[b-hebrew] Re: variant pronunciation

Noam Eitan noameitan at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 18 19:56:36 EDT 2004

>That's why "Sharru-kin" is spelled "Sargon" in the Bible - 

the Hebrew scribe recorded what he heard the Assyrians say

 I believe every word in the Hebrew Bible is there to promote a Yahwist-cult-agenda. There is no evidence its writers were even able to grasp the concept of unbiased reporting of the “truth”, i.e., historical facts; they were trying to assert “THE” (Yahwist) truth. There is plenty of evidence they weren’t even able to entertain alternative viewpoints – when such are mentioned it is in derision. I feel this applies as well to foreign names in the Bible. Am I the only one to suspect that the Bible routinely distorts foreign name to reflect their significance in events relating to the people of Israel, or in derision? For example, in the case of Sanherib, the form of the name used in the Bible contains the root for the word that means destruction (Het-Resh-Bet). This can apply either to what Sanherib did to Jerusalem, or what will happen to him (as a curse or prophesy). I also suspect that some, if not all of the Philistine cities’ names are distortion for the purpose of derision or a
 curse (some contain roots related to various forms of loss; the rest - the point is lost on us.) I suspect the Bible approximates foreign names the way children do, approximating a foreign name to the nearest sounding words in their own language, often in a way the expresses the subject’s attributes,  often in mockery. This touches on the question of whether there is humor in the Bible – I’d like to quote from this web-site:



“The Talmud believes that some names in the Hebrew Bible are not real names. For example, the Talmud has a tradition that the names of the spies are not their real names but they were named in the Bible after their (bad) deeds (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 34a). Also, there is an argument in the Talmud over whether Nimrod’s real name was Amraphel or vice versa. One opinion is that his real name was Amraphel but he was called Nimrod because he led the whole world in rebellion against God (Eruvin 53a). The Hebrew word for rebel is morod which sounds like Nimrod. 

Thus, it is quite possible that many other names in the Hebrew Bible are not real but describe attributes of the individual. Radday (1990) takes this view and claims that the Bible often distorts an individual’s name in order to ridicule it. The Talmud and Midrash occasionally take the approach that the Biblical name is not real as noted above, but more often work with the assumption that the name is real but quite fitting. Indeed, in Talmudic/Midrashic literature, a very common device is to show how someone truly deserved his/her name because of some action performed. 

For example, Balaam signifies balah am (he destroyed the people), i.e., Balaam’s advice (Numbers 22) resulted in the plague that killed thousands of Israelites (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 105a). The Talmud states that Ahasuerus signified the fact that everyone who knew him said ach la-rosho (woe for my head) (Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 11a). Delilah’s (Judges 16) name, was very befitting according to the Talmud, and "even if her name would not have been called Delilah, it would have been appropriate to call her Delilah. She weakened (dildalah) Samson’s strength, weakened his heart and weakened his deeds" (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 9b). The Hebrew word dildul which sounds like Delilah means to weaken or deplete. The Talmud asks: "Why was he called Korach? Because he created baldness [i.e., defoliation] in Israel" (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 109b). The name Korach (Numbers 16) is very similar to the Hebrew word karchah which means baldness. This is just a very small sample of the
 Talmudic approach with respect to names.

In the Five Books of Moses:

The verse (Genesis 14:2) states: "They waged a war against Berah king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinav king of Admah, and Shemever king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela." Berah sounds like ben rah which means evil son in Hebrew. Birsha sounds like ben rashah which means wicked son. Shinav sounds like soneh av which means he hates his Father (in Heaven) ( Midrash Genesis Rabbah 42:5 and Midrash Tanchuma 8). It is possible that these names are real names but it is also possible that their names have been distorted in order to disparage the kings--evil kings who ruled over wicked kingdoms. 

In Genesis 31:42, Jacob refers to the "God of Abraham and the Dread (Pachad) of Isaac." Later on (Genesis 31:53), Jacob swears by the "Dread of his father Isaac." Referring to God as a "Dread" is quite unusual. It is not inconceivable that Isaac after being bound and almost sacrificed, had a tremendous fear of God and therefore referred to Him as his Dread. 

Shechem, the son of Chamor, raped Dinah, the daughter of Jacob (see Genesis 34). Chamor means donkey in Hebrew. Was Shechem’s father’s real name Chamor or is the Bible purposely corrupting the name in order to make fun of Shechem? It is not inconceivable that the Bible is telling us that Shechem was a son-of-a-jackass. 

In the Writings:

Orpah, the daughter-in-law of Naomi, turned her back on her mother-in-law and left her after her husband died. Ruth, on the other hand, stayed with her mother-in-law and traveled with her back to Israel (Ruth 1). The word oreph means the nape of the neck. One Midrash states that she was called Orpah because she turned the nape of her neck (i.e., turned her back) on her mother-in-law (Midrash Ruth Rabbah 2:9). “

 Noam Eitan, Brooklyn, NY

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