Hebrew Poetry

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
August 2012

In English, we create poems and songs by rhyming ending sounds and focusing on the pattern of rhythms a series of words make. It works well in English, but it isn’t easily translated into other languages because words, syllables, and rhythms are different.

The Israelites used a different style of poetry for their writings. They compared and contrasted ideas using different flows of ideas to create patterns. Since it is the idea and not the actual words, Hebrew poetry is easily translated into any language.




Exercise for the Reader

  1. Using Psalms 1, mark all the various styles you can find. Remember that in Hebrew poetry you can have connections between words, phrases, sentences, and whole paragraphs. A way to start is to take note of related words or phrases no matter how closely or distantly they are spaced.
  2. Look at Mark 9:43-48. What style of poetry is Jesus using? What are his three points? What is the significance of those three points?
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