[b-hebrew] Human Sacrifice

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Fri Oct 21 13:38:08 EDT 2005


Does a word in a semantic domain merely soak up its 
meaning from the context, like a crouton in a salad, or 
does it add something to the mix like a spice? If words are 
spices to their contexts, what flavor does each spice add?

This question has greater poignancy in the meaning of 
XRM. First, most of its uses are outside of the narrow 
context of the sacrifice itself, rather, where it is used in 
connection with sacrifice, it is for designating the animal to 
be sacrificed, not the sacrifice itself. Secondly, it is used to 
refer to objects that are not sacrificed. It is also used in 
semantic domains not related to sacrifice, such as the 
example I referenced where the semantic domain was 
physical deformity, and another the semantic domain is 
punishment. So what is the spice, the specific flavor that 
XRM adds to each of these recipes? To me, it appears 
not in relationship to destruction, but to marking out, i.e. 
designating, or in recognizing that which is marked, as 
in deformed.

I just realized as I write this response, another place 
where I differ from BDB and other lexicographers: first 
I mentioned that I look for action, not form, when looking 
at how words are used. An example of that is where I 
disagreed with Reinier de Blois as to the meaning of RXB 
LBB: I ended up agreeing that his definition of "filling the 
mind" is most likely correct (my original understanding 
wrong), but he looked at the object, *what* filled the mind, 
thus his claim that it has different meanings, while I look at 
the action, the *filling* of the mind, and see the same 
action despite different contexts. But now, in connection 
with the presupposition that each word usually has one 
basic meaning, I realize that as a lexicographer, I look for 
the unique flavor that a spice adds to all the recipes to 
which it is added and not the flavors it soaks up from 
around it, i.e. what slant does each word add to the 
contexts wherein it is found, not the meanings it receives 
from its semantic domains. I tend to concentrate on the 
different flavors, not the recipes. As a diner, I'm trying to 
reverse engineer the cook's spice rack by sampling the 
restaurant's total menu, so I try to reverse engineer a 
lexeme's meaning by all its contexts, recognizing if 
possible what it adds to each context.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but based on the above, it 
appears to me that semantic domains are based on form 
over function. If so, it explains my intuitive discomfort with 
the concept, as I have already rejected form over function 
to champion function over form.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: tladatsi at charter.net
> Karl,
> If you asking about the semantic domain of XRM, it must
> understood within the context of how sacrifice occurs.  The
> offering is dismembered and burnt.  The offering is killed
> (MWT), mutilated, and nothing is left.  The core concept of
> this domain is destruction.  The borders of this domain
> include destruction for sacrifice and destruction for
> military reasons (as occurs frequently in Joshua, Judges,
> and 1st Samuel) or destruction for other reasons (Isa
> 11:15).
> However, if you interested in the concept of human
> sacrifice outside of the lexical domain of XRM, you can
> look at 2 Sam 21.  This is clearest example of human
> sacrifice I can think of.  Briefly, Yahweh brings a
> terrible famine upon Israel for three years.  When David
> asks Yahweh why and Yahweh replies that it is on account of
> Saul?s (who is dead by this time) attempted genocide of the
> Gibeonites.  David turns over seven male descendents (sons
> and grandsons) to the Gibeonites who kill (MWT) them.  God
> finds this action satisfactory and ends the famine (hmlk
> vy?tr ?lhym l?rts ?xry kn - Elohim answering the prayers of
> the kng for the land after that)
> Jack Tladatsi

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