[b-hebrew] Genesis 31: 47: What Foreign Language Is That?

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Tue Nov 20 18:34:52 EST 2007

On Nov 20, 2007 10:34 PM,  Jim Stinehart wrote:

> 1.  You wrote:  " The root ygr in BH means "fright."…[N]either of these words
> [including ygr] appears in Hebrew…."
> I do not understand that.  We have ygr/yod-gimel-resh/YGR five times in the
> Hebrew Bible:  Deuteronomy 9: 19;  28: 60;  Job 3: 25;  9: 28;  and Psalms 119:
> 39.  It's a perfectly good Biblical Hebrew word that means "fear" or "fright"
> or "to be afraid".
> So at Genesis 31: 47, 'yegar sahaduta' may mean "fear of sahaduta".

No, the root ygr means fright in Hebrew as a verb.  Where do you find
it used as a
noun meaning "fright"?

> 2.  Based on The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon source that you cite, ygr is
> yagra in Aramaic, and possibly in other languages.  That may back up my
> intuition that there may be an implied A after the R in that odd phrase at Genesis
> 31: 47.

There is no -a in construct.  Jim, you asked about the Aramaic phrase because
you apparently didn't know Aramaic.  Then go learn!  But don't go and take a
phrase all scholars clearly realize is an example of Aramaic in the Bible, and
try to show how it is not Aramaic, without first learning Aramaic.

> Moreover, ygr(a) could conceivably be short-hand for ygrra:  yegar + ra.  As
> mentioned in my previous post, (i) S could be SH, given the Sin/Shin instead
> of the expected Aramaic Samekh, and (ii) the H could mean –AH, instead of
> starting a new syllable.

You just invented a whole new syllable - "ra" - that didn't exist in the text.
There is no expected Aramaic samekh.  Old Aramaic has &hdn as I noted,
and the shift of sin to samekh is a feature of late Aramaic.

> Or more likely, the pun-crazy author of the Patriarchal narratives is having
> it both ways.  It means "fear of sahaduta", meaning "fear of testimony" and
> "rock heap of testimony", with shd/&HD meaning "testify" or "witness" or
> "record" in Hebrew.  And, simultaneously, it means "fear of ra-shah-du-ta".  The fact
> that the second word is not in anything like normal Hebrew form, but rather
> seems obviously foreign, despite the recognizable Hebrew root, suggests the
> second meaning.

Nothing suggests anything but "mound of testimony."  These words are not
Hebrew.  They are not Hurrian.  They are Aramaic.

> 4.  I'll even be a gentleman and grant you that both words appear in Aramaic.
>  But that settles nothing.  Aramaic did not come from Mars.  No, Aramaic is a
> late west Semitic language that is obviously heavily indebted to Assyrian,
> Hurrian, Amorite, Ugaritic, Hebrew, and all Canaanite languages.  So to say that
> a word appears in Aramaic does not mean that the root of such word is or is
> not coming from Hurrian.

Aramaic is a branch of Northwest Semitic.  It is not heavily indebted
to Ugaritic or
Hebrew or all Canaanite languages.  I very much doubt that there is any strong
Hurrian influence in Aramaic, but unlike you, I have no problem to say
-- I cannot
make a conclusion on this issue because I don't know Hurrian!

> The question is not whether 'yegar sahaduta' is Aramaic.  No, the question is
> whether 'yegar sahaduta', or perhaps the second word of 'ye-gar
> ra-shah-du-ta', is coming from Hurrian.

Your invented text is not coming from Hurrian.  It is coming from you.

> 5.  You wrote:  "Laban is an Aramean."
> No, not if the Patriarchal narratives were composed before 1100 BCE.

Well that is your problem.  The text says Laban is from Aram, and then has him
speak Aramaic.  How you work it out is up to you.  The evidence can't change
just because your theory says otherwise.  But perhaps your theory can change
if the evidence says otherwise.

> Surely you jest.

Jim, jest is what I think when I see you use Hollywood casting to justify
ancient Egyptian art.  If you don't know Aramaic, then you have no business
going around suggesting theories how an Aramaic phrase is not Aramaic.
You asked how it was an open and shut case, and I explained it to you.
But that doesn't mean that it is now not an open and shut case.  Just
because you wish the phrase were Hurrian and not Aramaic, doesn't mean
it is or ever was.

Yitzhak Sapir

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