Dramatic poetry in the sense in which the phrase is applicable to productions such as those of Euripides, Shakspeare, or Schiller, had no place in the literature of the Hebrews. This de fect may be owing to a want of the requisite lit erary cultivation. Yet we are not willing to as sign this as the cause, when we call to mind the high intellectual culture which the Hebrews evinced in lyric and didactic poetry, out of which the drama seems naturally to spring. \Ve rather look for the cause of this in the earnest nature of the Hebrews, and in the solemnity of the sub jects with which they had to do in their literary productions. Nor is it any objection to this hy pothesis that the drama of modern times had its birth in the religious mysteries of the middle ages, since those ages were only secondary in re gard to religious truth, stood at a distance from the great realities which they believed and dram atized; whereas the objects of faith with the Israelites were held in all the fresh vividness of primitive facts and newly-recognized truths. Ele ments, however, for dramatic poetry and first rudi mental efforts are found in Hebrew; as in the Song of Solomon, in which several dramatis per sona' will be discovered speaking and acting, by the diligent and unprejudiced reader. Ewald as serts that the poem is divisible into four acts.
In the book of Job, however, the dramatic ele ment of the Hebrew muse is developed in a more marked form, and a more decided degree. Here the machinery and contrivances of the drama, even to the plot and the Deus !'index, are patent to a reader of ordinary attention. For epic poetry the constituent elements do not appear to have existed during the classic period of the Hebrew muse, since epic poetry requires a heroic age. an age, that is. of fabulous wonders and falsely so called divine interpositions. But among the Israelites the patriarchal, which might have been the heroic age, was an age of truth and reality; and it much raises the religious and historical value of the biblical literature, that neither the singular events of the age of the patriarchs, nor the wonderful events of the age of Moses, nor the confused and somewhat legendary events of the age of the Judges, ever degenerated into mythology, nor passed from the reality which was their essence. into the noble fictions into which the imagination, if unchastened and unchecked by religion, might have wrought them; but they re tained through all periods their own essential character of earnest, lofty. and impressive realities.
4. Originality of Hebrew Poetry. Its origi nality is also a marked characteristic of Hebrew poetry. Were it a matter to be determined by authority, we could easily prove that the Hebrew poetry is written in hexameters and pentameters. Josephus more than once asserts that the tri umphal ode of Moses was written in hexameter verse (Antiq. ii, t6, 4; iv, 8, 44) ; and in Antiq. vii. 12. 3, he expressly says, 'And now David, be ing freed from wars and dangers, composed songs and hymns to God, of several sorts of meter; some of those which he made were trimeters and some were pentameters ;' in which statement he is as much in error in regard to the verse as he is in regard to his implication that David wrote his Psalms at some one set period of his life. Not
improbably Josephus was influenced in this rep resentation regarding the alleged meters by his Grwcising propensities, by which he was led to assimilate the Hebrew laws and institutions to Grecian models, with a false view of thus gain ing honor to his country, and, by reflection, to himself as well. Even in his day the true pro nunciation of the Hebrew was lost, so that it was easy to make this or that assertion on the subject of its versification. Certainly all the attempts to which these misstatements of Josephus chiefly led have utterly failed; and whatever the fact may be, whether or not these poems were written in stricter measure than the doctrine of this article supposes, we are little likely to form an exact idea of the Hebrew measures unless we could raise David from the sleep of centuries; and at a time when, like the present, it is beginning to be felt that there has been far too much dogmatizing about even the classical versification, and that speculation and fancy have outstripped knowledge, we do not expect to find old attempts to discover the Hebrew hexameters and pentameters revived. Those who may wish to pursue the subject in its details are referred to the following works: Carp zov, Introd. in V. T. ii. England has the credit of opening a new path in this branch by the pub lication of Bishop Lowth's elegant and learned Pralectianes de Sacra Poesi Hebrearnin, Oxon. 5753; that of Oxon. 181o, is good: the work was translated into English by Gregory. But the work which has, next to that of Lowth, exerted the greatest influence, is a posthumous and unfinished piece of the celebrated Herder, who has treated the subject with extraordinary eloquence and learning: Von Geist der Ebroischen Poesie, 1782, to be found in his collected writings. Much use ful information may be found in De Wette's EM I/it/mg izz d. A. Test., Berlin, 184o, translated into English by Theodore Parker, Boston (U. S.), 1843. In Wellbeloved's Bible, translations of the4 poetical portions may be found, in which regard is paid to rhythm and poetical form; a very valu able guide in Hebrew poetry, both for form and substance, may be found in Noyes' Translation of fob, Cambridge (U. S.), 1827; of the Psalms, Boston, (U. S.), 183r ; and of the Proph ets, Boston (U. S.),1833; but the best, fullest, and most satisfactory work on the subject is by Ewald, Die Poet. Biicher des Allen Bundes, 4 vols., 8vo, Gottingen, 1835-9. (See also Taylor, The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry,1862; Professor Richard Moul ton's various Books of the Bible.) J. R. B.