixxxi. At New Moon Festivals Psalm 
civ. is said on the Eve, excepting when this falls 
on a Friday ; Hallel is said at Morning Service, 
omitting Psalms cxiv., cxv. At the Channukah 

167 M 


Festival Psalm xxx. is said at the Evening Service, 
and the complete Hallel at the Morning Service. 
Finally, at the Feast of Purim, Psalms cxxiv., xxii. 
are said on the Eve, Psalm xxii. at the Morning 
Service, and Psalm cxxiv. at Afternoon Service ; 
while at the Morning Service on the day following 
after the Feast Psalm xxii. is again said. 

Within recent times the Sephardic Jews have 
included in their Ritual Psalms xli., cxii. at the 
service for a Hospital Fund ; the Ashkenazic Jews 
use the latter on this occasion. It will thus be seen 
that in some respects the two Rituals vary, while in 
others they agree ; there can, however, be little 
doubt that in many cases both Rituals follow a 
common and very ancient tradition. 

IV. The Psalms on the Fast Days. 

The chief Fast in the Jewish Church is the Day of 
Atonement 1 ; on the eve of this day, the special 
Psalm is cxix., which is said. On the day itself, 
in the Ashkenazic Ritual, in addition to the usual 
Psalms at the Morning Service, Psalm xxxii. is 
said, and Psalm xxvii. is the special "peni 
tential psalm." But an alternate use, which 
obtains in this country, is the saying of Psalm Ixv. 
as the special psalm for this day. Towards the end 
of the Evening Service, on the termination of this 

1 Some Jews cite Psalm xxxv. 13 as one reason of absolute fasting on 
tliis day. 


gfle (pgafms in ffle Otobern jggnagogue, 3+. 

Fast, Psalm cxxviii. is said. The Memorial of the 
Departed is said at this Fast, and it is followed by 
Psalms xvi. and cxlv. At the conclusion of this 
Fast the shophar is blown as a final call to repentance. 1 
In the Sephardic Ritual Psalms xxxiii., i.-iv., are said 
on the eve of the Fast, while at the Morning Service 
on the Fast-day itself the following Psalms are said : 
xvii., xxv., xxxii., li., Ixv., Ixxxv., Ixxxvi., cii., civ. 
xcviii. At the Morning Service of the day following 
the Fast, Psalm Ixxxv. is again said. 

The lesser Fasts in the Jewish Church are : 
The Fast of Gedaliah ; this is observed in memory 
of Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, who was murdered 
by Ishmael (Jeremiah xli. 2). The Ashkenazic Jews 
have no special psalm for this fast, but Psalms x., 
xxvii. are the special ones for the ten days of 
penitence, i.e. from New Year to the Day of Atone 
ment. The Sephardic Jews use Psalms xxv., xx., 
Ixxxiii. at Morning Service, and xx., xxv., cii. at 
Afternoon Service ; these are also the special psalms 
for all the minor fasts. 

The Fast of Tebeth is kept in memory of the 
commencement of the siege of Jerusalem. According 
to the Ashkenazic Ritual, Psalm Ixxiv. is the proper 
one ; according to the Sephardic, Psalm Ixxxiii. at 
Morning Service, and Psalm cxxvi. at Afternoon 

1 The Synagogue also understands the shdphar-c&\\ as a joyful sign of 
God s pardon. 


(ftgdftn0 in ffle JWsfl Cflutcg. 

The Fast of Esther ; the thirteenth of the month 
Adar, on which this fast is kept, is the traditional 
day which Ahasuerus, instigated by Haman, 
appointed for the slaughter of the Jews (see Esther 
iii. 13). Psalm xxii. is the appointed psalm among 
the Ashkenazim ; Psalms cxxiv., cxxii. at Morning 
Service, Psalm xxiv. at Afternoon Service, among the 

The Fast of Tammus. This fast is observed in 
memory of the first breach made in the wall during 
the siege of Jerusalem ; according to both Rituals 
the special Psalm is Ixxix, 

The Fast of Ab. According to the Rabbinical 
tradition, both temples were destroyed on the ninth 
of the month Ab, hence the observance of a fast on 
this day. The Ashkenazim use Psalm cxxxvii. as the 
special one, the Sephardim use this at Morning 
Service, and Psalm Ixxix. at Evening Service. 

It would, no doubt, have been of interest to have 
specified at what particular parts of the different 
services the various Psalms occur ; but this would 
have involved a detailed description of the structure 
of the services themselves, which is not our present 
concern, and which would, moreover, have taken up 
a great deal of space. 

V. The method of rendering the Psalms in the modern 

It will have been noticed that we have referred 


(pgdfnts tn ffle Qtobevn jSgnagogue* & 

above to the Psalms sometimes as having been said, 
at other times as having been sung ; as a matter 
of fact, there are no fixed rules for the rendering 
of the Psalms, but there are a number of customs 
regarding this, of which the following are the 

At festivals the only psalms sung are parts of the 
Hallel, but the first and last verses of every psalm 
are sung by the Reader ; this latter is also the case at 
ordinary times, The Sephardic Jews read the entire 
services. Then again, some psalms, e.g. the Hallel 1 
and Psalms cxliv., Ixvii., are sung either entirely by 
the congregation, or, as in the case of the Hallel, the 
Reader sings each verse, and the congregation 
repeats it after him. Psalm cxlv. is also, in some 
Congregations, sung verse by verse by the Reader 
and the congregation, or by the choir. The Psalms 
on Friday night are chanted alternately by the 
Reader and the congregation. It was an old custom, 
no more observed, however, for a special official to 
read Psalms before Morning Service every day in the 

In the synagogues ot orthodox Congregations 
there is no organ, the singing being entirely 
unaccompanied ; but this has, apparently, not always 
been the universal rule, for Zunz mentions that one 
of the synagogues in Prague has possessed an organ 
for centuries. In 1716 a new organ was built for 

1 See what was said on p. 163 on the way the Hallel is sung. 


*? gfle (pgftfme in tfle germgfl Cflurcfl. 

this synagogue. 1 It may be added that, according 
to Miiller, 2 the ordinary daily psalms were said, or 
sung, sitting, but on the festivals the congregation 
stood during psalms, whether sung or said. It will 
not be without interest to give an example of a 
melody used in the modern Synagogue, taken from 
De Sola s The Ancient Melodies of the Spanish and 
Portuguese Jews ; it certainly has an antique ring 
about it : 

1 Of. cit,, p. 491. 

2 In the notes to his edition of Sopherim, xviii. 2. 




I. The private use of psalms among the ancient 

IN dealing with the question of the gradual growth 
of the Psalter and the various elements contained in it, 
Dean Kirkpatrick says : " The various strata of which 
it is composed can to some extent be distinguished. 
Three principal divisions, marked by well-defined 
characteristics, may be observed . . . Speaking 
broadly and generally, the psalms of the first 
division are personal, those of the second, national, 
those of the third, liturgical. There are numerous 
exceptions, but it is in the first division that personal 
prayers and thanksgivings are chiefly to be found." 1 
The personal psalms here referred to are such as iii., 
iv., v. (in part), vi., viii., xi., xiii., xvi., xviii., xxii., 
xxiii., and others, in which the, first person singular 
is used. Many critics are against the view that such 
psalms refer to the individual ; they hold that these 
are rather meant to express the feelings and 

1 The Book of Psalms y I. pp. xxxix. ff. 

in fff 

thoughts of the Israelite community personified. 
Cheyne, for example, maintains that u in the 
psalmists, as such, the individual consciousness was 
all but lost in the corporate ; the Psalter is a 
monument of Church-consciousness." 1 There is, 
however, a good deal to be said in favour of the other 
view, that most of the " I " psalms were originally, 
and, in their essence, still are, devotions of a purely 
personal character ; 2 this does not mean to say that 
they were not used, even when first composed, in the 
Temple- worship ; but they were used there, not as 
part of a liturgical service, but for the edification of 
the individual worshipper, and as the expression of 
individual devotion. What seems to be quite cer 
tain is that a number of psalms which were 
originally composed for private use, were in later 
days, adapted to public worship ; hence the liturgical 
titles which have been added to them. What is, 
however, here laid stress upon, is that from very 
early times it is, of course, impossible to assign any 
particular period as that during which this first 
commenced the private use of psalms has been in 
vogue among the Hebrews. The point is, perhaps, 
obvious ; but it is well to insist upon it, for it is 

1 Origin, of tJie Psalter, p. 265 ; cp. also Smend in the Zeitsch rift fur 
die alttcstamentliche Wissenschaft, 1888, pp. 49 ff. 

2 It is, of course, not denied that such Psalms, e.g. as xliv., Ivii., lix., 
Ixvi., and others, are national, although the first person singular occurs in 



illustrated, as we shall see, in a strange way in later 
times ; it is still the custom among the Jews ; and it 
explains, in part, the, comparatively speaking, 
small number of psalms in use in the public worship 
of the modern Synagogue. 

Personal communion with God was a character 
istic of the pious Israelite ; in spite of the 
acknowledged fact that the importance of the 
individual was regarded as nothing in comparison 
with that of the community, the individual did not, 
so far as he himself was concerned, lay too much 
stress upon this. Where his personal relationship 
with his God was in question, there personal 
religion was supreme ; and the fact of the existence 
of that relationship must have needed outward 
expression. When, for example, a worshipper 
brought an offering he would want to express 
his feelings towards God in words. This can be 
illustrated by what we are told in the Mishna 
(Shebuoth ii. 2), namely, that during the offering of 
"cakes of unleavened bread" (see Lev. vii. 13) the 
Levites sang Psalm xxx. to the accompaniment of 
instrumental music ; by this means the feelings of 
each individual worshipper was outwardly expressed 
in words. This desire would be especially prominent 
in the case of petitions and of thank-offerings, see, for 
example, i Samuel i. 10, n,ii. i-io. 1 These would 
be examples of the beginnings of the use of private 

1 This " Song of Hannah " in its present form, at any rate, is late. 


+ fle (pgdftng in tge Jkwteg Cgurcfl. 

psalms, many of which would have become stereo 
typed when handed down from parent to child. 
It is, therefore, difficult to resist the convic 
tion that in the Psalter we have adaptations of 
some very early psalms expressive of individual 
worship, which, being the outpouring of personal 
feeling, were intended for private use. For example, 
an individual note is clearly sounded in xxv. 4, 5 : 
" Shew me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. 
Guide me in the truth, and teach me, for Thou art 
the God of my salvation ; on Thee do I wait all the 
day ; " cp. also v. 1-8, vi., vii. 17, xiii. 6, xviii. (see esp. 
ver. 6), xxi. 13, xxiii., xxvi., xxxii. n, lv., etc., etc. 
We have, moreover, at least one striking example of 
a private psalm outside the Psalter, which may well 
illustrate the way in which psalms were written 
on special occasions by individuals, for their own 
comfort or edification in the first instance, and 
which were afterwards adapted for more general use. 
The psalm in 2 Samuel i. 19-27 ("David s Lament 
over Saul and Jonathan ") was, on the face of 
it, originally written to express the writer s individual 
feelings. Psalms like this, which must have been 
transmitted orally for a long time before they were 
committed to writing, are scarcely likely to have 
come down to us in their original form. That in 
some form or other this poem was actually composed 
by David need not be doubted. In the case of this 
particular psalm there is internal evidence of its 



having been originally written for private use as a 
commemoration of the dead, and that only in later 
days it became incorporated, in written form, in 
the Book of Jashar. In verse 17 of this chapter 
this psalm is called a Kinah, the technical term for 
a " lamentation ; " but, strange to say, it is not 
written in the ordinary Kinah-measure (see above 
p. 102), which we should naturally expect. The 
reason for this cannot be that the Kinah -measure 
was unknown in the time of David, for it was 
probably known long before this time, but because 
" we are concerned here not with the official, 
stereotyped measure of the wailing women, but 
with one which was exceptional, and individual ; " 
for which reason this lamentation was purposely 
made to differ in form from the ordinary popular 
Kinah- measure, and was composed in a rhythmical 
form corresponding to the free and unfettered play 
of personal emotion. 1 If psalms such as these, 
therefore, were used privately psalms which were 
of an almost wholly secular character it is certain 
that there must have been many whose content was 
purely religious which were likewise written for 
private use ; the fact that many of these came in 
course of time to be used in public worship only 
proves how widespread their use as private psalms 
must once have been. 

1 See Budde in the Zeitschrift fiir die alttestamentliche Wissenschajt, 
ii. pp. 44 ff. 


*> gfle Qpeafmg in t%e gewtgfl Cgurcfl. 

In the Psalter we have, then, a number of psalms 
which were originally composed for private use 
some of these were adapted for liturgical use in the 
Temple worship ; others were incorporated into the 
collection, but were never used in public worship, 
nor were they ever intended to be. 

II. The private use of psalms among the Jews. 

Among the Jews, from post-biblical times onwards, 
the Psalms have played a large part in private life ; 
in many respects this private use of the Psalms, like 
their use in the modern Synagogue, reflects 
pre-Christian usage. Attention may, however, first 
be drawn to a fact, which is not without 
significance, namely, the, comparatively speaking, 
limited number of psalms which, as we have already 
seen, are in use in the modern Synagogue-worship. 
Of the seventy-three, moreover, which are used in the 
Ashkenazic Ritual, only fifteen belong to Book i, 
which confessedly contains the largest number of " I " 
psalms ; and of these fifteen, only seven (vi., viii., xvi., 
xxv., xxvii., xxx., xxxviii.) can be reckoned among 
the " I " psalms. This seems to point to the fact that 
the majority of the psalms belonging to this type 
were not used in the Temple-worship, upon which the 
Synagogue-worship is based. On the other hand, 
practically all the psalms are for one purpose or 
another used in private. But before dealing with 
this private use of the psalms in some detail, it is 


in (rwafe (U0e. 5 

worth while making mention of the custom, which 
grew up among the Jews, during the early 
Middle Ages, of incorporating certain hymns 
into the Synagogue-worship. 1 The object of 
drawing attention to this (which does not 
strictly belong to the subject of this chapter) 
is that it offers an interesting analogy of the way 
in which many of the psalms became adapted 
for public worship, though not originally intended 
for this. Perhaps these later Jewish poets 
were following on the lines of traditional custom, 
in which case their action assumes a still greater 
interest. This later form of psalm is known as a 
Piyyut (plural Piyyutini) ; " the word is derived from 
the Greek term for poetry, perhaps more directly 

1 The suggestion may, however, be hazarded that hymns of this kind 
were also composed at a much earlier period. The early Church was 
indebted to the Jewish in most respects as regards public worship, and 
there is evidence that in the public worship of the Church, hymns, which 
evidently corresponded to the later Piyyutitn of the Jewish Church, were 
in use ; thus, the fifty-ninth canon of the council of Laodicrea (363 A.D.) 
forbids the recitation of "private" psalms in the church, and "the 
Muratorian Fragment, a damaged document of the beginning of the third 
century, in distinguishing books which ought to be received into the 
Church for public use from others, repudiates with vigour a certain new 
book of the psalms " (Prof. E. Barnes in the Expositor for July, 1910, 
pp. 53 ff.). The "Odes and Psalms of Solomon," recently discovered 
and published by Dr. J. Rendel Harris, a Christian Hymn-Book belong 
ing to the third century A.D. (perhaps earlier), is a very interesting 
illustration of what has been said. It is, as suggested, quite possible that 
this custom in the early Church was founded upon something analogous in 
the Jewish Church ; in this case, the Piyyutiin of the Middle Ages would be 
the later representatives of antecedents of earlier date. 


* gge (ftgafmg in tge gewieg Cgutcg, 

from poietes ( a poet ). The author of a piyyut is 
called a payyetan, a Neo- Hebrew form derived from 
piyytit" 1 The vast majority of Piyytttim^ have not 
been incorporated into the Liturgy ; herein also they 
offer an analogy to the Psalms ; for it may be taken 
for granted that in the Psalter we have but a fraction 
of the psalms which must have accumulated during the 
many generations which preceded its final redaction. 
The Piyyutim were added to the older Liturgy that 
developed during the Talmudic era up to the 
seventh century A.D. ; "the oldest are anonymous, 
they were written during the era of the early Geonim 
(circa, 7th cen.), and are embodied in the Prayer Book. 
They show an attempt at metre, and, as in some late 
Biblical poetical compositions, are often alphabetically 
arranged. . . It seems likely that they (i.e. the 
authors) were influenced by the troubadours and the 
minnesingers, both in the writing of their poems and 
in their musical settings." 3 Piyyutim were also 
written for private use in the homes. 4 As an example 
of part of a Piyyut we may give a few of the opening 
lines of " Hakol Joduka," which is recited during 
the Morning Service for Sabbaths and Festivals : 

" All shall thank Thee, and all shall praise Thee, 
And all shall say, None is holy as the Lord ! 
All shall exalt Thee, Maker of all, 

Thou God that openest daily the doors of the gates of 
the east ; 

1 Jewish EncycL x. 65 b. * The names of over 900 Payyetanitn are 
known. 3 Ibid. Zunz, Op, cit. p. 406. 

1 80 

(ftaafms in (fttttxxte Qtee. 

That cleavest the windows of the firmament, 

That bringest forth the sun from his place, and the 

moon from her dwelling : 
That givest light to the whole world and the inhabitants 

Whom thou didst create by Thy attribute of mercy." 

A number of fragments of ancient Piyyutim have 
been found in recent times in the Cairo Genizah. 1 
Concerning these Schechter writes that one " can 
see by their abruptness and their unfinished state 
that they were not the product of elaborate literary 
art, but were penned down in the excitement of the 
moment, in a * fit of love/ so to speak, to express the 
religious aspirations of the writer. Their metre may 
be faulty, their diction crude, and their grammar 
questionable ; but love-letters are not, as a rule, 
distinguished by perfection of style. They are 
sublime stammering at best, though they are in 
telligible enough to two souls absorbed in each other. 
I am particularly fond of looking at the remnants of 
a Piyyutim collection, written on papyrus leaves, 
with their rough edges and very ancient writing. In 
turning over those leaves, with which time has dealt 
so harshly, one almost imagines one sees again the 
gods ascending out of the earth, transporting us, 
as they do, to the Kaliric 2 period, and perhaps even 
earlier. . ." 3 

1 A kind of lumber room which adjoins the synagogue, 
- Kalir was the most popular of all the Piyyutim writers ; he lived 
during the ninth century. 3 Studies in Judaism (Second Series), pp. 18 f. 



It should be added that the later Piyyutim have 
never been looked upon with great favour by the 
Jewish ecclesiastical authorities; their use has, at cer 
tain periods, been acquiesced in as a concession to 
popular fancy. "The degree of approval with which 
these hymns were received, or of personal respect 
which the author, in many instances a local Rabbi, 
enjoyed, decided for or against the insertion of the 
Piyyulim in the Machzor [i.e., Ritual] of the congre 
gation. Opposition to the inclusion of the Piyyut in 
the regular prayer as an unlawful interruption of 
divine service is found as early as the eleventh 
century." 1 A collection of hostile criticisms on the 
poetic effusions of the Payyetanim is contained in 
A. A. Wolfs Stimmen der altesten Rabbinen iiber die 
Payyetanim ( 1 8 6 7 ). 2 

But we must turn again now from these more or 
less unsuccessful imitations to the Psalms themselves, 
in order to give a few details as to their private use 
among the Jews since post-biblical times. We shall 
give examples of psalms, or verses from the psalms, 
in quasi-private use, as well as their purely private 
use by individuals. An instance of the former, which 
was so far private in that it was used for the benefit 
of an individual, though said in the synagogue, we 
may give Psalm Ixxviii. 38, " But He, being full of 

1 Jewish EncycL \, 67 b. 

2 My attention was drawn to this work by the Rev. G. E. 
Fried lander. 


in (pvisafe (Use. 

compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed 
them not ; yea, many a time turned He His anger 
away, and did not stir up all His wrath." This was 
preceded by Deut. xxviii. 58, 59, xxix. 8, and these 
four verses were said over and over again during a 
scourging. The scourging consisted of forty strokes 
save one 1 (cp. 2 Cor. xi. 24) ; it took place in the 
synagogue (cp. Matthew x, 17, Acts xxii. 19), and 
the punishment was inflicted by a synagogue official 
called the Chazzan^ 

Certain psalms have, from time immemorial, been 
used during the Occasional Offices in the Syna 
gogue ; these are, of course, in a sense, used 
publicly, but they may be mentioned here inasmuch 
as these services concern individuals rather than the 
congregation. Thus, at a Circumcision the Sephardic 
Jews use Psalm cxxviii. (" Blessed is everyone that 
feareth the Lord ") ; the Ashkenazic Jews use Psalm 
xii. (" Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth " ; see 
esp. vv. 5-7) ; but with them the Mohelf on receiving 
the child from the hands of the father, recites the 
following verses, in this order : Psalm cxix. 166, 162, 
1 65, and the first two clauses of Ixv. 4, whereupon 
those present respond with the two last clauses ot 
this verse. Further, the Marriage Service opens 

1 The number of strokes was not, according to the Law, to exceed 
forty (Deut. xxxv. 2, 3), thirty-nine were, therefore, given in order to 
ensure that the forty would not be exceeded {Makkoth iii. to). 

a Mishna, Makkoth iii. 14. 
/.*., the accredited official licensed to perform the act of circumcision. 

183 N 


with the versicles : " Blessed be he that cometh in 
the name of the Lord ; we have blessed you out of 
the house of the Lord " (Psalm cxviii. 26) ; " O come, 
let us worship and bow down ; let us kneel before 
the Lord our Maker " (Psalm xcv. 6) ; " Serve the 
Lord with joy ; come before Him with exalting " 
(cp. Psalms ii. n, xcv. 2). These are followed by 
Psalm c., " Shout for joy unto the Lord, all the 
earth." At the conclusion of the service, after the 
Blessing has been given, Psalm cl., "Praise ye 
the Lord," is said. Again, it is a touching custom 
according to which a husband recites frequently 
Psalm cxxviii. when the time is drawing near for his 
wife to be delivered of a child; the appropriateness of 
this will be seen on reading the psalm. At the 
Burial Service Psalm xvi. is said (" Preserve me, O 
Lord, for in Thee do I put my trust ") ; this is the 
case among the Sephardic as well as the Ashkenazic 
Jews. In the Sephardic Ritual, when the coffin is 
being lowered into the grave, Psalm xci. is said 
(" He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most 
High"). The Ashkenazic Jews, on leaving the burial- 
ground, say either: "And they of the city shall 
flourish like the grass of the earth " (Psalm ciii. 
15), or, " He remembereth that we are dust " (Psalm 
ciii. 14). More specifically of a private character is 
the use of Psalms i., xv., xvi., xc., xci., which are 
said when a tombstone is^ set up ; the Sephardic 
Jews use only the last three of these. In the house 


in (ftwdte 

ot mourning either Psalm xvi., or Psalm xlix. (on 
account of verses 7-10, 12, 15) is said ; the latter, 
together with some of the sections of Psalm cxix., 1 
is also said by the Sephardic Jews. In addition to 
the above, the Ashkenazic Jews sometimes also 
repeat Psalms xv., xxxix., xc., xci., ciii., in the house 
of mourning. 

It is the echo of an extremely ancient custom 
that a private service is held at the consecration 
of a house ; at this service Psalms xv., xxx., ci., 
cxxi., are said, as well as Psalms cxxvii., cxxviii., if 
they are appropriate (see cxxvii. 3-5, cxxviii. 3-6, 
where there is the mention of children); besides 
these, four sections of Psalm cxix. are said, viz., 
verses 9-16, 153-160, 81-88, 33-40; they are said in 
this order, as the initial letters of each verse of these 
different sections form the Hebrew word, " Blessing." 
The Sephardic Jews on this occasion use only Psalm 
xxx. (" I will extol thee, O Lord, for Thou hast 
raised me up "), and Psalm cxxxiv. (" Behold, bless 
ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord "). 

Again, those who are sick are urged to use Psalms 
xxir" ("The Lord is my Shepherd"), ciii. ("Bless the 
Lord, O my soul "), and cxxxix. (" O Lord, Thou 
hast searched me out and known me"). 

A special Psalm, cxxvi., is appointed to be said at 
grace before or after meals, the custom varies ; some* 

1 Those sections are chosen the initial letters of which make up the name 
of the departed ; on the acrostic character of this psalm, see p. 108. 


ge (ftgafmg in tge Jwtefl Cgutcfl, 

times this is sung. Before retiring to rest Psalms 
xci. and iii. are said both by Ashkenazic and Sephar- 
dic Jews. Psalm xci., followed by Psalm cxxi. (both 
of which are extremely appropriate to the occasion), 
are said by one undertaking a journey. Among the 
Sephardic Jews, if a man desires to exercise a volun 
tary fast, i.e., one in addition to those appointed, 
he recites Psalm cii. (see especially verse 4). 

It will have been noticed what a prominent place 
Psalm cxlv. has in the Services of the Synagogue ; 
it is worth while noting, in connexion with this, that 
it is the conviction of many Jews that anyone who 
recites this psalm devoutly three times a day is sure 
of going to heaven. 1 Another example of the private 
use of a psalm is that of Psalm xxx. ; many Jews 
repeat this while "laying the Tephillin ; " this is the 
technical term used for binding on the head- and 
the hand-Tephillah ( = <l Phylactery "). Again, young 
children are taught, in the course of their night- 
prayer, to say : " Behold, he that guardeth Israel 
will neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm cxxi. 4), 
" Into Thy hand I commend my spirit ; Thou hast 
redeemed me, O Lord God of truth " (Psalm xxxi. 
5); and they conclude with the words: "For Thy 
salvation I hope, O Lord " (Psalm cxix. 166). 

There is, once more, a custom, by no means 
universal, but nevertheless in wide use, of reading 
the Psalms in the home (sometimes also privately 

iSee p. 156. 
1 86 

(ftggftn0 in (pttwfe (Use. $ 

in the synagogue), so as to complete the Psalter 
within a set period ; this period may be a month, 
or a week, or even one day, i.e., the Sabbath. 1 

A curious custom is that of saying Psalms cxlviii., 
cl., Ixvii. at the Blessing of the New Moon ; it is 
always said on a Sabbath night before the i4th of 
the month, and the Blessing must be said out of 
doors. In the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin> 42 a) 
it is said in reference to this : " He who says this 
Benediction is accounted as though he had received 
the presence of the Shekhina"* 

It should also be mentioned here that some other 
Psalms are used in a quasi-private way since they 
are recited during that part of the Passover 
celebration which takes place in the home. This 
home-service is called the Haggadah (" Announce 
ment," viz., of God s mercies to Israel). During 
this service, after the drinking of the first cup of 
wine, the first two psalms ot the " Hallel " (Psalms 
cxiii., cxiv.) are said ; this applies to both Ashkenazim 
and Sephardim. Before the " Blessing after meat/ 
which precedes the drinking of the third^cup, another 
psalm is said ; the Ashkenazic Jews say Psalm cxxi., 
the Sephardic Psalm cvii. The fourth cup is then 
filled, and the remaining psalms of the " Hallel " are 
said, viz. : cxv., cxvi., this latter, in verse 13, speaks 
of the " taking up of the cup of salvation," cxvii., 
the invitation to the Gentiles, and cxviii. Then, after 

1 Cp> P- J 55 above. 2 /.*., The Divine Glory, 


o$ gge (pggfmg in tge Jewtgg Cflurcg, 

a hymn ( u All Thy works praise Thee "), the " Great 
Hallel," Psalm cxxxvi., is said. All these last five 
psalms are said by both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic 

111. Sephey Shimmush Tehillim. 

Certainly, the quaintest use, private or otherwise, 
to which the Psalms have ever been put is that 
which is recommended in the above-mentioned book, 
a recommendation which has been acted upon for 
generations by numbers of Jews living in the 
Eastern parts of Europe, mainly, though in the 
Western parts as well. The superstition of very 
many of these Jews is well known, but the 
fact that the "Shimmush Tehillim" exists also 
in an English translation points to a demand 
which is not confined to the Jews of Poland or 
Roumania. Prof. Ludwig Blau, who has made 
a great study of these things, writes as follows : 
"Next to the Torah, the Psalms were especially 
popular in magic, since they formed the real book 
of the people, one which they knew and loved as 
a book of prayers; and prayers had, according to 
the popular opinion of the ancients, extremely close 
affinities with incantations . . . Tablets inscribed 
with verses of the Psalms or of the Bible generally, 
and found in great numbers in recent years, must 
have been regarded as a means of protection for both 
the living and the dead ... No other ancient 

1 88 

in (JDritxxfe 

examples of this use of the Psalms are known ; 
but in the Middle Ages the employment of the 
Psalms in all the vicissitudes of life was so extensive 
and detailed that there is no doubt that it was based 
on ancient custom ... In all probability the 
origin of the employment of the Psalms in magic 
is essentially Jewish." 1 Evidently, therefore, the 
directions given in the <( Shimmush Tehillim" may, 
in one form or another, be traced back to a high 
antiquity ; indeed, in more than one case, this can 
be proved (see under Psalm xxix., p. 194), The 
name Sepher Shimmush Tehillim means, "The Book 
of the use of the Psalms " ; on the title-page of the 
English translation it is stated to be : "A fragment 
out of the Practical Kabbala ; together with an 
extract from a few other Kabbalistic writings of the 
old wise Hebrews, taken from the Mosaic books of 
the Kabbala and the Talmud for the good of 
mankind." The translator concludes his Preface 
with the following words : " I confidently hope 
and trust, and I can assert without hesitation, 
that this little book cannot have a tendency to 
foster superstition. Take it for granted that one 
of my readers should choose to employ one 
of the methods described in these pages in order to 
accomplish a desired object, his eagerness to satisfy 
curiosity will soon disappear when he takes into 

^Jewish Encycl. x. pp. 240, 241. 
2 See also the Commentary on Psalm xci., Chap, xii, 


consideration the hard terms and strict morality 
which are required to avail himself of them in order 
to derive any benefit or be successful in their use." 
As will be seen from some of the extracts from this 
work to be given presently, it is difficult to under 
stand how anyone at the present day can take the 
suggested methods seriously ; yet this translator does 
so, and he represents a multitude of men and women 
who think likewise. But, after all, it is well to 
remember that superstitious beliefs, and crass 
practices based on them, are by no means confined 
to any one age or to any one race. There is prob 
ably not a country district in any land in Europe, let 
alone uncivilized countries, in which such things are 
not rife at the present day. The details to be given 
represent, therefore, illustrations of what is only a 
somewhat extreme form of widely prevalent beliefs 
and practices ; the particular point of interest about 
the ones with which we are here concerned is that 
they all deal with the Psalms. The Preface to the 
Sefer Shimmush Tehillim gives some insight into the 
reason why this book has been in such vogue among 
certain classes of Jews, for the directions it contains 
are believed to have come, at least indirectly, from 
the Almighty Himself. " It is universally known and 
acknowledged that we are named after the most holy 
name of the Ruler of the World, and that we receive 
the holy decalogue, or the written Law, from Him. It 
is further well hiiuwn that in addition to the laws 


in (fttiwfe (Use* 

which He gave to Moses engraven upon stone, He 
also gave to him certain verbal laws, by which, 
through his protracted stay upon the mountain Sinai, 
where all doctrines, explanations of mysteries, holy 
names of God and the angels, and particularly how 
to apply this knowledge to the best interests of man, 
were entrusted to him. . . Therefore do we know 
that in the Torah are many names of the Most High 
and His angels, besides deep mysteries, which may 
be applied to the welfare of man, but which on 
account of the perverseness of humanity, and to 
guard against their abuse, have been hidden from 
the great mass of human beings/ After going on 
to show that " the Psalms and the Torah are equal 
in holiness and worthiness," it continues : " Through 
a pious life and by a rational use of the Psalms you 
may obtain the grace of God, the favour of princes 
and magistrates, and the love of your fellow-men- 
You will be enabled to protect yourself from danger, 
to escape suffering, and to promote your own welfare. 
That this is all true, the contents of each prayer with 
which we end each psalm, and which we are in duty 
bound to pray, will amply demonstrate. But the 
correctness of it is also established by the teachings 
of the Talmud and of the old wise men, who assure 
us that many of our famous forefathers availed them 
selves of apparently supernatural means from time 
to time to protect their best interests. The truth of 
this I can establish by the most trustworthy witneboes; 


in t0e 3*wisg Cgurcg. 

yea, I could even mention some great men, who, by 
a proper use of the Psalms, performed great works." 

It is our intention to give only a few examples 
from this extraordinary book ; but it must be 
remembered that every one of the 150 psalms is 
mentioned in order, together with the malady or 
misfortune for which its " correct " recital is a 

Under Psalm Hi. it is said: " Whosoever is 
subject to severe headache and backache, let him 
pray this psalm, with the leading holy names and 
appropriate prayer contained therein, over a small 
quantity of olive oil ; anoint the head and back 
while in the act of prayer. 1 This will afford 
immediate relief. The holy name is A don ( Lord ), 
and is found in the words : We^tto ( But Thou, 
ver. 3, in Hebrew ver. 4), Baa^/i ( About me, ver. 3), 
Hekiz^ti ( I awaked/ ver. 5, in Hebrew ver. 6), 
Hashie;;i ( Save me, ver. 7, in Hebrew ver. 8)." 2 
Then follows the prayer. Psalm vi. is believed to 
be efficacious for all the diseases of the eye, a 
simpler prescription than that given by the angel 
Azarias to Tobias (see Tobit vi. 8, xi. 11-13). The 
direction here given is : " Read the psalm for three 
days successively, and pray the prescribed prayer 
seven times slowly, in a low tone, and with devotion ; 

1 Cp. J&mes v. 14. 

2 We have italicized the letters which go to make up the " Holy 
Name," Adon. 

in $ttt>afe (Use* 

and with this keep continually in your mind the 
holy name of Jeshajah, which means help is with 
the Lord ; 1 believe without a doubt that the Lord 
can and will help you." Concerning Psalm vii. it 
is said : " When evil persons conspire to render you 
unfortunate . . . then take, upon the spot where 
you stand, a handful of earth or dust, pray this 
psalm, and keep in your mind the holy name 
El Elyon, Great, strong, highest God ; then throw 
the dust in the direction of your enemies, uttering a 
prayer prescribed for this case, and you will see that 
your enemies will cease their persecutions, and 
leave you undisturbed." The prescribed prayer then 
follows. Psalm ix. can be used as a cure for sick 
boys ; it has to be written on pure parchment, with 
a new pen, and hung round the neck of the sufferer. 
Concerning Psalm x. it is said : "If anyone is 
plagued with an unclean, restless, and evil spirit, 
let him fill a new earthen pot with water from the 
spring, and, in the name of the patient, pour it into 
pure olive oil, and pronounce over it this psalm nine 
times . . ." The belief that demons have a 
horror of water is extremely ancient and widespread. 2 
Psalm xvi. is believed to have extraordinary power : 
"This psalm is important, and can be profitably 
employed on different undertakings. As for ex 
ample, if anyone has been robbed, and wishes to 

1 The word means "The Lord hath saved; " it does not occur in the 
psalm, and is evidently an error ; in the psalm the word is Hoshieni, 
" Save me." 8 Cp. Matthew xii. 43 ; Luke xi. 24 ; see p. 195 


(frsafms in tfle gewiefl 

know the name of the robber, he must proceed as 
follows : Take mud or slime and sand out of a 
stream, mix them together ; then write the names 
of all suspected persons upon small slips of paper, 
and apply the mixture on the reverse side of the 
slips ; afterwards lay them in a large and clean 
basin, filled for this purpose with fresh water from 
the stream ; lay them in the water one by one, and 
at the same time pray this psalm over them ten 
times, with the prayer adapted to it ... if the 
name of the real thief is written upon the slips, that 
upon which the name is written will rise to the 
surface." Still more wonderful is the potency of 
Psalm xix. , this ensures a safe delivery after a danger 
ous confinement if the first five verses are written on 
earth taken from a cross-road, and the earth be then 
laid upon the woman. Moreover, a father can make 
his son an apt student by reciting this psalm over a 
cup filled with wine and honey ; he must also 
pronounce the Holy Name, and say an appropriate 
prayer over the cup, the contents of which he must 
then give his son to drink. This psalm, when 
recited, is also efficacious in driving away evil spirits ; 
the same is the case with Psalm xxix. y which is 
" highly recommended for casting out an evil 
spirit ; " but the prescribed ritual here is somewhat 
complicated, it is as follows : " Take seven splinters 
of the osier, and seven leaves from a date-palm that 
never bore fruit, place them in a pot filled with water 


Qp0dfm0 in 

upon which the sun never shone, and repeat over it, 
in the evening, this psalm, with the most holy 
name of Aha, ten times with great reverence ; and 
then, in full trust in the power of God, set the pot 
upon the earth in the open air, and let it remain there 
until the following evening. Afterwards pour the 
whole of it at the door of the possessed, and the evil 
spirit will surely depart." In the Midrash Pesikta^ 
H2a, this psalm is recommended in order to avert the 
peril of drinking uncovered water in the dark on 
Wednesday evening, or on Sabbath eve j 1 drinking 
water at night is regarded as dangerous, presumably 
because the wrath of the evil spirit would be aroused 
by the use of water the cleansing element during 
his privileged period of activity, the night-time. 
Concerning Psalm Iviii., it is said : " If you should be 
attacked by a vicious dog, pray this psalm quickly, 
and the dog will not harm you " ; the psalm is 
evidently chosen for this purpose because of the 
words in verse 6, " Break their teeth, O God, in their 
mouth." Psalm cix. may be efficaciously used in the 
following quaint connexion : " Have you a mighty 
enemy, who plagues and oppresses you, fill a new 
jug with new sparkling wine, add some mustard to 
it, then repeat this psalm three days successively, 
while, at the same time, you keep in mind the holy 
name of El ; afterwards, pour the moisture before the 
door of your enemy s dwelling. Be careful, how- 

1 See fewis/i EncycL, x, 241 a. 

(ftgafing in tge 3ews$ Cflutcfl, 

ever, that you do not sprinkle a single drop upon 
yourself when in the act of pouring it out." 

Many more examples could, of course, be given ; 
but enough has been quoted to show the extra 
ordinary use to which the Psalms have been, and 
still are, sometimes put. 

We do not profess to have given in this chapter 
an exhaustive account of the private use of the 
Psalms among the Jews, but it is hoped that some 
insight, at any rate, may have been gained regarding 
this part of our subject. 



THERE is no getting away from the fact that, in the 
main, Jewish exegesis of the Psalms is often artificial, 
sometimes trivial. We are, however, far from saying 
that no instruction is to be gained from the traditional 
interpretation of them in ancient Jewish literature. Some 
of the examples which we shall give will certainly be 
found to be not without an interest of their own ; 
though, so far as the eludication of particular verses 
in the Psalms is concerned, it is but rarely that any 
real help is obtainable from ancient Jewish writers. 1 
Nevertheless, a chapter devoted to Jewish exegesis 
seems not out of place, whatever the results may be, 
when seeking to gain some idea of the use of the 
Psalms in the Jewish Church. 

The main source which has been utilised is the 
Midrash, or Homiletic Commentary, on the Psalms, 
known as Midrash TehUKm? though a good deal of 
incidental use has been made of other Midrashic works, 

1 Modern Jewish scholars, with the exception Oi Dr. Schiller-Szinessy 
who has edited part of Kimchi s work on the Psalms, have not, we 
venture to think, devoied sufficient attention to the stud) of the Psalms. 

2 In the following pages this will be referred to in the abbreviated form 
Midr. T 



as well as appropriate passages from the Talmud, 
which have been picked up here, there and everywhere. 
The Midr. T. is very incomplete, for although every 
psalm receives more or less attention, it frequently 
happens that only a few verses of a psalm are com 
mented on ; this is very disappointing, and often mars 
the usefulness of the work. This Midr ash originally 
dealt only with Psalms i-cxviii., and was written, 
according to Zunz 1 , towards the end of the ninth 
century, A.D., though much material from older collec 
tions is incorporated in it 2 ; the author is not known. 
Comments on the other Psalms were added later. It is 
partly homiletic, partly exegetic in character ; it 
contains a large amount of interesting matter in the 
shape of parables, legends, proverbs, etc, 3 The 
following quotation (occurring in a comment on 
xxiv. i.) gives one a good idea of the artificial way 
in which Rabbinical exegesis is sometimes conducted ; 
it purports to be a general rule : " Our Rabbis taught, 
Every verse which David uttered in the book of the 
Psalms, he spoke either in reference to himself, or in 
reference to all Israel. Every passage in which it is 
a question of one individual is in reference to himself ; 
and every passage in which a number of men are 
spoken of is in reference to all Israel. " 

1 Die gottesdienstlichen Vortriige der Juden, p. 375. 

2 Jewish Encycl. x. 248/7. 

: The Hebrew text has been published by Buber, Midr. T. (1891)1 
a German translation has been published by Wiinsche (1892-1893). 


(Earegestg of fge (ftsafme, ^ 

We shall divide the present chapter into the follow 
ing sections: first, some examples of a miscellaneous 
character, in order to give some insight into the general 
method of Jewish exegesis ; next, some examples to 
show the tendency to interpret passages in reference to 
the Torah, or Law; the third section will give some 
examples of Messianic interpretation ; and in the last 
section some of the passages from the Psalms quoted 
in the New Testament will be briefly referred to. 

I . Some miscellaneous examples of Jewish exegesis. 

Psalm i. i. As an example of the artificial way in 
which special words are sometimes treated reference 
may be made to the opening word of the Psalter, 
Ashre ("Blessed "), which, according to Rabbi Joshua 
ben Korcha, occurs twenty times in the book of Psalms, 
and corresponds with the twenty " Woes " in the book 
of Isaiah (Midr. T. i. i). 

Psalm ii. 12 : " Kiss the son lest he be angry, and ye 
perish from the way." 

In Midr. T. this verse is explained by a parable 
which is of great interest on account of the teaching 
on mediation it contains. It is said : " Whereunto 
is this to be compared ? It is like a King who was 
wrath against the inhabitants of a city ; these, there 
fore, went unto the King s son and made their peace 
with him, in order that he might go to the King 
and make peace on their behalf. So he went and 

199 O 

in tfle 3ew*fl Cflutcfl. 

pacified the King. When the inhabitants of that 
city knew that the King had been propitiated, they 
desired to sing a song (of thanksgiving) to him ; but he 
answered and said : Do ye wish to sing a song (of 
thanksgiving) to me ? Nay, but go and sing it unto 
my son ; for had it not been for him, I should have 
destroyed the inhabitants of the city. 

Psalm vii. 15, 16 : " He hath made a pit. . . ." 
These verses are, appropriately enough, interpreted 
as referring to the overthrow of the Egyptians in the 
Red Sea, as described in Exod. xiv. 26ff (Mechilta 1 

Psalm viii. 4-6 : " What is man that thou art mindful 
of him. . . ." 

In Midr. T. these verses are explained as follows : 
" What is man . . ." : this refers to Abraham, as it is 
written in Gen. ix. 29 ; " And the son of man . . . " : 
this refers to Isaac, as it is written in Gen, xxi. i ; 
" For thou hast made him . . . " : this refers to Jacob, 
as it is written in Gen. xxx. 39 2 ; " And crownest him 
. . ." : this refers to Moses, as it is written in Exod. 
xxxiv. 29 ; " Thou madest him to have dominion 
, . ." : this refers to Joshua, as it is written in Josh. x. 
12, 13; "Thou hast put all things . . ." : this refers 

1 A Midr ash on Exodus. 

2 "Jacob was able to cause the flocks to bring torth ringstraked, 
speckled, and spotted, therein possessing almost divine power, but he 
was a little lower than God because he could not give them souls." 


tg of ffle 

to David, as it is written in 2 Sam, xxii, 43 ; " All 
sheep and oxen " : this refers to Solomon, as it is 
written in i Kings v. 13 ; " Yea, and the beasts of the 
field " : this refers to Samson (see Judg. xv. 4, 5) ; " The 
fowl of the air " : this refers to Elijah, as it is written 
in i Kings xvii. 6 ; " And the fish of the sea " : this 
refers to Jonah, as it is written in Jonah ii. i ; " What 
soever passeth . . ." : this refers to the Israelites, as it 
is written in Exod. xv. 19.* 

Psalm x. 3. " And the covetous renounceth, yea 
contemneth the Lord." 

In Sanhedrin 6 b (Babylonian Talmud) this is 
rendered : " And he that blesseth the covetous con 
temneth the Lord " ; but in Midr. T. it is rendered : 
" And the robber who blesses, blasphemes the Eternal," 
which is said to mean (according to Rabbi Eliezer ben 
Jacob) that if a man steals bread and offers a portion 
of it in sacrifice he becomes a blasphemer. 

Psalm xi. 2 : " For lo, the wicked bend the bow 
they make ready their arrow upon the string." 

A good example of the freedom of Rabbinical 
exegesis is offered in the comment on this verse in 
Sanhedrin 26 b, where it is said : " During the siege 
of Jerusalem by Sennacherib, Shebna wrote a message 
and shot it with (^.attached to) an arrow; the message 

1 This passage has been considerably shortened ; in the original the 
quotations are given in full. 


*g gfle (pBaftng in ffle getmeg Cgutcfl, 

ran, Shebna and his following (desire) to make peace 
with thee (i.e. with Sennacherib) and will capitulate, 
but Hezekiah and his following will not give in to 
thee, according to Psalm xi. 2, For lo, the wicked . . . " 

Psalm xvi. 7 : " My reins (lit. kidneys ) instruct me 
in the night seasons." 

This is quaintly interpreted by Rabbi Simeon ben 
Jochai, who taught that this verse shows that God 
gave Abraham two kidneys in the form of two pails, 
which poured wisdom and knowledge into him all 
night" (Midr. T.\. i). 

Psalm xxvii. 14 : " Wait on the Lord ; be strong, and 
let thine heart take courage." 

Rabbi Chia the Great explained this verse in the 
words : " Pray, and again pray ; the time will certainly 
come when thou wilt be heard " 1 (Midrash Debarim 
Rabba to iii. 24). 

Psalm Ixviii. 4 (in Heb. 5) "Cast up a highway for 
him that rideth in the deserts." 

The interpretation of this passage is interesting from 
the point of view of the Jewish doctrine of God. 
According to Rabbinical teaching, there are above 
the earth seven heavens (cp. 2 Cor. xii. 2) ; God dwells 
in the highest, the seventh, which is called Araboth? 

1 Cp. Luke xviii. I ff. , I Thess. v. 1 7. 

2 Babylonian Talmud, Chagigah 12 b. 


of tfle (p0afm0. 

Now in the passage before us the Hebrew word for 
"the deserts " is Araboth, and the clause is rendered: 
" Extol Him that rideth upon Araboth," the following 
comment being added: "Araboth is the heaven in 
which are righteousness and grace, the treasures of life, 
the treasures of peace, and the treasures of bliss, and 
the souls of the righteous, and the souls and the spirits 
which are about to be created, and the dew with which 
the Holy One, blessed be He, is to revive the dead 
. . . and there are the Ophanim, 1 the Seraphim, and 
the holy Chayoth, 2 and the ministering angels, and 
the throne of glory, and the King, the living God, 
high and exalted, rests above them, as it is written," 3 
then follows the verse under consideration, as though 
to substantiate what has been said. 

Psalm Ixviii. 6 (in Heb. 7) : " God maketh the 
solitary to dwell in a house " (according to the 

It is well-known that the saying : " Marriages 
are made in heaven " is of Rabbinic origin ; the 
following interpretation and comment on this verse 
well illustrates this ; it occurs in the Midrash Bereshith 
Rabba, Ixviii. (near the beginning) : A matron asked 
Rabbi Joshua bar Chalaphtha in how many days God 
created the world; he answered: "In six days" (see 

The second order ot angels in Jewish An^elology. 
2 The highest order of angels. 

s Babylonian Talmud, Chagigah 12 l>, 13 a, quoted by Schechter, 
Some Aspects of Rabbinic Theology, p. 28. 


s gge (fteafme tn ffle gewJB$ 

Ex. xxxi. 17). Thereupon she asked : "And what has 
He been doing since then ?" The Rabbi replied : "He 
sits and arranges marriages (lit. He binds pairs) ; He 
decrees that the daughter of such an one shall 
become the wife of such an one, and the property of 
such and such an one shall come to such and such an 
one." Then the matron said : " Does He do nothing 
more than that ? I can do that too ? How many men- 
servants and maidservants have I, all of whom I could 
with ease make husband and wife in an hour." " Easy 
as it may be for thee," rejoined the Rabbi, " for God it 
is as difficult as the cleaving of the Red Sea in twain." 
With these words, the Rabbi retired. But what did 
the matron do ? She went and took a thousand men- 
servants and a thousand maidservants, and made them 
stand up in two rows, and said : " This man shall take 
that maid, and this maid shall take that man," and thus 
she paired them all off in one evening. The next day 
they came to her ; one man had a wound in his fore 
head, a maid appeared with only one eye, a third with 
a broken foot, and so on. The matron asked, " What 
is it you want ? " One said : " I do not want him " ; 
another said : 4< I do not want her." The matron sent 
at once for Rabbi Joshua bar Chalaphtha, and said to 
him : " Of a truth, there is no God like thy God; thy 
law is true and excellent ; thou didst well." Then said 
Rabbi Joshua : " Did I not say to thee, easy as it may 
be for thee, for God it is as difficult as the cleaving of 
the Red Sea in twain ? " But what is that God does 


tsB (Bregegjg of tfle (ftgqftng. 

here? He joins together man and wife even against 
their will ; that is what is meant by the words in Psalm 
Ixviii. 7 : " He maketh the solitary to dwell in a house." 

Psalm Ixviii. 26 : " Bless ye God in the congregations, 
even the Lord, ye that are of the fountain of Israel." 
Rabbi Meir interprets the word " fountain " as referring 
to the womb, saying : " They that were in the womb 
opened their mouth, and uttered the Song before God" ; 
the reference is to the Song of Moses (Ex. xv. i) : 
" Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song 
unto the Lord " (Mechilta, to xvi. i). 

Psalm Ixxxii. i : " God standeth in the congregation 
of God." 

It is said in Sanhedrin^b (Babylonian Talmud) 
that judges must know who they are judging, in whose 
presence they are administering justice, and who it 
is that will one day punish them if they pronounce a 
false judgement. This is based on the above text, which 
is rendered : " The Judge standeth . . . ." This inter 
pretation is interesting on account of " God " (El) being 
rendered " Judge" ; for, from the context in the passage 
in the Talmud it is clear that by "Judge" here it is not 
God, but a judge in the ordinary sense that is 
intended. A parallel to this is Ex. xxi. 6, where 
Elohim (" God ") is used in reference to earthly judges 
(cp. Ex. xxii. 8, and v. 6 of this psalm). 

Psalm cxlvii,4: "He telleth the number of the stars." 

in tge 

In Sanhedrin $g a (Babylonian Talmud) the following 
story is told : An unbeliever once said to Rabbi 
Gamaliel, " It is written in Psalm cxlvii. 4 : He 
telleth the number of the stars ; what is there wonder 
ful in that ? I, too, can count the stars." The Rabbi, 
in reply, put a number of quinces in a vessel which he 
caused to be rotated, and said : " Count these." The 
unbeliever said : " Hold the vessel still, then I shall be 
able to count them." Thereupon the Rabbi rejoined : 
" But the heavens, too, are constantly rotating." In 
spite of his limited astronomical knowledge the Rabbi s 
argument was sound, for he meant that if the man 
could not count the number of the quinces under his 
very eyes because they were being moved, he was quite 
mistaken in supposing he could count the distant stars. 
A greater knowledge of the actual facts would only 
have tended to strengthen his argument still further. 
According to another tradition the Rabbi s answer to 
the unbeliever was this : " Tell me how many double 
teeth you have in your mouth, and how many single 
ones/ The man put his hand into his mouth and 
began counting ; but the Rabbi broke in : 4< You do not 
even know what is in your own mouth, and yet you 
pretend to know what is in the heavens." 

II. Some examples of interpreting passages as 

referring to the Law. 

As one would expect, a large number of passages in 
the Psalms are interpreted as referring to the Law, or 


tgfl (Kregesfc of 

T6rah ; in other cases words in the Psalms are paralleled 
by corresponding words in the Law ; some of these 
examples of exegesis are distinctly interesting, while 
others are more quaint than edifying. A few instances 
may be given. 

Psalm i. 2 : " But his delight is in the law of the 
Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night." 
"This is what the Scripture (Isa. Iv. i.) refers to, Ho, 
everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters. Just as 
the waters are given from heaven, as it is said (Jer. x. 
13), When he uttereth his voice there is a tumult 
of waters in the heavens, so were the words of the 
Torah given from heaven, as it is said (Ex. xx. 19), 
Ye have seen that I spoke with you from Heaven " 1 
(Midr. T. to i, 2). 

Psalm xxix. 11 : "The Lord will give strength unto 
His people." 

By " strength " is meant the Torah, or Law ; so too 
in Psalm xcix. 4. "The King s strength also loveth 
judgement " (Mechilta to xv. 13). 

The words in Psalm xl. 8, " Then said I, Lo, I am 
come, in the roll of the book it is written of me " (better : 
" It is prescribed to me "), are explained by a reference 
to Deut. xvii. 18: "And it shall be, when he (i.e. the 

1 This latter is not a quotation rom Exodus, but an inference from 
what is said in the verse referred to. 


in ffle 

King) sitteth upon the throne of His kingdom, that he 
shall write him a copy of this Law in a book." 

Psalm cxix. 126. " They have made void Thy Law." 
This is explained to mean that one might do violence 
to the Law at a time when it was necessary to work for 
God (so Rabbi Nathan in Berachoth ix. 5, Mishna); i.e., 
according to Hoffman, 1 it is permissible to transgress a 
precept of the T6rah in order to do something for God, 
e.g., as Elijah did on Mount Carmel when he offered 
sacrifice (which for him was forbidden by the Law, as he 
was not a priest) in order to glorify the name of God. 

In reference to Psalm cxxxvi. 6 : " To him that 
spread forth the earth above the waters," it is said 
that just as the waters flow from one end of the 
earth to the other, so does the divine teaching, as 
contained in the Torah, flow from one end of the earth 
to another (Midrash Shir Hashirim to i. 2). So, too, in 
the same place in this Midrash, it is said that just as, 
according to Psalm xii. 6, the words of the Lord purify, 
so also do the words of the Torah purify ; reference is 
also made to Psalm cxix. 140. A further comparison 
is given in reference to Psalm civ. 15; just as "wine 
maketh glad the heart of man," so does the Torah cheer 
men s hearts ; and again, in reference to the same verse, 
the Torah, like oil, makes a man s face to shine (ibid). 
Once more, it is written in Psalm cxix. 105, "Thy word 
is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path," this 

1 In his edition of Berachoth . 

igfl (Bregegtg of ffle (ftsafnts. $ 

is likewise interpreted as referring to the Tdrah. 1 It 
may be added that the Torah is also compared to 
bread, so Prov. ix. 5 is interpreted (Midrash Bereshith 
Rabba to xxviii. 20). Comparisons like these have a 
special interest in view of the fact that in the Gospels 
we find similar comparisons used in reference to our 
Lord (see for comparison with " water," John iv. 4, 
vii. 38; with the "word of God," John i. I ff. ; with 
" wine," John xv. I, cp. John vi. 55, 56, Mark xii. 23-25 ; 
with "light," John i. 9, viii. 12; with " bread," John vi. 
35, 48, Si, 58). 

Psalm cxlviii. 13. "Let them praise the name of 
the Lord, for His name alone is exalted ; His glory is 
above the earth and heaven." 

The " exalting of the name of the Lord " was 
interpreted to mean the observance of the Law, and 
" his glory " the Shekhinah ; this verse is therefore 
explained by saying that, " Wherever the Law of God 
rested there also did His Shekhinah rest " (Midrash, 
Shir Ha shirim to viii. u). 

It will not be necessary to give further examples 
of this type of exegesis, which exist in enormous 
quantities, for there is a great sameness about them ; 
those cited will give a sufficiently clear idea regard 
ing this point. 

1 Cp. the Midrash on Deuteronomy Debar ini Rabba, ch. viii., where 
it is said : " As oil giveth light to the world, so do the words of the 
Torah give light to the world." 


(ftsaftuB in tge 

III. Some examples of Messianic interpretation. 

Psalm ii. I, 2: The "raging of the Gentiles" is 
interpreted as referring to the war of Gog and Magog 
(Midr. T.). One of the most important episodes in 
the eschatological drama is the great final conflict 
with the forces of the heathen nations ranged under 
Gog and Magog (see Ezek. xxxviii., xxxix.) ; a refer 
ence is made to this war in Rev. xvi. 14, and Gog and 
Magog are mentioned in Rev. xx. 7-10. In Midr. T. t 
where this passage is commented upon, it is said 
that David foresaw that Gog and Magog, together 
with their hosts, would fall before the Israelites, and 
he therefore cried : " Why do the nations rage . . ." 
i.e. y it was a futile proceeding on their part. In 
reference to v. 2, " The kings of the earth set them 
selves . . ." it is said, " When they (i.e. the enemies) 
shall realise their dire distress they will come and 
throw themselves at the feet of King Messiah." (See 
also p. 217 below.) 

Psalm ii, 7 ; " Thou art my Son, this day have I 
begotten thee." In Midr. 7! a rather subtle argument 
is used with the object, presumably, of combating 
Christian teaching. It is pointed out that the Hebrew 
for "Thou art my son" is Beni attah> i.e.> " My son 
art thou," but not Ben Ii, i,e, y " My son " ; the point 
is that the former can be used of the relationship 
between master and disciple, etc., while the latter is 
specifically used of a man s son in the ordinary sense. 


ig of 

The text is, therefore, explained by saying : " It is as 
when a master, desirous of giving comfort and 
encouragement to his servant, says, " Thou art as dear 
to me as a son." Further, the words ; " This day have 
I begotten thee," are explained by saying that after the 
period of woes and persecutions, which is to precede the 
Messianic era, is over, God will make a new Creation 
(cp. 2 Peter iii. 13 : " But according to His promise we 
look for new heavens and a new earth " ; see also Rev. 
xxi, i -5). In Acts xiii. 33, the words under considera 
tion are interpreted as referring to the resurrection 
of Christ ; to them are added in verse 35 the 
quotation, <( Thou wilt not give thy Holy One to see 
corruption " (Psalm xvi, 10, see further on this verse 
below). The Messianic interpretation of our passage is 
further emphasized in that it is compared with Dan. 
vii, 13; "Behold there came with the clouds of 
heaven one like unto the Son of Man " (cp. Book of 
Enoch Ixii. 3 ff.) ; and a reference is also made to 
Ex. iv. 22, Isa. Hi. 13, Psalm ex. i, which should be 

Psalm xviii. 49 : " Therefore will I give thanks unto 
thee, O Lord, among the nations, and will sing praises 
unto Thy name." 

St. Paul (Rom. xv. 9) quotes this in reference to the 
conversion of the Gentiles, but in Midr. T. it is 
regarded as a Messianic prophecy. It is there 
said that at the gathering of the exiled Israelites 


in f 0e 3*w*# Cflutcfl. 

David will give thanks unto the Lord among the 
nations ; this is a reference to one of the great 
episodes of the Messianic Drama, viz. the In 
gathering of Israel, to which reference is made in. 
Isaiah xxvii. 13, (cp. Isaiah xlix. 22, Ix. 4, 9, Ixvi. 20), 
where it is anticipated that the Gentiles will themselves 
escort the exiles back. Passages like these exercised a 
great influence on the later ideas concerning the 
Messianic era ; the exaltation of Israel in the presence 
of the heathen was to enhance the spiritual supremacy 
of the Israelites (see further Tobit xiii. 13, xiv. 5, 
Ecclus. xxxvi. II, Psalms of Solomon xi. xvii., and cp. 
in the " Eighteen Blessings," or Shemoneh Esreh in the 
Jewish Liturgy the following : " Sound the great horn 
for our freedom ; lift up the ensign to gather our exiles, 
and gather us from the four corners of the earth "). 
That in Midr. T. the verse before us is interpreted 
Messianically is further seen by the comment on the 
words, " And will sing praises unto Thy name," which 
says that this will be done "at the Advent of the 

Psalm xxix. 9 : " And in His temple everything saith, 

In the comment on these words in Midr. T. it 
is said that when the Messiah shall come He will 
immediately rebuild the sanctuary. One great hope 
associated with the coming of the Messiah was this 
rebuilding of the Temple ; such prophecies as Ezek. 


of tge 

xl.-xliv., xlvii,, Isa. liv. ii. ff., Ix. 10 ff., which suggest 
the prospect of a new and glorious city, and a restored 
Temple-worship, strongly fostered such hopes. In 
Haggai ii. 7-9, the consciousness that the second 
Temple (before its restoration by Herod) compared 
unfavourably with the first is already apparent (cp. 
Tobit xiv. 5). It was expected that a new and glorious 
Jerusalem, of which the central point of beauty would 
of course be the Temple, would be built in the 
Messianic Age ; this would glisten with sapphire, gold, 
and precious stones, etc. (cp. Tobit xiii. 15 ff., xiv. 4, 
Rev. xxi. 9-21). In later times, after the complete 
destruction of both city and Temple, this hope came to 
even more vivid expression. The restoration of the 
Holy City, and especially of the Temple-worship, long 
continued to be an object of pious hopes and prayers. 
Even at the present day the following is used in the 
Shemoneh Esreh of the Jewish Liturgy : " And to 
Jerusalem, thy city, return in mercy, and dwell therein, 
as Thou hast spoken ; rebuild it soon in our days 
. . , Restore the service to the oracle of thy House, 
and receive in love and favour both the fire-offerings of 
Israel and their prayer; and may the service of Thy 
people Israel be ever acceptable unto Thee. And let 
our eyes behold Thy return in mercy to Zion." 

Psalm Ixxii. 17: "His name shall endure forever 
. . ." This verse is Messianically interpreted in a 
number of Rabbinical writings, e.g., according to Bere- 


shith Rabba to i. i., 1 Rabbi Tanchuma taught that the 
Messiah was not actually created before the world, like 
the Torah and the Throne of Glory, but that his Name 
abode in the conception of the Creator 2 from times 
eternal. This verse is cited in support. The " name " 
here mentioned is, therefore, interpreted as referring 
to that of the Messiah. 

Psalm Ixxxvii. 4, 5 : " I will make mention of Rabab 
and Babylon . . ." 

This is explained in Midr. T. as referring to the 
time when all the nations will bring presents to King 
Messiah. On the words of verse 5, "Yea, of Zion it 
shall be said, This one and that one was born in 
her," the following comment is made : " These are 
the anointed ones of the Eternal, namely, the Messiah 
the son of David, and the Messiah the son of 
Ephraim." This " Messiah, the son of Ephraim," is 
the same as the " Messiah, the son of Joseph," referred 
to in Rabbinical apocalyptic literature. The earliest 
mention of him is in Sukkah $2 a b (Babylonian 
Talmud) 3 where three statements occur in regard to 
him, for the first of which Rabbi Dosa (circa 250 A.D.) 
is given as the authority. In the last of these state 
ments only his name is mentioned, but the first two 

1 The Midrash Pesikta 54 tf, and the Babylonian Talmud, Aedarim 39 a, 
are also referred to in the Jewish EncycL, viii. 54 a; Weber, Op. cit. 
p. 355, refers also to the Midrash to Proverbs 67 c. 

2 The same is said in Midr. T. to xc. 2, xciii. 2. 

3 Cp. Weber, Op. cit., p. 357. 


ig of tge 

speak of the fate which he is to meet, namely, to 
fall in battle (as if alluding to a well-known tradition). 
Details about him are not found until much later, 
but he has an established place in the apocalypses 
of later centuries and in the Midrashic literature. 
According to these, Messiah ben Joseph will appear 
prior to the coming of Messiah ben David ; he 
will gather the children of Israel round him, march 
to Jerusalem, and there, after overcoming the hostile 
powers, re-establish the Temple-worship and set up 
his own dominion. Thereupon Armilus^ according 
to one group of sources, or Gog and Magog, accord 
ing to the other, will appear with their hosts before 
Jerusalem, wage war against Messiah ben Joseph, and 
slay him. His corpse, according to one group, will 
lie unburied in the streets of Jerusalem ; according to 
the other, it will be hidden by the angels with the 
bodies of the Patriarchs, until Messiah ben David 
comes and resurrects him. When and how this 
Messiah-conception originated is a question that has 
not yet been answered satisfactorily. It is not possible 
to consider Messiah ben Joseph as the Messiah of 
the Ten Tribes ; he is nowhere represented as such ; 
it is mentioned that a part of the Ten Tribes will be 
found among those who will gather about his standard. 

Psalm ex. I. " The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit 
thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy 

215 P 


(Quoted in Matt. xxii. 44, Mark xii. 36, Luke xix. 
42, Heb. i. 13, cp. Heb. x. 13.) In Midr. T. these 
words are explained as referring to the Messiah. 
Reference is made to Isa. xvi. 5 : " And a throne shall he 
establish in mercy, and one shall sit thereon in truth, 
in the tent of David." It then continues; "The Holy 
One, Blessed be He, said, Let him sit (on the throne), 
and I will wage the war. And what has he (the 
Messiah) to do ? He has to read and learn the Torah, 
which is called Truth, as it is said, The judgements 
of the Lord are Truth (Psalm xix. 10), and Buy the 
Truth and sell it not* (Prov. xxiii. 23). That is the 
meaning of the words : One shall sit thereon in Truth 

In the Yalkut Shimeoni^ it is said on this verse : "In 
time to come God will cause the Messiah to sit at His 
right hand, as it is written, The Lord said, etc. : but 
Abraham will sit at his left hand. Then Abraham s 
face will grow pale with shame, and he will say : * The 
son of my son sits at thy right hand, and I sit at thy 
left. But God will comfort him by saying : The son 
of thy son sits at My right hand, but I sit at thy right 
hand. " 1 

IV. Some Passages from the Psalms quoted in the 
New Testament. 

The Jewish use of the psalms quoted in the New 
Testament makes it a matter of interest to have some 
idea of the traditional exegesis on the passages there 

1 Quoted by Weber, Op. erf. p. 357. 

quoted ; for the most part the comments are dis 
appointing, though some of them are worth considering. 

Psalm ii. i, 2. " Why do the nations rage and the 
peoples imagine a vain thing ? The kings of the earth 
set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together 
against the Lord and against His anointed." (Quoted 
in Acts iv. 25, 26.) 

Among those who "rage" are mentioned Pharaoh, 
Sisera, Sennacherib, and Nebuchadnezzar (Midr. T.), 
who set themselves against Jehovah. In the Acts, 
those who "rage "are Herod and Pilate (iv. 27); the 
method of exegesis is the same as in Midr. T. The 
" anointed " is not interpreted of the Messiah as in the 
New Testament (See also on this passage p. 210 above.) 

Psalm ii. 7. " Thou art my Son, this day have I 
begotten thee." 

(Quoted in Acts xiii. 33., Heb. i. 5). See above 
page 210 f. 

Psalm viii. 2. " Out of the mouths of babes and 
sucklings hast thou established strength/ 

(Quoted in Matt. xxi. 16, where " strength " is 
rendered " praise," following the Septuagint.) The 
explanation of this verse given in Midr. T. is so 
extraordinary that it is worth while giving the passage 
in full. At the time of the giving of the Law on 
Mount Sinai, it is said, God required some pledge that 
the Israelites would keep the Law He was about to 


in fffe 3en?igfl Cflurcg. 

give them. Hostages were brought, but the Almighty 
could not accept them as such because they were not 
innocent ; upon the people asking who they could 
bring who were perfectly innocent, God replied : 
" Children." Then they brought the children who 
were in their mother s wombs, and who were at their 
mother s breasts ; and they looked up at the Holy 
One, Blessed be He, through their mothers wombs as 
through crystal. Then the Holy One, Blessed be He, 
said unto them : " Will ye stand surety for your 
fathers, that they will keep the Law if I give it to 
them ; and if they keep it not, will ye offer yourselves 
to be taken in their stead ? " And they replied : 
" Yes." Then God recited all the commandments and 
asked the children if they would keep them ; the 
promise having been given, He said, u It is because of 
this, your declaration, that I give the Law to them 
(your fathers)." Thus it came about that out of 
the mouths of babes and sucklings God established 
strength ; for by strength is meant nothing else than 
the Law; as it is said in Psalm xxix. n, u The Lord 
will give strength unto His people." 

Psalm viii. 4-6. " What is man that thou art mindful 
of him . . ." 

(Quoted in Heb. ii. 6-8,) On this passage see p. 200 

Psalm viii. 6. " Thou hast put all things under his 


tgfl (Exegesis of tffe (ftgafms. 

(Quoted in i Cor. xv. 27, in reference to Christ.) 
In Midr t T. the reference is said to be to David. 

Psalm xvi. 8-11. "I have set the Lord always 
before me. . . ." 

(Quoted in Acts ii. 25-28, where the Septuagint is 
followed, and where it is given as a prophecy of David 
concerning Christ.) 

The comments which are of interest commence with 
the words on, " Therefore my heart is glad ; " in Midr. T. 
it is said that David s heart was glad concerning the 
words of the Law, and when he says, further, (< My Glory 
rejoiceth," the reference is, according to Rabbinical 
interpretation, to his joy at the Messiah who will one 
day; spring from his line. The words, " For thou wilt 
not leave my soul to Sheol . . ." are all taken to 
mean a reference of David to himself. Rabbi Isaac 
comments on the verse by saying that it proves that 
" the worm and corruption have had no power over his 
(i.e. David s) flesh " ; contrast with this Acts xiii. 36, 37. 

Psalm xxii, i. " My God, my God, why hast thou 
forsaken me ? " 

(Quoted in Matt, xxvii. 46, Mark xv. 34.) In Midr. 
T* various interpretations, all more or less artificial, 
are given of these words ; in one case it is said to have 
been uttered by the Israelites at the Red Sea ; in 
another it is referred to Esther, possibly Esth. iv. 16 
(" And if I perish, I perish ") being in the mind of the 



writer ; in the comments on several verses of this 
psalm the story of Esther is referred to. 

Psalm xxii. 18. "They part my garments among 

(Quoted in Matt, xxvii. 35, John xix. 24). In 
Midr. T. these words are explained by a reference to 
the downfall of Haman ; they cast lots upon his 
vesture (which was of purple, according to Rabbi 
Huna) " because a common man could not make use 
of it." 

Psalm xxiv. i. " The earth is the Lord s, and the 
fulness thereof." 

(Quoted in I Cor. x. 26, to show the lawfulness of 
eating all food.) In the comment on these words in 
Midr. T. there seems to be a covert attempt at refuting 
the Christian doctrine of the Logos as contained in 
John i. 1-3. It is said : " All are agreed that the angels 
were not created on the first day (of Creation), 1 that 
the heretics may not say, * Michael worked (///. spread 
out) from the East and Gabriel from the West, and the 
Holy One, blessed be He, created (lit. measured) in 
the centre/ for the Holy One, Blessed be He, created 
everything alone, as it is written, ( I am the Lord that 
maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens 
above, that spreadeth abroad the earth, who is with 
me? (Isa. xliv. 24); therefore David spoke in the 

1 In Bereshith Rabba, c. I., where this passage also occurs, it says : 
"Nothing, excepting the angels, was created on the first day." 

2 2O 

(Exegesis of tge (ftgqfmg. <* 

presence of the Holy One, blessed be He, Because 
Thou didst create heaven and earth, therefore do I call 
them after Thy name, the earth is the Lord s, and the 
fulness thereof. " 

Psalm xxxii. 1,2. " Blessed is he whose trans 
gression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is 
the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity." 

(Quoted in Rom. iv. 7, 8, according to the Septuagint 
rendering.) St. Paul quotes these words in support of 
the doctrine of grace, " God reckoneth righteousness 
apart from works " ; the reverse is the teaching given in 
Midr. T., for it says there : " If a man offers (lit. does) 
genuine (lit. full) repentance, so that his heart is 
up-rooted, the Holy One, Blessed be He, forgives 
him " ; later on, the sense of these words comes out 
clearer, for it is said that the man is " blessed " because 
he has fulfilled a commandment of the Law, viz. that 
of showing repentance. The difference between the 
Jewish and the Christian doctrine lies here ; according 
to the former, " the accomplishment of Mitzvoth (i.e. 
legal observances, lit. commandments), constitutes a 
meritorious act, and compels, as it were, divine appro 
bation ; they are per se the actual means of reconcilia 
tion, they are the cause whereby a right relationship, 
an at-one-ment between God and men, is estab 
lished. According to Christian teaching Almsgiving, 
Repentance, etc., are also necessary, very indispensable, 
but there is nothing meritorious about them, their 


in tge 3wtgg Cgutcfl* 

being left undone constitutes a sin which, as a sin, 
stands in the same category as sins of commission : 
When ye shall have done all things that are com 
manded you, say, we are unprofitable servants ; we 
have done that which it was our duty to do, i.e. 
nothing more than that. According to Christian 
teaching, no amount of simply doing what it is our 
duty to do could per se effect a right relationship with 
God, or could bring about justification." 1 

Psalm xli. 9. "Yea mine own familiar friend, in 
whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted 
up his heel against me." 

(Quoted in part in John xiii. 18.) In Midr. T. these 
words are interpreted as referring to a teacher and his 
pupils : " When they go before into the house of learn 
ing, they enter like gentle kids ; but when they go out 
before me they are like goats who butt with their horns." 
The word " heel " is said to mean " end," in reference to 
the end of the time of instruction. 

Psalm li. 4. " Against thee only have I sinned v . 
that thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, and 
be clear when thou art judged." 

(Quoted in part of Rom. iii. 14, following the 
Septuagint.) The comment in Midr. T. on this verse 
is as follows : " With whom is David here to be com 
pared ? With one who had broken (a limb), and 
who came to the physician. The physician gazed in 

1 Oesterley, The Jewish Doctrine of Mediation, pp. 199 f. (1910). 

jg of 

wonderment, and said, * How great is thy hurt? I am 
in fear concerning thee. Then he with the broken 
limb answered, Thou art in fear on my account! But 
I only broke it for the sake of thy fee. Thus also did 
David speak unto the Holy One, Blessed be He: 
Against Thee only have I sinned, when Thou sayest 
to the evil-doers, wherefore do ye not show forth 
repentance ? For if Thou receivest me, then all the 
evil-doers will be reconciled with Thee (lit. will submit 
themselves to Thee), and will all look upon me ; for I 
act as witness that Thou dost receive all who are 
repentant. For thus saith the Holy One, Blessed be 
He, Behold, I have given him for a witness to the 
people (Isa. Iv. 4), and not only I, but all Israel, acts 
as witness, for it is said, * Ye are My witnesses, saith 
the Lord, and My servant whom I have chosen " (Isa. 
xliii. 10). The passage is of great interest, as it seems 
to imply a belief in the doctrine of vicarious atonement. 

Psalm Ixviii. 18. " Thou hast ascended on high, 
Thou hast led Thy captivity captive, Thou hast 
received gifts among men." 

(Quoted freely in Eph. iv. 8, in reference to the 
Ascension.) In Midr. T. it is explained in reference 
to Moses, when he ascended up to Mount Sinai (Exod. 
xix. 3). The " gifts " are said to refer to the Law. 

Psalm Ixxviii. 2, " I will open my mouth in a 
parable, I will utter dark sayings of old., 

(Quoted in Matt. xiii. 36, from the Septuagint.) In 


in tge 3wtgfl Cflurcfl* 

Midr. T. the verse is explained by the words in 
Prov. i. 6, and is said to refer to the words of the Law. 
According to Rabbinical teaching the Torah existed 
before the world was created (cp. the Midrash Shemoth 
Rabba, c. 33). 

Psalm Ixxviii, 24, 25. "And gave them of the corn 
of heaven ; man did eat the bread of the mighty." 
(Quoted, in substance, in John vi. 31.) The only 
comment of interest in Midr, T. is on the words, 
" bread of the mighty " ; they received this bread, it is 
said, because they had become mighty as the angels. 
It is not called " angels food," as the Prayer Book 
Version renders it, but food fit for mighty men. 

Psalm xci. n, 12. "For He shall give his angels 
charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They 
shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy 
foot against a stone." (Quoted in Matt. iv. 6, freely, 
in Luke iv. 10, n, more accurately.) 

In Midr. T. it is said, " Who is greater, he that 
beareth, or he that is borne ? Answer : He that is 
borne." The implication is, that Jacob, in reference 
to whom the passage is explained, was greater than 
the angels. In the context of this passage in the 
Gospel, it is said: "Then the devil taketh him into 
the Holy City, and sctteth him on the pinnacle of 
the temple. ..." In view of these words it is 
interesting to notice the further comment given in 
Midr. T. : "Our Rabbis taught thus: The smallest 


gettnsfl (Stegegig of tfle (ftgaftng. &+ 

possible number of stones (conceivable) is two ; but 
when Jacob awoke in the morning he found that they 
had become one, and great fear overcame him, and he 
said : The house of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is at 
this spot, and I knew not that it was his dwelling-place, 
as it is written in Gen. xxviii. 17, How dreadful is this 
place. . . Hence our Rabbis taught : To everyone 
who prays in Jerusalem, it is reckoned as though he 
had prayed before the throne of glory, for the gate of 
Heaven is there, and the door stands open, that prayer 
may be heard, as it is written, * This is none other than 
the gate of Heaven. And Jacob returned in order to 
gather the stones, but he found that they had become 
one stone, and he took this stone and set it up as a 
pillar in the centre of that place ; and oil flowed down 
from Heaven, which he took and poured upon the 
stone as it is written (Gen. xxviii. 18). Then what 
did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do ? With His right 
foot he trod upon the stone so that it sank deep down 
into the earth. Therefore it is called The Foundation 
Stone/ for there is the central point of the earth, and 
thereon stands the Temple of the Eternal One, as it is 
written, * And this stone which I have set up for a pillar 
shall be God s house (Gen. xxviii. 22). And Jacob 
fell upon his face upon the earth before the Foundation 

Psalm xciv. 14 ; "For the Lord will not cast off His 
people." (Quoted in Rom. xi. 2, from the Septuagint.) 


gfle (psafms in tfle 

The comment in Midr. T. on this passage is : <( Our 
Rabbis teach that God does not cast off those who live 
outside the Holy Land (i.e., the Jews of the Dispersion^ 
because of His great name ; those who live in the land 
of Israel He does not cast off because they are His 
people and His inheritance/* Another comment is 
worth quoting, because it teaches the doctrine of grace 
apart from works ; <f God does not cast off the Israelites 
when they do His will, because they are His people and 
His inheritance ; but even when they are wanting in 
good works He does not cast them off, for His great 
Name s sake." 

Psalm civ. 4 : " Who maketh winds his messengers, 
his ministers a flaming fire." (Quoted in Heb. i. 7.) 

In Midr. T. we have the following comment : " Rabbi 
Jochanan taught, The angels were created on the 
second day. Those who are employed as messengers 
are (created) out of wind. . . but those who are 
employed as ministers are (created) out of fire, " 

Psalm cxvii. I : "O praise the Lord, all ye nations, 
laud Him all ye peoples." (Quoted in Rom. xv. n, in 
reference to the conversion of the Gentiles.) 

In Midr. T. a variety of curious comments are given 
on this verse, various authorities being cited. The only 
comment which bears any direct relationship to the words 
of the text is that of Rabbi Simeon ; this is as follows : 
" Rabbi Simeon, the son of our holy teacher, asked his 
father, * Who are all the nations^ and who are all the 



peoples ? He answered, All the nations are such as 
have been subjugated by the Israelites, and all the 
peoples are such as have not been subjugated by the 
Israelites. All the peoples say, * If all the nations, who 
are subject to the children of Israel, praise the Holy 
One, Blessed be He, how much more ought we, who 
are not subject to them, to praise Him. Therefore it is 
written, * O praise the Lord, all ye nations, laud Him 
all ye peoples. And the Israelites said, How much 
more ought we to do the same. " 

This passage is interesting on account of its 
universalistic tendency, a tendency which is, generally 
speaking, more characteristic of the prophetical than of 
the Rabbinical writings. It is well to remember that 
St, Paul, in his attitude towards the Gentiles, was wholly 
supported by one type of Judaism. 

Psalm cxviii. 6 : " The Lord is on my side, I will not 
fear what man can do unto me." (Quoted in Heb. 
xiii. 6.) 

In Midr. T. this is illustrated thus; "Abraham 
said, The Eternal One is with me, I fear not ; what 
can Nimrod do unto me ? Isaac said, * The Eternal 
One is with me, I fear not ; what can Abimelech 
do unto me ? Jacob said, The Eternal One is 
with me, I fear not ; what can Esau and Laban 
do unto me ? In the same way David said, * The Lord 
is with me, I fear not ; what can Goliath do unto me ? " 

Psalm cxviii. 22, 23 : The stone which the builders 

in tge 3wigfl Cflutcfl. 

rejected is become the head of the corner. This is the 
Lord s doing ; it is marvellous in our eyes." (Quoted 
in Matt. xxi. 42 ; Mark xii. 10, n ; Luke xx. 17 ; cp. 
Acts iv. 11.) 

In Midr, T. attention is drawn to the fact that 
part of the seed of both Abraham and Isaac (viz. 
Ishmael and all the sons of Keturah, and Esau) was 
rejected, but that the seed of Jacob consisted of the 
twelve tribes, who were perfect. In reference to this 
seed Cant. iv. 7, is quoted ; " Thou art all fair, my love ; 
and there is no spot in thee." In the Midrash Shir ha~ 
Shirim these words are illustrated by a reference to 

Regarding verse 23 above it is said in Midr. T. that 
it refers to David : " He was feeding his father s flocks, 
and within a short hour he had become king ; and all 
(the people) said, Just now he was a shepherd, yet 
now he is a king. He answered them, * Ye marvel 
concerning me, but I marvel concerning myself more 
than ye do. Then the Holy Spirit uttered the words, 
This is the Lord s doing. " 

Psalm cxviii. 26 : " Blessed is he that cometh in the 
name of the Lord." (Quoted in Mark xi. 9.) 

In Midr. T. it is merely said that these words were 
uttered by the men of Jerusalem in reference to the 
" Holy One of Israel," spoken of in Isa. xii. 6. 

The instances of the Jewish exegesis of the Psalms 
here offered may be said to give a fair general idea of 


the subject ; they bear out the conclusion which is 
forced upon one after a considerable study of this 
branch of Jewish exegesis, namely that so far as any 
real elucidation of the text is concerned, but little help 
is to be gained. Its use is to be found rather in another 
direction ; for, from the examples given, it will have 
been noticed that quite a number of the comments 
throw light upon, or illustrate, doctrinal subjects ; it is in 
this domain that the traditional exegesis is frequently of 
real value ; and this it is which makes it worth while to 
give attention to the subject. 




A SOMEWHAT close investigation of this psalm reveals 
the fact that it was probably originally written for a 
purpose which at first sight is not apparent. It has 
always occupied an important place among the Jews, 
both privately as well as in public worship (see Chapter 
IX.) ; an examination of it here will, therefore, not be out 
of place. The translation to be given is a literal one, 
sometimes based on an emendation of the Hebrew 

In Rabbinical literature this psalm is called " a song 
for evil encounters," 1 and its use in the event of 
demoniacal onslaughts is recommended. There must 
have been something particularly appropriate about 
the psalm to have occasioned such a recommendation. 
Its late date, 2 certainly post-exilic, is a fact of importance 
from the point of view of our present investigation, for 

1 E.g.^Shebuoth, 15 b (Babylonian Talmud). 

8 Cp. Briggs, Psalms (Internal. Grit. Com.), I, pp. xc,, xci., who 
assigns it to the " Early Greek" period. 


(& Commentary on (paafm ;rd. "* 

the influence of Babylonian thought upon the exiles 
was, it is well known, very marked ; and it is in the 
highest degree probable that this influence was as 
strong in the domain of popular demonology as in any 
other direction. There is reason to believe 1 that from 
the earliest times the Israelites had an extensive 
demonology, of a popular kind, which was the common 
property of the Semitic race ; so that when Babylonian 
influence began once more, 2 during the Exile, to be 
exercised upon the captives, there was very probably a 
fertile soil ready to receive any new seed which eastern 
winds might blow towards it. This, added to the fact 
that the thoroughly established Monotheism of post- 
exilic times had to a great extent eliminated the 
danger of demon-cults, would mainly account for the 
more fully developed and officially recognised 
demonology of later Judaism. 3 

Now one of the most marked characteristics of all 
systems of demonology is the use of formulas, incanta 
tions and the like, for the purpose of counteracting, or 
rendering nugatory, the evil machinations of demons ; 
the number of Babylonian "magic" texts for exorcis 
ing demons that have been recovered is very large. 4 

1 See the writer s article, " The Demonology of the Old Testament,* 
in the Expositor for April, 1907, pp. 318 ff. 

3 It will be remembered that in much earlier times Babylonian influence 
as is proved by the Tell-el-Amarna tablets, had been immense. 

:? Persia and Greece, of course, also contributed their quota ; see the 
articles by F. C, Conybeare in \\\c Jewish Quarterly Review, vols. viii. ix. 
(1896, 1897). 

4 See M. Jastrow, Die Religion Babyloniens und Assyrians , chap xvi, 

231 Q 

$ 0e (pgafmg in tfle gewigg Cgutcfl* 

One or two extracts from these will not be inappropriate 
here. The following is addressed to a demon : 

As long as thou dost not stir from the body of the man, the 
son of his god, as long as thou dost not budge, thou shalt 
eat no food neither drink water; the goblet of Bel, the 
father that bore thee, shalt thou not touch with thy hand 
neither shalt thou be covered with water from the sea, nor 
with sweet water, nor with bitter water, nor with water from 
the Tigris, nor with water from the Euphrates, nor with 
well-water, nor with water from a river. When thou 
desirest to fly to the heavens thy wings will refuse (their 
office) . . - 1 

Or again : 

I call upon you, ye gods of the night, with you I call upon 
the night, the veiled bride, I call at eventide, at midnight, 
at early dawn. 2 

The Jews also had various means of exorcising demons ; 
among others was that recommended by Rashi : " If a 
demon hears his name pronounced (repeatedly), each 
time with a syllable less, he will flee " ; an example 
which he gives is the name of the demon Shabiri, which 
had to be called out thus : 

Shabiri, abiri, biri, ri. 8 

Another formula was : " The Lord rebuke thee " (cp. 
Zech. iii. 2). 

1 O. Weber, Damonenbeschwdrung bd den Babyloniern und Assyriern, 
in " Der alte Orient," vii. 4. 

2 M. Jastrow, Op. cit. p. 287. For a Greek example, see Deissmann, 
Bibchtiidien 2$ ff. 

3 F. Weber, fiidischt Theologie auf Grund des Talmud und verwandter 
Schrifttn, p. 257. 


(& Comtnentarg on $)0afm tci. &+ 

Under Babylonian influence, it can scarcely be 
doubted, many formulas were used by the Jews for the 
purpose of driving away demons ; this was, however, as 
we shall see, not by any means the only method of 
combating them, for, on Arabian and Babylonian 
analogy, 1 it is permissible to infer that there were 
certain classes of both men and women to whom 
recourse was had for helping the victims of what were 
believed to be demoniacal onslaughts. 

The theory, then, with regard to the ninety-first 
Psalm, which the following pages will attempt to 
justify, is that it is a polemic, in devotional form, 
against current methods of securing oneself against 
demons. The Psalmist undoubtedly believed in 
demons and their works ; his ideas regarding them 
were in agreement so the psalm itself seems to teach 
with the popular beliefs of his day ; where he disagreed 
m toto from these was in the methods which were 
supposed to be efficacious in shielding oneself from the 
malicious activity of the demons. Not in formulas and 
enchantments, not by means of wizards and witches, but 
only with the help, and under the protection, of Jehovah 
was there any real security from the curse of demons. 

Verse I. He that abideth under the protection of the 
Most High, passes the night in the shadow of Shaddai. 

The point of importance here is that the root of the 

l See the writer s article, "The Demonology of the Old Testament, 
illustrated from the Prophetical Writings," in the Expositor for June 1 

1907, pp. 535 ff- 
2 Wellhausen, Reste Arabischtn Heidcnlhums (2. ed.), p. 151. 


in tge gewteg 

word rendered " abide " in the Revised Version means 
u to pass the night" (cp. Genesis xix. 2, Judges xix. 
13, 14, 2 Samuel xvii. 16). Now, it was especially at 
night-time that the demons power was supposed to be 
greatest, and consequently their activity most pro 
nounced. The Arabs believed that after dark was the 
time during which demons were about, and that their 
activity continued until the morning-star rose. 1 The 
Babylonians said, for example, that the " Wicked 
Seven " were so powerful at nights that they were even 
able to oppress the moon, until the rising sun came to 
her help. 2 In a Babylonian hymn it is said that the 
rising sun drives away all evil spirits. 3 Another hymn 
describes how Shamash, the Sun-god, proceeds at morn 
from the great mountain of the east, and bans with his 
bright rays all the murky demons who frolic during the 
hours of darkness. So, too, in Rabbinical literature ; 
the solitary wanderer at night is in special danger of 
demons, 4 and, according to the WLidrash Berts AM Rabba, 
c. 36, the time for demons is from dusk till cock-crow 
ing. During this time they will surround a house and 
harm anyone who comes out ; and they will kill 
children who are out after dark. 5 

It is possible that in the phrase " in the shadow of 
Shaddai " there is a covert reference to the " darkness 

1 Wellhausen, Rcstt Arabischen Heidenthums, p. 151. 
2 O Weber, Op. cit. p. 10. 

Jeremias, Das A.T. im Lichte des alten Orients, pp. 35, 342. 
*Pesackim % \\2b. (Babylonian Talmud). 
5 F Weber, Op. cit. p. 255. 


Comnunforj on $0<xfm jet. $ 

of Shaddai (the Almighty), "i.e. the darkness wherein, 
according to the true believer, Jehovah is all-powerful, as 
contrasted with the darkness of the demons, i.e. the 
darkness wherein, according to the popular fallacy, the 
demons are supreme ; at all events, the root idea of 
the Hebrew word for " shadow " (i.e. shade) is " to be 
dark." Then, again, it is perhaps not fanciful to see 
in " Shaddai " a word-play; one of the most prominent 
figures in Babylonian demonology was the bull-shaped 
SJiedu ; in Jewish demonology one of the main 
categories into which demons are divided is that of 
the Shedim, whose leader is Asmedai (Asmodeus, cp. 
Tobit iii. 8, 17); they exist in great numbers, they 
have wings, and are active at nights, especially in the 
wilderness, though their presence is not confined to the 
desert. According to one account, they were originally 
serpents, and by a process of evolution became Shedim 
(Baba Kamma, Babylonian Talmud, i6^). 1 It is, there 
fore, possible that in " Shaddai " a word-play was 
intended. It is, of course, not suggested that there is 
any radical connexion between Shaddai and Shedim ; 
similarity of sound was quite sufficient for those word 
plays which so frequently occur in the biblical books. 

Verse 2. That saittfi to Jehovah, My refuse and my 
defence, my God ; in Him do I trust. 

The stress is laid here on Jehovah, because it was just 

1 F. Weber, Op. cit. p. 254. 

2 So the Septuagint ; the opening word of the psalm, "he that 
abideth" presupposes some word like "Blessed (is the man that)," 
which very likely preceded it originally ; cp. Psalm i. I. 


(ftgaftng in tffe fcwtgfl Cflutcfl. 

this trust in Him that formed the contrast to the 
popular method of securing oneself against demons. 
These popular methods have already been referred 
to; but some little detail is necessary here. Among 
the Babylonians there was a regular class of priests 
called " mash-mashu," 1 whose special calling it was to 
ban demons when they had taken possession of a man, 
or were injuring him in any way. It was to these 
priests that men fled for refuge and defence in their 
terror, believing that the ban-formula or incantation 
which the priests prescribed was all-sufficient. Nor 
are we without definite proof that something of the 
same kind existed among the Jews. The following 
passages will show this : in Isa. xlvii. 9, 12, in the first 
place, we read of sorceries and enchantments prevalent 
among the Babylonians, showing that these methods 
were known of in Palestine; but that they were, indeed, 
also prevalent among the Israelites both before and 
after the Exile is clear from these passages : Micah v. 12 
(n in Hebrew): "And I will cut off witchcrafts out of 
thine hand ; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers " ; 
Deut. xviii. 10, 1 1 : " There shall not be found with 
thee . . . one that useth divination, one that practiseth 
augury, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or 
a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a 
necromancer"; Jer. xxvii. 9: "Hearken ye not to 
your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreams, 
nor to your soothsayers, nor to your sorcerers . . . ; " 
1 O. Weber, Op. cit. p. 7. 


$ Commenfdrj) on (padfm jd. ^ 

^. also Nahum iii. 4 ; Num. xxiii. 23, xxiv. i ; Malachi 
iii. 5 ; Wisdom xii. 4-6. It is, therefore, extremely 
likely that there was much the same practice in Judaea 
as in Babylonia ; namely, that there was a class of men 
(priests), to whom people went for help when attacked, 
as they supposed, by demons. If this is so, then the 
verse before us may well have been the Psalmist s 
expression of the blessedness of those who, like him 
self, looked to Jehovah for help and defence, instead of 
to the men in whom his less enlightened fellows trusted 
when assailed by evil powers. 

Verse 3. For He shall deliver thee from the net of the 

The emphatic " He " recalls what was said above 
about the emphasis on Jehovah. It must be confessed 
that it is not altogether easy to see where the danger 
lies for men in a fowler s net ; the word in the original 
means only a small net, it was not like the resheth 
which was a large net spread over the ground (cp. 
Psalms ix. 15) ; generally speaking, however, it is used 
figuratively of the plots or evil machinations of men, 
but in the whole passage there is little or nothing to 
show that the evils from which protection is given, are 
the works of evil-disposed men. The parallel clause of 
this verse speaks of the " noisome pestilence " (though 
on this, see below), and later on there is mention of 
" the terror by night," " the arrow that flieth by day," 
the " pestilence that walketh in darkness," " the des 
truction that wasteth at noonday," and so on through- 



out the psalm ; these (even the " arrow " that flieth by 
day, see below) are all things very far removed from 
anything in the shape of plots, or the like, on the part 
of men ; the one exception is verse eight, which speaks 
of "the reward of the wicked," but it will be allowed 
that the psalm reads equally smoothly if this verse is 
omitted; according to the interpretation of the psalm 
here offered, verse eight did not belong to it in its original 
form, because it disturbs the context. But whether 
the interpretation is right or wrong, it is interesting to 
see that Prof. Briggs, in his " Commentary," 1 regards 
this verse as due to a glossator, though on quite 
different grounds from those here set forth. If, how 
ever, " net " in verse three, is used figuratively, 
and refers to some demoniacal craft, then its use 
is distinctly significant here ; for in this connexion 
it is interesting to recall the fact that according to 
both Arabian and Babylonian belief there was a 
very close relationship between demons and witches. 
The Arabs held that witches were the incarna 
tions of demons 2 ; the Babylonians believed them 
to be just as dangerous as demons ; indeed, according 
to Babylonian belief, the two were often in league with 
one another, and played into each other s hands, and 
both enchanters and witches had the power of im 
pressing demons into their service. Death follows in 
the trail of a witch, so ran the belief; her eyes and 
feet and hands were all quicker and more mobile than 

1 Vol. ii. pp. 280 ff. 2 Wellhausen, Op. cit. p. 159. 


($ _Contmenfdt5 on (psafm rcu s* 

those of ordinary men and women ; like demons, the 
witches took up their abode in forsaken sites ; when a 
witch spies a victim, the Babylonians taught, she 
follows him, entangles his feet in her net, and drags 
him to the ground. 1 Most of all she loves to be active 
at night-time ; and she is known as the " Huntress of 
the night." 2 

It will be conceded that these facts are significant 
(see further below) ; for if these kinds of ideas were 
current at the time in Judaea as well as in Babylonia 
and there is every reason to suppose that this was the 
case then our Psalmist must have known of them, 
and they must have been in his mind when he wrote 
the psalm ; that is to say, he was here thinking of the 
witch s net, in the use of which she was assisted by a 

From the destructive word (R.V. " From the noisome 
pestilence "). This rendering is based on the Septuagint 
version, all the great MSS. concurring, together with the 
Syriac version and that of Symmachus. It is true 
that this rendering does not, at first sight, suit the 
parallel clause, "the net of the fowler ;" but this 
is true also of the Massoretic text as it stands. But 
possibly there is more justification for the Septuagint 
rendering than appears at first sight ; at all events, 
according to the present method of interpreting the 
psalm, the Greek gives good sense and affords a 

1 These are the actual expressions. 

2 Cp. Rabisu, the " Lurker," who is an important figure in 
Babylonian demonology. 



perfect parallel to the other clause of the verse. J ust 
as there were certain classes of men to whom, as we 
have seen, people went when they believed themselves 
to be oppressed by a demon, and just as these men 
professed to break the power of demons by means of 
written formulas, magical incantations, charms and the 
like, so there were other classes, comprising both men 
and women, who were believed to be in league with 
demons, and who could harm people by using spells 
and practising certain unhallowed rites, whereby they 
forced demons to do an injury, to cause sickness, and even 
to bring about death. A close connexion, as we have 
seen, has always been believed to exist between demons 
and witches ; these latter almost take up an intermediate 
position between human beings and demons in the Baby 
lonian system. Professor Jastrow says : " No sharp 
distinction is made between the living magician or witch 
and the various demons who flit about like ghosts or carry 
on their machinations in invisible form . . . For this 
reason it happens that in the same adjuration a witch 
and a demon are addressed indiscriminately. And 
since one cannot know for a certainty which particular 
demon is at work, it is customary to name various 
categories of them. In the same way it may happen 
that the witch who is causing trouble is wholly un 
known, and may be taking every means to remain so." 1 
In such cases a form of adjuration is used which has a 
general application, whether in reference to demons 

1 Op. cit* p. 309. 

Commenfdtg on (ft0afm tci. 

generally, or switches in general, or to both (see the 
extract below). Difficult as it is for us to realize the 
fact, it is nevertheless important to remember that the 
beliefs regarding the power for harm that witches had 
constituted a terrible reality and must have been a 
constant source of fear and anxiety ; one has only to 
read some of the immense numbers of magic texts, and 
the like, to realise how deeply people must have felt 
upon the subject, and what a terrible curse upon the 
community generally must have been the belief in 
these ubiquitous demons and their allies in human 
form. The following is an interesting example of a 
Babylonian adjuration pronounced against some un 
known witch who was believed to be entangling her 
victim, with the help, of course, of a demon : 

Who art them, enchantress, that carries in her heart the evil 

word against me, 

Upon whose tongue was destruction against me ; 
Through whose lips have I been poisoned, 
In the train of whose footsteps follows death? 
Enchantress, I grasp thy mouth, I grasp thy tongue, 

grasp thy piercing eyes, 

grasp thy ever mobile feet, 

grasp thy ever active knees, 
! grasp thy ever outstretched hands, 

bind thy hands behind thee. 
May Sin (i.e. the Moon-god) destroy thy body, 
May he cast thee into an abyss of water and fire ; 
Enchantress, like the setting of this signet ring 
May thy face glow and then grow pale. 

The last line refers to the melting and getting cool 


* gge (peaftng in ffle gewtgfl Cflurcfl. 

again of the gold. 1 It is clear enough from this typical 
extract that a spell was believed to have been pro 
nounced, and that the adjuration was recited for the 
purposes of counteracting the evil effects of the word 
of occult magic. It is conceivable that in the verse 
before us the Psalmist was referring to something of 
this kind ; its meaning would then be that Jehovah and 
nobody else, could deliver men from the magic spell 
("word") of magician, witch or demon. 

Verse 4. With His pinions He covers thee, yea, under 
His wings thou findest refuge. 

The protective care of Jehovah is again emphasised ; 
the thought of rinding safety under His wings occurs 
several times in the Psalms (xvii. 8, xxxvi. 7, Ixi., 
Ixi. 4, Ixiii. 7) ; it echoes, possibly, an ancient conception. 
Quite conceivably a covert contrast is intended between 
the protecting wings of Jehovah and those which some 
kinds of demons were believed to have ; the demons 
used their wings to fly swiftly on their harmful errands, 
but under Jehovah s wings the terror-stricken would be 

A shield and a buckler is His truth (or " faithfulness "). 

The fact that the Psalmist uses figurative language 
suggests that the foes to be shielded against are not men, 
but spiritual enemies. In the Midrash to the Psalms one 
of the comments on these words runs : " Rabbi Simeon ben 
Jochai said, * The weapon which the Holy One, Blessed 
be He, gave to the Israelites at Sinai was described 

" o 

1 Ibid. 309. 

(& Commenfarg on (pgafm m. $+ 

with the unutterable Name of God. " The Holy One 
(pronounced Adonai) is elsewhere referred to as a 
means of safeguard against evil powers ; thus, the 
reading of the S/iema, because it contains the Name 
of God in the first verse, is recommended for this 
purpose (Berachoth 5 a, Babylonian Talmud) ; the 
priest s blessing, also because it mentions God s Name, 
is efficacious. 

Verse 5. Thou shalt not be afraid because of the 
night-terror or because of tJie arrow thatflieth by day. 

To what does this "Night-terror" refer? In the 
Midrash to the Psalms we have this interesting comment : 
" Rabbi Berechja said, There is a harmful spirit that flies 
like a bird and shoots like an arrow. " According to 
Jewish teaching, Lilith, the Night-hag, got her name 
from Layilahy " night " ; the etymology was false, but that 
does not effect the belief that Lilith was the night-demon 
par excellence. The connexion was suggested by the 
similarity of the two words, as well as by the fact that 
Lilith was believed to be especially active at nights. 
On the assumption that Jewish belief in demons was 
profoundly influenced by that of Babylonia, it will be 
instructive to inquire as to the popular Babylonian belief 
concerning Lilith, especially as it is more than probable 
that she was worshipped by some of the Jewish exiles in 
Babylon 1 . A demon-triad is formed by Lilu, Lilitu, and 
Ardat Lili ; the male, the female, and the handmaid ; the 

1 See Levy, in the Zeilschrift der Deutschen Morgenldndischen 
Gesellschaft ix. 470 ff. 


in flfc 3ewi00 Cgutcfl. 

Biblical Lilith would correspond to the second of these 
Lilitu. These three are more particularly storm- 
demons, who rush about at night seeking what harm 
they can do to men ; they are spoken of as flying, and 
were therefore most likely, though not necessarily, con 
ceived of as having wings ; Ardat Lili is once spoken 
of as " flitting in through a window " after a man ; and 
she was believed to inflame evil passions; sleeplessness 
and nightmare were regarded as her handiwork. 1 A 
magical text which probably refers to Ardat Lili is 
quoted by Jastrow ; it is so appropriate that part of it 
may be quoted here 

" The entangler of those that entangle, 
The enchantress of those that enchant, 
Whose net lies spread out in the streets, 
Whose eyes peer about in the open spaces of the city, 
Among them am I, at whom she makes a dead set ; 
She surrounds the maidens in the city, 
Among them am I ... 
May thy evil mouth be filled with dust, 
May thy evil tongue be bound with thongs 
At the command of Marduk, the Lord of Life." 2 

That the demon Lilitu was not unknown in Israel is 
clear from Isaiah xxxiv. 14. But it is in the later 
Jewish beliefs, especially as found stereotyped in 
Rabbinical literature, that the importance of Lilith 
appears; for, as there is every reason to believe, this 
later literature reflects earlier thought. Here she 

M. Jastrow, Op. dt. pp. 278 ff. 

2 M. Jastrow, Op. cit. p. 319. An illustration of an Assyiian demon 
which may have been a representation of Lilitu is given in Jeremias, Op 
cit. p. 342. 


@l Commenfarg on (peafm jet. ^ 

appears as the head of one of the three great classes 
into which the demons (Mazzikin " Harm-doers ") are 
divided, viz. the Lilin, who take their name from her. 
They are of human shape, but they have wings ; they 
are all females ; children are the main objects of their 
wrath. Lilith is conceived of as a beautiful woman, 
with long flowing hair ; J she is dangerous to men, 2 and 
it is especially at nights, though not exclusively so, that 
she comes out to seek her victims. These few details 
will be sufficient for our purpose ; they certainly afford 
some grounds for the supposition that the " Night- 
terror" was this female demon, Lilith. This idea is 
strengthened by the fact that, according to Jewish tradi 
tion, the meteor-stone was called " the arrow of Lilith." 

Verse 6. (Or) because of the pestilence that goeth about 
in darkness. 

Here one is reminded of the well-known Babylonian 
pest-demon, Namtar. He is often spoken of as the 
" violent Namtar," and he comes as the pest-bringing 
envoy from the realms of the dead, like a "raging 
wind." The following short extract from one of the 
magical texts shows how he must have been feared : 

"Terrible Namtar, strong Namtar. Namtar, who will not 
leave men ; Namtar, who will not go away; Namtar, who will 
not depart; wicked Namtar . . . " 3 

Significant, too, is the introduction to another text 
describing the action of this " Demon of pestilence " : 

1 See, e.g., M. Jastrow, Op. cit. p. 350. 
a Cp. "Frau Holde " in Teutonic myth. 
3 M. Jastrow, Op. cit. p. 369. 


(ftggfmg in tge 

"Wicked Namtar, who scorches the land like fire, who 
approaches a man like Asakku, 1 who rages through the wilder 
ness like a storm-wind, who pounces upon a man like a 
robber, who plagues a man like the pestilence, who has no 
hands, no feet, who goes about at night . . . " 2 

Here, it cannot be denied, we have a forcible 
reminder of the very words of the psalm, " the pesti 
lence that goeth about in darkness." That pestilence, 
and sickness of every kind, was due to the action of 
demons, was likewise believed by the Arabs ; it was also 
the teaching of later Judaism. 3 The latter half of this 
verse is very instructive : 

(Or) because of Keteb and the mid-day demon. 

This rendering will be explained in a moment. The 
word " Keteb," usually translated " destruction," only 
occurs elsewhere three times (Deut xxxii. 24, Isa. 
xxviii. 2, Hos. xiii. 14), and in each case there are 
reasons for believing that the reference is to a demon. 
That in the verse before us the thought of a demon 
was present is certain if, as seems not improbable, the 
Septuagint and Aquila reflect a more original form than 
the present Hebrew text ; in each of these there is a 
direct reference to a demon. In Rabbinical literature 
the verse was understood in this sense, 4 and Keteb 
is used there as the proper name of a demon 

1 Another Babylonian demon of great power for harm. 

O. Weber, Op. eit. p. 16. 

See the Expositor (April, 1907), p. 327, and ^.the many instances in 
the Gospels, cp. Hastings Diet, of Christ and the Gospels, I. p. 441. 
4 E,g. Pesachim, in, Babylonian Talmud. 


(jjl Commentarg on (ftsafm tci- 

(see below). It is for these reasons that the 
translation given above seems justified. That there 
should have been a belief in some special mid-day 
demon is highly probable; in later Judaism it was 
believed that demons were specially active then, 1 and in 
some Babylonian texts there are some suggestive 
passages. 2 The Midrash to the Psalms is so 
instructive on this verse that a short extract may 
be given ; in reference to Keteb we read : " Our 
Rabbis said, It is a demon (Shed] " ; the words 
that follow are unfortunately untranslatable, owing 
to the corrupt state of the text ; but it continues ; 
" Rabbi Huna, speaking in the name of Rabbi 
Jose, said ; * The poisonous Keteb was covered with 
scales and with hair, and sees only out of one eye, 
the other one is in the middle of his heart ; and he 
is powerful, not in the darkness nor in the sun, 
but between darkness and the sun(shine). He rolls 
himself up like a ball and stalks about from the fourth 
to the ninth hour, from the i/th of Tammuz to the pth 
of Ab ; and everyone who sees him falls down on his 
face. Rabbi Pinchas barChama, the priest, said, Once a 
man saw him, and he was thrown down upon his face. 
Rabbi Samuel bar Rab Jizhak commanded the school 
masters to let the children be free during those four 
hours. Rabbi Jochanan commanded the schoolmasters 
not to whip the children from the i/th of Tammuz to 

1 F. Weber, Op. cit. p. 254. 

- M. Jastrow, Op. cit. pp. 332, 342-345- 

247 R 


the Qth of Ab. That is what the words, Because of 
Keteb, who destroys at mid-day/ mean." 

Verse 7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten 
thousand at thy right hand, unto thee it shall not come 

There is no difficulty about either the Hebrew or 
Greek text here, they are in perfect order ; the difficulty 
of the passage lies in the question as to what is the 
correct interpretation of it ; what do the words refer to ? 
It is, of course, possible to explain the u thousands " as 
referring to those who do not trust in Jehovah, these 
men will in consequence become victims of the pestilence 
spoken of in the preceding verse. This, however, seems 
to be pushing poetical licence a little too far, especially 
(as has already been pointed out) in view of the fact 
that there is little or nothing in the psalm to show that 
wicked men are referred to (see above, on verse 3). In 
accordance with the general belief in the existence of 
great numbers of demons, it seems permissible to hold 
that the " thousands " in this verse refer to these. The 
Arabs certainly believed that there were immense 
numbers of them j 1 this belief was shared by the 
Babylonians ; 2 in a Babylonian text, moreover, reference 
is made to the demons who walk at the side of a man, 3 
thus forcibly recalling the verse before us. The teach 
ing of later Judaism agrees with this ; in the Babylonian 

1 Wellhausen, Op. cit. pp. 148, 149. 

2 See further, Expositor (April, 1907), p. 325. 

3 M. Jastrow, Op. cit. pp. 355, 357. 


on am ?c. 

Talmud, Berachoth 510, it is said that the demons gather 
themselves together in companies ; the whole world is 
full of Mazzikin y according to Tanchuma Mishpatim 
19 j 1 the number is given by one Rabbi as seven and a 
half millions ; elsewhere it is stated that every man has 
ten thousand at his right hand and a thousand at his 
left a clear indication, as it would seem, of the 
Rabbinical interpretation of our psalm. Moreover, in 
the Midrash to the Psalms this verse is commented on 
as follows : " The left hand .... a thousand 
angels protect, in order to guard it against evil spirits ; 
the right hand ... ten thousand angels protect, 
in order to guard it against evil spirits. Rabbi Chanina 
bar Abahu said : . . . If a thousand evil spirits 
assemble at thy left hand they fall . . . and if ten, 
thousand assemble at thy right hand they fall . . ." 

The meaning of this verse may, therefore, with some 
justification be said to be that although a man be 
surrounded by these thousands of invisible enemies, no 
harm will come to him if he puts his trust in Jehovah, 
because Jehovah s angels will protect him by annihilating 
them (see v. 11). The words, "unto thee it shall not 
come nigh," must then refer to the harm from which 
the man who trusts in Jehovah will be preserved. 

Verse 8. As pointed out under verse 3, there are 
reasons for regarding this verse as a gloss. 

Verse 9. For [Thou Jehovah art my refuge} the 
Most High hast thou chosen as thy protector. 
1 F. Weber, Op. cit. t p. 254. 


The text here is obviously out of order 1 ; the words 
which have been placed in square brackets are most 
likely a gloss. But the meaning of the verse is clear ; 
the thousands of demons who assail a man cannot do 
him any injury if he looks to Jehovah as his protector. 
It will be seen that if verse eight and the words en 
closed in brackets be deleted, the sequence of thought, 
as well as the actual text, runs more smoothly. 

Verse 10. No evil shall befall thee> neither shall any 
plague come nigh thy tent. 

The late Professor Curtiss, in his very interesting 
book Primitive Semitic Religion To-Day^ remarks 
that the " modern Semite who has remained untouched 
by the world s progress may represent a primitive 
religion which was in existence before the ancient 
Babylonian empire began to be, or was even thought 
of " 2 ; and later on in his book he gives, among many 
other illustrations, the following instances : " When 
the people go into the country to cultivate the soil, 
they often live in caves near the harvest-field. Before 
taking^up their abode in the cave they offer a sacrifice 
to the spirit of the cave by cutting the animal s throat 
at the entrance ;" a native explains the object of this 
by saying that " the people think there are evil spirits 
in some of the caves." Again, " when a newly married 
couple take up their residence in an old house, or any 
one makes his home in a new one, it is customary to 

1 Cp. Briggs in loc., and Kittel s Biblia Hebraica (notes on the text 
of this verse). 2 Page 53. 


on (safm ret. 

take a goat or sheep upon the flat roof, and cut its 
throat so that the blood runs down over the lintel." 1 In 
connexion with this one may compare the following 
Midrashic comment on this verse ; " Rabbi Jochanan 
said, Before a dwelling is reared up, 2 the evil spirits 
gather round a man, but after the habitation has 
been set up, no plague comes nigh thy tent, Rabbi 
Simeon ben Lakish said, Why do we learn this out 
of the Psalms, for it says, The Eternal will bless thee 
and keep thee (Num. vi. 24) ? It is because of the 
evil spirits/ " 3 

Taking these extracts together with the context of 
this verse, it is difficult to get away from the conviction 
that the reference is to demons ; and this conviction 
grows stronger on considering the next verse. 

Verse n, For His angels He will command for 
thee> to guard thee in all thy ways. 

If we have been correct in holding that there is little 
or nothing in this Psalm to show that the evil from 
which protection is promised is from the works of 
evil-disposed men, if, that is to say, this Psalm refers 
throughout to spiritual enemies, then this verse gains 
greatly in significance. Both in biblical and post- 
biblical Jewish theology it is taught that evil spirits 
work antagonistically to God ai\d men, and that these 
evil spirits are fallen angels (cp. e.g. Isa. xiv. 12 ff.), or 
the offspring of fallen angels, who are finally sub- 

1 Op. cit. p. 184. 2 The reference is, of course, to a tent. 

Midrash Tehillim, in loc. 



jugated by the powers of heaven. 1 An echo of this 
warfare between the angels of God and the powers of 
darkness is preserved in Jude 6, and possibly a reference 
to the same thing underlies the strange passage 
vv. 12-16, in this epistle. " It is said that angels 
accompany the dead on their departure from this 
world," and that three bands of angels of the divine 
ministry accompany the righteous, the first singing, " He 
shall enter in peace/ the second "They shall rest on 
their couches " and the third, " The one who walketh in 
uprighteousness " (Isa. Ivii. 2) ; but when a wicked 
man departs, three bands of angels of destruction are 
described as accompanying him, saying, " There is no 
peace, saith my God, to the wicked " (Isa. Ivii. 2i). 2 

The thought of the verse before us is strikingly 
illustrated in the book of Tobit, where we read of 
Tobias being accompanied during his journeyings by 
an angel, who teaches him how to drive away an evil 
spirit; see especially vi. 1-7, 15-17, It is also worth 
recalling that this verse is quoted in the Gospels in the 
passage describing our Lord s temptation by the Devil 
(Matt. iv. 6, Luke iv. 10, 11). 

Verse 12. Upon their palms they shall bear thee> 
lest thou strike thy feet against a stone. 

The fact that the word kapk, the " palm " of the 
hand, is used instead of the ordinary word for hand, 
suggests the idea that the angels hold their hands 

1 See e.g., the " Book of Enoch" (ed. Charles) passim, but more 
especially chaps, vi-xv. 

a Jewish Encycl. i. 593, where many references are given. 


(& CotnmenfdYg on Qpggfm ;rct. $* 

for the man to stand upon, and in this way he is raised 
up wherever an obstacle lies in his path. But the 
placing of such obstacles would have been believed 
to be the work of evil spirits ; and probably the idea 
was that they were placed in such a way as to escape 
notice until the harm was done ; otherwise it is difficult 
to see why angels should be needed to prevent a man 
from stumbling, even if the words were used symboli 
cally, which however, was probably not the case 

Verse 13. Upon reptile and cobra shall thou tread ; 
thoit shalt trample (upon) the young lion and dragon. 

The Hebrew text in the first part of this verse " by a 
copyist s error of a single letter, introduces prematurely 
the lion." 1 The rendering given above agrees with the 
Septuagint, cp. also Deut. xxxii. 24. According to 
general ancient Semitic belief a . relationship was 
believed to exist between certain animals and demons ; 
thus, in ancient Arab belief, demons appeared in 
the form of wild beasts in the wilderness ; the closest 
connexion of all was said to be between demons and 
serpents ; Gann and Ghul have become synonymous 
with " serpent " in Arabic, this applies also to Shaitan 
( Satan). 2 In Jewish demonology, too, it is taught 
that serpents are in league with demons ; Satan is, of 
course, identical with the serpent in the garden of 
Eden (cp. the Midrashim Sifre 138^ and Bereshith 
Rabba c. xxii., also the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 

1 Briggs, in loc. 

2 Wellhausen, Op. dt. pp. 152 if; Robertson Smith, The Religion of 
the Semites (2nd ed. pp. 120 f., 133). 


fle (pggfms in tge Jewtsg 

according to .Ztofo Kamma 16 # (Babylonian 
Talmud) the Shedim were originally serpents, and 
became what they are by a process of evolution. 1 
Among the Babylonians all demons were conceived of 
as normally dwelling in animals ; it was the way in 
which the Babylonians explained to themselves the 
problem as to where the permanent abode of demons 
was, seeing that they were excluded from the realm of 
the dead. Among such animals those were chosen by 
the demons which were likely to inspire sudden fear, 
more especially serpents, which appeared suddenly, one 
knew not whence, and disappeared as suddenly, one 
knew not whither. Among the Phoenicians the lion 
was regarded as the incarnation of a demon. 2 These 
facts are significant when read in connexion with the 
verse before us. 

Verses 14-16. These concluding verses proclaim the 
blessedness (see note on p. 235) of him who puts his 
whole trust in God, Who alone can really help against 
spiritual enemies of every kind. 

It may be added, in conclusion, that the interpreta 
tion of the psalm which has been here offered does 
obviously not affect the Christian use of it, excepting in a 
direction which must be welcome. For the thought that 
it is spiritual enemies to which the psalm refers through 
out must still further endear the familiar words, and 
make the whole psalm more precious to us than ever. 

1 F. Weber, Op. cit., pp. 252 ff. 

2 Pietschmann, Gcschichte der Phonizitr, p. 193. 




Aaronic blessing, 146 

Ab, fast of, 140, 170, 247 

Abimelech, 227 

Abodah, 135 

Abraham, 200, 202, 216, 227 

Abyssinia, natives of, 8 

Acrostic psalms, 81, 108 

Adon, 192 

Adonis, 15 

Advent of the Messiah, 212 

Aeolian mode, 25 

Africa, 32 

Aha, 195 

Ahabah Rabba, 144 

Ailinus, 15 

Alawoth, 56, 116 

Al-hashsheminith, 56 

Alliteration in Hebrew poetry, 

99 f. 

Amen, 58, 138, 149 
Amidahy 156 f. 
Amos, 53 
Amphion, 14 
Anacreon, 18 
Ancestors, heroic deeds of, 64 ff., 

91 f. 
Ancient poetical pieces in the 

Psalms, 84 ff. 
Angels, 226, 249, 253 
fallen, 250 f. 

Angels, food, 224 

ministering, 203 

Animals and demons, relationship 

between, 253 f. 
Antecedents of the Psalms, 63 ff., 

86 ff. 

Antiochus Epiphanes, 22, 125 
Apollo, 23, 26 
Aquila, 246 
Arabs, music among the, 27 ff., 

35 ff-, 39 f. 
Arabs, nomadic, 73 
Araboth, 202 
Archaic words in Hebrew poetry, 


Ardat Lilt, 243 
Aristides, 27 
Aristotle, 21, 27 
Aristoxenus, 21 
Ark, 157, 161 
Arrow, 238, 243, 245 
Asaph, 112 
Asmedai, 235 
Asshurbanipal, 20, 44 
Assyrians, music among, 19 ff. 
Atonement, day of, 142, 168 

vicarious, 223 

Attis, 15 
Australia, 32 
Azarias, 192 




Babylonia, 15 

Babylonian influence on Israelite 

music, 43 ff 
thought, influence of upon the 

Exiles, 231 ff. 

Babylonians, heroic tales of, 65 
Bag-pipe, 52 
Ban-formula, 236 
Benedictions, 138 
Berechja, Rabbi, 243 
Bineginoth, 56 
Boys voices in the Temple service, 

117, 124 
Burial Service in the Synagogue, 

Burnt-offerings, music during, 117 

Ccesura, 101 f. 
Calliope, 23 
Cantillation, 21 

synagogal, 151 

Captivity, the, 43 

Carmel, mount, 208 

Catch-words in Hebrew poetry, 100 

Cave as dwelling-place, 250 

Celts, 65 

Chalil, 51 

Chanina bar Abahu, Rabbi, 249 

Ckannukah, feast of, 141 

psalm for, 166, 168 

Chayoth, 203 
Ckazozerak, 51 
Chazzan, 144, 166, 183 
Chazzanuth) 149 
Chevrah Tehillim, 155 
Chia the Great, Rabbi, 202 
Chief musician, for the, 57 
Children s night-prayer, 186 

Chinese, 23 

Circumcision, 183 

Clan property, 73 

Clapping of hands, 30 

Clement of Alexandria, 114 

Compass, 38, 61 

Composite character of the Psalms, 

78 ff. 
Conclusion of the Sabbath, service 

for, 161 
Consecration of a house, psalms 

used at, 185 
Consonances, II 
Constituent elements of the Psalter, 

78 ff. 

Cups at Passover celebration, 187 
Cymbals, 49, 50, 62, 114, 115, 125, 
Cyprus, 14 


Daily special Psalms, 157 

Damascus, 31 

Damsels and the Temp le-worship, 

59, n6 
Dancing, 10, 13, 18, 31 

David, 41, 50, 112, 201, 220, 222, 


and the Psalter, 80 

David s Lament, 71, 76, 176 
Davidic period, The, 40 ff. 
Day of judgement, 163 
Dedication, feast of, 124 f. 
Demon-cults, 231 
Demoniacal encounters, 230 
Demonology, Jewish, 235 

Semitic, 231 ff. 

Demons, 193, 231 ff., 248 ff., 254 

and witches, 238 

power at night-time, 234 

Derbekkah, 31, 32 


3nbe;t of 

Dirge, 71, 92 

Dispersion, the, 136 

Distich, 104 

Doctrinal subjects dealt with by the 

Rabbi s, 229 
Dorian mode, 25 
Dosa, Rabbi, 214 
Doxologies, 137 
Drama, 1 08 
Drink-offering. 118 
Drum, 30, 36, 49, 50 
Dulcimer, 52 

Edda, 65 
Eden, 253 
Edom, 68 

Egypt, 15 

Egyptian Hallel, 120 

Egyptians, heroic tales of, 65 

" Eighteen Blessings," 212 

El, I95> 205 

El Ely on, 193 

Elegiac poetry, 108 

Eliezer ben Jacob, Rabbi, 201 

Elijah, 201, 208 

Elohim, 205 

Enchantments, 236 

Enchantress, 241 

Epic poetry, 65 f. 

Epos, 108 

Esau, 227, 228 

Eskimo melody, 6 

Essenes, synagogues of the, 131 

Esther, 219 

Esther, fast of, 170 

European tunes, 32, 39 

Evil spirits, casting out of, 194 

Evil word, the, 241 

Exegesis of Psalms, Jewish, 197 ff. 

Fast, voluntary, 186 
Fast days, psalms for, 168 ff. 
Festival psalms in the Temple, 120 
Festival services, psalms in the, 

162 ff. 

Flute, 26, 31, 38, 51, 56, 113, 124 
Folk-songs, 6, 72 ff., 92 f. 
Forms of Hebrew poetry, 101 
Foundation stone. 225 
Frau Holde, 245 

Gabriel, 220 

Gamaliel, Rabbi, 206 

Gann, 253 

Gedaliah, fast of, 169 

Genizah in Cairo, 181 

Germans, 65 

Gezer, 41 

Ghul, 253 

Gittith, set to, 55 

Gnomic poetry, 108 

God, Jewish doctrine of, 202 

Gog and Magog, 210 

Goliath, 227 

Grace at meals, 185 

doctrine of, 221 f., 226 

notes, 28 

Great Hallel, 120, 188 

Greece, 15 

Greek melodies, 23 ff. 

pecan, 26 

period, the, 46 ff. 

Greeks, 65 

music among, 21 ft"., 26 f. 

Guilds of Temple-singers, 112 


Habdala t 162 



Hadrian, 24 
Haggadah, 187 
Hagio^rapha, 140 
Hc&ol Joduka t 180 
Hallel, 95, 120 ff., 137, 143, l6 7> 

method of singing, 163 

Hallelujah, 120 f. 

as a name for the Psalter, 143 

psalms, 137 

Haman, 220 
Hand-drum, 37 
Hannah, song of, 75 
" Harm-doers," 245 
Harmony, II, 31 f., 37 
Harp, 38, 52, 59, 113 
Harp-players, Egyptian, 19 
Harvest-song, 93 
Hebrew melody, 45 f. 

poetry, characteristics of, 96 ff. 

text of the Psalms, 45 f. 

Htkal, 134 

Hellenic culture, influence of, upon 
the Jews, 27, 47 

spirit, influence of upon the 

Jews, 22 
Heman, 112 
Heptastich, 105 
Heptatonic scale, 28 
Heraclides, 15 
Hercules, 66 
Herod, 217 

Herodian Temple, 115 
Herodotus, 14 f. 
Heshbon, 71 
Hexameter, 102 
Hexastich, 105 
Hezekiah, 20, 202 
Higgaion, 56 f., 6 1 
Historical ode, 71, 91 

Hodu psalms, 137 

Holy Place, the, 135 

Horn, 51 

Hosanna, 123 

House of mourning, psalms used 

in, 185 

Huna, Rabbi, 220, 247 
Huntress of the night, the, 239 
Hymn of Glory, 164 

Ilabistan, 73 

Inauguration of the Sabbath, 160 

Incantations, 188, 231, 236,241 

Indians, 65 

Individual psalms, 174, 176, 178 

Inscription, Assyrian, 19, 44 

- Egyptian, 15 
Instrumental accompaniment to the 

Psalms, 52 ff. 
Instruments among the Israelites, 

49 ff. 

Instruments of percussion, 49 ff. 
Intervals, n f., 17, 61 
Ionian mode, 25 
Isaac, 228 
Ishmael, 228 
Isis, 14 
Israelites, heroic tales of, 65 

Jacob, 224, 227, 228 

years of, 79 

Japanese, 23 
Jashar, book of, 177 
Jason, 65 
Jeduthun, 112 
Jeromei St., 61 
Jeshajah) 193 
Jizhak, Rabbi, 247 


3nbe;r of ^u 

Jochanan, Rabbi, 226, 247, 250 

Jonah, 201 

Jose, Rabbi, 247 

Josephus, evidence of, concerning 

the early synagogues, 132 
Joshua, 200 
Joshua bar Chalaphthah, Rabbi, 


Joshua ben Hananiah, Rabbi, 147 
Joshua ben Korcha, Rabbi, 199 
Jubal, 40 

Judas Maccabceus, 124 
Judge, 205 
Judges, 41 
Justification, 222 

Kabbala, 189 
Kakomusia, 27 
Kaliric period, 181 
Kamanjeh) 31, 32 
Kanun, 31 
Kaph, 252 
Kele hashshir, 1 1 1 
Keren, 51 
Kcteb, 246 ff. 
Kettle-drum, 31 
Keturah, 228 
A7<2/&-measure, 102, 177 
Kinnor, 52, 58, 60, 62, 115 
Kithara, 15, 26 
Kiiharis, 52 
A odesh, 134 
Koran, the, 29, 149 
Koujundjik, 19 

Laban, 227 

Lamnazeach) 54 f. 

Law, the, compared to bread, 209 

, light, 208 

- water, 208 

wine, 208 

psalms in reference to, 206 ff. 

reading of, in synagogue, 157, 

165 " 
study of, in lieu of sacrifices, 


Layilah, 243 

Leader of singers, 54 

Levitical choir, the, 117, 147 

Lights, feast of, 141 

Lilin, 245 

Lilith, 243 ff. 

Lilith) Babylonian belief concern 
ing, 243 

Lilitu, 243 

Lilu, 243 

Linos, 14 

Lion, incarnation of demon, 254 

Lisyerses, 15 

Liturgical psalms, 119, 173 

worship in the Synagogue, 

decay of, 153 
Liturgy of the Temple, 136 

reform of in the Synagogue, 


LogOS, 220 

Lucretius, quoted, 4 

Lucian, 15 

Lulab, 123 

" Lurker," the 239 

Lute, 113 

Lydian mode, 25 

Lyre, 52 

Lyric poetry, 108 


-*? 3ftbe;r of 


Ma amad, 134 

Maarib, 154 

Maccabcean struggle, the, 22 

Maccabees, feast of, 141 

Magadis, 18 

Magic, 189, 242 

texts, Babylonian, 231 ff.,24O f. 

Magrephah) 115 
Maneros, 14 
Mannus, 66 
Marduk, 244 

Marriage Service in the Syna 
gogue, 183 

Marriages made in Heaven, 203 
Mash-mashu, 236 
Mashrokitha, 52 
Mazzikin, 245, 249 
Measures in Hebrew poetry, 101 
Mediation, 199 
Meditation, psalms of, 75 f. 
Megilloth) the, 140 
Meir, Rabbi, 205 
Melody, 6, 12, 36 ff., 75 

of Spanish Jews, 172 

Melodies, Arabian, 30 

Hebrew, character of, 38 f. 

Melos, 21 

Memorial for the Departed, 164 

Menes, 14 

Mend ane* iin y 50 

Meroz, 68 

Mesomedes, 24 

Messiah, advent of, 212 

ben David, 215 

the son of Ephraim, 214 

the son of Joseph, 214 f. 

Messianic era, 21 iff. 

interpretation of psalms, aioff. 

Meteor-stone called the arrow of 

Lilith, 245 
Method of rendering Psalms, 158, 

170 ff. 

Methurgeman, 145 
Metre, Hebrew, 96, 98 
Meziltaim, 50 
Michael, 220 
Midrash Tehillim, 197 f. 
Minchah, 135, 154 
Minim, 62 
Minstrels, 59 
Mitzvoth, 221 
Mixolydian mode, 25 
Modern Synagogue, psalms in, 


Modes, different, 25 
Mohel, 183 
Moses, 200 

song of, 37 

Monastic h, 103 

Monuments, Egyptian, 15, 16 ff. 

Mourning, 18 

for Tammuz, 15 

Mouth-organ, 51 

Muezzin, 149 

Music among the Egyptians, 13 ff., 

i6ff., 40 f. 

Greeks, 21 ff. 

Israelites, 34 ff. 

ancient Hebrew, nature of, to 

be inferred from analogy, 

i ff., 13 

governed by natural laws, 2 

in nature, 3, 16 

origin of, 3 ff- 

rhythm in, 4 f. 

comparative, 32 

history of, in Judah, 20 


3nbe;r of 

Music, in pre-exilic Temple-wor 

ship, 43 f. 
- in the Synagogue, 147 ff., 

148 ff. 

sacred character, 10, 13, 20 
- Scottish, 23 
Musical theory and practice, 21 
Musicians, female, 20 
Musaf, 1 60 

Nabla, 1 1 5 

NaS&** 5 2 > 59 

Name of God, 243 

Namtar, Babylonian pest-demon, 


Nathan, Rabbi, 208 
National events commemorated, 

70 ff. 
-- heroes, 67 

Psalms, 173 
Nebel y 52, 58, 60, 62 
Nebuchadnezzar, 217 
Nechilah, 51 
Neginah, 113 
Negindth, 52 
Nemesis, 23 
Net, 237, 238 f., 244. 
New moon, blessing of the, 187 

festivals, 125, 142 
---- festival, Psalm for, 166, 

New Testament, evidence of, con 

cerning the early synagogues, 

133 ^ 

-- Psalms quoted in, 216 ff. 
New types of song in the Psalter, 

New Year, festival of, 142 

New Year, festival, Psalms for, 

166, 167 

Night-demon, the, 243 
Night-hag, the, 243 
Night-prayer for children, 186 
Night-terror, the, 243 
Nimrod, 227 
Nomadic stage among die Hebrews, 


state, men in, 67 

North American Indians, 9, 32 
Notation, system of, 29 

Occasional offices in the Synagogue 

Liturgy, 183 ff. 
Octave, 23, 27 
- on the, 56 
" Odes arid Psalms of Solomon," 


Odyssey, 65 
Oedipus, 65 
Olympian gods, 65 
Omer, days of, 159 
Ophanim, 203 

Organs in the synagogue, 171 
"Orphan Psalms," 79 
Osiris, 15 

, 26 

Palm-branch, 123 
Pan s-pipe, 51 

Parable on man s ignorance, 206 
-- on marriage, 203 ff. 
-- containing teaching on Media 

tion, 197 ff. 
Parallelisms in Hebrew poetry, 

105 ff. 
Parashah, 144 

263 s 



Passover, feast of, 120 f. 

lambs, 1 20 

Psalms for, 164, 167 
Paul, St., 221, 227 
Payyetan, 180 
Pentameter, 102 
Pentastich, 105 
Pentatonic scale, 23 
Pentecost, psalms for, 165, 167 
Peregrinatio Etheriae, 146 
Perfect intervals, 7, 16 
Pesanterin, 52 
Perseus, 65 
Personal psalms, 173 
Pharaoh, 217 
Philistines, 41, 50, 69 
Philo, evidence of, concerning the 

early synagogues, 1 29 ff. 
Phoenicia, 14 
Phoenicians, 27, 254 
Phrygia, 15 
Phrygian mode, 25 
Phylactery, 1 86 
Pilate, 217 

" Pilgrim Psalms," 105 
Pinchas bar Cham a, Rabbi, 247 
Pipe, 1 8, 56, 62 
Piyyutim, 150, 153, 179 ff. 
Planets, the seven, 19 
Plato, 13 
Plutarch, 14 

Poetic genius of the Hebrews, 85 
Poetical structure of the Psalms, 

96 ff. 

Poland, Jews of, 188 
Polyphonic music, II, 13 
Popular poetry among the Israelites, 

72 ff. 

Portuguese tunes, 32 
Post-exilic Period, the, 43 ff. 

Prague, 171 

Prayer, equivalent to sacrifice, 135 

Prayers in the Psalter, 93 f. 

Pre-exilic psalms, 85 

Private use of psalms, 173 ff., 


Prophecy typified in Moses, 137 
Prosetichci) applied to Synagogues, 

Psalms, equally authoritative with 

the Law, 191 

- for private use, no 

- mutilation of, 81 f. 

not intended for public 

worship, 174, 177 

number of, in modern Syna 
gogue, 178 

number of, in Psalter, 79 

of degrees, 114 

process of evolution of, 84 

sung on special occasions, 

141 f. 

sung in three parts, 118 f. 

typified in David, 137 

Purim, feast of, 141 

psalm for, 166, 168 

Quarter-tones, 28 


Rab, 143 
Rabbinical exegesis, freedom of, 

198, 201 
Rabisu, 239 
Ramazana, 65 
Ram s horn, 51 
Rashi, 232 
Rattle, 51 
Rawi, " reciter, 76 


3nbe,r of |&u8jecf0. 

Reader, 171 

Recitative mode, II, 13, 37 
Red Sea, 200. 204, 219 
Reform of Liturgy in the Syna 
gogue, 154 

Refrains in the Psalms, 100 
Resheth, 237 
Rhyme not used in Hebrew poetry, 


Rhythm in Hebrew poetry, 98 
Rhythmical element in music, 4 f., 

10, 12, 16, 21, 35 
Rising Sun driving away evil 

spirits, 234 

Ritual of the Synagogue 137 
Rolls of the Law, 139 
Romans, 65 
Roumania, Jews of, 188 

Sabbath, psalms on the, 159 ff. 

services, psalms for, 119 ff". 

Sabbekha, 52 
Sackbut, 52 
Sacrifices, accompanied by music, 

18, 20, 53 

Samuel, editor of the Psalms, 79 
Samuel, Rabbi, 247 
Sandwich Isles, natives of, 88. 
Satan, 253 

Scales, variety of, 23 ff, 3 
Scandinavians, 65 
Scourging in Synagogue, 183 
Scdrak, 162 
Selah, 57 
Seikelos, 25 
Seir, 68 
^elcucidac, 22 
Sennacherib, 19, 201, 217 

Senegalese melody, 9 

Sepher, 157 

Sepher Shimnmsh Tehillim, 188 ff. 

Seraphim^ 203 

Serpent, 253 

Seven heavens, 202 

Severe, the wicked, 234 

Shabiri, 232 

Shabttoth, 165 

Shacharith, 154 

Shaddai, 233 ff. 

Shaitan, 253 

S kalis him, 50 

Shalom, 58, 59 

Shamash, the sun-god, 234 

Shebna, 202 

Shed, 247 

Shedini, 235 

originally serpents, 254 

Shedu, 235 

Sheep s gut, 52 

Shekhina, 187, 209 

Shema, 139, 243 

Shemoneh Esreh, 58, 212 f. 

Shiliach Zibbor* 144 

Shir, 63, 73 

Shirah, 63 

Shdphar, 51, 60, 6 1 in, 142, 166, 


Shout, the sacred, 59 
Shushan Purim, psalm for, 166 
Sick, psalms for the, 185 
Sickness due to demons, 246 
Siloah, 122 

Simcath Torah, 165, 167 
Simeon ben Jochai, Rabbi ,202, 242 
Simeon ben Lakish, Rabbi, 250 
Simeon, Rabbi, 226 
Sin, the moon-god, 241 


Sinai, Mount, 165, 217, 223, 242 
Singing of psalms in early syna- 

gogue, 134 
Sisera, 217 
Sistruttty 50, 51 
Solomon, 41, 201 
Solomon s Temple, m 
Soudanese melody, 8 
Song of Hannah, 175 

Moses, 120, 205 

victory, 71 

the well, 72 

Songs in honour of the Deity, 64 ff. , 

84 ff. 
" Songs of Ascents," 95, 105, 114, 

125 ff. 

Sorceries, 236 
Sosenk T., 42 
Soteria festival, 26 
Special daily psalms in the Temple, 


Spell, 242 

Sticks in Hebrew poetry, 103 
Stringed instruments, 18, 38, 52 ft" , 

56, 59 

Stone, rejected, 227 f. 
Strophes in Hebrew poetry, 103 
Sukkoth, 165 
Sumpdnya, 52 
Superstitions, 188, 190 
Symmachus, 239 

Synagogue, original object of, 
129 ff. 

the pivot of the community, 


at Antioch, 135 

Synagogue-service based on that of 

the Temple, 134, 158 
Synagogue-worship, component 
parts of, I38f., 145 ft. 

Synagogue-worship, psalms in the, 

129 ff. 

Syria, 15, 28, 35, 42 
Syrian hymn-writers, 74 
Syntonolydian mode, 25 


Tabernacles, feast of, 122 ff., 142 

psalms for, 165, 167 

Tacitus, 66 
Tahiti, natives of, 8 
Talmud, 46 
Tambourine, 31 
Tammuz, 15, 170, 247 
Tanchuma, Rabbi, 214 
Tebeth, fast of, 169 
Tehom, 86 
Tell-el-Amama period, 40 

tablets, 231 

Temple music, 22 

| rebuilding of, 212 f. 

singers, 54 

the second, 43 

worship, psalms in, no ff. 

Temptation, the, 251 
Ten-stringed instrument, 60 f. 
Ten Tribes, the, 215 

Tephilla, 145 

Tephillin, 1 86 

Tetrachord, 23 

Tetrameter, 101 

Tetrastich, 104 

Theory concerning Psalm xci. , 233 

Threshold sacrifice, 250 f. 

Timbrel, 37 

Titles of Psalms, 73 f., 80 

to the Psalms, 54 f . 

Titus, arch of, 91 

Tobias, 192, 251 

Tom-tom, 37 



Tonality, feeling for, 7, 12 
Tones, 11 f. , 61 
Toph, 37, 49, 50, 60, 62 
Tongatabu, natives of, 8 
Torah, pre-existence of, 224 
Torch-dance, 124 
Trimeter, 101 
Trisagion, 145 

Tristich) 104 
Trumpet, 57, 114, 119 

fuisco, 66 

Types of song, various, 63 ff. 

Ugab, 51, 62 
Unison, 54 

singing, II, 38, 115 

Universalism, 227 

Veda, 65 

Ver sides, 155 
Vicarious atonement, 223 
Vintage songs, 55, 72 f., 93 
Violin, 31 


Water and demons, 193, 195 
Water-libation, 122 
Weeks, Feast of, 124, 165 
Wells, songs to, 72 f. 
Wicked Seven, the, 234 
Wind instruments, 51 f. 
Wings of Jehovah, 242 
Witches, 233, 238 f. 
Wizards, 233 
Women-singers, 116 

Zainwer, 52 
Zclzelim, 49, 62 
Zerubbabel, 45 



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