1

My question is whether Psalm 37's 1st verse in the Dead Sea Scroll known as 11QPsd starts with the letter "Aleph," because it is supposed to be an alphabetical acrostic poem. The reason why I'm asking is because it appears to skip Aleph & starts with "Bet" in the 2nd verse.

I'm currently looking into the claim that the Masoretic Text is missing a verse in Ashrei (Psalm 145) that is supposed to start with "Nun," because it is argued that Ashrei is an alphabetical acrostic poem. There is a Dead Sea Scroll named 11QPsa that contains the supposed Nun verse, which has caused many to argue that the Masoretic Text should be "corrected," but I'm uncertain that the acrostic was ever intended to be fully intact.

I am aware of ancient writings that aim to explain the missing verse, such as the passage in Berakhot 4b of the Babylonian Talmud, but my approach looks at Psalm 37, because it is claimed to be another alphabetical acrostic poem. Psalm 37's acrostic happens to start at the second verse, and it happens to skip the letter "Aleph."

I've looked it up in a book known as the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, which lists the verse on a Dead Sea Scroll named 11QPsd. It also mentions that the beginning of the Psalm is there, and that it is connected to the first verse as well as the second verse. The english translation of Psalm 37 in the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible is as follows:

"Of David. Do not [missing text, so it is replaced with assumed text... wrongd]oers.

What I'm interested in is whether the text translated as "Do not" might have to do with an Aleph? Because if there is no Aleph in that Dead Sea Scroll, it could mean that acrostics don't always have to include all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

The problem I'm facing is that I am a novice when it comes to Hebrew, so I can't pinpoint Psalm 37 on the following website, and neither can I figure out if the Aleph is there or not.

  • According to Tehillim 37 Every other verse is in alphabetical order (1, 3, 5, ...) except for verse 29 which starts with tzadi instead of ayin. Verse. 30 then resumes the alphabetical order with pei. Verses 32 and 34 continue with tzadi, kuf. Verse 35 and 37 are shin and reish. verse 39 is taf, but has a vav in front of the word. – sabbahillel Apr 30 '17 at 1:54
4

It appears so, and so does the Masoretic text.

Psalm 37 Masoretic text (from Mechon Mamre):

א לְדָוִד: אַל-תִּתְחַר בַּמְּרֵעִים; אַל-תְּקַנֵּא, בְּעֹשֵׂי עַוְלָה. 1 [A Psalm] of David. Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, neither be thou envious against them that work unrighteousness.
ב כִּי כֶחָצִיר, מְהֵרָה יִמָּלוּ; וּכְיֶרֶק דֶּשֶׁא, יִבּוֹלוּן. 2 For they shall soon wither like the grass, and fade as the green herb.
ג בְּטַח בַּיהוָה, וַעֲשֵׂה-טוֹב; שְׁכָן-אֶרֶץ, וּרְעֵה אֱמוּנָה. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and cherish faithfulness.
ד וְהִתְעַנַּג עַל-יְהוָה; וְיִתֶּן-לְךָ, מִשְׁאֲלֹת לִבֶּךָ. 4 So shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and He shall give thee the petitions of thy heart.

As you can see, the first verse starts "לְדָוִד: אַל-תִּתְחַר" ([A Psalm] of David. Fret not...) The word "Do not" is אל, which clearly starts with an aleph.

Plate 621B, fragment 6 seems to be the piece of this Psalm. Due to the site's terms of service, i won't include the image here, but you can see it starts לדוד א, so presumably it follows the Masoretic text.

As a side note, the psalm does appear to be missing a verse for 'ayin.

  • Would it be OK to use the image under terms of "the exception of single copies for private use"? from their TOS – Scimonster Apr 29 '17 at 18:47
  • 1
    The missing ayin isn't too surprising as ayin and pei may have originally been in the opposite order. Note too the long verse preceding it. – Double AA Apr 30 '17 at 1:03
  • @DoubleAA what's the source about ayin and pei? The only thing I can think of is Eicha, but the first perek is the way we have it. – Heshy Apr 30 '17 at 13:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .