[b-hebrew] Psalm 8:5

B. M. Rocine brocine at twcny.rr.com
Thu May 10 22:08:27 EDT 2007

Hi Philip,

Philip wrote:
> In MT Psalm 8:5, (L) two synonyms are used: ENOWSH and ADAM.
>   Why did David use these synonyms, instead of repeating one word, say ADAM?

The constraints of BH poetry, much more confining than the uncurbed 
practices of modern English poetry, are made both workable and 
challenging by the use of _stock pairs_.  We can notice in the whole 
body of BH poetry an inventory of pairs of synonyms which are used over 
and over in different poems.  One of the pair would be utilized in the 
first of a parallel set of cola, and the other of the pair would follow 
in the parallel colon.  We might think, when the poem utilized this 
inventory of pairs to create bi- and tri-cola, that a poet was 
demonstrating his membership in the poets' guild.  He would prove his 
worth by inventing fresh and arresting combinations from the same 
inventory as his forerunners and competitors.

'adam and 'enosh are one such stock pair.  'iysh and 'adam are another 
such pair.  In fact, Job 36:24 and 25 use all three in parallel cola.
>   What was David trying to say by varying the terms?
I think he is showing us his skill as a poet.

I don't think there is a difference in meaning that is possible for us 
to reliably recover.  I think we may notice, though, that _ben 'adam_, 
the second of the two synonyms in your verse, is the bigger (two words), 
less frequently used, more concrete of the two.  This is typical 
"incremental repetition."

>   How are these synonyms different from each other if at all?
>   I would be interested in your views.
>   Many thanks.
>   Philip Engmann.

B.M. Rocine
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13206
W:  (315) 437-6744

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