[b-hebrew] Lexical question

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Jul 31 11:06:01 EDT 2009

There are reasons I didn’t follow your examples, and they are the following:

On Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 8:15 PM, Ishinan <ishinan at comcast.net> wrote:

> Ishinan:  My suggestion is to apply the comparative method among other
> daughter Semitic languages (such as Akkadian, Ugaritic, Arabic,  Ge?ez,
> etc.) to your examples.

The problem with cognate languages is that in each language, the meanings
are slightly different, to greatly different. Therefore, in order to make a
comparison, one must start with an accurate understanding of terms in each
language, not use the cognates to make an understanding in a language. The
only exceptions are those like in Biblical Hebrew where we don’t have enough
contextual clues to recognize the meaning of a term and no native speakers
to ask. In those cases, I often look at the meanings understood by such
methods, look at the contexts and say that they don’t fit, therefore the
terms are unknown.

>  Consult the respective Proto-Semitic etymologies.

This is circular logic, as Proto-Semitic is a theorized language with no
observation to back it up.

>  You'll actually discover that the  examples you gave above are homonyms.

?? How?

> I have found that sometimes the entries in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
> of the Bible can be misleading.
> For example:
> 7783 shuwq  overflow, water.
> 7784 shuwq shook street.
> 7785 showq shoke the (lower) leg/shin.
> These are not related. Hope this helps.

While the reference to *Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance* is interesting, how
is it relevant? I don’t have a copy of it. The concordance I most often use
is Lisowski *Handkonkordanz zum hebräischen Alten Testament* where all the
references are written only in Hebrew, though recently more often I use
electronic searches through Tanakh files on my computers.

> Best regards,
> Ishinan B. Ishibashi
> <http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew>

Thanks for your input.

One other point, I don’t know any cognate languages other than barely enough
Aramaic to struggle through the Aramaic portions of Ezra and Daniel. At
first I thought it a disadvantage, as it cuts me off from a lot of modern
linguistic analysis of Hebrew language. However, later, I realized that it
is also an advantage in that I am able to read the Hebrew text without the
distractions where I would have to filter out the different meanings from
cognate languages, and the misunderstandings they would cause.

One example of merely reacting to the language is Psalm 22:18 HMH YBY+W YR)W
BY where my initial reaction was that the final waw on YR)W looks like a
copyist error, as the context indicates it should be a yod. The waw just
doesn’t fit the flow of the language. Then I saw a photograph of the Nahal
Heber scrap that has that verse, and sure enough, it is a yod. Now I have
both context and a found text that give the same reading. To say that I felt
vindicated is an understatement. Would I have recognized it if I had to
filter out cognate languages to get to Biblical Hebrew?

Karl W. Randolph.

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