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

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Tue Aug 28 23:32:15 EDT 2007


The Hebrew root ZN is a variant of CN and TN. The root CN is doubled  
in CINCENET (the closing T is the personal pronoun AT), 'jar, basket,  
urn, pot, sack', see Exodus 16:33. From the root TN Hebrew derives  
the word TENE), 'basket, bag', see Deuteronomy 26:2.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

> On 8/23/07, Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il> wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> Ps. 144:13a reads "Our larders are full, producing 'mizan el  
>> zan'". This is my translation, attempting to render the Hebrew as  
>> literally as possible.
>> I know that the precise translation of the word that I rendered  
>> "larders" is disputed, but I want to focus on the second part. The  
>> word "zan" appears only in this phrase, and maybe in 2 Chr. 16:14  
>> (although I'm not convinced that it's the same word). Most  
>> translations understand the word "zan" as "kind" or "sort". Many  
>> commentaries cite "zan" here (and in 2 Chr. 16:14) as either an  
>> Aramaic or a Persian loanword. Indeed, in the targumim, "zan" is  
>> the common translation of the Hebrew word "min" - "species" (for  
>> instance, in Gen. 1:11 etc.). And so the unique phrase "mizan el  
>> zan" is understood literally "from kind to kind" and rendered "of  
>> all kinds" and the like.
>> Accordingly, the verse is usually translated "That our garners may  
>> be full, affording all manner of store" (KJV); "May our barns be  
>> filled, with produce of every kind" (NRSV); "Our barns will be  
>> filled with every kind of provision" (NIV) and the like.
>> However, the LXX does not. There, "mizan el zan" is rendered "ek  
>> toutou eis touto", apparently preserving a Hebrew "mizeh el-zeh" -  
>> "from this to that" or "from here to there".
>> In the MT, the verse seems incomplete - the translations added the  
>> word "store", "provisions" and the like, but it's not there in the  
>> Hebrew.
>> Finally, my questions:
>> 1. Does anyone know of an Old Persian word "zan" or the like, that  
>> could have been borrowed by the Hebrew and the Aramaic as "species"?
>> 2. Is there any other indication (presumably linguistic) that this  
>> psalm is late enough for such borrowing to have happened?
>> 3. In any case, how do y'all explain the syntax of the Hebrew?
>> Much thanks,
>> Yigal Levin

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