[b-hebrew] "Rope Imagery" in Biblical Hebrew

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Dec 11 14:45:40 EST 2008

You wrote:  “The root YTR is in my opinion a variant of the roots (TR, ($R,  
 'replete, plenty'.  I hold it a basic tenet of Hebrew etymology that every 
 containing the letter L, such as XBL, refers to a state of elevation or 
extension, and that every root that contains the letter R, such as XBR, refers to 
a state of aggregation or dispersion.”
(TR means “to be abundant”, and ($R means “to make rich”.  Originally, 
those were good, positive words.  (The fact that (TR is used at Proverbs 27: 6 to 
excoriate an enemy’s “abundant” kisses as being deceitful does not override 
the fact that (TR/“abundant” is basically a positive, good word.)
How did one create “abundance”/(TR and get “rich”/($R, while living in a 
tent in rural Canaan in the Patriarchal Age?  Why, by using a “rope”/YTR, 
naturally, to rig one’s tent, to deal with one’s animals, for all manner of 
agricultural activities, and at times even to “rope” off the boundaries of one’s 
space against others.  The greatest technological innovation enjoyed by the 
first Hebrews, living in tents in rural Canaan, was manufactured, twisted “rope”, 
made from local flax.  The specific word for that type of “rope” is XBL, 
which we have yet to examine in detail.  But a second word for rope-like items, 
including real “rope”/XBL, but also including a “cord” that may have simply 
been a vine, and a “bowstring” that may have been fashioned from an animal’s 
tendon, was YTR.
I am trying to show that the positive “rope imagery” eternally embedded in 
the very language of Biblical Hebrew is really quite stunning.  We have seen 
this first at Genesis 49: 3, where “rope”/YTR is equated with “natural 
superiority, excellence”/YTR.  When we get to “rope”/XBL, we will see manufactured, 
twisted real “rope”/XBL being equated with land and divinely-approved 
inheritances of large regions of land.
My point is that the rural Bronze Age Canaan beginnings of Biblical Hebrew 
are right there, eternally on display, if we will just take seriously this 
magnificent, positive “rope imagery” embedded in the very language of Biblical 
Hebrew.  There’s not much in Biblical Hebrew from urban Mesopotamia, and 
amazingly little from the colorful culture of neighboring Egypt.  No, Biblical Hebrew 
is by its very nature proudly rural Canaan all the way, a virgin pure west 
Semitic language.  And very enamored of “rope”.  
You may well be right that “rope”/YTR is related to (TR/“abundant” and ($R/“
rich”.  What I’m saying is that all those fine concepts were linked to “rope”
 by the early tent-dwelling Hebrews in rural Canaan.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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