Sunday, November 25, 2007

Psalm 78

Psalm 78 resolves better into five sections than 9. I have put the section boundaries as follows:

1-12 - Theme
13-27 - The temptation in the wilderness part 1
28-43 - The temptation in the wilderness part 2
Verse 43 has a direct repetition of verse 12
44-58 - Remembering the Exodus
59-72 - Rejecting Shiloh, the choice of Judah and David

There are innumerable connections between the parts. In the diagram, (3.6M) I have marked a number of relationships which show me that I am not totally off base. But there is much to ponder. Weiser's decomposition agrees with my first cut - that 1-8 is a section. But I doubt it. The minimizing of inter-section connections and the maximizing of recurrence within a single section seem to indicate that the first section is longer. The repetition of verse 12 in verse 43 seems to indicate the poet's clue that the first section ends at 12, not earlier. Dahood gives no structural clues and I could spend a lifetime on every psalm so I will leave this one for a while.

Two things to note: the repetitions of verbs and nouns seem to occur in pairs. And there is a significant sense from God of the difficulty of the exodus and the settlement: 'he' against 'them'. It reads a bit like the reproaches. A number of words indicate the cost of redemption and the love of God for his recalcitrant peoples.

My colour coding of connections is significant in the diagram. Black indicates that a connection begins and ends in the same section (=column). Blue indicates a connection starting in column 1 but ending in a later column. Red starts in column 2 and ends in a later column. A darker red starts in column 3 and ends in 4 (or 5 but I have not noted any connection here). And gold starts in 4 and ends in 5. It is really easy to get tired doing this even with super software. I will leave my wondering on how the poet worked to build this poem in my subconscious.

I have marked the he stress-units with a forecolour of gold, and the they stress-units with a forecolour of muddy green. If I had to choose, I chose based on the actor of the verb. The red border colour indicates first person, for the psalmist is owning this history and the invitation is to 'my people'.

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