An Intro to Hebrew Poetry

Did you know there’s a lot of poetry in the Bible? Most of the wisdom books and prophets are in verse, which is approximately 20-25% of the Bible.

Hebrew Poetry Characteristics:
1. rhyme – doesn’t rhyme
2. meter – inconsistent, no predominant pattern
3. parallelism – it’s what makes Hebrew poetry, well, poetry
     a. think in pairs, on surface says same thing twice
     b. descriptive phrase that suggests one line is intricately related to the next line

Types of Parallelism:
1. synonymous parallelism
Two lines say essentially the same thing in different words
Psalm 24:2
He founded – it – upon the seas
         A           B               C
And established – it – upon the waters
        A                   B                 C
2. antithetic parallelism
Two lines contrast
Psalm 1:6
For the Lord watches over – the way – of the righteous
                    A                          B                       C
But the way – of the wicked – shall perish
          B                    C                     A

The lines are intertwined, and aren’t meant to be pulled apart. The second line usually has more power, impact, and energy.
For instance:
Prov. 3:10 filled/bursting
Ps. 72:9 bow/lick the dust
Ps. 88:11-12 darkness/oblivion