Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/554

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538
PSALMS, BOOK OF


been passed by all previous collectors, and what criterion was there to establish their genuineness? No canon of literary criticism can treat as valuable external evidence an attestation which first appears so many centuries after the supposed date of the poems, especially when it is confronted by facts so conclusive as that Ps. cviii. is made up of extracts from Ps. lvii. and lx. and that Ps. cxxxix. is marked by its language as one of the latest pieces in the book. The only possible question for the critic is whether the ascription of these psalms to David was due to the idea that he was the psalmist par excellent:e,1 to whom any poem of unknown origin was naturally ascribed, or whether we have in some at least of these titles an example of the habit so common in later Jewish literature of writing in the name of ancient worthies. In the case of Ps. xc. it can hardly be doubted that this is the real explanation, and the same account must be given of the title in Ps. cxlv., if, as seems probable, it is meant to cover the whole of the great hallel or lehilla (Ps. cxlv.=cl.), which must, from the allusions in Ps. cxlix., as well as from its place, be almost if not quite the latest thing in the Psalter. For the later stages of the history of the Psalter we have, as we have seen, a fair amount of evidence pointing to conclusions of a pretty definite kind. We have still to consider the two great groups of psalms ascribed to David in books I. and II. We have endeavoured to show that the ascription “ to David ” in these groups did not originally denote authorship by David, and that, notwithstanding the subscription of Ps. lxxii., which may well be a later note, there is no necessity to suppose an original collection of Davidic psalms from which excerpts were made. It is, however, probable that the title soon came to be understood of David's authorship, with the result that further notes were added indicating the situation in David's life to which the psalms appeared to be ap ropriate. It is certainly not impossible that the two roups of “ Davidic " psalms once formed separate collections independently compiled, and that the subscription to Ps. lxxii. originally stood at the end of the second collection; for in book I. every psalm, except the introductory poems i. and ii. and the late Ps. xxxiii., which may have been added as a liturgical se uel to Ps. xxxii., bears the title “ of David, ” and in like manner Phe group Ps. li.-lxxii., though it contains a few anonymous pieces and one psalm which is either “ of, " or rather, according to the oldest tradition, “ for Solomon, " is composed of “ Davidic ” psalms. It would seem also that the collectors of books I.-III. know of no Davidic psalms outside of these two collections, for Ps. lxxxvi. in the appendix to the Elohistic collection is merely a cento of quotations from Davidic pieces with a verse or two from Exodus and Ieremiah. Now that the ascription “ to David " was understood of David's authorship before the time of the LXX. is clear from such titles as that of Ps. xviii., 'for example, but there is no evidence that in early times David was regarded as the author of any of the psalms. Even the Chronicler, though he regarded David as the great founder of the Temple music, doesinot quote any psalm as composed by him, and the Chronicler's omission of 2 Sam. xxiifxxiii. 7 makes it probable that this section has been inserted in the book of Samuel since he wrote. If, as is possible, Ecclus. xlvii. 8 is a reminiscence of Ps. ix. 2 and Ps. xviii. 2, we should indeed naturally infer that these two psalms were regarded by Ben Sira as the work of David; but this would prove nothing as to the date of the collection in which we now have them. It may fairly be contended therefore that the tradition that David is the author of the psalms which are assigned to him in books I. and II. comes to us from a period later than that in which the Chronicler wrote. And it is not too much to say that that view-which to some extent appears in the historical psalms of the Ehohi-stic Psalter-implies absolute incapacity to understand the difference between old Israel and later Iudaism, and makes almost anything possible in the way of the ascription of comparatively modern pieces to ancient authors. In any case the titles are manifestly the product of the same uncritical spirit as we have just been speaking of, for not only are many of the titles certainly wrong, but they are wrong in such a way as to prove that they date from an age to which David was merely the abstract psalmist and which had no idea whatever of the historical conditions of his age. For example, Ps. xx. xxi. are not spoken by a king but addressed to a king by his people; Ps. v. xxvii. allude to the Temple (which did not exist in David's time) and the author of the latter psalm desires to live there continually. Even in the older Davidic psalm-book there is a whole series of hymns in which the writer identifies himself with the poor and needy, the righteous people of God suffering in silence at the hands of the wicked, without other hope than patiently to wait for the interposition of Iehovah (Ps. xii., xxv., xxxvii., xxxviii., &c.). Nothing can be further removed than this from any possible situation in the life of the David of the books of Samuel, and the case is still worse in the second Davidic collection, especially where we have in the titles definite notes as to the historical occasion on which the poems are supposed to have been written. To refer Ps. lii. to Doeg, Ps. liv. to the Ziphites, Ps. lix. to David when watched in his house by Saul, implies an absolute lack of the very elements of historical iudgment. Even the bare names of the old history were no longer correctly known

The explanation of 'ugh suggested above offers another alterriative.-R. H.

when Abimelech (the Philistine king in the stories of Abraham and Isaac) could be substituted in the title of Ps. xxxiv. for Achish, king of Gath. In a word, the ascription of these two collections to David has none of the characters of a genuine historical tradition. At the same time it is clear that the two collections do not stand on quite the same footing. The second collection of “ Davidic " psalms, as well as the Korahite and Asaphic psalms, have been subjected to an Elohistic redaction, for which we must find a reason if the history of the Psalter is to be written. An explanation that naturally suggests itself is that, at the time when books II. and III. (with the exception of the appendix, Ps. lxxxiv.-lxxxix.) were collected, it was already the custom, from motives of reverence, to abstain from pronouncing the Tetragrammaton. Upon this supposition it might 'be explained that book I. was collected before this scruple arose, and books IV. and V. when the custom had arisen of substituting in reading the word Adonai. But, as we have seen, it is impossible to separate the contents of the Elohistic books from those of the last collection. Both include psalms which are most naturally understood as referring to the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes and to the Maccabaean victories, and cannot therefore be separated by a long interval of time. Moreover the scruple as to the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton seems to have arisen earlier, as in the -LXX. version of the Pentateuch mn' is represented by Kbpws. And further, if the Elohistic redaction was due merely to a desire to avoid pronouncing the divine name, why was not the presumably earlier collection of psalms in book I. subjected to a similar redaction? It is therefore difficult to suppose that the Jewish Church as a whole passed through a stage in which it was felt desirable to substitute cvnhg in writing for mfr. There is, however, no difficulty in supposing that such a thing was done in some sections of the Jewish Church, and it is probable that we must look for an explanation of the peculiar it not to the time but to the place where the second collection was fibrmed. Now it must be frankly admitted that the earlier books of psalms exhibit no particular suitability for the Temple services. It is only in the last collection, books IV. and V., that we find any number of psalms appropriate to such a ritual as that of the Temple, and it is difficult to resist the conviction that the earlier collections were made for use, not in the Temple at Jerusalem but in some synagogue or synagogues. Thus, for example, the numerous psalms in which the poets, though speaking perhaps, not as individuals but as members of a class, describe themselves as poor and afflicted at the hands of certain ungodly men, who appear to be Jews, can hardly have been originally collected by the Temple choirs. For since the ministers of the Temple at Jerusalem were the aristocracy of the land, and were often, as we know both from the book of Malachi and from the history of the Maccabees, the chief offenders, it is extremely unlikely that they collected for the official services of the Temple compositions directed against themselves. It is also remarkable that hymns such as Exodus xv., which would be specially suitable to the Temple, End no place in the Psalter. Moreover, in Ps. xl., we have the striking assertion, which surely did not originate in the Temple, that God has no delight in sacrifice and offerings. On the other hand, the first collection of “ Davidic " psalms taken as a whole would be perfectly appropriate in the worship of a judaean community of Hasidim in the Maccabaean period. We have, unfortunately, no information as to the origin of synagogues, but their existence in pre-Maccabaean times may be inferred not only from the statement in Ps. lxxiv. 8, but also from the fact that there must have been some rallying points for the religion of the Hasidim: besides that supplied by occasional visits or pilgrimages t0 Jerusalem. We need not suppose that congregations gathered together to worship away from Jerusalem, especially in times of distress, would necessarily sing the religious poems which they had collected, though it is by no means improbable that they would do so. At any rate, Ps. cxxxvii. 4 may fairly be taken as evidence that those heathen among whom the Jews dwelt ii in a strange land " had heard and admired the “ songs of Zion.” Certainly in happier times, when the worst period of storm and stress was over, there would be a desire to enliven the services with music, which would naturally be borrowed from the traditional music of the great national sanctuary.

In thus assigning the first collection of psalms to some Iudaean community of Hasidim in the earlier Maccabaean period we need not conclude that all the psalms contained in this collection were first composed at this time. Although there is no psalm which can be shown with any probability to be pre-exilic, it'is not impossible that there are some which date from as early a' time as the age of Zerubbabel, by Whose appointment national hopes were raised to so high a pitch. Thus, for example, Ps. xviii., xx., xxi., which in some respects recall the language of the song ascribed to Hannah in I Sam. ii., may possibly, like that song, be referred to this period. It must, however, be admitted that as a whole the psalms of the first collection are more suitable to a later date. Ps. viii., which is almost certainly quoted in job. vii. I7, need not have been composed long before the book in which it is quoted: the references to the “ godly " and to their persecutions at the hands of wicked men, who seem to be Jews, recall the Maccabaean age; in Ps. xxii. the speaker, who is not an individual but speaks in the name of a community, bears a remarkable resemblance to the “suffering servant ” of Isaiah lii. I3-liii,