[b-hebrew] Etymology of "Torah", tfila

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Thu Sep 28 12:53:18 EDT 2006

> >I'm of course aware of the orthodox etymology. It doesn't make much
> >why the tav-form? Presumably, tav-nouns are frozen 2ms future tense
> >the least likely form for "to teach."
> It makes lots of sense, and is part of a very widespread and
> well-understood pattern.  TAF, along with MEM, is used as a prefix to
> create a noun; frequently, a final HEH accompanies these nouns.

tav is not used to create a noun. 2ms FT verb turns noun.

> TODAH (a noun from Y.D.H)
> TORAH (a noun from Y.R.H)
> TXINA (a noun from X.N.N)
> T'ENA ("fig")
> T'HILA ("praise")
> TUGA ("grief")
> T'ALA ("aqueduct")
> T'FILA ("prayer")
> TIKVA ("hope")

ok, let's talk about tfila, for instance. The orthodox etymology is from
pll. pll means to kneel. To translate pll as "to pray" is a major leap of
imagination. 1Sam1:26: "woman stood by htee here, kneeling to the Lord,"
stood - knelt; nothing about prayer. Similarly in 1Sam1:27: she was kneeling
on behalf of that child.
Now, there is taphel - viscouse (drawn-out prayer). It is common for Hebrew
words to have two opposite meanings, such as guilt and sacrifice. tfila has
an attested meaning of abomination, reviling. Like guilt - expiation for
guilt, so is abomination - expiation for abomination, prayer.

Vadim Cherny

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