[b-hebrew] one-to-one rendering of olam

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Sat Dec 11 19:56:01 EST 2010

King James translates Jonah 2:6(7) as: I went down to the bottoms of  
the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever. The  
English etymology of 'ever' is uncertain, but both 'forever' and 'for  
eternity' are merely turns of speech for long, long time, an  
indefinite period of time, an occurrence with no end in sight.
Nowadays MA-ASAR OLAM is 'life in prison', but even this may not last  

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Dec 11, 2010, at 7:28 PM, fred burlingame wrote:

> Hello Isaac:
> Thanks for your explanation of the עולם root.
> How would you apply that understanding to the meaning of עולם in  
> jonah 2:6? "The bars of the earth surrounded me for a vast and  
> lofty period of time?"
> Obviously, Jonah cannot be praying for relief from "eternity"  
> because eternity changes not.
> regards,
> fred burlingame
> On Sat, Dec 11, 2010 at 4:39 PM, Isaac Fried <if at math.bu.edu> wrote:
> I see the root (LM, or merely LM, as consisting of the combination  
> of the single-consonant root L, 'lofty', and the single-consonant  
> root M, 'massive, vast'. in the HB, (OLAM is mostly applied to  
> time, but is nowadays used also for space, in the sense of  
> 'universe, world'.
> In the word ELEM, the reference is to the body.
> The root עלם appears also in the form אלם, as in אלומה,  
> 'sheaf, large pile', and אולם, 'large hall'. Nowadays אלים  
> is 'bully, intimidator'.
> Isaac Fried, Boston University
> On Dec 11, 2010, at 2:30 AM, Bryant J. Williams III wrote:
> Jenni holds that its basic meaning "most distant times"
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