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I HAVE thought that a separate edition at a low price of the chapters containing the Psalms in the second part of my Bible for Home Reading might be useful for those who do not want, or cannot easily afford, to buy the volume as a whole. The present little book is a mere reprint without any alterations; even the pagination of the original has not been changed. But I hope that by its means the Book of Psalms may find its way into many a Jewish home, and into the hands of many Jewish youths and maidens, who are still unfamiliar with it whether in the original or in a translation. This book is not, I admit, a complete Psalter, but it contains 121 Psalms out of 150, and, as I venture to think, all the best and noblest psalms are included. The indexes show the arrangement, and on what page any particular psalm is to be found.

April, 1901.

$ 3079





§ 1. The origin of the Psalter.—Another and a very different form of literature will come before us in the present section: a fresh example of the great variety of religious writings contained in that wonderful collection of books which we call the Bible. For this section is to be dedicated to the Psalms. And the Psalms present us with a phase of religious thought and expression unlike the utterances of sage and prophet and story-teller to which we have already listened. A few Psalms have already been given at the end of Part I and in the story of David; these will now find their proper place among their fellows, and be gladly read again by all who read them before.

The Book of Psalms has been most succinctly defined as 'a collection of religious and devotional poetry. It is made up mainly of prayers and songs of praise, with a certain number of didactic pieces.' The total number of Psalms is 150. The Hebrew name for the book is Tehillim, and means 'Praises' or 'Songs of Praise.' And the name expresses the purpose for which the three or four collections that now compose the Psalter were originally made. After the reforms of Ezra, the services of the Temple of Jerusalem became more and more carefully and elaborately organized. These services comprised not only sacrifice, but song. And gradually the songs were almost as systematically arranged for as the sacrifices. Before the Babylonian captivity, it would seem that such singing as took place in the Temple worship was not officially organized. Various references in pre-exilic literature, as well as the total lack of any allusion to Psalms or to trained choirs, make it highly probable that such music as accompanied the sacrifices did not proceed from 'officers of the Temple, but rather from the worshippers at large,' while what we hear of the singing



'suggests the untrained efforts of the congregation rather than the disciplined music of a temple choir.' But after the return, or more accurately after Ezra, the Temple music was no longer left to the uncertain outbursts of the worshipping throng. Guilds of singers were established and trained, and the musical part of the services became as important, and perhaps as elaborate, as in a modern cathedral.

These singers needed songs-hymns, as we should now call them. The services of the Temple were, in one sense, the expression of the national life, and it was natural that the songs should vary with the changing feelings of the nation and its leader. In days of sorrow and affliction, hymns of petition and penitence were in place; in days of gladness and prosperity, hymns of rejoicing and gratitude. And on all days praises, praises of God whose lovingkindness, though sometimes seemingly veiled, was yet abiding and certain.

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Who wrote these varying hymns? We cannot tell. singers doubtless wrote themselves; others were written for them. Others, again, and these perhaps the oldest, had been written by this private person or that, as an expression of his own longings and piety, or more often as the vocal utterance of a heart which beat in unison with the highest aspirations and deepest sorrows of Israel. Such existing hymns might be adopted and even adapted for Temple usage.

Collections were made, added to and added together. Psalms were inserted in these collections, not all of which perhaps were used or capable of use in the Temple services. In these collections they were given a place of refuge and of preservation. As Professor Wellhausen succinctly puts it: The Psalms are a collection of hymns for use in public worship. Only a small proportion, however, were composed expressly for this use. Some are of a secular nature (e.g. Ps. xlv), some give lyrical expression to the thoughts of an individual (e. g. Pss. iii and iv); but all were received into the collection to promote the edification of the congregation. The Psalter is the hymn-book of the second Temple.' Some scholars would emend this statement by the omission of the word 'small.'

§ 2. The collections which make up the Psalter.-Our present Book of Psalms contains three main collections.' The first collection is the oldest and contains the oldest Psalms, though it is very doubtful whether even any of these are older than the Exile. It extends from Ps. i to Ps. xli. Some much later Psalms may have been inserted by later editors or copyists into this earliest collection.

The second collection extends from Ps. xlii to Ps. lxxxix. It is itself made up of at least two minor collections with a suppleInto the details I have no space to enter.


The third collection begins at Ps. xc and goes down to the end of the book. On the whole, the Psalms of this the latest collection are marked by a liturgical character more predominant than in the other books.'

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At a later period the whole number of Psalms was divided up afresh to form five books or divisions corresponding with the five books or divisions of the Pentateuch. The first book corresponds with the limits of the original first collection (i-xli). The second collection was split up to form the second and third books (xliilxxii; lxxiii-lxxxix). Similarly the third collection forms the fourth and fifth books (xc-cvi; cvii-cl).

We do not precisely know when the last collection was made. But we can be tolerably certain that its date and the date when it was added on to the first and second collections were not separated by many years, and that both dates lie far on in the post-exilic period. For, if on the one hand, it is doubtful whether any of our present Psalms in their present form reach back to before the Exile, it is, on the other hand, almost certain that the latest of them reach forward to the second century before the Christian era, and more particularly to the epoch of the Maccabees. In the 300 years which extend from the reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah to the Maccabean revolt by far the greater portion of the Psalter was written. Let me add here that the Greekspeaking Jews called the poems with which we are here concerned Psalmoi, or songs; hence our word Psalms. Psalmos meant originally the music to which a song was set: secondarily it was used for a song set or sung to music. And as the Greek Psalterion, properly a stringed instrument, was used 'metaphorically for a collection of such songs or poems,' so our word Psalter is used as an equivalent for the Book of Psalms.

§3. King David and the Psalter.-Nearly half of our 150 Psalms have in Hebrew the superscription Mizmor le-David, which is commonly translated a Psalm of David (Mizmor, like Psalmos, is supposed to mean a song set or sung to music). It is not certain that this translation is accurate. Except in this and similar superscriptions the Hebrew preposition 'le' is never used to indicate the author or maker of anything. Perhaps originally the phrase Mizmor le-David had a musical or liturgical meaning which was gradually forgotten. So thinks Professor Cornill. But even in Biblical times-for example, in the age of the man who

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