[b-hebrew] When did )NK in Amos 7:7f become interpreted as "plumb line"?

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Tue Mar 27 23:54:53 EDT 2012


It looks as if you are taking a modern approach to this question.

What matters is that there is a weight at the bottom of a line that holds
it straight for construction purposes. What the exact composition of that
weight is not important. In modern construction, lead is the preferred
material for the reasons you mention, but was that always the case? The
exact etymology of the term is irrelevant, the action that it refers to is
the deciding factor.

Yours, Karl W. Randolph.

On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 12:16 AM, Daniel Lundsgaard Skovenborg <
waldeinburg at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Hi Karl,
> I skipped a lot of aspects of the discussion that led to the initial
> question, so my point was probably not clear:
> The tin/lead discussion is not only concerning the material of אֲנךְ, but
> also wether it is a tool at all. So my point is: I find it less plausible
> that a plumb line would be named after tin, because I think lead would be
> cheaper and intuitively better for the job (see below). So if annaku is
> "tin" it weakens the possibility that אֲנךְ is a plumb line. And even if it
> is true, we do not seem to have evidence that אֲנךְ was interpreted as
> "plumb line" before the 10th century.
> Admittedly, I'm not a craftsman, but I don't think the density of lead is
> something that is only relevant for "modern usage". You don't need a
> physics concepts as "density" to know that "lead is heavy" (in Danish we
> have a common expression, "blytung", i.e. "heavy as lead"). And I believe
> it is quite intuitive that heavier equals more stable (depending on the
> situation, of course). The job of the weight is not only to hold the line
> straight but also as  unwavering and unaffected by the wind (in short,
> vertical) as possible.
> Regards,
> Daniel
>   ------------------------------
> *From:* K Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
> *To:* Daniel Lundsgaard Skovenborg <waldeinburg at yahoo.com>
> *Cc:* Yigal Levin <Yigal.Levin at biu.ac.il>; "b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org" <
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> *Sent:* Tuesday, March 27, 2012 12:17 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [b-hebrew] When did )NK in Amos 7:7f become interpreted as
> "plumb line"?
> Daniel:
> The question here, what was the tool used for?
> The advantage of lead, in modern usage, is its density, but any weight can
> be used and the tool is stil functional. It doesn’t matter what the tool’s
> weight is made of, if it holds the line straight, it does its job. If it is
> true as you say that the original weight was made of tin, hence its name in
> Akkadian, it is best to translate it not by the name “tin” rather as
> “ plumb-line” in English, even though “plumb” refers to lead.
> It is function that we look for, not form.
> Karl W. Randolph.
> On Sat, Mar 24, 2012 at 6:20 AM, Daniel Lundsgaard Skovenborg <
> waldeinburg at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Hi Yigal,
> Thanks!
> Of course tin or a wooden brick or whatever could have been used for such
> a tool, but if the Akkadian word gave name to the tool, I think it must
> mean "lead" (tin is normally בְדִיל and lead עֹפֶרֶת, so maybe אֲנָךְ was
> used only as a technical term, if we suppose it is a tool). Or to put it
> another way: if annaku means "tin" I don't think it would give name to this
> tool, unless it through "usage mistakes" came to mean "lead" when entering
> Hebrew:
> 1. Lead is special because it has a high density (tin is similar to iron
> in this regard). You want as much inertia as possible for this tool – if it
> is not stable it does not work properly.
> 2. According to Landsberger lead is way cheaper than tin.
> Regards,
> Daniel Lundsgaard Skovenborg

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