[b-hebrew] "Mizan el zan" in Ps 144:13

Peter Bekins pbekins at fuse.net
Thu Aug 23 10:42:28 EDT 2007


This is what I have from a quick search:

There seems to be an Old Persian "zana" which means "type, kind" it  
may also mean "man" but I am not sure if it is an extension from the  
generic "kind" to the generic "man" or the opposite direction.

The earliest attestation of the root ZN in Aramaic is in Official/ 
Imperial Aramaic where it occurs in an Official Persian document. The  
closest match to the Psalm is from:

"Arsham Correspondence", as per B. Porten and Ada Yardeni, Textbook  
of Aramaic Documents from Ancient
Egypt 1, (Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake): 1986; A6: The Letters of Arsames  
and his Colleagues c427 - Late 5th Century B.C.E., pp. 94-128.  
Corrections and additions were added per TAD D, p. 150

(my data comes from the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon http:// 

"separating all types, every month they were sending (to me)"

My quick opinion is that Aramaic and Persian are in contact during  
the Achamaenid period, we have a reference in a Official Persian  
document written in Aramaic. The only attestations of Old Persian are  
the Achamaenid inscriptions, I do not have a concordance to see how  
often "zana" occurs. In this type of situation it is very difficult  
to tell the direction of borrowing, ie the Persians could have  
borrowed ZN from Aramaic as easy as the other way around. We would  
have to do more work to decide. Both HALOT and the CAL seem to think  
the direction is Old Persian --> Aramaic, I'm not sure if that is  
just a guess or if they have some other data. I may try to check  
Porten and Yardeni if I make it into the library today.

The only other vocabulary item that jumps out at me from the Psalm is  
the use of $E in verse 15. However, this doesn't decide the question  
of date since $E can be an archaic feature of early Hebrew just as  
easily as representing late influence of Aramaic. Thus ZN could also  
be a much older Aramaic word which just isn't attested in any of the  
early inscriptions before Imperial Aramaic and is used in the Psalm  
as part of the more formal poetic language. The same goes for some of  
the other more difficult words in this section. I also kind of wonder  
if the last stanza (vss 12-15) originally went with the rest of the  
psalm or if it was appended since the style and language seem to change.

The other question, does the construction MN ... )L... (from...  
to...) appear anywhere else in this inclusive sense, "all"?

Peter Bekins

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