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Complex Antiphony in David’s Lament and Its Literary Significance

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image of Vetus Testamentum

The chiasma structure of David’s Lament (2 Sam 1:19-27), together with evidences of antiphonal performance of qinot in Israel, suggests that this dirge was performed antiphonally by two voices, the first (sense voice) singing all the verses in ascending order and the second (the anti-sense voice) responding by singing them in descending order. It is shown here that the matching of verses according to this setting (defined as cross-responsa) generates both complementary claims typical to antiphony, and new ‘composite meanings’ providing a new dimension to the poem as a whole. Since these features are difficultly fortuitous, it is concluded that the David’s lament was conceived to be performed antiphonally as a cross-responsa. This analysis reveals the existence of a complex but ignored dimension of ars poetica in ancient Israel.

Affiliations: 1: Kfar Saba, Israel


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