The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: A

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An acrostic psalm is one where the first letters of consecutive verses (in Heb) make up a word, or the alphabet. The Heb alphabet consists of 22 letters, which are listed as headings in Psa 119.

Psalms 9,10: In each the letter Waw is omitted and the letter Pe is duplicated (in vv 16 and 22). Poss these two psalms were originally complete alphabetical acrostics.

Psalms 37, 111, 112, 119: These are complete acrostic psalms (the last being an 8-fold acrostic).

Psa 145: The letter Nun is missing in the Heb text. Many of the ancient translations insert an additional v between 13 and 14 which begins with this letter: "Faithful is the Lord in all his words and holy in all his works" (RSV, NEB, LXX).

Other acrostics are to be found in Pro 31:10-31 and Lam 1,2,3,4 (chs 2,3,4 have 2 letters transposed).

Acrostics are an aid to memory, in an age when written copies of the psalms (or any other Bible portions) were few, and when quite a number of ordinary people were not able to read (Lam 30,31).

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