[b-hebrew] Jerusalem

Will Parsons wbparsons at alum.mit.edu
Sat Jul 10 08:35:08 EDT 2010

[I had previously sent this out a couple of days ago, but since it hasn't
shown up on the list so far, I'm resending it.  My apologies if it ends up
on the list twice.]

On Thu, 8 Jul 2010 16:30:54 +1000
George Athas <George.Athas at moore.edu.au> wrote:
> 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.

Are you sure there was in fact a shift from earlier Ἰερουσαλήμ to later
Ἱεροσόλυμα?  It seems there is a problem in the temporal sequence here.  I'm 
not sure when Greeks really first became aware of Jerusalem, but they certainly
became aware of it after Alexander's conquests and the founding of the
Seleucid empire.  I don't have the resources to check this, but I'd be willing
to bet the Seleucids referred to the city as Ἱεροσόλυμα rather than Ἰερουσαλήμ.
First of all, Ierousalem is too good an approximation to the Hebrew form -
Greek versions of foreign names are usually not so precise.  And how about 
that final [m]?  Very un-Greek.  What about the plural form?  No need to look
look to an Aramaic or other Semitic influence - plural forms for names of
cities is very characteristic of Greek itself: consider Αθηναι/Athenai/Athens,
Θηβαι/Thebai/Thebes, or Σαρδεις/Sardeis/Sardis.  So, I rather would expect 
that Hierosolyma is the form by which the city was first known to the Greeks,
certainly a borrowing from the Semitic form (not necessarily Hebrew itself)
transformed into Greek guise.  The association of "holiness" with Jerusalem
would have influenced the slight modification of the initial [jeru-] to
[(h)iero-].  I would doubt that the final [-solyma] had originally any
connexion with Solomon (though of course, later people made that connexion).
The [y] might represent a final [e] or [i] heard by the Greeks as [y] under
the influence of the following labial [m] (cf. Byblos vs Biblos).

So, "Hierosolyma" would seem to be the normal pagan name for Jerusalem.
When later under Ptolemy (II?), the LXX translation was produced, the
Jewish translators tried to keep closely to the Hebrew forms, even at the
cost of having names that were at odds with Greek phonology, such as
"Ierousalem", "Abraam", "Ioseph", &c.

> 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).

William Parsons

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