[b-hebrew] Yamin -South (was: Names of Rachel's etc.)

Uri Hurwitz uhurwitz at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 30 22:53:57 EDT 2011

    Bravo, Will! You have hit on the right original
 meaning of 'Yamin' which is indeed 'south'. Think 
of the state of Yemen' and its location in the Arab
 world. This connotation is preserved in "Teiman' in BH.

   To elabortate the point a little -- the word for 
'left' in BH is, as we know, 'Smol'.  This very word 
in Arabic, 'Shimal', means North. In Heb. there is
 a silent Alef after the Mem. In Arabic the Alif serves
as the long vowel.

   These words exist in Semitics from before biblical
 times. They  are attested in the names 'sons of the north'
 and 'sons of the south' in Akkadian. The Akkadian name
 of the latter is “Bene-yamina”. Think of Binyamin in the HB.

  Now consider the location of  Binyamin in the northern
 kingdom of Israel -- this tribe is the southern most.

   That these terms may indeed have originated in the
 position of someone who prays to the sun in the morning is
 a reasonable assumption.

    Uri Hurwitz                             At present Wilmington, Vt. 

I find this association of _jamin_ with "sea-side" phonetically suspect,
seeing that ימינ/yamin has no daghesh in the mem, whereas ימ/yam(m) does.
The presence of an underlying geminated mem in yam/yamm is corroborated by the
Arabic ﻳﻢ/yamm (with a tashdid, corresponding to Hebrew daghesh forte, over
the mim).  Also, I think it's most natural to orient (note the meaning of the
Latin etymon!) oneself by facing in the direction of the rising sun, by which
the "right" would be South, though it's certainly possible to consider the
direction of the highest point of the sun to be the reference point, in which
case the West would be the "right".

William Parsons

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list