[b-hebrew] qtl of HYH

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Wed Apr 4 00:59:30 EDT 2007


I am rather inclined to think that most Hebraists would agree with me  
that HYH and XYH both mean 'exist'. The bifurcation into twin roots,  
one used for animate existence the other for inanimate existence, is  
accomplished here by the common device of a HE-XET shift. Indeed, it  
does not make one bit of a difference if one reads Esther 2:5 as:  
"ish yhudi HAYAH bshushan habirah" or "ish yhudi XAYAH bshushan  

Surely Hebrew can not have a root that inherently describes such an  
awesomely rich and mysterious phenomenon as 'life' or 'be alive'.  
Like English it must rely on a metaphor derived from some obvious  
manifestation of it. There is agreement among English etymologists  
that 'life' is derived from German 'Leib', English 'to have a lifted- 
up body, to be elevated'. The Hebrew etymology seems to be likewise:  
XYH-XVH-HVA-GBH, 'to be elevated, to be extensive'. Eventually they  
are all, as expected, related to XUB, 'heart, bosom' of Job 31:33,  
and then, by common literal shifts, to GUF, 'body'. It so also with  
QAYAM, 'exists', and QAM, 'rose, assumed an upright or standing  

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Apr 1, 2007, at 11:04 PM, George Athas wrote:

> Isaac Fried wrote:
>> ...it would be good to recall that HYH is but a variant
>> of XYH, with great affinity also to HWH and XWH.
> Isaac, with respect, this is not the understanding of the vast  
> majority of
> Hebraists. The similarity in the roots may account for the odd textual
> variant, but as far as I know there appears to be no evidence for any
> conceptual or etymological connection between HYH and XYH. Granted,  
> they are
> similar. But I think that is where the connection ends.
> Best Regards,
> Moore Theological College (Sydney)
> 1 King St, Newtown, NSW 2042, Australia
> Ph: (+61 2) 9577 9774
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