Poetry comes in many types. In English, I think we’re most familiar with rhyming poetry. Anyone who has passed through High School English is probably familiar with syllable-restricting poetry, such as iambic pentameter. A few years before my time, English poetry favoured alliteration and the use of a caesura, or break in the middle of a line.

One of the features of Hebrew biblical poetry is repetition, or a doubling of statements. I found one of the more beautiful examples of this in Genesis 46:6-7:

[They] came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him, his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters; all his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.

It’s interesting and sometimes quite lyrical, but it also makes the Bible a very difficult text to read. It’s easy to get lost in all the repetitions, especially when they come close after one another in long lists. While it’s fine in this particular passage, there are parts of the Bible where it makes whole passages virtually inaccessible to modern readers who are unfamiliar with this poetic form.