[b-hebrew] collecting myrrh and honey

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Tue Oct 16 19:06:57 EDT 2007


It is my firm belief that the presence of the letter R in a Hebrew  
root implies that it describes a state of dispersion or aggregation.  
So MOR of Song of Songs 3:6 as well as 5:1 is a sap or a powder. It  
is related to RAR of Leviticus 15:3, RIR, 'saliva, pus' of Job 6:6  
and 1 Samuel 21:14, and M-ROR-AH of Job 20:14. It is also related to  
MR), 'free floating' of Job 39:18, and (UR, 'alert'    of Song of  
Songs 5:2. Also to (RH of Isaiah 32:15 and Genesis 24:20. Also to  
"Aramaic" )ARA(, 'occur'.
You are right in stating that MOR may be related to MAR, 'bitter',  
but it is unclear which comes from which. In fact, as far as I can  
recall MOR is never explicitly mentioned in the Hebrew bible having a  
sharp taste. Even the passover MA-ROR of Exodus 12:8 and Numbers 9:11  
is 'bitter herbs' only by tradition, MI-PI HA-$MU(-AH, rather than by  
botanical certainty.    Moreover, MAR as an emotional state may mean  
'rattled' rather than the metaphoric 'bitter'. TA-MRUR of Jeremiah  
6:26 may be 'scream', related to RU(A of Numbers 10:9, rather than  
ARR may refer to a coursing stream of imprecations [English 'curse'  
may also be related to 'course'], or it may refer to 'unsettle,  
disrupt, perturb, cause to become disarrayed'.
So )RH may well mean 'gather, draw, pour in or out, loosen, dislodge,  
extract, eject'. In this sense it is related to )OR, 'light'. The  
king gathered in his garden the delicacies of MOR and BOSEM.
In any event, "I came to my garden" of S of S 5:1 may not mean what  
it materially and superficially appears to mean [as correctly pointed  
out now by Karl Randolph for "nibble"]. Notice also the semi-explicit  
language of S of S 4:16 and 6:2.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Oct 16, 2007, at 2:14 AM, Yaakov Stein wrote:

> In chapter 5 of the Song of Songs
> we have a line about "gathering" myrrh with spice,
> eating a honeycomb with honey and drinking wine with milk.
> The word MWR = myrrh is related to MR referring to its bitter taste,
> in contrast to honey which is sweet, although of similar color.
> The root of the word for "gather" is )RH, which appears in this sense
> only here (the other uses mean "to curse", and are apparently
> unrelated).
> The interpretation of )RH is apparently gathered from context.
> Myrrh would not be eaten or drunk, so what else could ARH mean ?
> Although myrrh globules are sometimes found on the ground
> near the trees, myrrh is usually collected by cutting the surface
> of the tree or bush and slowly collecting the golden sap as it exudes.
> Collecting myrrh with "spice" would be an unusual practice,
> but B&M here could possibly mean frankincense = LBWNH
> which is collected in a similar manner.
> Also note that honey may be similarly collected by waiting
> for it to drip from the honeycomb = Y(R.
> Although the other liquids mentioned are less viscous
> they require intervention for their collection.
> Wine juice is collected in a collection vat
> after pressing of the grapes in the GT = winepress;
> and milk is collected in a N)D or XMT by milking the animal.
> So could )RH mean "collecting a dripping (viscous) liquid" ?
> I was wondering if anyone knows of a cognate of )RH
> in another Semitic language, to help understand its meaning.
> (I have a reason for asking, but I don't want to explain yet
> in order not to prejudice any possible answers.)
> Yaakov (J) Stein
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