Hebrew Poetry – Free Psalms Bible Study

OK so this is Psalms for beginners.
This is lesson number two in that series and the title of this
lesson is Hebrew poetry. Before we get to the psalms themselves,
there’s background material. It’s good to understand something about the Psalms,
how they were written, so that we’ll have a better appreciation when we
actually begin studying individual psalms. So let’s do just a
bit of a review here. The title means praise. The title
needs praise or praises. They were written over a
period about a thousand years by several different writers the earliest by Moses Psalm 90. And the latest 400 B.C., Psalm 150. David we said is the most
prolific writer of Psalms that we have in the
Bible. Approximately 70 of the Psalms in the Book of Psalms are
credited to David. Originally they were collected in groups or booklets
but eventually put together in the format that we have today. So I mentioned
in my first lesson that they circulated some of them were by themes or
special words or by types and then eventually collected
into the format we have 150 Psalms. Five divisions and these do not include all of the Psalms
in the Old Testament. So there are psalms in various books of the
Old Testament, but most are contained in the Book of Psalms, 150.
Also said that they were used in the Old Testament as a Jewish Songbook. Sung to the accompaniment of
instruments during David’s time. They were also used in synagogue worship.
In synagogue worship there were no instruments, it was
strictly acappella. Used in the early church as a hymn book,
again without instruments. And I said that various versions of our song
books today, Songs of the Church, our various
versions of that have, upwards of 125
songs that are based on on the Psalms so about 125 or 126
songs in our song book based on one or another psalm. Also I mention that Psalms varied.
I mean they’re all important books, but Psalms is important
in its own way. It’s the most quoted book in the Old Testament
from the New, in other words when they quote, when they go and pull
quotes from the Old Testament in the New, the Book of Psalms is the book where most
of the quotes come from in the New Testament. Also there are many
Messianic references in the Book of Psalms, in other words prophecies
about the coming of the Messiah and that’s exactly what brother Dayton was talking
about, the messianic types of psalms. Also Jesus confirmed their inspiration by quoting them himself.
And also just from a poetic perspective, they’re
universal in nature. They have a timeless appeal. I think we looked
at Psalm 23, “the Lord is my shepherd.” You can be English or French, you can
be German, you can be Polish, you can be Chinese, you can be anything you want, when you
read the Lord is my shepherd you read it in the 18th century or the 12th century
or the 21st century, that psalm speaks to you because of its beauty
and its timelessness, universal quality. Alright, so tonight we’re
going to move from the history and the authorship of the different Psalms
to the poetic style of the psalms. Very important to understand
how they were written in order to be able to grasp the meaning
of them. Now we usually concentrate on the content of the Old Testament, but we
rarely discuss the style in which the content was
produced. So most of the Old Testament is written in
poetic form as opposed to a narrative form. And this is in line with
what we know about the writings of other ancient civilizations of that era. Lyrical poetry is the earliest example of
all literature as is seen by Egyptian writings, Babylonian writers thousands of years before Christ.
The oldest form of written communication is lyrical. In other words,
it’s poetry, long before they were writing, “He did this and then he went there and then the next day he tried this and then he killed a cow and he did this and he did that” you know, narrative,
long before that style came out, poetry existed short snips of poetry. In ancient Greece the poets
sang their songs long before the philosophers and historians came on the scene and began to write. their books. Among the early
Germans and English the art of poetic composition developed before
the art of written prose. The earliest quotations from the
Bible for example are in poetic form. Adam’s reaction to
the creation of woman is is a poem right? “This is now bone of
my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken
out of man.” This is poetry. It’s not narrative. God’s rebuke to the serpent and Eve and Adam.
All that is in poetic form as well. Another example is Lamech Lamech’s boast in Genesis
chapter 4. “Lamech said to his wives, ‘Adah and Zillah, Listen
to my voice, You wives of Lamech, Give heed to my speech, For I
have killed a man for wounding me; And a boy for striking me; If
Cain is avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.'” Again, poetic. Poetic form. And this is
early, I mean Lamech. This is, these are the
ancients here. Alright. So when we say poetry versus
prose or narration we mean a style of writing that is
distinguished from prose and narration. For example, the emotional and imaginative
character of its thoughts. In other words, what I’m saying here is,
poetry is distinguished from narration and prose by the emotional
and imaginative character of its thought. Poetry has
power of imagination and it relies on the emotional
impact of its verse to convey its ideas rather than just recounting the story in facts. There’s a lot more power in a poem that
is written with emotion in mind than simply writing “He went here. He did that
then he went over here and he did that.” Another distinguishing factor,
poetry uses exalted diction and lofty ideas and noble expressions to convey its message. In poetry the medium is very important to the message.
In other words in poetry, it’s how you say it, it’s not just what you say, it’s
not just the content of what you say, it’s how you have expressed it that gives
it its power. So many times you use less words but
they’re more powerful words than if you’re writing prose or narration. Also poetry is distinguished by its rhythm. You cannot deliver poetry in a brown paper
bag. It’s got a certain rhythm doesn’t it? Hebrew poetry
has rhythm of thought rather than the beat of syllables. And I’ll
explain that a little bit later. In English type poetry, not all English type
poetry, but you’re looking at the rhythm of it. OK? Like music, like it has a
rhythm, but Jewish poetry, Hebrew poetry doesn’t have that kind of
that beat that certain poetry has. It has a rhythm of ideas.
Ideas are compared and contrasted. And again we’ll talk
about that in a minute. Now not all Hebrew poetry is contained
in the Old Testament. First Kings Chapter 4
verses 29 to 34 refers to 3000 proverbs and one thousand
and five Songs of Solomon. Well there are there aren’t 3000
proverbs in the Book of Proverbs right? And there aren’t a thousand and five
songs written by Solomon anywhere in the Bible and yet the Bible says he
produced all of these and so the Bible only contains some of
what Solomon wrote, some of the material that he has. Little bit like
John at the end of the Gospel of John, John says if all the things that were written about
Jesus or that Jesus did were written in this book the world couldn’t contain all of
the books right, but I have provided these he says so that you might believe, enough
for you to have to believe in the same way not all psalms not all songs
contain in the Old Testament but we have some to get an idea, to get
a flavor of what is going on. Ancient poetic collections
also are referred to in Numbers 21:14. The writer talks
about the book of wars of the Lord. The book isn’t it, is it not
written in the book of wars of the Lord? Well we don’t have that book.
He refers to a book that exists, but it’s been lost. We don’t know. In another place in Joshua
chapter 10 verse 13 it says, we’ll pick it up
in verse 12, it says, “Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the
day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and
he said in the sight of Israel, ‘O sun stand still at Gibeon, And O moon
in the valley of Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written
in the Book of Jashar?” And then he goes on to say, “And the sun stopped in the
middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.” So the writer here in the
Bible is saying this event where the sun stood still in the sky, it’s written about in
the book of Jashar. Well, we don’t have the Book of Jashar. We have this book, but he makes reference to other
material that existed at the time that has been lost to us. So what
we do have however in the Bible has been collected and
presented through the Old Testament, of course under the guidance and under
the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We have thirty nine books in the
Old Testament written mostly in poetic style as was the custom
of writing in the days when this material was first produced. And you are saying well why has he
taken all this time to tell us about poetry and so on and so forth?
Well if you don’t realize that the Old Testament is
mostly written in poetry you can have a hard time
discerning its meaning. OK? So not all Hebrew poetry is
written in the same style. Most poetry found in the Old
Testament can be broken down into two main categories. Number one
Gnomic, don’t pronounce the G, Gnomic, meaning knowledge.
This is a type of wisdom poetry. It presents
thought and reflection, observations on the human
condition and observation on society. What are the
Gnomic type of books? Well the Book of Job for
example. That’s Gnomic. The Book of Proverbs, the book of Ecclesiasties. These are the knowledge books,
the wisdom, the books of wisdom in the Old Testament and also
a type. Really only two basic types of poetry, Gnomic is one, and the other is lyric, lyrical poetry. Comes from the Greek word for the lyre,
which was a musical instrument. The difference between Gnomic and
lyrical is that lyrical poetry was originally written to be sung. That’s the main difference. These lyric, this type of lyric poetry, very expressive. There are poems that express
praise and lamentation and confession; they’re about
feelings many times. You have very different types of lyric poetry.
So you have two main categories: right. Gnomic and Lyric, and then under lyric you
have a whole bunch of types of lyrical poetry contained in the Old Testament. one of
them of course, the most basic, are the Psalms, praise types of the types of poetry
mainly about praise. Also lamentations which means mourning. Again not only psalms about
mourning but other books, the book of Jeremiah, the book of
Lamentations, a book of mourning. Other types of poetry called
lyrical poetry, poems of blessings and curses. For example Noah in Genesis
Chapter 9 verse 25 and 26 and Laban and his family, Genesis 24. Laban, they talk about their sister who is about to be married and
there’s poetry there. The blessing of Rebecca, “May you have
many generations.” Also Moses, blessings and
curses in Deuteronomy 33:1-5. So the blessings
and curses especially Moses he says that this is
what’s going to happen if you obey God and he names all the blessings that will happen: your crops won’t fail and your animals will produce and you won’t be sick
and no one will harm you. Those are the blessings, but if
you disobey, this is what’s going to happen to you: you’ll grow crops but you still won’t
have enough, and the invaders will come on your land and the diseases that the Gentiles have you’ll
have these diseases and so on and so forth. So it’s poetry, it’s
not praise, it’s not lamentations, it’s poetry of
blessing and cursing and usually they come together.
Usually they come together, some blessings and some cursings OK. I want to show the difference between the
King James Version and the New American Standard. For the longest time scholars believe that the Old Testament was
written in the same style as the New Testament. It was just narrative, it was just writing. And I just want to show you the difference
here in Deuteronomy for example chapter 33. Verses 1 to 5. So this is in the King James Version, look how it’s written, but it says, “And this is the blessing, werewith Moses the man of God Bless the children
of Israel before his death. And he said,” (So this is a blessing. Poetry of
blessing.) “So he said, ‘the Lord came from Sinai and rose up from Seir unto
them; He shined forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of
saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea, He loved the people. All
of his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at my feet. Every
one shall receive of thy words. Moses commanded us the law, even the
inheritance of the congregation of Jacob and he was king in Jeshurun, when the
heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.'” so I’m not
reading this to make a point about what he’s saying here, what he
was promising and what he was blessing. I want you to notice the form. This
is the form of this passage in the King James. Now watch when you go to
the New American Standard look at the difference in the form. Same words. I’m not going to read it over again, but now it’s not written like you write a letter it’s not written like a narrative. OK. Now it’s written in poetic form. OK. We’re going to talk about
that. Just hold that thought. I wanted to show you the difference because some people are
saying well what’s wrong with the King James Version? Well, there’s nothing wrong with the King James Version, the only problem is it was produced before there were modern discoveries about
how things were done back in the Old Testament. Alright. So let’s keep going with the
different types of lyrical poetry and I’ll come back to this in a minute. So other
types of lyrical poetry, tribal songs. The song of Lamech which I read to
you before 70 times 7. Those are tribal songs. Then there are things
called mashals which are lessons or riddles, if
you wish, or parables. Samson’s riddle in Judges
14:14 about the honey, that’s a mashal. Other types of lyrical poetry, paeans. Paeans are songs of victory. Usually something written in reference to
some historical event, a victory of some kind or great defeat.
Moses at the Red Sea in Exodus Chapter 15
verses 1 to 18 when he talks about the victory,
the water covering over the Pharaoh and his soldiers, that’s called a paean. Then there are dirges. Dirges are funeral songs. David’s song when Saul and Jonathan were killed in
Second Samuel chapter 1 verse 17 to 27. David writes a very moving poem about how noble Saul was, even
though Saul tried to kill him a bunch of times, he still respects
his memory that he was a noble man and Israel succeeded
when he was there. And of course Jonathan, Saul’s son who is
David’s friend, was also killed at that time, so he
writes a funeral dirge or song in order to
honor these fallen men. So there are other
types but those are the seven main types of lyrical poetry
that you will find in the Old Testament
and within each book you find different types of poems.
OK. Different styles. Alright, so there you have the two main
categories. Gnomic, wisdom literature. Lyrical which is
expressive and emotive and then under lyrical you had those seven
different types of poetry that we just talked about briefly. Alright, so those are
the types. So let’s talk about the characteristics, the little
things that happen, the little devices within the poem itself that give it a
little punch, that give it not meaning but that
give it some sort of essence. Alright. So the first characteristic of Hebrew poetry is rhythm. Rhythm. Most scholars agree that there is
rhythm in Hebrew poetry but not Western style rhythm. I don’t mean
country and western here, I mean western civilization type. As
I said earlier the rhythm doesn’t follow the number of
syllables but rather the pattern of ideas. So Hebrew poetry
was divided into lines and each line was
broken into two or more parts called stichs. S T I C H S, pronounced
stick, like a stick you know breaking a stick. So you had a line
of poetry and the line was broken into two or more stichs. Usually two or three
stichs with several words each. So here for example in
Psalm 54 verses one and two. “Save me, O God, by Your name,
And vindicate me by Your power.”
That’s one line, but it’s been divided into two stichs. You see that?
“Hear my prayer, O God;
Give ear to the words of my mouth.”
That’s a second line divided into two stichs. Now usually there are two or three
stichs with several words each. Now they also stressed words in
a stich that might have a variable meter indicating
where the emphasis should be pronounced. They emphasized words. See we’re
so used to Western type poetry or music or lyrics where
things rhyme. Moon. What’s the word for Moon? Moon. Boom. Shine. Mine. OK. Hebrew
poetry doesn’t work like that. They emphasized
words so it would be “Save me, O God, by Your name,
And vindicate me by Your power. Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth.” That
was the way that if you were doing orally, they emphasize words, not necessarily words
that rhymed with each other. They simply emphasized words to give more power
to an oral reading. So you had rhythm. OK. Another device, rhyme. that’s easy to talk about. Rhyme.
There was no planned rhyme scheme in Hebrew poetry. That’s the big
difference between it and much of Western poetry. When there was rhyme, it
occurred simply as a coincidence. It was never planned. So rhythm, rhyme. Now let’s look at some
devices little tricks, little things that they did to embellish, that’s the word I
was looking for before, in order to embellish their poetry to give it some shine, OK? One of the devices is
called assonance. In assonance similar
sounding words that have different meanings. So in Jeremiah chapter one
verse 11 and 12 it says, “The word of the Lord came to me saying,
‘What do you see Jeremiah? And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am
watching over My word to perform it.'” So you read that in English,
don’t mean nothing to you. What do you see? I said an almond
tree and then God says I’m watching my word. But in the Hebrew the
word for almond is shaqued. OK? And the word for
watching is shoqued. Shoqued. The idea is that the almond tree
is the first one to bud in the spring. And so the idea here that
Jeremiah is writing about is that God is always the
first to see how people are to react to Him and His will; just
like the almond tree is the first one to bloom, God is the first one who is
watching, is the first one to see who is responding
first to his will. You’re saying, “Wow”. Pretty subtle right? Pretty subtle. So, and most of
the devices that they use are very, very subtle. The point here is that this
similarity between the tree and God’s watching is highlighted by
the device of assonance, where the two key words
sound alike. OK. Almond and watching.
Another device that is used acrostic. Now we’re a little more familiar
with this idea because we use this in English poetry as well. Acrostic,
where the lines in a poem begin with the succeeding letters
of the alphabet. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew
alphabet. So you would have for example, Psalm 25 has
22 verses and it’s an acrostic where every line
begins with the successive letter in the Hebrew alphabet. So it’s as if you had a
poem and the first word in an English poem were ‘Apples are
wonderful in June’ and the second line would begin ‘Because we love
apples’ and then the third line would be ‘Come and see the apples’.
As you can see I’m not much of a poet, but you get the idea.
Each line begins with a successive letter of the alphabet. This
was a device often used in Hebrew poetry. In Lamentation Chapter Three, the chapter is
a triple acrostic in that it repeats the alphabet three
times. It starts at the beginning. That’s 22 letters and starts again and does another
22 letters and then another twenty two letters. Again very subtle. Wait
till we get to Psalm 119, you’ll see some of the really cool things
that the writers did with that. So we’re talking about devices
right? So acrostics were another type of device that they used
again to embellish their poetry. Another device used and a very
important one to understand is parallelism. The Old
Testament scholar Robert Lowth, who lived in the 18th
century, discovered the use
of this device especially
in the psalms. Lowth realized that unlike Western
poetry where rhythm and beat was demonstrated in a poem by
stressed words or a rhyme, like I remember a poem from my days when
I was in Catholic school in Quebec and we…’In Flanders
Fields.’ If you’re Canadian, you remember “In Flanders Fields the poppies
grow, between the crosses row on row,” and it just goes like that. And you know a
kind of a beat that you recognize and a poetic rhyme scheme, it goes the rhyme scheme, goes
through all the way through the poem like that. OK? Hebrew poetry had
a definite pattern of rhythm but it was between its
ideas and not its words. And this was discovered
when Lowth discovered the use of parallelism. In other
words, by studying and comparing the Psalms, he recognized that the
authors purposefully rhymed their ideas but not their words. Further investigation showed that this
important poetic device had been abandoned by Hebrew writers after
the second century A.D. and this is why it hadn’t been noticed until
Lowth rediscovered it in the eighteenth century. Study by Lowth and
others managed to catalogue six major types of this
rhythm of thought. This parallelism which
they named it now. It’s the most important device in
Old Testament lyrical poetry. So let’s look at the six different
types of parallelism. First there is synonymous parallelism.
Synonymous parallelism is when the author says the same
thing but in different words in successive lines, it is the
most common form of paralleism. So in some 119 verses one to four, the writer says,
“How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the Lord.” Isn’t that the
same thing? If your way is blameless and if you walk in the
way of the Lord, isn’t that kind of the same thing? It’s the same
idea but it’s presented with different words. He goes on, “How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart.” Same idea repeated with different
words. They also do no unrighteousness. They walk in His
ways. If you are in God’s ways, you’re not doing any
unrighteousness. OK you see it? “You have ordained your precepts
that we should keep them diligently.” So synonymous parallelism,
the repetition of an idea in another line
using different words. OK another type, antithetic parallelism. Here the second line is a
contrast to the first line,
not similar, it’s contrasts. So in Psalm 30
we read, “For His anger is but for a moment, His
favor for a lifetime; Contrast. His anger, His favor. “Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning.” OK, weeping at night, joy in the morning. Antithetic. A different concept
presented in the next line. Alright another one. Synthetic. Synthetic
parallelism. The second line does not contrast it, it’s not the opposite and it’s not
repeated. It completes. It completes the first so in Psalm two,
“Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury,”
He’s going to speak in anger and terrify in it. So it’s
kind of, it’s not exactly the same, it’s augmented. It’s like it’s
turning up the heat in the second verse. “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, on My holy mountain.” So I’ve installed the king. He makes that statement.
And then where? In Zion. Where? On My holy mountain.
So it adds information. Each line adds information. That’s synthetic parallelism. Next one is introverted parallelism. The easiest way to realise is to look at, to remember ABBA, A-B-B-A. You have an idea; idea, “A” and then you have idea “B” and idea “B” is
repeated in the third line. So the second and third line are the same. And
the first and fourth line are the same. Alright. Example:
“My son, if your heart is wise,
My own heart also will be glad;” And then in verse 16,
“And my inmost being will rejoice”. So you see, the second and third line, “B and B”, they match because the second line is “My own heart will be glad;
And my inmost being will rejoice.”
So those two lines are the same, the middle lines, and
then the fourth line.
“When you lips speak what is right.” That’s the fourth line.
It’s the same as the first line which is:
“My son, If your heart is wise.” The first line, “My son, if your
heart is wise” and the fourth line “When your lips speak what is right.” Those
two are the same and then the two middle lines which are “My own heart will
also be glad; And my inmost being will rejoice.” That’s A-B-B-A. OK that’s introverted
parallelism. Then you have climactic parallelism.
That’s stairlike. That’s climax, building to a climax.
One line picks up words from the previous line and builds and the
next line does the same. So in Psalm 93 verse three it says
and I’ll give you the lines. “The floods have lifted me up, O Lord,”
One line, one stich. One stich.
“The floods have lifted up their voice,” Second stich.
“The floods lifted up their pounding waves.”
Third stich. So climatic, building to a climax. Adding material to
build to a climax, that is climactic or stairlike. And then there is emblematic.
Lines that are like or as that use the words like or as to
compare ideas. They’re similar to synonymous parallelism. “As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” See it? Comparison, when
they use as or like to compare. Now Lowth recognized a pattern, that was his thing, he recognized
there’s a pattern here. A lot of these psalms, they work in the
same way. So understanding of parallelism helps us better interpret
the Psalms because we can know who the author is referring
to when he speaks. For example in Psalm 8
verse 4, famous passage, “What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him? What kind of parallelism is that? Well, that’s synonymous parallelism
isn’t it? The son of man here in context refers to who is the
son of man in this poem? It’s a man, it’s a person. Why do you know that?
Because this is parallelism here. The first line, right? The second line just repeats the
idea of the first line in a different way. So the first line is “What is man?” Well man a human
being. “What is man that You take thought of him,” Second line, And the Son of man that You care
for him?” What is the second line referred to. Well it refers to the thing that’s in
the first verse. Man, an ordinary man. Now the Hebrew writer takes this
particular Scripture and in the light of New Testament understanding
connects this to Christ. So we get this here in Hebrews in the New
Testament it says, “What is man, that You remember him?” He goes and gets that idea,
“Or the son of man, that you are concerned about him?” Now watch, in the Hebrew writing, he
gives some meat to this frame here. He explains what this means. Then he goes
on, “You have made him for a little while lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
You have appointed him over the works of Your hands; You have put all things in subjection
under his feet. For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to
him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.” So in the Old Testament,
the writer was simply referring to a man. And he was making the
point, “Who are we human beings that you would actually pay attention
to us? We’re nothing, we’re so weak and sinful and yet you pay attention
to us. You worry about us, you give us things.” That’s the point he’s making. The
New Testament writer, the Hebrew writer, he goes back and grabs that passage brings
it into the New Testament and in the light, in the light of
revelation about who Jesus is, he takes this passage and he makes
something more out of it. So he says, “Who is man?” And then he says, “or the Son
of Man”, now he’s referring to Jesus and we know he is referring to Jesus. OK? Just a
way that the poets did this. So let me just summarize, because I heard the first
bell. Number one, most ancient writings are in poetic form and so
is the Old Testament. Number two, Old Testament poetry is
divided into two main categories: Gnomic, which is wisdom type and
lyric, which is expressive meant to be sung. Also it was a style that was helpful for
memorization. Isn’t that the way we do it? If you ever go into the lower classes where
our little kids are being taught, how are they remembering things? Matthew, Mark,
Luke, and you know, they sing it. They sing the books of the Bible, they sing
the 12 Apostles, they sing the Kings. Nothing new. That’s how they learned
things in the Old Testament as well. And then thirdly, Old testament poetry has its
own particular rhythm and no planned rhyme and it used
a variety of devices: assonance, similar sounding
words with different meanings; acrostics, using the
alphabet; parallelism, a comparison and balancing of
thoughts in successive lines and verses and we said there
were different types of parallelism and
synonymous parallelism was the main type. So next time we’re going to
divide the Psalms into the category of themes and we’re going to examine
individual psalms that represent well those particular themes. And I mean
there’s a reason why I jammed all of the technical stuff
about Hebrew poetry into one lesson. I think you’ll find it useful as we
go on you’re going to start recognizing “Oh. Oh yeah that’s synonymous parallelism.
Oh, that’s an acrostic. It’ll be a much more enriching study if you
understand some of this technical background

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *