[b-hebrew] War machines and missiles in 2 chronicles

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Mar 8 06:54:43 EST 2004

On 07/03/2004 20:45, Karl Randolph wrote:

>But Peter: 
>Here is a case where the root has the meaning of sending out, and the context is that of weaponry, putting two 
>and two together we get four, i.e. this is weaponry that is sent out, namely projectiles (or missiles). The concept 
>of projectiles also fits the context. To use the generalized term "weapon", though technically correct, is a tad 

Well, we must avoid the etymological fallacy that the meaning of a word 
is determined by its root consonants. But in a case like this it is 
reasonable partial evidence, if supported e.g. by ancient versions and 
interpretations, that these weapons were in fact projectiles or 
missiles, either in general or of a specific kind. So I would be happy 
with a translation "projectile", or even "missile" if modern 
rocket-propelled ones are excluded. What I would not be happy with is a 
guess about a specific kind of projectile.

>When trying to learn a language, it is harder to learn vocabulary when all synonyms are given the same 
>definition. For example, there are about a dozen synonyms for RAH to look, see, in Tanakh. If all are defined 
>with the generalized term "to look, see", how is the student to keep them straight? But if $ZP is defined as to 
>glimpse for a moment, $QP as to look down from a height to a lower place, and so forth, it is not only easier to 
>learn, but it brings out the meaning better. 

I see the point that separate definitions aid language learning. But 
they need to be correct definitions! At the very least we need to know 
that the terms are used only in the defined context.

>True, there are some terms whose definitions have been almost totally forgotten, others where we have only 
>clues towards a definition, but I think it is better to indicate the more specific definition that the context and roots 
>point to, than just to give a generalized definition. And if we are not sure, admit, at least in lexicons and to 
>students of B-Hebrew, that we are not sure, but this is what we think the meaning is. 

Where the definition has been forgotten, surely it is better to admit 
that and be generic than to use highly unreliable methods to reconstruct 
a definition.

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

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