Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/552

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536
PSALMS, BOOK of


already existed in their place in our Psalter, or that Ps. cvi. even existed in its present form.

Other evidence of date is to be found in the Levitical psalms of the Elohistic collection. These, as we have seen, form two groups, referred to the sons of Korah and to Asaph. In Nehemiah xii. 46 Asaph is taken to be a contemporary of David and chief of the singers of his time, and in 1 Chron. xxv. I seq. one of the three chief singers belonging to the three great Levitical houses. But the older history knows nothing of an individual Asaph; in Ezra ii. 41 the gild of singers as a whole is called Bné Asaph, as it was apparently in the time of Nehemiah (Neh. xi. 22, Heb.).' The singers or Asaphites are at this time still distinguished from the Levites; the oldest attempt to incorporate them with that tribe appears in Exod. vi. 24, where Abiasaphthat is, the eponym of the gild of Asaphites-is made one of the three sons of Korah. But when singers and Levites were fused the Asaphites ceased to be the only singers, and ultimately, as we see in Chronicles, they were distinguished from the Korahites and reckoned to Gershom (1 Chron. vi.), while the head of the Korahites is Heman, as in the title of Ps. lxxxviii. It is only in the appendix to the Elohistic psalm-book that we find Heman and Ethan side by side with Asaph, as in the Chronicles; but this does not necessarily prove that the body of the collection originated when there were only two gilds of singers. But here it becomes necessary to ask what is the precise meaning which we are to assign to the phrases, “to David, " “ to Asaph, ” “ to the sons of Korah." We certainly need not suppose that the Davidic, Asaphic and Korahite psalms severally once existed as separate books, for, if this had been the case, it is probable that the ascription would not have been prefixed to each separate psalm, but rather to the head of each collection (cf. Prov. i. 1, x. I., xxv. I), together with some such note at the end as is found in job. xxxi. 4o, Ps. lxxii. 20; moreover we should be compelled to assent to the View expressed in the Oxford Dictionary that those psalms which have the heading (A. V. “ to "-R. V. “ for "-“ the chief Musician ”) also originally formed a separate collection. But against this explanation of the heading rJ§ ;Q'2 there is an almost insuperable objection; for, since both the first and second books contain psalms with this 'heading, it is clear that the “ Chief. Musician's-or Director's-Psalter ” must have beerf in existence before either of these books; in which case, apart from the difficulty of the antiquity which we should be compelled to assign to this earliest Psalter. it is impossible to understand on what principle the first book of Psalms was formed. If the compiler of the first book aimed simply at making a collection of Davidic psalms from a major Psalter compiled by the “ Director, ” why should he have deliberately rejected a number of Davidic psalms(Ps. li. sqq.) which, ex hypothesi, lay before him in this Psalter? It is surely as difficult to suppose that the Davidic psalms of the first book are a selection made from a greater collection of such psalms contained in the “ Director's Psalter f' as it is to imagine that St lVIark's Gospel is an abridgment of St Matthews it is true that the preposition “ to " ('?) may denote authorship, as it does apparently in Isaiah xxxviii. 9, Hab. iii. I, but it certainly has a much wider meaning; and indeed in some cases the idea of authorship is out of the question, for the psalms ascribed to the Korahites can scarcely have been supposed to be the joint composition of that body. Moreover, it is very doubtful whether the word can be translated “ Director." In 1 Chron. xv. 21 the verb of which mor; is the participle is used of the duty which was discharged by Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-edom, jeiel and Azaziah (and perhaps, if verse 20 is to be taken in closing connexion with verse 21, by Zecharaiah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, ]eiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benaiah also) on one dejinite occasion. Unfortunately the exact nature of these men's performances is not quite clear, for it is said to have been connected with “ harps set to the sheminith, " or according to another interpretation, with “ harps over the tenors." But whatever the obscure expression 1'1'Jf;'=§ 'fH55! may mean, 0341? cannot here mean to “ direct, " for a choir with six “ directors ” would have been a veritable bear garden. Obviously the word Dinh must refer to something in the music; and inasmuch as the cymbals were for the purpose of producing a volume Of sound fSl'i3f§ 3V'i7), it is reasonable to suppose that the musicians with treble lutes and with harps an octave lower (or with lutes and harps over the sopranos and tenors respectively) were to lead the singers in giving out the melody. If this explanation be correct-and it certainly accords best with the meaning of inf; in 1 Chron. xv. 21-the D339 will be that part of the orchestra which played the melody to be sung, virtually corresponding, mutatis matandzs, to what we now call the choir organ, and we need not complicate the compilation of the Psalter by postulating an altogether unnecessary “ Director's Psalter." Now we have seen that the 5 prefixed to HUP 'AQ cannot refer to authorship; we seem therefore shut up to one of two alternatives, either the psalms inscribed rn? belonged to the repertoire of the Korahites, or they were intended to be sung in the Korahite style. It is indeed possible that. each division of the Levitical singers had its own collection; but this is hardly probable unless we are to suppose that they never officiated simultaneously, in which case we should certainly have expected that the psalm quoted by the Chronicler (1 Chron. xvi.) would be included in the Asaphic collection. But there is no difficulty in supposing that each division of the Levitical musicians had its own traditional music, certain instruments being peculiar to the one and certain to the other, in which case the assignment of a psalm to the Asaphites or Korahites will merely denote the sort of music to which it is set. In like manner it is not improbable that 111) meant originally “ to be sung in the Davidic mode ”;2 that is, perhaps, “ with harp accompaniment " (cf. I Sam. xvi. 16), or, since the Chronicler ascribes to David the initiation of the Temple music, “ in the oldest traditional mode.” Under such circumstances, however, a confusion would easily arise between the composer of the tune and the author; and when once the idea had arisen that David was the author of psalms, it would be natural to endeavour to discover in the story of his life suitable occasions for their composition. The interpretation of the titles here suggested removes an objection brought against the assumption of a Maccabaean date for certain psalms, which lays stress on the fact that some of them, e.g. Ps. xliv., are written in a time of the deepest dejection, and yet are psalms of the Temple choirs; whereas, when the Temple was re-opened for worship, after its profanation by Antiochus, the Jews were victorious, and a much more joyful tone was appropriate. For if the titles HUD 'A;§ , ']';t<§ , &c., do not denote that the psalms so inscribed were collected by the Temple choirs, there is no evidence that these psalms were originally sung in the Temple. The earlier collections of psalms may well have been used first in synagogues, and only adapted to the Temple worship when they had become part of the devotional life of the people. It is noteworthy that the psalms quoted by the Chronicler belong to the last collection, books IV. and V., which, as a whole, is far more suitable for liturgical use. Since, then, the existence of separate books of psalms anterior to the present divisions of the Psalter is very doubtful, we must look for other evidences of date. Now, both the Korahite and Asaphic groups of psalms are remarkable that they hardly contain any recognition of present sin on the part of the community of Jewish faith though they do confess the sin of Israel in the past-but are exercised with the observation that prosperity does not follow righteousness either in the case of the individual (xlix., lxxiii.) or in that of the nation, which suffers notwithstanding its loyalty to God, or even on account thereof (xliv., lxxix.). Now the rise of .the problems of individual faith is the mark of the age that followed Jeremiah, while the confident assertion of national righteousness under misfortune is a characteristic mark of pious Iudaism after Ezra, in the period of the law but not earlier. Malachi, Ezra and Nehemiah, like Haggai and Zechariah, are still very far from holding that the sin of Israel lies all in the past. Again, a considerable number of these psalms (xliv., lxxiv., lxxix., lxxx.) point to an historical situation which can be very definitely realiied. They are post-exilic in their whole tone and belong to a time when prophecy had ceased and the synagogue worship was fully established (lxxiv. 8, 9). But the Jews are no longer the obedient slaves of the oppressing power; there has been a national rising and armies have gone forth to battle. Yet God has not gone forth with them: the heathen have been victorious, blood has flowed like water round Jerusalem, the Temple has been defiled, and these disasters assume the character of a religious persecution. These details would fit the time of religious persecution under Antiochus, to which indeed Ps. lxxiv. is referred (as a prophecy) in 1 Macc. vii. 16. It is contended by those who, like the late Professor W. Robertson Smith, are opposed to the dating of any psalms of the second collection in the Maccabaean period, that, since they are post-exilic, there is one and only one time in the Persian period to which they can be referred, viz. that of the great civil wars under Artaxerxes III. Ochus (middle of 4th 1 The threefold division of the singers appears in the same list according to the Hebrew text of verse 17, but the occurrence of jeduthun as a proper name instead of a musical note is suspicious, and makes the text of LXX. preferable. The first clear trace of the triple choir is therefore in Neh. xii. 24.

2 Some confirmation of this explanation of the titles may be found in the fact that in place of ]=m'1"7 (Ps. xxxix. 1) we find in lxii. 1, lxxvii. 1, yznawjhif, the latter expression being apparently an abbreviation of ]=l'1='I1 '7iD"7Sl.