[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Sun Oct 14 01:16:45 EDT 2007


You can bet your hat that biblical NGB has nothing to do with 'dry'  
or 'wipe'. It's folk etymology at its best. Do you believe that the  
ancient Hebrews would call some area to the south "the wiped one"?  
Wiped from what? And what is the land to the north, "the wet one"?
The root NGB is rather a variant of NQB, NGP and NQP and refers to an  
elevation or a depression.
There is some interest in recalling that in Arabic NAJPAH is a mound,  
or sand-hill, and that NAJIB is a nobleman, a man of elevated status.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Oct 13, 2007, at 8:56 PM, Yigal Levin wrote:

> Yitzhak,
> You are undoubtebly correct that the verb "NGB" probably means "to  
> dry". But
> I still stand by what I wrote - the ONLY area whose proper name is  
> Negev is
> the Beer-sheva - Arad basin, and the use of "negev" for "south" in  
> general
> is particular only to Hebrew.
> As far as Josh 15:19, the story involves the town of Debir and its  
> conquest
> by Caleb and Othniel ben Kenaz. Albright's identification of Debir  
> with Tell
> Beit Mirsim, which is in the Negev, has fallen out of favor, and the
> presently accepted ientification is at Kherbet Rabud, just north of
> Dhahariya, or across the road from the modern settlement of  
> Othniel. That IS
> "southland" from a Judahite perspective. The Negev of Caleb is  
> mentioned as
> being somewhere in the south in 1 Sam. 14. So the "erec hannegev"  
> of Josh
> 15:19, while certainly dry, does not necessarily mean "dry land".  
> It could
> also mean "Land of the Negev" or "the land of the south".
> Yigal Levin
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Yitzhak Sapir" <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com>
> To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Sunday, October 14, 2007 12:26 AM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1
>> On 10/12/07, Yigal Levin wrote:
>>> The theory that the word "negev" is derived from the verb  
>>> "nageb" (NGB)
>>> meaning "to wipe" - a place that is "wiped dry" is only that - a  
>>> theory
>>> which may or may not be correct. In any case, "Negev" is NEVER  
>>> used of
>>> any
>>> desert other that the Beer-sheva - Arad basin.
>> I am not sure who suggested that the word "negev" is derived from  
>> the verb
>> "to wipe."  NGB is "to wipe" in Bava Matsia (Jastrow), but it is also
>> "dry" in
>> a much wider array of cognates.  Most likely, "dry" came from  
>> "wipe" and
>> not
>> the other way around.  I admit that I did not properly look up
>> evidence prior to
>> this suggestion, although having looked up HALOT I suggest you do  
>> too.
>> It provides the very suggestive Joshua 15:19 as an example of its  
>> meaning
>> "dry land."  It also refers to cognates in Mishnaic Hebrew, Jewish
>> Aramaic,
>> Syriac, Neo-Aramaic, and Samaritan meaning "to be dry", and in  
>> Soqotri "to
>> dry up."  On Jewish Aramaic, see
>> http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/cgi-bin/jpaoff.cgi?off=1493361
>> בגנ (a/a) vb. to dry up (SA נגב Ham 461:64, MH נגב Moreshet,
>> Lex 220+) Pe. ונגב נהרא the river dried up Git 49a(25);
>> דייגב נהרא ib. 27; קברייל נגב the Q.-river dried up
>> MQ 80a(54); נגבו מיא TN Gen 8:13 [H וברח ]; נגבו  
>> אפיה דארעא
>> the surface of the earth dried up ib.; part.pass. כד הוא  
>> נגיב
>> when (the bean) is dry Kil 31c(35) // Sab 7b(15); נגיבה
>> TN Lev 7:10 [H חרבה]; וצואת קטן נגיבה dry excrement
>> of a minor AZ 40d(30)
>> Pa. id.: part.pass. מנגבה TNGl Lev 7:10 [---> pe.]
>> see also here:
>> http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/searchroots.php?lemma=ngb&pos=v
>> In light of the many cognates, and in light of Joshua 15:19,
>> "ngb" = "dry land" may be only a theory, but it is also a very
>> compelling theory and one that has to be answered if someone
>> suggests that "ngb" refers to a very fertile land.
>> Yitzhak Sapir
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