Parallelism Lesson:

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Hebrew poetry was not built on rhyming words but on parallel ideas. The technical term is parallelism (see Parallelism in Hebrew Writing ). Hebrew poetry is constructed of two lines with some pre-designed relationship between each line. The most common form is called 1. synonymous parallelism . In this form the second line repeats the idea of the first line, but uses different words. Proverbs 5:3 provides a good example:

The lips of a loose woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil.

There are many variations on the basic synonymous parallelism pattern. Often the second line will repeat the basic idea of the first line but amplify in some new direction. An example can be found in Proverbs 4:1:

Listen, children, to a father's instruction
and be attentive, that you may gain insight.

Sometimes the second line provides the 2.  logical consequence of the first line as happens in Proverbs 26:4:

Do not answer fools according to their folly,
or you will be a fool yourself.

Another very common form of parallelism contrasts the first and second lines. This is called 3. antithetic parallelism . The second line frequently begins with the word but as the example of Proverbs 10:1 shows:

A wise child makes a glad father,
but a foolish child is a mother's grief.

Such contrasting ideas can also be presented by use of words with opposite meaning by using the word "but" to begin the second line.

The variations and combinations of these basic forms of parallelism offer the opportunity for fascinating analysis in the Wisdom of the Bible. We are able to see dedicated thinkers offering their creative ways of constructing parallelism to the Lord and to the community of faith.

Hebrew poetry also frequently shows 4. patterns of rhythm. The rhythmic meter cannot be translated into English. However, the poetic genius of parallelism can be translated into any language. That is one of the special blessings of Hebrew poetry. Since parallelism of ideas is the basic feature it can be translated into any language when rhyming words cannot be.

The speakers and writers of the Bible material also use several other specific literary forms. 5. Many proverbs are constructed in the "better than" format. Proverbs 15:17 is a typical example:

Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is
than a fatted ox and hatred with it.

6. Many proverbs are constructed with the words "like" or "as" to show comparison. Proverbs 11:22 is a biting example:

Like a gold ring in a pig's snout
is a beautiful woman without good sense.

Another video that teaches Biblical parallelism

Download Video: .mp4  When you learned English, you started with easy words.  When you learn any subject, you must start with easy lessons.  The first lesson in wisdom is that we must respect God.  He made everything.  He is greater than we are.  We must give honour to him.

A person who does not know God may be clever.  He may have many skills.  We can learn many things from him.  Such a person lacks something important.  He has learned many lessons.  But he has missed the first lesson.  Wisdom begins when a person respects God.  We should try to show a better way to this person.

The opposite of a wise person is a fool.  (You would offend a person, if you called him a fool.) 

A fool intends to do evil things.  A simple person does evil things, because he does not know wisdom.  But a fool does evil things, because he hates wisdom.

We want to show God’s way to such people.  But this is difficult.  Jesus said, ‘Do not give valuable things to pigs’ (Matthew 7:6).  Wisdom is valuable.  Sometimes we must leave a fool to be foolish.  A pig does not appreciate things that are valuable to us.  A fool does not appreciate the value of wisdom.

We can learn from the mistakes of fools.  We must not copy their mistakes. 

A fool hates wisdom and discipline.  If we are wise, we shall love wisdom and discipline.