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Acts 27 Paul’s shipwreck.

Note: we have previously posted proposals for a six-fold division  of Acts 27,  with each section  being chiastic.  Further reflection suggests that these sections form an ABCC’B’A’. pattern. 

A. vv 1-6      Centurion shows kindness to Paul.

B. vv 7-12 Loss of  life and cargo anticipated by Paul but rejected by Centurion

C. vv 13-20   Driven by the wind

C’. vv 21-26 The angel of God in control

B’. vv 27-40 Promise that all would be saved if they stayed in the ship

A’. vv 41-44 Centurion saves the lives of all the prisoners because of Paul

In the first half the focus is on the dangers of the journey and the force of the storm. In the second half there is a contrast because Paul is told by the  angel of the Lord that all will be saved in the ship. 

Acts 27

Numbers 25:11-13

From Nicholas White

A. 11 Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, 

B. while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.

C. 12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:

C’. 13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, [even] the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; 

B’.  because he was zealous for his God,

A’.  and made an atonement for the children of Israel.

Galatians 5:15-26

From Pete.

A. (15) But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

B.(16) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

C. (17) For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

D. (18) But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

E.(19) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, (20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (21) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:

F. of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

E’.(22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance:

D’. against such there is no law.

C’.(24) And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

B. (25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

A’.(26) Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Numbers 6:1-21*

From Jacob Milgrom, The JPS Torah Commentary, Numbers, 1990. 

A. Introduction
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the  children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: 

B. The vow
 i. 3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.
ii. 4 All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.
iii. 5 All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no rasor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.
iv. 6
All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body. 7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head.
v. 8
All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD.

C. Defilement
a. 9 And if any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his consecration;

b. then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it.

c. 10 And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:

c’. 11 And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him, for that he sinned by the dead,

b’. and shall hallow his head that same day.

a’. 12 And he shall consecrate unto the LORD the days of his separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering:  but the days that were before shall be lost, because his separation was defiled.

B’. End of the Nazarite Vow
13 And this is the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled:

i. he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:

ii. 14 And he shall offer his offering unto the LORD, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings, 15 And a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings.

iii. 16 And the priest shall bring them before the LORD, and shall offer his sin offering, and his burnt offering: 17 And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, with the basket of unleavened bread: the priest shall offer also his meat offering, and his drink offering.

iv. 18 And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings.

v. 19 And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite, after the hair of his separation is shaven:

vi. 20 And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder:

vii. and after that the Nazarite may drink wine.

A. Conclusion
21 This is the law of the Nazarite who hath vowed, and of his offering unto the LORD for his separation, beside that that his hand shall get: according to the vow which he vowed, so he must do after the law of his separation.

Deuteronomy 32:15-18*

From Lundbom – Biblical Rhetoric and Rhetorical Criticism, HBM, Sheffield, 2013

15 But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked:

thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick,
thou art covered with fatness;

a. then he forsook God which made him,
and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.

b. 16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods,
with abominations provoked they him to anger.

c. 17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God(no-gods);
to gods whom they knew not,

b’. to new gods that came newly up,
whom your fathers feared not.

a’. 18 Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful,
and hast forgotten God that formed thee.

Isaiah 65-66*

Following the proposal of Motyer

A. (Isa 65:1)  The call of the Gentiles

B. 2-7 Israel reject call and choses idolatry
(swine’s flesh/abominable)

C. 8-10 A remnant saved

D. 11-12 Those who reject the call will be judged (“When I called you did not answer …”)

E. 13-25 New Heavens and a new Earth

a.13-16 Separation of God’s servants from the faithless

   b.17-19 Rejoice in the New Creation

a’.20-24 The fruit of labour

D’. 66:1-4 those who reject the call will be judged (“When I called you did not answer …”)

C’. 5-14 the blessings of the remnant who tremble at the Word

B’.  15-17 Judgment of the idolators
(swine’s flesh/abominable)

A’. 66:18-24 The call to the nations

Psalm 37*

Note: Psalm 37 is an alphabetic acrostic Psalm. All the letters of the Hebrew alphabet contribute except for the 16th letter ע. Ronald Benun ( points out that for each letter there are usually two verses, with the second verse not commencing with the particular letter. However, he says,  “the letters דכ, and ק each have only one primary verse and are lacking any attached verses. Even more curious is v 29 … [which] is out of place, not connected to any letter of the alphabet, but at the same time just happens to occur right where we expect the ע verse. It seems that this verse is a kind of substitute for the primary ע verse even though it begins with the wrong letter.” He argues that this substitution – and therefore the break in the acrostic pattern – is quite deliberate. He points out that if we ignore verse 29 then there is a chiastic pattern based on the number of acrostic letters in each section: 3-1-6-1-6-1-3.

A – אבג (two verses per letter)
B – ד (one verse)
C – הוזחטי (two verses per letter)
D – כ (one verse)
C’ – למנספצ (two verses per letter)
B’ – ק (one verse)
A’ – רשת (two verses per letter)

Furthermore, there is a remarkable symmetry in the word count in each section.

A  42 words for 3 letters
B  11 words for 1 letter
C  88 words for 6 letters
D  10 words for 1 letter
C  88 words for 6 letters
B  11 words for 1 letter
A  41 words for 3 letters

The article quoted above goes into much more detail and suggests other numeric features. This basic pattern is hard to dismiss as chance, and we are left to ponder why the letter which is also the Hebrew word for “eye” is omitted.  And how does it relate to the thought pattern of the Psalm? This is where we find some real challenges. Several have proposed chiastic structures for the Psalm, notably Robert Alden (, But these do not square with the numeric pattern.

I have reviewed Alden’s proposal and our previous post. Using some but not all of the frequent occurrences of “wicked” and righteous” seems to me to be too subjective. The following is based on trying to follow the sense of the Psalm, as well as trying to respect the acrostic pattern.


A v1-11: Don’t fret, the wicked will be  like grass, trust in YHWH.
Verses 1-9 form a reasonable chiasm  but we have to link the solitary verse 7 with the following pair of verses. Verse 10 and 11 seem to me to be a summary of outcomes.

a. 1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers,
neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
and wither as the green herb.

b. 3 Trust (batah) in the LORD, and do good;
so shalt thou dwell in the land,
and verily thou shalt be fed.
4 Delight thyself also in the LORD;
and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

b’.  5 Commit thy way unto the LORD;
trust (batah) also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light,
and thy judgment as the noonday.

a’. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him:
fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way,
because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath:
fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
9 For evildoers shall be cut off:
but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be:
yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth;
and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.


B. vv12-15 the wicked plot  against the righteous

a. 12 The wicked plotteth against the just,
and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.

b. 13 The Lord shall laugh at him:
for he seeth that his day is coming.

a’. 14 The wicked have drawn out the sword,
and have bent their bow,
to cast down the poor and needy,
and to slay such as be of upright conversation.

b’. 15 Their sword shall enter into their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.


C. vv16-20  YHWH will uphold the righteous
Verse 20 is the central verse of the Psalm and for some it is the centre of a grand chiasm for the whole Psalm. It has no accompanying verse and no comparison is made with  the righteous and it thereby stands out as different. However, the opening “but” links it  closely with the preceding verse to give it a separate section. Verse 17 “upholdeth” links to verse 24, and verse 18 – the promise of food in famine ties with v25.

a.16 A little that a righteous man hath
b. is better than the riches of many wicked.
b’. 17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken:
a’. but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.

a. 18 The LORD knoweth the days of the upright:
b. and their inheritance shall be for ever.
b’. 19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time:
a’. and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.

20 But the wicked shall perish,
and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs:
they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.


C’. vv21-26 YHWH upholds the merciful
This section is a neat chiasm based on four repeated key words. Verse 24 like verse 17 says that YHWH “upholds” his people.

a. 21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again:
but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
22 For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth;
and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.

b. 23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD:
and he delighteth in his way.

b’. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down:
for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

a’. 25 I have been young, and now am old;
yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken,
nor his seed begging bread.
26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth;
and his seed is blessed.


B’. vv 27-33 Righteousness even under threat from the wicked.

a. 27 Depart from evil, and do good;
and dwell for evermore.
28 For the LORD loveth judgment,
and forsaketh not his saints;
they are preserved for ever:
but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.

b. 29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
and dwell therein for ever.

a’. 30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom,
and his tongue talketh of judgment.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
none of his steps shall slide.
32 The wicked watcheth the righteous,
and seeketh to slay him.
33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand,
nor condemn him when he is judged.


A’. vv34- 40  Wait on YHWH and trust in Him
This section returns to the need to be patient and trust in God. The wicked prospers like a tree, but will be cut down like grass (v2). The section re-emphasises the ultimate outcome.

a. 34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way,
and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land:
when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.

b. 35 I have seen the wicked in great power,
and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not:
yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.

a’. 37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright:
for the end of that man is peace.
38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together:
the end of the wicked shall be cut off.

b’. 39 But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD:
he is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them:
he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them,
because they trust (hasa) in him.

Psalm 20

The Psalm is in two equal parts, each of which has a symmetrical structure.

a. 1 May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!

b. May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!

c. 2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and give you support from Zion!

d. 3 May he remember all your offerings
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah

c’. 4 May he grant you your heart’s desire
and fulfill all your plans!

b’. 5 May we shout for joy over your salvation,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!

a’. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!

a. 6. Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.

b. 7. Some trust in chariots and some in horses,

c. but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. 

b’. 8. They collapse and fall,

c’. but we rise and stand upright.

a’. 9. O LORD, save the king!
May he answer us when we call.