[b-hebrew] collecting myrrh and honey

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Wed Oct 17 22:05:52 EDT 2007


What is in interesting in the story of judges 14 is that the  
Philistines appear to have spoken good Hebrew. So may be the  
dictionary's assessment of them:

1.  A member of an Aegean people who settled ancient Philistia around  
the 12th century b.c.
2.  A smug, ignorant, especially middle-class person who is regarded  
as being indifferent or antagonistic to artistic and cultural values.  
One who lacks knowledge in a specific area.

is not entirely true.
What appears to be true is that theirs was a culture steeped in  
brutality, and that Samson was part of it.
The root )RH consist of the sole consonant R, the rest are fillers.  
So all we can say with certainty about this root is that it means  
'loose, free'. Not being a botanist nor a horticulturist it is not  
clear to me what the king exactly did in "his garden". Did he pluck  
leaves, did he break tender shoots, did he pick fruits or did he suck  
sap? I don't know. The same goes for Psalms 80:13.
)RR means 'to curse', but it may also mean 'to undermine', to cause  
somebody to become M-(UR(AR.
)ARAH DBA$ M-HA-(ARI sounds good to me. For some reason the bible  
uses the [clearer?] two-consonant root RDH for the extraction of the  
honey instead of the one-consonant root )RH.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Oct 17, 2007, at 1:14 AM, Yaakov Stein wrote:

> Isaac,
> Thanks for your enlightening explanations.
> 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.
> Yaakov (J) Stein

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