A repeating pattern of stresses, or of the presence or absence of sound, is called rhythm. Morse code works by assigning different letters of the alphabet to different rhythms.

That there is rhythm in Hebrew poetry is denied by few, although it is difficult to discuss as the vowels in the text we have were only added at a late date, when Hebrew began to cease to be a spoken language of the Jewish community.

Some argue that patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables can be found (as in Roman, Greek and English poetry), others claim that Hebrew uses the number of syllables rather than stress as the major feature (like French poetry). Another approach which simply counts "word-units" works well. Older poetry usually gives 2 or 3 word-units to a stich, while more recent poems may have 4 or even 5. First or last lines are often shorter (or sometimes longer) by one.

In view of the problem of working with syllable counts in an essentially vowelless text and "because it works" in this "book" we will use the word count approach.

This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,

© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.