[b-hebrew] Isaiah 30:14 description of a metal smith?

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Oct 31 11:30:06 EDT 2007

I don't have a copy of HALOT, but if the following is any indication
of their quality, I probably should not waste my money getting one.

On 10/30/07, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 10/30/07, K Randolph wrote:
> > GB), what does it mean? Is this a salt marsh or river delta as
> > indicated by Ezekiel 47:11?
> According to HALOT, this is a cistern, related probably (in the
> very distant past) to the root GBH/GBY "to collect."

Talk about the etymological fallacy ....

The picture given in Ezekiel is that this is connected with where a
river empties into a sea, in particular a salty sea (ocean). This
would be in a delta which usually has marsh lands typified with
brackish to salty water.

> ...  The root X&P
> is related probably to Ug xsp "to scoop, pour water" and Arabic
> xasufa "to pour out water".

This verb is used over 10 times in Tanakh, so its meaning is fairly
clear. It has the basic idea of removing, stripping off. At times it
is used where the object stripped off is not named, but understood
from the context.

One of the things I notice about late, pre-Exile Hebrew, is that the
authors frequently state part of an idea, then expect the reader to
fill in the blanks. In this case, the why a smith would want water
stripped off a salt marsh, namely because he used salt water in the
tempering of steel. Once the latter is known, then it all fits

> ....  HALOT cites Reymond in Vetus
> Testamentum 7:203ff.  The word gb? is further related to the root
> gb, Mishnaic Hebrew / Aramaic (including Biblical Aramaic gob),
> gob?, Akkadian gubbu cistern (a West Semitic loan), Arabic
> jubb, jaubat, Ethiopic geb "well", plural gevim as a pit/ditch in
> 2 Kings 3:16, Jer 14:3 (contrasted with water), 39:10
> > > YWCRYM KTWT one thing that typifies metal work is repeated tapping
> > > with a hammer to mold the metal into shape. I have done this with both
> > > iron and copper, and it is fun to see the shape come out. In both
> > > metals, high heat is needed, which was aided by the use of bellows
> > > which, in ancient times, were often made with skin bags NBL (modern
> > > smithies use a fan). Do these two words refer to the action of
> > > smithing?
> NBL is a storage jar, not necessarily made of skin or leather.  In Mishnaic
> Hebrew it seems to mean only a leather bottle.  In Lam 4:2 nbly xr& "clay
> jars".
NBL as a root refers to the action of becoming flabby, such as when a
plant loses turgidity and becomes flaccid. As a noun, it refers to a
flabby object, like a leather bag. It never refers to something hard,
like a clay jar. In talking about people, it refers to a "windbag", a
person who spouts off foolishness. In Lamentations 4:2, the pointing
is wrong, it refers to tooled leather bags, such as used by high

> XR& is clay.  It can be explicitly broken -- see Lev 11:33, and can be
> earthen -- see Is 45:9.
Assuming that the pointing is correct. But we must leave open the
possibility that the pointing is wrong, which could lead us to read it
as XR$ instead.

> Thus the first part of Is 30:14 is actually quite at home in the standard
> translation (using the JPS translation here) "And He shall break it as a
> potter's vessel is broken, breaking it in pieces without sparing."
I read it in context with the previous verse, so that W$BRH is a noun,
not a verb.

YWCRYM KTWT go together, the making of objects that are repeatedly hit
with a hammer, i.e. metal work. These words are used in an adjectival
relation to NBL. YWCRYM is the active part of this couplet, more in
the verbal sense than a noun, hence it is not in the construct.

NBL leather bag. Leather bags were used in the production of metal
work as bellows, to make the fires burn hotter. But in order to work,
they had to be in good shape, airtight.

> > > MKTT is this the word for smithy?
> HALOT translates as a "fragment."  This is related to the word ktt "to beat,
> crush fine."  While HALOT translates "fragment" I would suggest that a part
> of a potter's workshop might be discussed, if one views the form as a locative
> noun (krt / mkrtt in Mesha is actually the most immediate thing that comes
> to mind).  That is, it might be the area in the workshop where sherds are
> thrown.
Or a place where there is continuous beating with hammers.

> Yitzhak Sapir

I now realize that I look at definitions in two ways that are
different from HALOT, BDB and others.

I have repeatedly mentioned that I look at words based on their
function rather than form.

But I now recognize that I approach lexicography as a
farmer/smith/warrier etc. who knows Hebrew, rather than as a linguist
working from theoretical and comparative linguistics. I am just as
much at home in bib overalls looking over a field, or doing mechanics
work, as before a computer looking at Biblical Hebrew and studying
ancient inscriptions. When my son joined the marines and came back
from basic training barely qualifying as a rifleman, I took him over
to the shooting range and taught him how to shoot, so now he rates
about the top of his unit. Give me a plot of land and some materials,
I could build you a house complete with plumbing, electric outlets,
built in vacuum (those are nice), and so forth.

So when I looked at this verse, I looked at it not as a linguist, but
as a blacksmith.

In this verse, I don't think HALOT knows what he's talking about.

Karl W. Randolph.

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list