Infamous Ugaritic text: an eclipse

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Thu Jun 22 09:35:19 EDT 2000

Thank you, Ian, for your clarification. You understand "cognate" in a
different way from me, as excluding loan words. The problem with your
definition is that there is usually no way to distinguish ancient loans
between closely related languages from native words. One clue would be
unusual sound correspondences, as we may have between Ugaritic `rb and
Arabic ghrb, if that is derived as it might well be from the Ugaritic idiom
`rbt $p$ "sunset" > Hebrew etc `ereb "evening" (with "sun" implied) > Arabic
gharb "west". But I doubt if we can know for certain with such a word.

Suppose we take the phrase `rbt $p$ on the tablet to mean "the sun set". How
would you understand the relation between this phrase and the previous
phrases? Is it one of sequence, "the day was ashamed, then the sun set"? Is
it one of explanation, "the day was ashamed, i.e. the sun set", or "the day
was ashamed, because the sun set"? Or is it a temporal one, "the day was
ashamed, when the sun set"? As there is no conjunction, and assuming that
they are not totally independent phrases, there must be some such
connection. Some translators have inferred the temporal connection as the
most likely one. I think that is a reasonable, if debatable, choice.

I don't want to go into questions of chronology again now!

Peter Kirk

----- Original Message -----
From: Ian Hutchesson <mc2499 at>
To: Biblical Hebrew <b-hebrew at>
Sent: Wednesday, June 21, 2000 11:52 PM
Subject: Re: Infamous Ugaritic text: an eclipse

> At 18.09 20/06/00 +0100, Peter Kirk wrote:
> >Ian, I did not intend to be rude. Sorry if I led you to take it that way.
> >There are complex twists in your arguments, ones which I do not believe
> >justified. But, since I accept you were not deliberately being confusing,
> >have to conclude that you are confused. Maybe I am also.
> Thanks for your clarification, Peter. I don't believe I am confused, but
> you still might be right.
> >What do you understand by "cognate" when speaking of words? How, in your
> >understanding, can words (of similar form in different languages) be
> >but not cognate?
> Cognates are words that come from the same source word but have developed
> their own way in separate languages. "head" and "capo" are cognates, as
> "Haupt" and "huvud". "chief" however, although from the same source, is
> a cognate for it has jumped language -- it was borrowed from Old French
> "chef" was borrowed much later), though originally from the Latin "caput"
> which was a cognate. Cognates are therefore native to individual sibling
> languages. What needs to be established for `rb (=evening, from "to become
> dark") is how Hebrew got the word. If it was always in the language then
> could be a cognate with a related word in another language. And that could
> be `rb (=go in) in Ugaritic. But still, even being cognates doesn't mean
> that their significances need to be directly related. Haupt is "principal"
> as in English "head office", but German also has another word originally
> borrowed I think from the Latin, Kopf.
> Are "have" and "avere" cognates?
> >I suppose there could be some confusion somewhere in our thinking between
> >the roots `rb and qrb. The latter means "draw near" in Hebrew, and
> >the sexual meanings. Does it appear with ayin instead of qoph in
> ayin. And the verb `rb means "to enter" or "to go in". I checked it
> yesterday in a volume of UF. What I couldn't find was a word for
> >There are also at least two distinct roots `rb in Hebrew (corrseponding,
> >understand, to different pronunciations of ayin at least in early
> >one, meaning "evening", is cognate with the Arabic gh-r-b as in Maghreb =
> >west, place of the evening, and the other is cognate with the Arabic `rb
> >in `arab "Arab", which is both Arabic and Hebrew. Perhaps someone who
> >more Hebrew and Ugaritic than either of us can put us right on which root
> >underlies `rbt in the Ugaritic text in question.
> Ugaritic `rb. This is what all the literature indicates.
> >Meanwhile, I thought you might be describing this text as "infamous"
> >of the part it plays in David Rohl's proposed revised chronology, as set
> >in his book "A Test of Time" or "Pharaohs and Kings". For the benefit of
> >and others who have not read his book, I will describe briefly (and from
> >memory for the moment) what he has to say about this text. He interprets
> >as a description of an eclipse at sunset (b++ "ashamed" as metonymy for
> >"darkened"; `rbt as "setting").
> This is where I first got to see the text. You can see the problem
> There are many difficulties in the text. Dave has indicated how he would
> approach it. Rohl has indicated how he did. Sawyer & Stephenson their way.
> Aisleitner his. In UF 6, pp.464-5, M. Dietrich, O. Lorenz and J. Sanmartin
> opted for this:
>     Der Neumondtag des Monats Xjr        b++ . ym xd+ xyr .
>                 wurde zu Schanden.
>     Die Sonne ging unter,                `rbt $p$
>     R$p war ihr Pfoertner.               +grh r$p
>     Die Lebern ueberpruefte man:         kbdm tbqrn
>     Gefahr.                              skn
> I think we can discount the notion of `rbt $p$ as being "at sunset":
> nothing in the text points to it being a temporal phrase. So the analyses
> based on what seems an obviously unsupportable translation have little
> But this little text is full of traps. The last section for example was
> seen as a warning, but now is related to extispicy.


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