[b-hebrew] Self-mutilation

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Mon Oct 4 17:24:20 EDT 2004


We have here two very similar roots:

GDD in the verbal form always in hitpael referring to cutting out parts of the body as self mutilation. It is my understanding that in ancient societies self mutilation was rather common, from taking out strips of skin to make scars to cutting off fingers and toes as a form of mourning.

GWD is listed as being used in Genesus 49:19, Habakkuk 3:16 and Psalm 94:21 and the basic meaning is listed as to despoil.

I understand the word GDWD referring to a squad of soldiers from the idea of cutting them out from the main army and sending them out. Once it is used in Psalm 65:11 to refer to a clod of dirt cut out during plowing.

GDDH in plural is used once, again referring to cutting out to make scars.

Is the word used in Jeremiah 5:7 from GDD meaning cutting out or possibly hitpolel of GWD to despoil. I personally understand it as meaning "house of prostitution self mutilates" using the metaphore that the people serving other gods are like prostitutes, and in that service of other gods they practice scarification and other self mutilation condemned in Torah. (The phrase lacks the word "in" so the idea of being "in a house of prostitution" doesn't fit.)

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>

> Just as an addendum to the below, in Jer. 5:7 the hithpael "yitgodadu" means
> "they have gathered themselves". KJV has it "they have assembled themselves
> by troops" in the harlots' houses. Unless they were really into something
> kinky, there's no reason to suspect self-mutilation there. So, as I wrote -
> the meaning of GDD has to be understood by its context.
> Yigal
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
> > Hi Marianne, Hag Sameah!
> >
> > The basic meaning of GDD seems to be "to cut". As a noun, it's most common
> > in the word "Gedud", which is a group of people, as in a military unit
> > (compare a "division"). As a verb, it appears in quite a few forms, and
> the
> > exact meaning has to be determined by context. In 1 Kings 18:28
> > "vayyitgodedu" in hithpael means "they cut themselves" - with the swords
> and
> > lances mentioned next.
> > So the root GDD does not mean "self-mutilation" per se, but can be
> > understood as meaning "they cut themselves" in this context and in this
> > form.
> >
> > Yigal
> >
> > ----- Original Message ----- 
> > From: <MarianneLuban at aol.com>
> >
> >
> > > I am interested in the term "gdd" as it might be found in
> self-mutilation.
> > > As I have no books at hand, can anyone tell me in transliteration
> (sorry,
> > no
> > > fonts) what the line is in I Kings 18:28 where the prophets of Baal
> gashed
> > > themselves?  Also, if one were to use the term "gdd", what would be the
> > best way to
> > > convey "to gash oneself" or "by ones own hand" or perhaps "on ones own
> > hand"?
> > >  To the best of my knowledge, "gdd" is Dt-stem "to gash oneself (for
> > > religious practices)".
> > >
> > > Marianne Luban
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