Ishinan ishinan at comcast.net
Thu Oct 15 23:46:33 EDT 2009

Karl W. Randolph wrote:

Unexamined tradition can lead to etymological errors.



Applying the comparative method between sister Semitic languages can easily 
dispel erroneous etymologies. To demonstrate how this works, let us pick the 
etymology of the word "mystery" mentioned in Karl's message.

According to Indo-European etymologists, the term mystery comes from 
Anglo-Fr. *misterie (O.Fr. mistere), from L. mysterium, from Gk. mysterion 
(usually in pl. mysteria) from mystes "one who has been initiated," 
ultimately from myein "to close, shut". The word mysterion (?????????) is 
used 27 times in the  NT. It denotes not so much the meaning of the modern 
English term "mystery" ( first occurrence 1194 CE.), but rather something 
that is mystical.

Unfortunately, the convoluted interpretation of "mystery" as coming from 
myein "to close, shut", and its relation to the notion of something hidden, 
a riddle or enigma has never been challenged and itself has remained a 
mystery! (no pun intended)

Perhaps now is an opportune time to rectify this misnomer and attribute the 
real sense of mystery as "something hidden, a secret" to its lawful Semitic 
origin. Hitherto, this source has been overlooked and consequently has never 
been properly explored.

In the OT, the Hebrew term used for something concealed, hidden & or 
referring to a secret is "çtr"  (samekh + teit+ reish)  and it is found in 
the following verses :

Prov 25:2

Gen 4:14, Exo 3:6, 1 Sam 20:24, 2 Ki 11:2, 2 Chr 22:11, Job 3:10, Job 3:23, 
Psa 19:6, Psa 22:24, Psa 38:9, Psa 55:12, Isa 28:15, Isa 29:14, Isa 40:27, 
Isa 49:2, Isa 50:6, Isa 54:8, Isa 57:17, Isa 59:2, Isa 64:7, Isa 65:16, Jer 
16:17, Jer 33:5, Jer 36:26, Eze 39:23, Eze 39:24, Hos 13:14, Amos 9:3, Zeph 

Deu 7:20, Deu 31:17, Deu 31:18, Deu 32:20, 1 Sam 20:2, 1 Sam 20:5, 1 Sam 
20:19, 1 Sam 23:19, 1 Sam 26:1, 1 Ki 17:3, Job 13:20, Job 34:22, Psa 13:1, 
Psa 17:8, Psa 27:5, Psa 27:9, Psa 30:7, Psa 31:20, Psa 51:9, Psa 54:1, Psa 
64:2, Psa 69:17, Psa 89:46, Psa 102:2, Psa 119:19, Psa 143:7, Prov 28:28, 
Isa 16:3, Isa 29:15, Jer 23:24, Jer 36:19, Eze 39:29, Micah 3:4

Job 13:24, Psa 44:24, Psa 88:14, Psa 104:29, Isa 45:15

Job 34:29, Psa 10:11, Prov 22:3, Prov 27:12, Isa 8:17

Deu 29:29, Job 14:13, Psa 19:12, Prov 27:5

Semitic languages are well known for having an instrumental prefix #m- , 
which is used to create several nominal derivatives from a given verb. 
Hence, in this instance, a Hebrew word with the sense of "mystery" 
(something hidden and /or concealed) would have been : *m- + çtr.

 *mçtr might not be attested in the Bible per se, nevertheless it is well 
attested in Arabic.

Arabic derives from the root str (sa-ta-ra), a verb meaning 'to veil', 
'conceal' or 'hide' and consequently has "mistar" a noun derived from the 
verb "str" which has the sense of something hidden, veiled or concealed; a 
secret (hence a mystery).

A JPEG  for the Arabic term "mistar" from the dictionary is available 
privately upon request to anyone who would be interested.

Best regards,

Ishinan Ishibashi

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list