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

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Wed Aug 29 11:13:25 EDT 2007


The Hebrew root ZV is a member of the root family: DV [DOV], ZB  
[ZOV], ZV [ZIV], TV [TAV], TB [TOB], SB [SAB], $B [$UB], $V, CV, CB  
[CAB], all betokening 'large, inflated, abundant'. This makes me  
think that the MZAVEH, of the root ZV, of Psalms 144:13 is a large  
covered earthen jar used to store grain against the ravages of mice.  
 From time to time, methinks, smaller quantities of grain were taken  
out into a handier ZAN, kind of CINCENET, for daily use. Thus,  
מְזָוֵינוּ מְלֵאִים מְפִיקִים  
מִזַּן אֶל-זַן
seems to me to mean "our barrels [casks, grain containers] are  
replete, replenishing our pitchers over and over".

The word ZAN in the sense of 'kind, sort' is related to $N [$INUI],  
'difference, variation, deviation', as a ZONAH, 'harlot', is.
The -im in listim is just for the many, it has nothing to do with the  
Greek lestes and Reish-Lakish's spurned occupation before he found  
his true calling.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Aug 29, 2007, at 12:05 AM, Yigal Levin wrote:

> Dear Isaac,
> If so, what does the noun "zan" mean? A container of some sort? How  
> does
> this explain the verse?
> BTW, you call us all "b-listim". I'm sure you're aware of the  
> meaning of
> "listim" in mishnaic Hebrew? Any hidden meanings here? : -)
> Yigal Levin
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Isaac Fried" <if at math.bu.edu>
> To: "b-hebrew Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Cc: "b-hebrew Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2007 6:32 AM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] "Mizan el zan" in Ps. 144:13
>> b-listim
>> 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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