[b-hebrew] sullam

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Nov 29 17:22:57 EST 2012

Nir Cohen: 
slm does  n-o-t  mean “ladder” in  Ugaritic!!!  You’ve really got to be  
careful citing a source like you did.  Here’s what the leading Ugaritic 
dictionary, Lete & Sanmartin (2003),  says at p. 762 as to slm in Ugaritic: 
“ ‘staircase’(?) (Hb. SLM, HALOT…metathesis Syr. sebbelto…Akk. simmiltu…)
We see that Ugaritic scholars don’t know what slm means  in Ugaritic.  They 
are guessing at a  meaning of “staircase” based primarily on Genesis 28: 
12!  And as is the penchant of scholars, they  quickly move on to metathesis 
and half-heartedly assert a dubious Akkadian  cognate on that questionable 
basis.  To the best of my knowledge, no mainstream scholar has guessed that 
slm  might mean “ladder” in Ugaritic since 1965. 
You will note that the other cognates that Bomhard cites  from Hebrew are 
not helpful, as they mean “to weigh, balance”.   
In fact, mainstream scholars are right in saying that  it’s unclear what a 
Semitic etymology of SLM may be.  In my opinion, the reason why mainstream  
scholars have failed to identify a consensus Semitic etymology for SLM is  
because it’s a Hurrian loanword from the Amarna Era.  I might also note in 
passing that  Ugaritic contains many more Hurrian loanwords than does Hebrew, 
as a substantial  minority of the inhabitants of Ugarit were ethnic 
Hurrians.  So it is very possible that slm in  Ugaritic may be a loanword from 
Hurrian, just as I see the case being for SLM at  Genesis 28: 12. 
Heavens, Nir Cohen, you scared me out of a year’s  growth!  Please check a 
standard  Ugaritic dictionary next time before claiming a Ugaritic cognate. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois 
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