[b-Hebrew] Elohim

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Jan 29 06:37:42 EST 2004

On 28/01/2004 22:47, Jonathan D. Safren wrote:

>>On 28/01/2004 14:33, Trevor Peterson wrote:
>>Well, is there any evidence from early non-Jewish Aramaic, I wonder?
>>King Darius uses 'elaha in his letter in Ezra 6:3 and would hardly have
>>been influenced by Hebrew, but some would argue of course that that
>>letter as we have it was composed or redacted by Jews. What word for
>>"god" would the real Darius have used in his letters? Is there any
>>evidence from Imperial Aramaic?
>The Deir "Ala Plaster Inscription immediately comes to mind. In the first or
>second line, Balaam is called "xzh 'lhn".- a seer of the gods.

Thank you. Clear evidence for the he as a root letter in a context 
unaffected by Hebrew. Well, you might like something clearer.

>You can also check HALOT.

I did. Trevor rejected the evidence as probably derivative from Hebrew.

Anyway, there should be a good phonological way of determining whether 
Aramaic 'elah(a) and Arabic ilah, allah are dependent on Hebrew 
'elohim/'eloah as Trevor alleges. I note that the long o in Hebrew (with 
furtive patah in the singular) corresponds to a long a in Aramaic and 
Arabic. Is this the correspondence that would be expected if the words 
have a common origin in proto-(NW)Semitic? Is this the correspondence 
that would be expected if the Aramaic and Arabic are loan words from 
Hebrew? From a first glance the former looks likely, as Hebrew long o 
often corresponds to Aramaic and Arabic long a (e.g. 
shalom/shelam/salaam) - is this the Canaanite vowel shift? - but the 
latter looks unlikely. A phonological expert would probably be able to 
confirm this one way or another (or possibly answer Yes to both 
questions, which leaves us no further forward). GKC 9q quotes 
'eloah/'elah/ilah as an example of the vowel shift, which makes it clear 
that those editors did not consider this a loan word situation.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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