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I'm reading VanGemeren's commentary about Psalms. He says that Psalm 37 is an alphabetic acrostic organized in 22 strophes, which seems not to follow a logical progression of thought. I wonder what verses compose each strophe.

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2 Answers 2

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Whether one calls them a "strophe", "stanza" or "verse", etc, is a matter of taste. Acrostic poems based on the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are common on OT literature, of which Ps 37 is a good example. In most Bibles, there is a footnote something like this when this occurs:

This psalm is an acrostic poem, each stanza beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Other such acrostic psalms include:

  • Psalm 9 & 10 which probably consisted (originally) of a single psalm, as, combined the stanzas create a complete acrostic poem
  • Psalm 25
  • Psalm 34
  • Psalm 37
  • Psalm 111
  • Psalm 112
  • Psalm 119
  • Psalm 145
  • Proverbs 31:10-31 (The ideal Wife)
  • Lamentations 1
  • Lamentations 2
  • Lamentations 3
  • Lamentations 4

I suggest you examine the Jerusalem Bible which sets these out clearly showing where the "strophes" begin for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In the case of Ps 34, each strophe corresponds to the 22 verses as listed in English Bibles. However, in the case of Ps 37, we have the following:

  • Aleph: V1 & 2
  • Beth: V3 & 4
  • Ghimel: V5 & 6
  • Daleth: V7
  • He: V8 & 9
  • Waw: V10 & 11
  • Zayin: V12 & 13
  • Heth: V14 & 15
  • Teth: V16 & 17
  • Yod: V18 & 19
  • Kaph: V20
  • Lamed: V21 & 22
  • Mem: V23 & 24
  • Nun: V25, 26
  • Samekh: V27 & 28a
  • Ayin: V28b & 29
  • Pe: V30 & 31
  • Tsadhe: V32 & 33
  • Qoph: V34
  • Resh: V35 & 36
  • Shin: V37 & 38 (the letter Sin, a variation of Shin, is not used)
  • Tau: V39 & 40
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From bible.org
This is one column of a multi-column table showing the verse breakdown for different translations.
The verse breakdown for NJB is shown below.
NASB and NKJV differed from NJB, TEV, and NRSV

enter image description here

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