[b-hebrew] Asher

Uzi Silber uzisilber at gmail.com
Thu Jul 8 04:51:11 EDT 2010

Boker or  to all,

my son's name is Asher, named after my grandfather.  Most define Asher as
something like happy and successful (some add rich too, though obviously
that really refers to Asheer with an ayin).

But at his brit mila years ago I baffled guests when I suggested in a brief
speech that his name may have been a pre-israelite name that was essentially
the male version Ashera.

I'd appreciate all comments.


On Thu, Jul 8, 2010 at 4:03 AM, Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il> wrote:

> George, you make some interesting points, especially the Greek evidence
> that the shift from "Yerushalem" to "Yerushalayim" seems to have occurred
> during the late 2nd century BCE.
> However, I have some comments on your explanations for the shift.
> 1. In general, the ending "-ayim" for place-names has nothing to do with
> the dual. Adoraim does not have two "adora"s, Shaaraim does NOT have two
> gates (despite the recent erroneous identification of Khirbet Qeiyafa with a
> town by this name). This was dealt with by A. Demsky, "Hebrew Names in the
> Dual Form and the Toponym Yerushalayim", In Demsky, A. ed. These Are the
> Names: Studies in Jewish Onomastics, vol. 3. Ramat Gan: 2002, 11-20; Y.
> Elitzur, Ancient Place Names in the Holy Land: Preservation and History,
> Jerusalem and Winona Lake, 2004, 282–290; N. Na'aman, Shaaraim – The Gateway
> to the Kingdom of Judah. Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 8: Article 24.
> 2. The "Mishneh" ("secondary") quarter of Jerusalem, whatever part of the
> city it refers to, is mentioned only in late pre-exilic contexts in 2 Kings
> 22:14 and its parallel in 2 Chr. 34:22, as the dwelling-place of Huldah the
> prophetess, and perhaps poetically in Zeph. 1:10. In is not mentioned
> (AFAIK) in post-exilic contexts. Since, as we know from archaeology, the
> "newer" part of pre-exilic Jerusalem, the western hill that was first
> settled in the 8th century, was totally destroyed in 586, and NOT included
> in early Second Temple Jerusalem, which, until the mid 2nd century BCE,
> included only the eastern ridge. When the western hill was included in the
> city again, 450 years after it had been abandoned, it was called "The Upper
> City".
> 3. My guess is that the shift is an Aramaism, similar to Shomron -
> Shamrayin, Ophrah - Ephrayim (the place-name, not the tribe).
> 4. The fact that the MT, in a vast majority of cases, retains the
> consonantal text without the second Yod would seem to indicate that the
> tradition of reading "Yerishalem" was known and considered legitimate late
> enough, so that the Masoretes, who wanted to read "Yerushalayim", felt that
> they did not have the authority to add the Yod, so they made do with the
> vowel-points.
> 4. It is totally possible, that once the pronunciation "Yerushalayim"
> became widespread, people began interpreting it as a dual and coming up with
> all types of "midrashic" explanations, such as those that you suggest.
> Yigal Levin
> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:
> b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of George Athas
> Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2010 9:31 AM
> To: B-Hebrew
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Jerusalem
> Yitzhak, I agree with you from a linguistic perspective that the dual form
> would be problematic considering that mem is part of the underlying root.
> However, did the Masoretes, or even Second temple Jews, know this? Were they
> familiar with the deity Shalim and his cult? I doubt it. So I think I differ
> from you on an historical basis here.
> When you look at Greek transcriptions of the name ‘Jerusalem’ here’s what
> we find. The LXX (I’m including the whole Tanakh in this) transliterates the
> name as Ἰερουσαλήμ, a singular form. The LXX translations date to 3rd–2nd
> centuries BC. So, at that time, the city name was still a singular form.
> However, in apocryphal books and in the New Testament, the name gets
> transliterated as Ἱεροσόλυμα. Two things are notable here. Firstly, it’s now
> a plural form, perhaps reflecting an understanding of a Semitic dual.
> Secondly, the rough breathing at the beginning and the shift from ου to
> simple ο suggests that the name was being treated as a play on the word
> ἱερόν (temple). So, from the late 2nd century BC onwards, there is a
> significant shift in the way the name Jerusalem is seen. It is treated as a
> plural and as incorporating something about the temple.
> Here are some suggestions to account for this shift.
>  1.  As the temple complex became fortified in the Hasmonean Era, and then
> refurbished in the Herodian Era, the city of Jerusalem came to be seen as a
> dual entity: residential Jerusalem and temple Jerusalem. The temple area
> effectively became an acropolis—a citadel—which was treated differently from
> the rest of the city. (As a modern parallel, one might consider modern-day
> Rome and the Vatican.)
>  2.  The משׁנה (‘second’ quarter) was deemed as a second city within an
> expanding Jerusalem, such that Jerusalem was viewed as a double-city.
>  3.  Jerusalem within the walls was paired with the immediately surrounding
> area outside the walls, producing a dual entity. Someone more versed in
> Jewish halakhah might be able to tell us what Rabbinic Judaism viewed as
> constituting ‘Jerusalem’ or a Sabbath day’s walk (if that is relevant to the
> definition of the city).
> Moore Theological College (Sydney, Australia)
> www.moore.edu.au
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