[b-hebrew] Potiphar's title
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Bearpecs at aol.com
Wed Jul 16 22:40:54 EDT 2003
The following is from Akkadian Loanwords in Biblical Hebrew by Paul V.
Mankowski [Harvard Semitic Studies, no. 47], Eisenbrauns, 2000, pp. 123-125.
"BH xh¦r¨x is a certain loan from Akkadian ša reši, a word of disputed
lexicology and application, used of a category, or possibly several categories, of
palace officials, which category also came to be associated with a castrated
superintendent or palace servant, whence it was used of castrates simply. The
precise semantic value and extension of the related terms … in the various
dialects and periods in which they occur are still much contested. The fact that
the word came to be used as a euphemism for a castrate served to blur many of
the finer gradations of usage, and the tendency of scholars to use the
equally euphemistic and polysemic term 'eunuch' in the discussion has not
contributed to lucidity. [Footnote 453: "It is often difficult to know, when it is
used as a gloss by Semitic lexicographers or in the general discussion of ša reš
i, whether 'eunuch' is intended to mean a castrated male simply, or a (usually
privileged) court functionary of a particular type, …."]
"The ambiguity present in the Akkadian term has carried over into the BH use
of the word,…[Footnote 455: "For an explanation that Potiphar was a castrate,
see Hayim Tadmor, 'Was the Biblical sarîs a Eunuch?' in Ziony Zevit et al.,
eds., Solving Riddles and Untying Knots: Biblical, Epigraphic and Semitic
Studies in Honor of Jonas C. Greenfield (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1995, p.
" The rendering of Akkadian /š/ by NWS /s/ points to an Assyrian
transmission, a conjecture nearly universally accepted…. Yet the possibility of an
intermediate loan-vector is also raised by the anomalous pointing for the plural
forms… This paradigmatic incongruity may point to borrowings from multiple
sources, reflecting different phonetic imitations of the ancestral form(s)...."
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