nasa' et ha ro'$

Jonathan D. Safren yonsaf at
Mon May 20 13:03:28 EDT 2002

Liz, I already pointed out that what is commonly called "Biblical Hebrew" is actually a conglomerate of all the stages of the language, synchronous and diachronous, during about 1,000 years (if you're not a minimalist), from the Song of Deborah until the Books of Daniel, Esther, Chronicles.
It's roughly comparable to placing Chaucer, Sir Thomas Malory, Shalespeare, George Burns and rap songs all under the same rubric.
Naturally a language used for 1,000 years in many different and isolated places, by many users and for different purposes undergoes changes, including changes in connotations of words and expressions. Look at dara$ et YHWH in First Temple, and part of Second Temple biblical lit. as compared to dara$ le-YHWH in Chronicles; examples are legion.
In my first-year course in using professional literature, I give my students a word or expression and instruct them to trace, using a concordance, the different connotations and explain how it came about - First or Second Temple, poetic or prose, specialized uses, etc.
How often do we use the word "contumely" today? How has the main connotation of the word "gay" changed in the last 30 years or so? (Compare with MH gamar 30 years ago and now. I can't even use the word any more without raising eyebrows).

Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College
Beit Berl Post Office
44905 Israel

"sha'alu shelom yerushalayim yishlayu kol 'ohavayikh"

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Lisbeth S. Fried 
  To: Biblical Hebrew 
  Sent: Monday, May 20, 2002 5:11 PM
  Subject: nasa' et ha ro'$

  IT strikes me there are different dialects, then.
  Nasa' et ha ro'$ doesn't mean count heads in
  2 Kings 25:27. Why does the same phrase have
  two completely different interpretations?
  Do I need to go to two different BH ulpans???


  > >===== Original Message From "Lisbeth S. Fried"
  > <lizfried at> =====
  > >> But what will you say to them? :-)
  > >I'm glad you asked that!
  > >Today, for example, I said, "why does naso' et ro'$"
  > >mean "count heads"? It doesn't always mean that,
  > >why is it used that way here??? Grr.
  > >That's what I said, just this morning in fact!
  > > I speak in English tho, that's probably why they never answer.
  > Which is, of course, exactly my point. If you're going to
  > speak with these
  > texts at all, and if their answers never change, maybe you'll
  > need to be the
  > one to cross the cultural divide and learn to speak their language.
  > Or maybe another way to put it is, if you're satisfied with
  > talking to English
  > translations, you may ask your questions in English--if not,
  > maybe you'll need
  > to speak BH :-)
  > Trevor Peterson
  > CUA/Semitics
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