meaning of golem

Cohen, Izzy Izzy_Cohen at
Tue Sep 10 09:05:43 EDT 2002

Ymir (ee'mir, Y'mir)  n. 
(in Norse myth) a primordial giant slain by Odin and 
his brothers, who fashioned the earth from his body.

Orjan Svensson < Orjan.Svensson at > 
I just came to think that Aurgelmir, Ymir's second name, 
probably came from AUR-GELMIR, where AUR means original, 
same as the present-day Swedish word UR, and ultimately 
related to Hebrew AUR (Ayin-Vav-Resh) meaning to awake. 
GELMIR probably comes from GoLeM meaning "something wrapt 
together", "a mass not yet formed", "fetus". Aurgelmir 
thus in Old Norse mythology probably was regarded as the 
original fetus from which the earth was formed, the body 
that was wrapt together in order to form the earth.

izzy writes:
The modern meaning of "golem" is related to golem = 
automaton (in Jewish folklore) a figure artificially 
constructed in the form of a human being and endowed 
with life < Ydsh goylem < Talmudic gimel-lamed-mem = 
shapeless matter, formless lump; clumsy, awkward person 


clump ~ Dut klompe = lump, mass, clumsy < ME clumsen 
< Sw klumsig = numb, awkward 
< Talmudic gimel-lamed-mem golem = formless lump

clumsy < 1600 clums = benumbed with cold (obs) 
~ ME clumsen = stiff with cold, dial. Sw klumsig 
= benumbed, awkward, ON klumsa = lockjaw 
< Talmudic gimel-lamed-mem golem = clumsy person 

glob = shapeless mass (not < globe + blob) 
< gimel-oh-lamed-mem golem = shapeless matter

izzy_cohen at

-----Original Message-----
From: Matthew Anstey [mailto:ansteyfamily at]
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2002 1:56 PM
To: Hebraisticum; B-Hebrew
Subject: meaning of golem

Dear list,

BDB gives the meaning of golem in psa 149:16 as "embryo" 
but would the author have known about embryos? Any other 
suggestions for the meaning here of this hapax? And do 
you think it is related to galam "to fold up", gelom
"large garment", both also hapaxes?

Any help would be appreciated?

Matthew Anstey
Semantic Domains of Biblical Hebrew Dictionary Project
United Bible Societies

Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
Faculteit der Godgeleerdheid
Residence: Kambah, ACT, Australia
anstey at
+61 (0)2 6296 4044

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list