Jer 51:1 - Athbash

Dan Wagner Dan.Wagner at
Thu Dec 28 18:50:53 EST 2000

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Charles David Isbell [mailto:cisbell at]
> Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2000 17:55
> To: Dan Wagner; Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Jer 51:1 - Athbash
> Brian,
> I wrote a bit about this phenomenon in the Sassanian era Aramaic magic
> bowls. "Some Cryptograms in the Aramaic Magic Bowls," Journal of Near
> Eastern Studies 33 (1974):4, 405-407.
> I have no answer as to why 'Athbash is used only sometimes in 
> the biblical
> text.  Could it be that some later editor of the text knew 
> the power of
> magic in common belief, and "threw in" a magical spelling for 
> extra effect!

If so, then in Jer. 25:25 why is it used [assuming _ZMRY_ emended to _WMKY_
= _(YLM_] as a repeated reference to Elam which might indicate a double-dose
of punishment for its king? Also, why use it exclusively for Elam (and
Sheshak, of course)? The focus might be judgment upon the king of
Sheshak/Babel who will drink after all those other miscellaneous kings (v.
26), but Elam is not significant in that misc. list.

I don't know the answer, but even apart from the evidence of this possible
example, it doesn't satisfy me.

Dan Wagner

> Shalom,
> Charles

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