[b-hebrew] The root XRS-XR$

Isaac Fried 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,  
צַוָּארֵךְ בַּחֲרוּזִים
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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