Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Job: Written in Meter?

9. The book was composed in meter, but in one unknown to us.


That the book was constrained by meter, from Job 3:3 to Job 42:6, the learned among Hebrews and Christians generally, with a few exceptions, agree. But what the method of the meter might be is uncertain. Jerome, in his Preface to Job: From the beginning of the book unto the words of Job, among the Hebrews the speech is prose. Moreover, from the words of Job, in which he says, Let the day perish, etc., unto that passage where before the end of the book it is written, Wherefore I abhor myself, etc., the verses are hexameter,[1] running in dactyl[2] and spondee,[3] and, because of the idiom of the tongue, frequently receiving other feet also, not of the same Syllables, but of the same intervals. At the same time, the rhythm itself is also found sweet and ringing, with the numbers of feet relaxed: which is understood better by prosodists than by a simple reader. Concerning the same, thus Mercerus in his Preface on Job: I have attempted, in accordance with those things that Jerome teaches, to recall many verses to the measurement of the feet. Having measured a great many, I found them to be hexameter: but sometimes in the place of Dactyl and Spondee other feet here and there occur, according to the idiom of the language, as Jerome says. Many verses are Spondaic, and immediately the first, which ends with הֹ֣רָה גָֽבֶר׃, a man child is conceived. But this often disturbs things here, that they commonly begin the measures from the end of the verses (as they are divided by the Hebrews). Which is evidence, that they did not understand the manner of their songs. I have heard that the Divine Vatablus, in the passage mentioned, understood the method of all the verses of Job and the Psalms, and prescribes certain canons. Moreover, although some, especially the Most Illustrious Gomarus,[4] have attempted to explain the method of the song, others show that they have produced nothing certain concerning it.

[1] That is, a metrical line consisting of six feet. [2] That is, a foot consisting of a long and two short syllables. [3] That is, a foot consisting of two long syllables. [4] Franciscus Gomarus (1563-1641) was a Dutch theologian. Gomarus is most remembered for his opposition to Arminius and Arminianism, and was a significant participant at the Synod of Dort. He wrote Davidis lyra, seu Nova hebræa Sanctæ Scripturæ ars poetica, canonibus suis descripta, et exemplis sacris, et Pindari ac Sophoclis parallelis demonstrata, cum selectorum Davidis, Salomonis, Jeremiæ, Mosis et Jobi poëmatum analysi poëtica.

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