[b-hebrew] The root XRS-XR$
if at math.bu.edu
Tue Nov 6 18:26:34 EST 2007
To be on the safe side, the ANB translates XARUZ-IM of Song of Songs
נָאווּ לְחָיַיִךְ בַּתֹּרִים,
somewhat broadly as 'jewels'. The KJV is bolder with 'chains of
gold', as though written XARUC. Luther prefers 'Schnüren'.
No other word is found in the Hebrew bible that may be drawn back to
the root XRZ, so how are we to know its meaning? First there is
context. Then there is traditional understanding propagated through
the ages. Then there are ancient translations. But these could be
mere intelligent guesses no better than those of a keen, unbiased
present-day reader. "Cognate" languages may furnish some hints on
this, but the cognation lineage of languages is often unclear and the
certainty of the meaning of words in deciphered, supposedly close,
languages only tenuous. On the other hand, the vibrant, hugely alive,
Arabic tends to drift the meaning of words far afield over their
semantic landscape, leaving them thereby often only dimly
recognizable in relation to Hebrew.
It is rather clear that the -U-, or rather -WU-, in XARUZ is a
grammatical addendum, and that the root of the word, or its cluster
of defining consonants, is XRZ, not XRWZ. This relates it to XRD,
XRT, XRS, XRC, XR$, implying that XARUZIM are loose, trembling,
shards, strands, fragments or scraps.
1. It is referred to in the plural.
2. It is some sort of decoration used by women to embellish themselves.
3. It is typically put on the neck.
So, even if all this does not tell us "exactly" what XARUZIM is, it
still leaves us with a pretty good idea what it could be. From time
immemorial and all over the world women [as well as man] adorn
themselves with a wreath or a chain of strung trinkets securely tied
around their necks, prominently exposed to adoring eyes. So this is
what it roughly is.
Now to an attempt at explaining the origin of the internal "mater
lectionis", the mute W in -WU-. It is my understanding that the
internal U is the essential part of the personal HU), 'he', intended
to indicate that XARUZ = XAR-U-Z = XAR-HWU)-Z 'is a thing which has
the property expressed by the root XRZ'. It is conceivable that in
old times the W in HU) [or HWU)] was distinctly pronounced in Hebrew
as it is being pronounced now in Arabic, namely, HUWA or HAWU. With
time the W fell silent, and was left as the carrier of the U sound
only --- the very original personal pronoun of Hebrew. In some
instances the W is left out entirely leaving the word with only a
qibbuts. The same, methinks happened to the Y of HI), 'she'. I don't
think that the presence of this W or Y has anything to do with
"short" and "long" vowels, which may never have existed in Hebrew.
Isaac Fried, Boston University
On Nov 5, 2007, at 12:19 PM, K Randolph wrote:
>> You are saying: "XRZ, (not a root found in Tanakh)". What about
>> XARUZ of
>> Song of songs 1:10?
> That's a happax legomenon that is found only as a four letter noun. As
> for its meaning, that can only be guessed at based on translation
> and/or cognate languages.
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