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Forensic Zoology: Animal Taxonomy and Rhetorical Persuasion in Psalm l

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image of Vetus Testamentum

Ps. l 9-11 and 12 refute the Israelite belief that God needed their sacrificial animals by explaining that God already possessed animals. In Ps. l 9-11, the bulls and goats the Israelites sacrifice to God (verse 9) are juxtaposed with four types of animals that God possesses (verses 10-11). The juxtaposition of a sacrificial animal with God's extensive zoological wealth made it clear that God did not need a sacrificial animal. In the broader context of Ps. l 9-12, these four types of animals are the middle elements in a three-part progression of animals: bulls/goats (verse 9) → four types of animals (verses 10-11) → all animals/everything (verse 12). This progression generated a robust grasp and active affirmation of the exhaustive extent of God's zoological wealth, a heightened sense of the inadequacy of a sacrificial animal, and a sense of divine agitation which chastened the Israelites for their misunderstanding of the nature and character of God.

Affiliations: 1: Grand Rapids


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