[b-hebrew] `edut, was: Alleged meaning of ecclesia in OT
peterkirk at qaya.org
Sat Dec 18 19:29:38 EST 2004
On 18/12/2004 17:29, Peter Kirk wrote:
>>> The same confusion underlies the translation of ("DW.T as
>>> "testimony", also used with )OHEL for the Tabernacle, and especially
>>> in Psalms 19 and 119. This word is also derived from Y(D and refers
>>> to something appointed by God, rather than to a witness or testimony.
>> HH: Is this something new? BDB lists eduth, (DWT, under the root (WD,
>> "bear witness."
> Well, it is newer than BDB (1906), which is wrong here.
> It is generally recognised, even by BDB, that there are two senses of
> (DH `eda, one "testimony" and the other "congregation". It makes much
> more sense to relate `edut (plural: `edwot) to the latter than to the
> former. But I don't have time to justify this just now.
A little more on this one. I was surprised not to find any mention of
this interpretation in the reference books I have to hand, because I had
been led to understand it was almost certain. But here is some of the
evidence as I see it:
1) The form `edut is clearly either `ed or `eda with the abstract noun
forming suffix -ut (compared in GKC 86k to English -dom, -hood, -ness).
But `ed and `eda have a variety of meanings. `ed means "witness", either
a person or in the abstract, from the root `wd. `eda can also mean
"witness" in the abstract sense, but its most common meaning is a formal
"assembly", from the root y`d. There is no a priori reason to prefer a
link to `ed over one to `eda.
2) Any evidence that LXX etc understood `edut as "testimony" should be
disregarded on the grounds that LXX also understood mo`ed as "testimony"
but this is generally recognised to be inaccurate.
3) The Tabernacle was variously known as 'ohel ha`edut and as 'ohel
mo`ed. The latter is clearly linked to the word mo`ed "assembly". While
it is possible that the Tabernacle was described by means of two words
of similar form but very different meaning, it makes more sense to
understand `edut and mo`ed as more or less synonymous here, describing
the Tabernacle as the tent formally set up by the assembly and perhaps
the site of its meetings.
4) In none of the biblical occurrences of `edut is there any clear
semantic link to the concept of bearing witness or giving testimony. The
meaning of the word seems rather to be a synonym of "law" or
"stipulation". Here are the glosses as given in HALOT:
1. witness, testimony:
a) the document that was presented to the king of Judah at his coronation
b) collective sg. the stipulations of the Sinai covenant laid down in
c) the solemn undertaking of the given duty connected with the
remembrance of God’s saving acts
d) witness in the sense of a statute
e) witness concerning a person’s reputation
2. pl. laws, more precisely legal provisions
Well, in English "witness" simply does not have the sense "statute", see
for example http://www.bartleby.com/61/45/W0194500.html, so sense 1d
should be reglossed simply as "statute". Sense 1e is the only one which
has anything to do with "witness, testimony", and the examples quoted
for this sense are only in Sirach - and as Sirach is unpointed these
words could actually be `edot, plural of `eda "witness".
The gloss for sense 1c may seem to have an element of "witness" in the
sense of "remembrance". The references quoted for this one are Psalm
19:8, 78:5, 119:88, but there is nothing in the contexts of any of these
three to suggest any connection with remembrance; so I conclude that
this part of the sense has been introduced merely to conform to the
supposed etymology, and perhaps to theological interpretations based on
the Greek, English translations like "testimony".
So I conclude that the sense of `edut is never clearly "witness,
testimony", but rather more like "formal stipulation".
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
More information about the b-hebrew