וּפְקַדְתֶּם Nu. 4:27

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Isaac Fried
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וּפְקַדְתֶּם Nu. 4:27

Postby Isaac Fried » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:25 pm

We read there:
עַל פִּי אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו תִּהְיֶה כָּל עֲבֹדַת בְּנֵי הַגֵּרְשֻׁנִּי לְכָל מַשָּׂאָם וּלְכֹל עֲבֹדָתָם וּפְקַדְתֶּם עֲלֵהֶם בְּמִשְׁמֶרֶת אֵת כָּל מַשָּׂאָם
KJV: "At the appointment of Aaron and his sons shall be all the service of the sons of the Gershonites, in all their burdens, and in all their service: and ye shall appoint unto them in charge all their burdens."
NIV: " All their service, whether carrying or doing other work, is to be done under the direction of Aaron and his sons. You shall assign to them as their responsibility all they are to carry."
וּפְקַדְתֶּם is from the root פקד for which we find a surprising number of different English renderings:
visit, visit upon, install, assign, appoint, put in charge, muster, give heed, provide, attend, observe, oversee, grant; and more.
But what is the underlying essential, realistic, meaning of this root? The root פקד has but few relatives:
בגד
פגש
פחד, פחז
פקד
still suggesting that פקד is a form of פגש, 'meet, confront, encounter, be in contact, stand against.' This is also the opinion of Gesenius, to which he adds פגע. I would add further נקד ,נגד and נגש.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

Isaac Fried
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Re: וּפְקַדְתֶּם Nu. 4:27

Postby Isaac Fried » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:08 pm

Closely related to פקד is בגד (close to נגד), 'oppose, be against, betray, confront', as in Judges 9:23
וַיִּשְׁלַח אֱלֹהִים רוּחַ רָעָה בֵּין אֲבִימֶלֶךְ וּבֵין בַּעֲלֵי שְׁכֶם וַיִּבְגְּדוּ בַעֲלֵי שְׁכֶם בַּאֲבִימֶלֶךְ
NIV: "God stirred up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem so that they acted treacherously against Abimelek"
Derived from the root בגד is also the name בֶּגֶד, '; clothing, garment', wrapped against the skin, opposite the body, as in Gen. 28:20
וַיִּדַּר יַעֲקֹב נֶדֶר לֵאמֹר אִם יִהְיֶה אֱלֹהִים עִמָּדִי וּשְׁמָרַנִי בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ וְנָתַן לִי לֶחֶם לֶאֱכֹל וּבֶגֶד לִלְבֹּשׁ
NIV: "Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear"

Many authorities see בגידה, 'betrayal', being a "cover-up", as hidden by a בֶּגֶד, but I doubt it.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

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Jason Hare
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Re: וּפְקַדְתֶּם Nu. 4:27

Postby Jason Hare » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:23 am

And without the medial gimel, how do you account for בַּד "cloth, fabric"?

Do you never feel like you're inventing these meanings whole cloth (if you'll forgive the pun)?
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Isaac Fried
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Re: וּפְקַדְתֶּם Nu. 4:27

Postby Isaac Fried » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:32 am

Jason,

What do you mean "inventing" the meaning? Do you think that there is any (any!) connection whatsoever, other than a common root, between בגידה, 'betrayal', and בֶּגֶד, 'garment'? Would you tell a curious student of yours that betrayal is done with a blanket over the head, kind of? Is this the genius of the Hebrew language?

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Re: וּפְקַדְתֶּם Nu. 4:27

Postby Jason Hare » Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:25 am

No, I'd never tell them that. That's not what the word means. The apparent connection between בֶּ֫גֶד and בָּגַד is only coincidence. I would never teach a student that there was any such connection, except perhaps as a mnemonic device (similar to how I was taught to remember ἔργον "work, labor" as if someone had done a lot of work and his air was gone).
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Isaac Fried
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Re: וּפְקַדְתֶּם Nu. 4:27

Postby Isaac Fried » Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:10 pm

Good. Very good. So we agree that there is nothing between בגידה, 'betrayal', and בֶּגֶד, 'garment'. Yet, undeniably, they both share the same root בגד. How come?
I am really interested in hearing your opinion as to what is the explanation for this occurrence: several unrelated words share the same root. Some would say that בגד is actually two roots in one, but I can't see this as being true.

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Jason Hare
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Re: וּפְקַדְתֶּם Nu. 4:27

Postby Jason Hare » Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:17 am

I don't tend to look for etymological explanations of meaning. Meaning is determined by use, not by letter strings. Your explanations generally seem ad hoc and contrived. It's similar to what we see in Qabbalah, an attempt at giving things meaning that is not naturally there.
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Isaac Fried
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Re: וּפְקַדְתֶּם Nu. 4:27

Postby Isaac Fried » Wed Jun 19, 2019 3:43 pm

Jason,

You are wholly right. It is indeed better to keep away from giving things meaning that is not naturally there.

Isaac Fried, Boston University


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