[b-hebrew] Ezekiel 38:2f.; 39:1

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Mon Dec 27 21:02:20 EST 2004

I just checked all the verses where both N%Y) and RW$ are found in the save verse, which number 12 in Tanakh. Only in  Ezekiel do we find this format of use, this context of the two words. All the others exept Number 10:4 have the words separated by other words, a separation that indicates a natural flow of meaning, and in Numbers the context indicates that these words are in two different phrases.

To me, this looks like a list of names, in particular, national names. Even if it is, that does not necessarily mean that RW$ refers to Russia.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org>
> On 25/12/2004 07:50, trepp at telus.net wrote:
> > What are B-Hebrew subscribers' ideas on grammatical possibility 
> > for "RO)SH" equalling Russia? I'll withhold comment until I have 
> > had the chance to hear others' uninfluenced answers.
> >
> >
> >
> I notice that everyone else who has commented on this so far seems 
> to be presuming a link to theories like Hal Lindsey's. But your 
> question was a grammatical one. So let me answer it purely on that 
> basis.
> It seems to me that there are two questions here:
> 1) Does ro'sh here have the common noun meaning "head", or could it 
> be a place name?
> 2) If it could be a place name, is there a chance of a link with 
> the place name "Russia"?
> On point 1), the wording is N:&IY) RO)$ in all three of these 
> verses. Grammatically, this is a noun meaning "prince" in the 
> construct state followed by the word RO)$, in the absolute state 
> but without the article. RO)$ is also followed by two undisputed 
> place names linked by the waw conjunction. Now RO)$ generally means 
> "head", and can mean "chief" in an adjectival sense. But RO)$ is 
> not syntactically an adjective, and so the adjectival sense has to 
> be shown by a variety of syntactical constructions. The commonest 
> of these seems to be RO)$ in the construct followed by the noun to 
> be modified in the definite absolute plural, e.g. "head of the 
> princes". If that is the sense in these verses, the construction is 
> reversed and would be glossed "prince of a head". Now I don't say 
> that this is impossible or unprecedented (although I don't have 
> another example). But it is an unusual and surprising construction. 
> However, it would be the normal construction if RO)$ were a place 
> name or ethnic group name. I guess it is for this reason that the 
> translators of the English Revised Version (at least) rendered this 
> as a place name, "Rosh".
> I wonder if RO)$ ME$EK could be a compound place name meaning "the 
> Meshech headland", given that the Arabic cognate of RO)$, Ras, is 
> commonly used meaning "headland" in compound place names, and the 
> modern Hebrew word can also have that sense: Rosh Hanikra is a 
> headland in Israel.
> On point 2), if Rosh is a place name (and not a compound), there is 
> a reasonable chance of a link to the name Russia. The word "Russia" 
> (in Russian, Rossiya) first appears in the form Rus', the name of a 
> state founded about 860 CE in modern Russia and Ukraine. The 
> Byzantine Greek form of the name was RWS, rho-omega-sigma. The 
> etymology of this name is disputed (see 
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rus%27_%28people%29 and 
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology_of_Rus_and_derivatives), but 
> one possibility is that the name comes from the Rhoxolani (see 
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhoxolani), Sarmatian tribes known 
> from the 3rd and 4th centuries BCE, named from the Persian word 
> rokhs = "light" because of their light-coloured hair - something 
> they share with at least prototypical modern Russians. These 
> Sarmatians lived in an area adjacent to one likely location of 
> Meshech and Tubal, in modern Georgia (cf. "Meskheti", the modern 
> name for western Georgia) - their modern descendants include the 
> Ossetians, who also live partly in Georgia.
> So I conclude that there is a real possibility that Ezekiel was at 
> this point using RO)$ as the name of an area or an ethnic group, 
> parallel to Meshech and Tubal, and that the modern name Russia is 
> derived from this place name Rosh - and even that the modern 
> Russians are at least in part descended from the people of the Rosh 
> referred to by Ezekiel.
> Of course this is something that we cannot be sure of. And my 
> conclusion by no means implies that I support the prophetic 
> theories of Hal Lindsey etc.
> -- Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/
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