[b-hebrew] The Name "Levi"

Uri Hurwitz uhurwitz at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 12 11:34:18 EST 2007

   There is no agreement on the etymology of  "Levi".

 The interpretation of the name by an ancient 

biblical  editor as cited below is not neccessarly

 correct. A similar example of a wrong  editorial 

explanation is that  of the Egyptian name  "Mosheh",

 Exod. 2:11.

   For the PN "Levi" another possiblity was discussed by Th. Meek.

   Applied to the name Levi, the root means "slither" or "Coil"

as in Arabic, and exists in a the noun LWYTN, Livyatan,

 which is also found in Ugaritic ,in both cases it is a coiling

 sea- dragon.

    This is directly related to serpents

 or snakes, and they in turn are related to magic. 

    That the Levites traditionally indulged in a great

 deal of magic is  attested numerous times in HB. To

 cite only two of many examples: Ex. 2: 2 ff, and the

 famous rods contest won by Aron Ex. 7:10 ff.


    The connection between snakes and magic was widespread 

in Egypt, as is known from many extra-biblical sources. 

   A  linguistic direct parallel to this in BH is the root

 Nun Het Shin. Among its meanings: the noun "snake",

 or in verbal form, in Piel: "to engage in divinations".

 Also, consider the mystical Nahshon, attributed to Moses 

and removed by Hezekaiah in his efforts to purify the 

temple from idolatry.

    A full discussion of the above with biblical

 citations and bibliography is in "Hebrew Origins" by 

 Theophile James Meek, Harper Torchbook edition, 

p122 ff .

 Uri Hurwitz 


 Jim Steinhart wrote: 



Levi     The JPS1917 translation of the text regarding

 the name “Levi” is as follows:     “And she conceived again,

 and bore a son;  and said:  'Now this time will my   husband

 be joined unto me, because I have borne him three sons.'

  Therefore   was his name called Levi.”  Genesis 29: 34

  ....    LAMED-VAV-heh = “be joined” or “be attached” or

 “accompany”  [At Genesis   29: 34, this word appears 

in the following form:  yod-LAMED-VAV-heh.] 






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