[b-hebrew] Retting -- was Other languages in the Tanakh

J. Raymond Kelley jraykelley at prodigy.net
Tue Nov 11 19:03:14 EST 2003

Elaine Keown wrote:

>         Elaine Keown
>         still in Texas
>Dear Mr. Randolph:
>Thank you for your response.  I would say I am a
>partially-trained Hebraist--I came to Hebrew really
>late in life.  
>>For example, even a document as short as the Gezer
>>calendar has at least one lexeme not found in
>>Tanakh, (CD  ['atsad] which I think may have meant
>>"to ret", a common term in those days of making
>>linen out of flax. 
>What does "to ret" mean in English--I'm afraid
>flax-processing is not familiar to me--this is cotton

Retting ... in English ...

refers to a "rotting" process involving water (in the case of flax, an 
intentional process to soften the stems of flax so that the fibers can 
be separated from the residue of the plant stems -- or in the case of, 
say, hay refers to the rotting of the plant material due to the presence 
of water such as outdoors in the presence of heavy dew or after rainfall).

Given the time and effort of the process of breaking down the stalk 
material so as to leave the fibers for use in weaving compared to the 
cotten gin's quick separation of dross from the fiber of cotton, it is 
quite easy to understand why the whole process involving flax has been 
reduced to crossword puzzle references in English .... and why cotton 
became known as King Cotton

For some additional background on flax, see, e.g.,





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