Are There Maccabean Psalms in the Psalter? -- By: Charles Lee Feinberg

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 105:417 (Jan 1948)
Article: Are There Maccabean Psalms in the Psalter?
Author: Charles Lee Feinberg

Are There Maccabean Psalms in the Psalter?

Charles Lee Feinberg

Perhaps one of the most important questions in the matter of dating the Psalter is that of the presence or absence of Maccabean psalms in the collection. Scholars differ widely on the subject of such psalms in the Psalter, some finding a large number, others noting but a handful, while still others declaring the improbability of any such compositions in the Bible. The trend today is clear enough, however. Rowley notes: “At the beginning of the present century it was common to hold that a large number of the psalms was not composed until the Maccabean period. Such a view made the compilation of the Psalter so late that it could hardly be supposed that the Temple choirs of the Chronicler’s day could have used this Hymn Book. Today there is a general tendency to find few, if any, Maccabean psalms, but on the contrary a good deal of ancient and pre-exilic material, though it is unlikely that any part of our Psalter was collected in its present form before the return from the exile.”1

W. T. Davison contents himself with the general remark that there were probablv such psalms.2 Driver proceeds very cautiously in reviewing the opinions of Olshausen and Reuss on this type of psalm, and thinks there would have been more prominent marks of such a period in the diction and style of the psalms.3 J. M. P. Smith cites the four usual

ones, Psalms 44, 74, 79, and 83, as Maccabean and takes for granted that the number may be still larger, if the great events of the Maccabean era find expression in psalms at all.4 Wellhausen did find more than the four psalms just mentioned. As for Psalm 44:22 (Hebrew 23), his verdict is that the Maccabean period is the only period when this happened.5 Psalm 59:7 (Hebrew 8) speaks of Jerusalem during the time of the Maccabean War (167 B.C.). Psalm 61:4, 6 (Hebrew 5, 7) depicts the successes of the Maccabees, and these alone can fit the demands of the passage. The king mentioned is of the Hasmonean dynasty, but is not Aristobulus I (105/4 B.C.), the son of John Hyrcanus I (135-105 B.C.) and brother of Alexander Jannaeus (1...

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