Complex antiphony in David's lament and its literary significance

Nissim Amzallag, Mikhal Avriel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The chiasma structure of David's Lament (2 Sam 1:19-27), together with evidences of antiphonal performance of qinot in Israel, suggests that this dirge was performed antiphonally by two voices, the first (sense voice) singing all the verses in ascending order and the second (the antisense voice) responding by singing them in descending order. It is shown here that the matching of verses according to this setting (defined as cross-responsa) generates both complementary claims typical to antiphony, and new 'composite meanings' providing a new dimension to the poem as a whole. Since these features are difficultly fortuitous, it is concluded that the David's lament was conceived to be performed antiphonally as a cross-responsa. This analysis reveals the existence of a complex but ignored dimension of ars poetica in ancient Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalVetus Testamentum
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Ars poetica
  • Chiasma
  • Complex antiphony
  • Cross-responsa
  • Funeral poetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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