[b-hebrew] Nun-Tav-Vet root

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Nov 20 21:52:44 EST 2006

On 11/20/06, Chris and Nel wrote:
> Dear Members,
> While this root according to Gesenius and Davidson has the signification of
> Treading, Trampling; I read also that the Arabic refers to a path that is
> elevated, (like maybe a royal pathway).  However they say that the Nun? can
> not refer to this (by that I have absolutely no idea what he is talking
> about).  But since we have the word root: Dalet Resh Qaf meaning precisely
> the same I wonder whether or not the former root has something 'extra' or a
> 'subtler shade' in its meaning?

Dear Chris,

Not only, like Karl said, is the root (as a verb) not found in the
Tanakh, it is
also attested in very limited distribution in cognate languages: Ugaritic ntb,
and also Jewish Aramaic.  You can compare this with the root drk (kaf, not
qaf), where the root appears in various Afroasiatic languages (according to
HALOT, with the meanings "walk", "tread", "drive", "threshold", "be hard",
"follow", "power").  The root drk as a verb appears to suggest not just
"walk", but indeed more of "tread", that is, a strong stride, or an emphatic
version of walking.  By this logic we would suggest that the word "dɛrɛkh"
means a well-trodden path.

In the Bible, the various nouns from the root ntb appear very frequently in
parallelism with "dɛrɛkh".  This suggests that they were viewed as
pretty much equivalent.  Trying to find a semantic difference is therefore
misplaced in my opinion, particularly in those verses where the parallelism
between these two words appears.  However, perhaps "nɔtiv"/"nativɔ"/
"nativot" originally meant a not-so-trodden path.  In Judges 5:6, the word
appears in conjunction with the verb "hlk" which is a simple non-committal
"go" verb rather than a strong "stride".  The context also implies that the
paths that they will go will be makeshift pathways.

I looked up this word in the various uses in Ugaritic.  In Ugaritic, it does
not seem to be attested in any clear parallelism and it appears only in
poorly preserved documents.  However, it seems to appear in construct
with Egypt ("ntbt mcrm"), with a pronoun ("ntbtk"), and with a temple
("ntbt bt b(l").

It is found also in the epic of Aqhat.  I don't think it actually has relevance
to semantic meaning in this case, although originally I considered p$( =
p&( "step".  However, since I took time to look it up and find out a
translation, I add it here:
"[--]m. tcxq. (nt. w b lb. tqny
 [--]Tb. ly. l )aqht. g'zr. Tb ly w lk
 [--]hm. )aqryk.  b ntb. p$(
 [--]- . b ntb. g)an. )a$qlk.  txt
 [p(ny. )a]nk n(mn. (mq. n$m."
where T is th, g' is ghayin.

Translated as:
Anath laughed and in her heart she contrived ( [ ], 0 hero, Aqhat,
turn away from me and [it will go ill (?)] with thee.  "Verily I will
oppose thee in the path of rebellion, I will - - thee in the path of
presumption. "I will humble thee beneath [my feet] O Nu'man,
strongest of men!" Thenceforward Anath pursues Aqhat with
unrelenting hatred until she destroys him.
(From: The "Natural Force" of Moses in the Light of Ugaritic,
by WF Albright, in BASOR 94, p. 32-35, with completion of
"my feet" by me)

Yitzhak Sapir

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