[b-hebrew] virginity

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Jul 19 23:11:51 EDT 2007


Dear Isaac,

"Crime against humanity"? I think you just made my point.

Yigal Levin
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Isaac Fried 
  To: Yigal Levin 
  Cc: b-hebrew 
  Sent: Friday, July 20, 2007 4:43 AM
  Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] virginity


  Yigal,


  Excuse me, but how do you dare to compare mathematics to linguistics. If mathematics is the atlantic ocean, than linguistics is a small puddle under the garden faucet in our back yard. While mathematics is a monumentally rich deductive discipline, linguistics is mere Geschwaetz. Trust me, you can discard the entire content of your Hebrew linguistics into the nearest dustbin and it will be to your utter benefit. Hebrew linguistics did not move one millimeter, nor was one milligram of intellectual initiative added to it since medieval times.     
  Now you explain to me how is it possible that "ghayin is one of the basic consonants in Semitic languages, ancient and modern" and yet no separate letter was ever assigned to it in the Canaanite-Hebrew alphabet. 
  Turning a deep throated ayin into a G is not a tragedy: (ALMAH and GALMAH are essentially the same thing---a handsome and buxom woman, but turning a deep ayin into a resh, converting an (AZA into a RAZA, this is a crime against humanity. 


  Isaac Fried, Boston University


  On Jul 19, 2007, at 5:23 AM, Yigal Levin wrote:


    Dear Isaac,


    I know that you take pride in not accepting anything that linguists say about languages, but what would you, as a professor of mathematics, say if a historian, who (like myself) had no real knowledge of mathematical theory, came up with some totally new idea that threw what all mathematicians since Newton have done into the dustbin. You, or at least most mathematicians, would say, "let him acquire at least a basic knowledge and appreciation of present theory, and then start deconstructing it". This does not mean that the "uninitiated", that is, someone from outside the field, could not have very useful insights. Indeed, it sometimes takes a fresh, non-traditional look at things to put scholarship back on track. But there are limits to this as well.






    The fact that ghayin is one of the basic consonants in Semitic languages, ancient and modern, is well recognized by linguists. It is not something that "some Arabs" have developed by talking funny, but rather something "some Hebrews" have lost over time. Hebrew, like any other language, developed over time and did not do so in a linguistic vacuum.






    I do accept Dave's warning about not automatically accepting the semantic meaning of Ugaritic "glmt" as being the same as biblical 'almah. The words are definitely cognates and probably have similar meanings, but even if the "glmt" of 13th century Ugarit means "a young, married woman", the word could have had a different meaning to Isaiah in 8th century Jerusalem. 










    Yigal Levin
      ----- Original Message ----- 
      From: Isaac Fried 
      To: Yigal Levin 
      Cc: b-hebrew 
      Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2007 7:20 AM
      Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] virginity




      Yigal,




      I know that some Arabs pushed some Ayin so deep into their throat that they choked on it and had to spit it back out as a fuzzy G or an R. (ALMAH could equally well be GALMA, CALMA, $ALMA, TALMAH. SALMAH is already taken for a full dress, and KALMAH does not connote well, as does BALMAH.




      Isaac Fried, Boston University




      On Jul 18, 2007, at 11:46 PM, Yigal Levin wrote:




        Dear Isaac,




        The G in "glmt" is really a Gh, the letter "ghayin", related to 'ayin but 
        pronounced deeper in the throat. This letter still exists in Arabic. The 
        ancient Hebrews kept the distinction between the two even though they used 
        the same sign for both of them, somwhat like Shin and Sin. So that some 
        'ayins are orriginally ghayins. For Example, this is why the city name 'Azza 
        in Hebrew became Gaza in Greek - because that how in was still pronounced in 
        Hellenistic times (and is still pronounced in Arabic). That's why 'Amorah is 
        "Gommorah". In this case, the Ugaritic proves that the 'ayin in 'almah is 
        really a ghayin.




        Yigal Levin




        ----- Original Message ----- 
        From: "Isaac Fried" <if at math.bu.edu>
        To: "Tory Thorpe" <torythrp at yahoo.com>
        Cc: "B Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
        Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2007 6:34 AM
        Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] virginity








          Tory,




          It appears to me that the "Ugaritic" word glmt = galmat? you are
          quoting below is from the root GLM, 'to have shape, to have body, to
          be compact'. The word ends in the personal pronoun AT for the woman
          itself. The word GOLEM, 'fetus', of Psalms 139:16 is one of the words
          derived from this root. The root GLM is of the root family BLM, KLM,
          CLM, SLM, $LM [hence the name $ULAMIT of Songs 7:1, in which both the
          U and the IT are personal pronouns] and TLM.




          Isaac Fried, Boston University




          On Jul 18, 2007, at 9:45 PM, Tory Thorpe wrote:




            Dear Bill,




            On Jul 18, 2007, at 6:03 PM, Bill Rea wrote:




              Tory wrote:-




                If Isaiah had intended physical virginity to be clearly
                understood he
                would have undoubtedly wrote "woman/girl whom no man had known..."
                which is the manner in which the Hebrew author of Jdg. xxi 12
                expresses physical virginity so as to remove any possibility of
                doubt.




              This is an assumption on your part. As such you can't elevate an
              assumption to a fact. The Judges 21:12 can easily be read otherwise.
              To insist that the author must have added ``whom no man had known''
              to remove doubt is a reasonable assumption but no more reasonable
              than believing the author was engaging in repitition for literary
              effect.




            It is more than merely an assumption when one considers, for example,
            the annunciation formula in the Hymn of Nikkal from Ugarit: hl glmt
            tld bn, "Look, the almah will give birth to a son" (UT 77:7). This is
            strikingly similar to Isa. vii 14. Ugarit and ancient Israel shared a
            conventional idiom, but used it differently. Cyrus H. Gordon always
            rendered glmt (= almah) in Ugaritic texts by "maid" and never
            "virgin" since another text from Ugarit puts glmt in parallelism with
            'att ("wife"), thus showing that the two are synonymous terms. The
            implication is that the etymological counterpart of Ugaritic glmt in
            BH may also be applied to a young wife. Gordon wrote: "almah means a
            'young woman' who may be a virgin, but is not necessarily so" (JBL 21
            [1953], p. 106). I don't think its possible to be more nonpartisan
            than that given the evidence currently available. Nothing has really
            changed since H. Schultz, Old Testament Theology (Edinburgh, 1892),
            II p. 414, agreed with the rabbinic understanding that almah has to
            do with years of age, not marital status or chastity per se.




            One needs to evaluate your assertion that the negative expressions in
            Gen. xxiv 16 and Jdg. xxi 12 were added by the biblical author merely
            for literary effect against the evidence from Sumerian and Akkadian.
            Similar negative expressions are used in these languages; there is no
            single word for "virgin". There is no one word for "virgin" in
            Ugaritic or in Mishnaic Hebrew. I would also add Biblical Hebrew
            because of the way betulah is defined in the Mishnah and in the
            cognate languages of the ancient Near East. In this instance at
            least, I could cite others, the Mishnaic Hebrew illumines the BH. For
            other examples, see R. Gordis "Studies in the Relationship of
            Biblical and Rabbinic Hebrew" Louis Ginzberg Jubilee Volumes (New
            York, 1946), pp. 173-200; idem, "Biblical Hebrew in Light of Rabbinic
            Usage" in Sepher Tur-Sinai (Jerusalem, 1961), pp. 149-167.




            Tory Thorpe
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