[b-hebrew] The Name "Levi"
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",
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
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 .
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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