Archive for March, 2012



17  Then David chanted with this lament over Saul and Jonathan his son,  18  and he told them to teach the sons of Judah the song of the bow; behold, it is written in the book of Jashar.

A    19  “Your beauty, O Israel,  /  is slain on your high places!

B    How have the mighty fallen!

C    20  Tell it not in Gath, Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon; Lest the daughters of the Philistines  / rejoice, Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised  /  exult.

D    [Me:  think ‘heights’  (mountains)  …  compared to the land below]    21  O mountains of Gilboa, Let not dew or rain be on you, nor fields of offerings;

E    [Me:  ‘shield defiled’ / ‘shield not anointed’ equals death]    For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil

F    22  From the blood  of the slain, from the fat  /  of the mighty

G    the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,

H    And the sword of Saul did not return empty. 

H’   23  Saul

G’   and Jonathan,

F’   [Me:  think contrast]    beloved and pleasant  /  in their life,

E’    And in their death they were not parted;

D’   [Me:  think ‘heights’ (eagles flying high)  …  compared to the land below]    They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions.

C’   24  O daughters of Israel weep over Saulwho clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

B’   25  How have the mighty fallen  /   in the midst of the battle!

A’   Jonathan  /  is slain on your high places.

C”   26  I am distressed for you my brother Jonathanyou have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women.

B”   27  How have the mighty fallen,  /  And the weapons of war perished!”


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From here, but with an addition.

–  I’ve added A/A’ to this particular chiasmus.  Both A and A’ begin by referring to the resurrection of the dead and the kind of body a resurrected body will have.  Both A and A’ use an agricultural metaphor – ‘sowing’.  This metaphor is used a number of times in each section.

– There’s a kind of building of ideas in this chiasmus.  A/A’ refers to the plant world.  B/C refers to the world of ‘flesh’ (man/animal).  C’/C’ refers to the ‘heavenly’ realm of sun, moon, and stars.  …  In a sense, the ideas start and build on the earth and reach up to the heavens.

– In contrast to the above statement, C  and C’ wind down.  E.g., sun, to moon, to stars (think here in terms of size – as seen from the earth).

– There’s a nice cross-over here in B/C/D/D’/C’/B’.  It goes from B/C (earthly examples) to D/D’ (heavenly to earthly (2 times)) to B’ (heavenly examples).  In a sense the connecting lines produce a true ‘chi” – i.e., an “X”:  earthly to earthly (crossing over the ‘heavenly’ in D/D’), and heavenly to heavenly (crossing over the ‘earthly’ in D/D’). 

– With the addition of A/A’, the end of the chiasmus now has a match for the center.  The end takes the argument a bit further:  from the natural examples in the center (earthly and heavenly bodies) to Spiritual Bodies.  …  If there are all these various natural bodies (plant, animal, man, sun, moon, stars), then why not a spiritual body?

I would recommend going to the site from which the chiasmus came  for additional commentary.  🙂


A    35  But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?”  36  You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies;  37  and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  38  But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.

B    39  All flesh is not the same flesh,

C    but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.

D    40  There are also  (1)  heavenly bodies and  (2)  earthly bodies,

D’   but the glory of the  (1′)  heavenly is one, and the glory of the  (2′)  earthly is another.

C’   41  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars;

B’   for star differs from star in glory.

A’   42  So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body;  43  it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;  44  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a  (2”)  natural body, there is also a  (1”)  spiritual body.

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This Psalm has 2 parts.  The first part is a chiasmus.  The second part is not. 

The chiasmus has a famous beginning (“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?”), a good center, and a nice end. 

Here’s a basic outline of the chiasmus:

A:  A cry for help:  no answer

B:  Israel

C:  Personal (an “I/me” section)

D:  Bulls, lion, bones

E:  Dogs, ‘pierce’, bones

FA prayer for God’s help

E’:   – , sword, dog

D’:   – , lion, oxen

C’:  Personal (an “I/me” section)

B’:  Israel

A’:  Cried for help:  heard

I particularly like the connections through D2, E2′, E’2”, and D’2” :  …  think ‘sharp’, as in e.g., ‘teeth’, as in ‘open lion’s mouth’.

Interestingly, D3 and E3′ (“bones”) have been left unmatched in E’ and D’.  I wonder why?  Is it because of the section’s closer association with death?  If so, then ‘death’ is absent in the latter sections.  …  Death is off the table.  Life is in play  …  ?

Note how D begins with the idea of being surrounded and encircled.  The paralleling and chiastic sections D, E, E’ and D’ then proceed to do just that.  They surround the individual at the center of the chiasmus.  …  The structure illustrates what’s being said.  Nice.

Section C is complex.  a and b are negative, while b’ and a’ are positive.  …  In particular I like the i/i’ match in b where i refers to sneering, while i’ delivers the actual content of the sneer.  The content is chiastic as well.  Once again, well done.


The second part nicely builds through space and time.  Overall, it seems to build and cover everything.

I like this chiasmus. 

It’s an important Psalm, in part, because of it’s connection to Jesus’ crucifixion.


1  (For the choir director; upon Aijeleth Hashshahar. A Psalm of David.)


Part 1


A    My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?  /   Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.  2  O my God, I cry by day, but Thou dost not answer; And by night, but I have no rest.

B    3  Yet Thou art holy, O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel.  4  In Thee our fathers trusted; They trusted, and Thou didst deliver them.  5  To Thee they cried out, and were delivered; In Thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.


a    i   6  But I am a worm,   ii   and not a man,   ii’  A reproach of men,   i’  and despised by the people.   


i   7  All who see me sneer at me;  

ii   They separate with the lip,  

ii’   they wag the head,  

i’   saying,   /   i   8  “Commit yourself   ii   to the LORD;   iii    let Him deliver him;   iii’   Let Him rescue him,   ii’   because He   i’   delights in him.” 


i    9  Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb;   ii    Thou  /  didst make me trust when upon my mother’s breasts.    ii’   10  Upon Thee  /  I was cast from birth;   i’   Thou hast been my God  /  from my mother’s womb

a’   11  Be not far from me, for trouble is near;  /  For there is none to help.


1    12  Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.

2    13  They open wide their  /  mouth at me, As a ravening and  /  a roaring lion.

3    14  I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me.  15  My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And Thou dost lay me in the dust of death.


1′    16  For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me;

2′    They pierced my hands and my feet.

3′    17  I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me;  18  They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.


F    19  But Thou, O LORD, be not far off; O Thou my help, hasten to my assistance.




2”   20  Deliver my soul from the sword,

1”   My only life from the power of the dog.



2”   21  Save me from the lion’s  /  mouth;

1”   And from the horns of the wild oxen Thou dost answer me.

C’   22  I will tell of Thy name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I  /  will praise Thee.

B’   23  You who fear the LORD, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.

A’   (B”)   24  For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;   (C”)   Neither has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.


Part 2


[Me:  Praising God, through expanding ‘space’]    25  From Thee comes my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him. 

    26  The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever! 

    27  All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations will worship before Thee.  28  For the kingdom is the LORD’S, And He rules over the nations.  29  All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship,


    [Me:  Praising God, through expanding ‘time’ / generations]    All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep his soul alive

    30  Posterity will serve Him; It will be told of the LORD to the coming generation

    31  They will come and will declare His righteousness To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.

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