[b-hebrew] collecting myrrh and honey

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Oct 17 06:56:57 EDT 2007

On 10/17/07, Yaakov Stein wrote:

> I guess the time has come to explain why this word is of interest to me.
> My idea has to do with the story in Judges 14 of Samson and
> the lion with the honeycomb.
> Samson poses a riddle to the Phillistines
>   from the devourer food comes out, and from the strong sweet emanates
> (my translation)
> but the riddle is seemingly impossible to figure out.
> The classical Jewish commentators claim that Samson expected
> his hosts to come and greet them, and thus they should have seen the
> lion.
> But this is obviously a forced explanation.
> I had an idea about this. A riddle should be a play on words that the
> average
> person could figure out. There should be a single word with more than
> one meaning.
> In this case the association was triggered by Samson's seeing the lion
> and honeycomb.
> My idea is that if )RH truly means "to collect a liquid", then possibly
> there was a noun )RY meaning "honeycomb" - perhaps along with Y(R -
> or more likely some vessel to collect honey.
> Assuming this, the play on words is obvious. )RY means both "lion"
> and this "collection vessel" or honeycomb. The Phillistines should
> have realized that there was a word that meant both "the strong, the
> devourer"
> and "the sweet, food".
> Unfortunately, the Phillistines couldn't figure it out, and had to
> plough
> with Samsons hepher.
> However much I would like to make this riddle reasonable,
> I need more evidence ergarding the root )RH before taking this idea
> seriously.

The cognates for the verb ?rh are Mishnaic Heb. to gather figs, Phoenician
?r, Eth. ?araya, Tigre, ?ara: to gather, Akkadian ?aru: "storehouse".  One
may also note the word ?urvɔ "stable" from Akkadian Sumerian uru:
enclosure, secondary ure: and ura:ti stallions and mares.  Cognates for this
are known in Syriac and Arabic.  Perhaps we may also adduce ?ro:n "chest"
or "coffin" with cognates in Hebrew, Aramaic, Phoenician, Babylonian, and
Arabic.  On Is 28:4, HALOT quotes Seeligmann in Vetus Testamentum 11:
211, to the suggestion of a conjectural correction from hɔro?ɛ to hɔ?orɛ.

?ari: "lion" has cognates in Mishnaic Hebrew, Old South Arabic "ibex",
Harari u:ri "wild animal", Akkadian e/aru: "eagle".  ?arye has cognates
in Aramaic, Ethiopic ?arwe: "wild animal", Tigre "snake", Egyptian
rw, Berber awar, Cushitic a:r, Arabic ?arwi:yat "ibex" or "wild sheep",
Akkadian "male mountain goat."  This word would appear to have meant
"wild animal" in the Semitic languages, and perhaps specifically "wild
goat".  In Afro-Asiatic, it probably meant just "wild animal" and "lion" is
a loan-word from an African language.  All cognates listed above, are from
HALOT, which also writes in the entry for ?ari: (this is what you've been
waiting for):

Ju 14:5,18 (possibly word-play on II ?ary honey, Arabic ?ary which was
lost in Hebrew, Bauer, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen
Gesellschaft 66:473f; Bohl, Opera Minora, Groningen 1953, p. 16;
Poster, Journal of Theological Studies 13:106ff)

Note that HALOT does not have a II ?ary.  However, on II ?arye, it has
2 Kings 15:25 Septuagint ?aria (a place name).

Yitzhak Sapir

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