[b-hebrew] GDD (was not: Self-mutilation)

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Mon Oct 11 11:32:55 EDT 2004


I am not going to argue this point again, but unless there is radical new evidence to the contrary, all the evidence, both historical and linguistic, points to the fact that Aramaic was the main language of the Jews who returned from Babylon and afterwards until Greek displaced it (at least in the West). In fact, the more I look at it, the stonger the evidence appears.

We have a clear example in the use of Latin: until a few centuries ago, it was the main language of the educated, and often not so educated, people, though not their mother tongues. They not only read and wrote in it, but they even spoke it. High literature, diplomatic, government and business documents, and even love letters, were written in Latin long after Latin had ceased to be used in the markets and at a mother's knee. It was, and in some obscure corners still is, a living, breathing language. And as a living, breathing language, it has continued to develop and adjust to changing circumstances, so that the Latin of today is not the same as the Latin of 1500, which was not the same as 1000, and so forth. Modern Latin is a development of the spoken Latin of almost two millennia ago, it is not an invention.

I have no problem viewing post-Esilic Hebrew as post-Exilic Jewish Latin. As such, one cannot rule out the possibility that GDD in the Damascus Document as an Aramaic loan word or backwards development from a noun.

GDD is a Biblical Hebrew word. Except for one disputed use, it was always used for incising or cutting out. As a noun in the military, it was used for a division (note: even the English term has the root meaning of cutting out). Even in the disputed use, GDD referring to incising or cutting out (scarification) makes perfect sense as an example of metaphoric, indirect speech, fitting both the immediate context as well as a common, prophetic image. Therefore, there is no reason to assume a different definition in Biblical Hebrew for GDD other than that one. A second therefore, GDD in the Damascus Document is most likely either an Aramaic loan word (the same way as GZR in Esther 2:1) or a backwards development from a noun.

As I stated before, when I research the definition of a lexeme and find that the majority of uses, like 90% or thereabouts, clearly have one definition but a few seem to have a different one, I then look at those outlyers and ask "Have I understood all the other terms in the context correctly?" "Is this an example of metaphoric or indirect speech?", only after ruling out misunderstanding or metaphoric use do I look at having a different definition.

I don’t understand why you put so much effort to defend a dictionary definition when the evidence for it is weak, at best.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Harold R. Holmyard III" <hholmyard at ont.com>

> Dear Karl,
> >  In other words, at a time when the people on the street spoke 
> >Aramaic and only the scholars spoke Hebrew more or less fluently 
> >(much like the medieval monks spoke Latin). Thus it is very likely 
> >that GDD in the Damascus Document is either an Aramaic loan word or 
> >a late development of GDWD into a verb.
> HH> These ideas that GDD in the Damascus Document is an Aramaic 
> loanword or a back development from a noun are arbitrary assumptions. 
> The Damascus Document is a Hebrew document, and GDD is a biblical 
> word.  We don't know that the authors didn't know Hebrew. Quite a lot 
> of the Dead Sea Scrolls, even the non-biblical material such as 
> letters, are in Hebrew. Here is a quote about the Dead Sea Scroll 
> period from _Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation_, by Michael Wise, 
> Martin Abegg, and Edward Cook:
> Hebrew was manifestly the principal literary language for the Jews of 
> this period. The new discoveries underlined the still living, 
> breathing, even supple character of that language. A few texts 
> pointed to the use of Hebrew for speech as well as writing. . . . 
> Rabbinic Hebrew was shown to be no invention, but simply a 
> development from the ordinary spoken Hebrew of biblical times.
> 				Yours,
> 				Harold Holmyard
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