Cuneiform Translation

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Tuscoro
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:33 pm

Cuneiform Translation

Postby Tuscoro » Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:05 pm

Is there any one in this forum who is qualified/able to translate Cuneiform?

I have a controversial possible artifact and am looking for translation without the aid of the item in which it was found so as to
eliminate the possibility of influence of the image itself in order to achieve a most accurate translation.

I have a photo...

Thank you in advance.

Tuscoro

R.J. Furuli
Posts: 109
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:51 am

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby R.J. Furuli » Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:48 pm

Dear Tuscoro,

I have taught Akkadian for many years and am able to translate Akkadian documents into English. That does not necessarily mean that I can get something meaningful out of your item. That depends on the length of the text—do we have a context? And it depends of how clear the signs are. To illustrate the problems: A cuneiform sign can stand for a syllable or for a word; the same sign can refer to several different syllables and words, and many different signs can refer to the same syllable or word. To give a reasonable interpretation, we need a context. The signs are written after each other on a line, and it is not always easy to know where one word starts and ends. Moreover, the same cuneiform signs had different numbers of wedges and could have different forms in Assyria and Babylonia in different centuries. The genre of the text may also have a bearing on the interpretation. For example, astronomical texts can be compared to modern shorthand; in a great number of instances each sign stands for one object, one word, or one position etc—the number 20 (two angular wedges) refers to the sun and 30 (three angular wedges) refers to the moon. Names can be written in different ways. One way to write Nebuchadnezzar is first to write one vertical wedge serving as determinative for a proper name, then the sign dingir, the determinative for god. After these signs follows AG (the god Nabu), NIG2-DU (kudurru-eldest son), and SHESH (natsaru—guard, save; the sign is understood to refer to utsur, the participle of natsaru). Each of these signs can stand for several other syllables and words than those making up the name Nabu-kudurru-utsur. You can send a picture of your text to me, and I will see what I can do.


Best regards,


Rolf

Ray Harder
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:59 am

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Ray Harder » Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:39 am

I have met hundreds of Assyriologists over the years but have only met a couple who could read Akkadian from a tablet. Even most Akkadian teachers to not have this skill. This is a rare and difficult to acquire skill. (Actually a set of skills.) First, one has to learn Akkadian. It generally takes about a 6 months to a year of full-time study to learn the basic grammar and morphology of a language. It can take several years of practice to be able to read an unknown text -even with the help of a grammar and lexicon and then only with texts that have been transliterated and transcribed.

If one finds a Greek papyrus, he may not be able to read it because even though he or she knows Greek, he may not be able to read the scribe’s handwriting. Most scholars of Greek leave the transcription of texts to specialist called epigraphers. When a manuscript or papyrus is published, it is rendered into printed Greek characters. Most Greek scholars have learned to read printed Greek texts and may not be able to read the same text directly from a manuscript, inscription or papyrus. This process is much more complicated in non-alphabetic texts such as those in cuneiform. When a cuneiform tablet is discovered, it is an extremely complicated series of steps to publish it. (Unless it is published as a photo.) Generally standard practice in Assyriology (the study of cuneiform using languages like Akkadian and Sumerian) is to publish a photo, and then It is customary for scholars to publish a cunieform tablet in the following manner:

Step 1. Make or obtain an "autograph." This is a handmade drawing of the signs by a professional assyriologist.
Step 2. Make a "transliteration" of the text into Latin characters where the signs are each represented by their approximate sounds in Latin characters. This is a non-destructive process and the original cuneiform signs can be reconstructed from the Latin characters by a knowledgable scholar.
Step 3. Make a "transcription" or "normalization" of the text. This is an attempt to reconstruct the language as it would have sounded when spoken. It is then impossible to reconstruct what the actual signs were on the original from a transcribed text.
Step 4. Make a "translation" of the text. This is where the scholar attempts to change the intellectual concepts recorded on the text in the original language into another language E.g. from Sumerian to English. translation from Akkadian is essentially the same as translation from any other language at this point.
Step 5. Make a commentary on the text. Translating an ancient text usually requires some degree of explanation of the text, the archaeological context in which it was found, the historical and literary context from which it came, as well as the process and logic used to make the translation.

Most publications of cuneiform texts publish a photo and also the results of these five steps. Most good scholars start with a transcribed text (Step 3) and couldn’t read a text from a photo or the clay tablet itself if their life depended on it.

Does anyone know of a good active forum of professional assyriologists there this photo can be posted. My sense is that you are not going to find someone with the required expertise here on B-Hebrew. I only know of one scholar personally who has spent thousands of hours in the British museum reading cuneiform texts. You might see if you can find Dr. Joel H. Hunt on Facebook and see if he is willing and able to help you.

I don’t recall my Akkadian, and I hesitate to disagree with a teacher, but wouldn’t the name Nabu-kudurru-utsur be “O Nebo, guard my boundary stone?" The middle element being a Kudurru --Boundary stone, and not “eldest son?”

Good luck with the translation of the text,

Ray
Raymond G. Harder

Forgive the length of my posts, but like H.L. Mencken said, "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

R.J. Furuli
Posts: 109
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:51 am

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby R.J. Furuli » Sat Jan 25, 2014 7:07 am

Dear Ray,

You have several good observations regarding Akkadian. But because you do not know all the list members, you cannot say whether there is one or more members of b-Hebrew who can read Akkadian texts.

I have also met many Assyriologists as you have, and all of them were able to read Akkadian from a tablet. What you probably mean, is that to take a tablet without knowing its background and read it as you read a newspaper, very few persons can do. The genre is also important. I have done much work with astronomical cuneiform tablets and made translations of them (300 pages of the 900 pages of my two books on Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian chronology contain translations with comments of astronomical cuneiform tablets). Once I asked a scholar who have published translations of several hundred tablets about the meaning of a few signs on an astronomical tablet. His answer was, "I simply have no idea; astronomical tablets are not my field."

One important issue that you do not mention is the handwriting of the Babylonian and Assyrian scribes. If the signs are clearly written, it will be easier to read the original tablet than a photo of the tablet. One reason for this is that a cuneiform tablet often is slightly curved, and signs at the ends may not be clear if there are not photos from different angles. Moreover, many photos do not show all details in a clear way. I have studied cuneiform tablets from the Schøien collection in Norway, Vorderasiatische Museum in Berlin, and the British Museum in London. And I will definitely say that a clear original is better than a picture. The most important cuneiform tablet for Neo-Babylonian and Biblical chronology from the sixth century, is VAT 4956. I studied this tablet in Berlin and made clear electronic pictures of it. Afterwards, from the notes of my collation and the electronic pictures, I studied every sign on the tablet, and my readings are in some places different from the readings of the leading scholar in this field, Herman Hunger, who has never collated the tablet but who made his study on the basis black and white photos taken before the second World War.

It is correct that kudurru can refer to a boundary stone. But according to “A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian," by J. Black et al. (1999) it can also refer to “a earth carrying instrument; a wooden container; and to the eldest son.” It is quite obvious that Nebuchadnezzar does not mean “Let Nebo protect the earth carrying instrument” or “Let Nebo protect the wooden container” or “Let Nebo protect the boundary stone.” But the natural meaning would be: “Let Nebo protect the eldest son.”



Ray Harder wrote:I have met hundreds of Assyriologists over the years but have only met a couple who could read Akkadian from a tablet. Even most Akkadian teachers to not have this skill. This is a rare and difficult to acquire skill. (Actually a set of skills.) First, one has to learn Akkadian. It generally takes about a 6 months to a year of full-time study to learn the basic grammar and morphology of a language. It can take several years of practice to be able to read an unknown text -even with the help of a grammar and lexicon and then only with texts that have been transliterated and transcribed.

If one finds a Greek papyrus, he may not be able to read it because even though he or she knows Greek, he may not be able to read the scribe’s handwriting. Most scholars of Greek leave the transcription of texts to specialist called epigraphers. When a manuscript or papyrus is published, it is rendered into printed Greek characters. Most Greek scholars have learned to read printed Greek texts and may not be able to read the same text directly from a manuscript, inscription or papyrus. This process is much more complicated in non-alphabetic texts such as those in cuneiform. When a cuneiform tablet is discovered, it is an extremely complicated series of steps to publish it. (Unless it is published as a photo.) Generally standard practice in Assyriology (the study of cuneiform using languages like Akkadian and Sumerian) is to publish a photo, and then It is customary for scholars to publish a cunieform tablet in the following manner:

Step 1. Make or obtain an "autograph." This is a handmade drawing of the signs by a professional assyriologist.
Step 2. Make a "transliteration" of the text into Latin characters where the signs are each represented by their approximate sounds in Latin characters. This is a non-destructive process and the original cuneiform signs can be reconstructed from the Latin characters by a knowledgable scholar.
Step 3. Make a "transcription" or "normalization" of the text. This is an attempt to reconstruct the language as it would have sounded when spoken. It is then impossible to reconstruct what the actual signs were on the original from a transcribed text.
Step 4. Make a "translation" of the text. This is where the scholar attempts to change the intellectual concepts recorded on the text in the original language into another language E.g. from Sumerian to English. translation from Akkadian is essentially the same as translation from any other language at this point.
Step 5. Make a commentary on the text. Translating an ancient text usually requires some degree of explanation of the text, the archaeological context in which it was found, the historical and literary context from which it came, as well as the process and logic used to make the translation.

Most publications of cuneiform texts publish a photo and also the results of these five steps. Most good scholars start with a transcribed text (Step 3) and couldn’t read a text from a photo or the clay tablet itself if their life depended on it.

Does anyone know of a good active forum of professional assyriologists there this photo can be posted. My sense is that you are not going to find someone with the required expertise here on B-Hebrew. I only know of one scholar personally who has spent thousands of hours in the British museum reading cuneiform texts. You might see if you can find Dr. Joel H. Hunt on Facebook and see if he is willing and able to help you.

I don’t recall my Akkadian, and I hesitate to disagree with a teacher, but wouldn’t the name Nabu-kudurru-utsur be “O Nebo, guard my boundary stone?" The middle element being a Kudurru --Boundary stone, and not “eldest son?”

Good luck with the translation of the text,

Ray



Best regards,



Rolf Furuli
Stavern
Norway

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1069
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Isaac Fried » Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:32 pm

“Let Nebo protect the eldest son's wooden container”, or in Yiddish: "Let Nebo protect the eldest son's cholent tepple". Nebo being obviously the נביא

Isaac Fried, Boston University

Jim Stinehart
Posts: 325
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:33 am

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Jim Stinehart » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:34 am

Prof. Rolf Furuli:

You wrote: “It is correct that kudurru can refer to a boundary stone. But according to “A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian," by J. Black et al. (1999) it can also refer to ‘a earth carrying instrument; a wooden container; and to the eldest son’. It is quite obvious that Nebuchadnezzar does not mean ‘Let Nebo protect the earth carrying instrument’ or ‘Let Nebo protect the wooden container’ or ‘Let Nebo protect the boundary stone’. But the natural meaning would be: ‘Let Nebo protect the eldest son’.”

That is clearly correct. Now let’s use that insight to uncover one of the intentional meanings of the Biblical name “Chedorlaomer” : KDRL‘MR at Genesis 14: 1.
That name can be divided into the following three components: KDR L ‘MR.

KDR is the Hebrew rendering of kudurru, which in kingly titles means, per your post, “eldest son” or “firstborn son”. If “Chedorlaomer” is a negative nickname for historical Niqmaddu II, the king of Ugarit who in Year 13 [per the Genesis 14: 4 explicit reference to “year 13”] invited the dreaded Hittites into Syria, then although the historical records are unfortunately minimal as to his family history, it is likely that he was his father’s firstborn son. What we know for sure is that he succeeded his father to the throne of Ugarit without any report of any irregularities in that regard.

The rest of the name is Hebrew. L can mean “to” in a wide variety of senses, here implying “[going] to [end up like]”. ‘MR is the root of the name “Gomorrah”, which is spelled ‘MR -H [where the final -H is a standard Hebrew ending for a geographical place name].

Thus the name KDR L ‘MR has as one of its intended meanings: “The firstborn son [Niqmaddu II of Ugarit] is going to end up like Gomorrah [that is, will lose everything]”.

By inviting the mighty Hittites into Syria in Year 13, Ugarit thereby forever forfeited its prior independence, and thereafter was a mere Hittite vassal state. A firstborn son, namely Niqmaddu II, caused his country Ugarit to forfeit its independence to the Hittites. Thus Ugarit went the way of Gomorrah: both lost everything. The focus in Ugarit’s case is on the fact that Ugarit permanently lost its independence in Year 14 and became a Hittite vassal state. Although referring to Ugarit King Niqmaddu II as being a firstborn son may at first glance seem a bit odd, note that in the Patriarchal narratives, 7 of 7 firstborn sons get the shaft and properly so: Haran, Lot, Ishmael, Esau, Reuben, Er, Manasseh. That all-important theme in the Patriarchal narratives [as historically, the first Hebrews were gravely threatened in south-central Canaan in Year 13 by a new princeling ruler who was a firstborn son] is deftly extended to the Second Syrian War in Years 13-14, by dint of referring to disliked Niqmaddu II as being a firstborn son.

Yes, Ugarit was one of the coalition of four winning parties that utterly destroyed a doomed league of five rebellious princelings in the “four kings against five”, which historically is the Second Syrian War in Year 14 [per “year 14” being expressly referenced at Genesis 14: 5] of the 17-year Amarna Age. But the cost of inviting the Hittites into Syria to obtain that resounding military victory was that Ugarit thereby lost its independence. From an early Hebrew point of view, Niqmaddu II’s action of inviting the mighty Hittites into Syria meant that potentially, the dreaded Hittites might now threaten beloved Canaan itself.

KDR = kudurru = “firstborn son” in kingly titles, as you rightly point out. Historically, King Niqmaddu II of Ugarit was a firstborn son who, although initially victorious in the Second Syrian War in Year 14, thereby paid the price of his country Ugarit forevermore losing its independence.

Thus a fitting, if nasty, Patriarchal nickname for historical Ugarit King Niqmaddu II in Year 13 is KDR L ‘MR: “The firstborn son [[KDR]] (Niqmaddu II of Ugarit) is going to [[L]] end up like Gomorrah [[‘MR]] (that is, Ugarit will lose everything)”.

The primary meaning of this Biblical nickname for King Niqmaddu II of Ugarit in Year 13, however, is actually its Ugaritic meaning. For the Ugaritic meaning, we need to add in this ruler’s Biblical title [which is spelled MLK ‘YLM in the received text, but likely was MLK ‘LM originally, with no interior yod/Y, which is later-added (and erroneous) plene spelling]. Those 13 letters in Hebrew, KDR L ‘MR MLK ‘LM, are the following 13 letters in Ugaritic: kdr l ‘mr mlk ‘lm. This is a truly nasty, yet apt, curse in Ugaritic for hated Niqmaddu II: “Fall [kdr] into [l] excrement [‘mr] all the kings (of Ugarit): past, present and future [mlk ‘lm]. In 5,000 years of human history, the only country that referred to all its kings, past, present and future, by the phrase mlk ‘lm [literally “king eternal”] was Ugarit.

Genesis 14: 1-11 is a spellbinding account, using nasty Patriarchal nicknames, by a contemporary of the Second Syrian War in Year 14.

Jim Stinehart

Dr. James R. Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1069
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Isaac Fried » Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:36 pm

If נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּר is indeed the composition NBU-KADR-ECAR, then כדר is a variant of
גדר, גזר, גשר
הדר
חדר, חזר, חטר, חסר, חצר, חשר, חתר
כדר, כשר, כתר
קדר, קטר, קצר, קשר
From the root גדר we have GADER, 'fence, enclosure', as in Nu. 22:24.
From the root חדר we have XEDER, 'room', as in 1Ki. 20:30.
From the root חצר we have XACER, 'yard, court', as in Ex. 27:17.
From the root חשר we have XA$RAH, 'envepope', as in 2Sa. 22:12.
From the root חתר we have MA-XTER-ET, 'excavation, tunnel', as in Ex. 22:1(2).
From the root כדר we have KADUR, 'sphere, circle, encircle, surround', as in Is. 29:3.
From the root כתר we have KETER, 'crown', as in Esth. 2:17.
From the root קדר we have the post-biblical QDERAH, 'cooking pot', (German Topf, as in "jeder Topf findet seinen Deckel". Yiddish tepple.)

QETER כתר 'crown' is related to ETER or עטרה ATARAH, 'wreath', as in Song 3:11. Also עזרה AZARAH, 'gallery', as in Ezekiel 43:14.

Possibly the עצר ECER of Judges 18:7 is עטר ETER, 'crown', and יורש עצר YORE$ ECER is יורש עטר 'inheritor of the crown, heir to the throne'.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

Jim Stinehart
Posts: 325
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:33 am

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Jim Stinehart » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:46 am

Isaac Fried:

You wrote: “From the root כדר we have KADUR, 'sphere, circle, encircle, surround', as in Is. 29:3.”

Yes, it’s often thought that KDR means “ball” in Hebrew, though such word does not appear as such in the Bible. The closest one comes to that in the Bible is at Isaiah 29: 3, where K-DWR = “as in a circle”, round about.

But the Ugaritic and Akkadian meanings of KDR are different.

In Ugaritic, kdr can mean: “to fall”. That’s not the only possible meaning, but it’s the one that fits the Ugaritic phrase kdr l ‘mr: “fall [kdr] into [‘] excrement [‘mr]”, meaning that Ugarit has forfeited its independence by the actions of Chedorlaomer : KDR L ‘MR : kdr l ‘mr [the nasty Patriarchal nickname for historical Ugarit King Niqmaddu II]; Ugarit will forevermore, beginning in Year 14 [referenced at Genesis 14: 5], be a Hittite vassal state.

Of possible relevance to the Ugaritic meaning of kdr is what you wrote here: “From the root חתר we have MA-XTER-ET, 'excavation, tunnel', as in Ex. 22:1(2).” If that is a legitimate linguistic comparison, then one might compare XTR at Job 24: 16, meaning “to dig” or “to tunnel”, and having negative implications, to kdr, meaning “to fall” in Ugaritic.

In Akkadian, kudurru, which would be rendered by the Hebrew letters KDR in defective spelling, also can have several meanings, as Prof. Rolf Furuli pointed out. But in a kingly name, the meaning that fits the context is “eldest son” or “firstborn son”.

As you know, firstborn sons in the Patriarchal narratives never do well. Each of Haran, Lot, Ishmael, Esau, Reuben, Er and Manasseh gets the shaft, and properly so. Here in chapter 14 of Genesis, the allies of firstborn son Chedorlaomer wrongly take Lot, Lot’s wife and Lot’s daughters as hostages. They were hoping to turn Lot into a Hittite puppet, just as the Hittites had succeeded in doing to Hurrian princeling Aitakkama in Year 13 at Qadesh-on-the-Orontes just north of Lebanon. But Lot’s family is then heroically rescued by Abram, with the help of the Amorite who in early Year 13 [the year that is referenced at Genesis 14: 4] historically was the old princeling ruler of the “valley” [Genesis 37: 14] where the Patriarchs’ Hebron was located, being located the opposite direction from “east” of Bethel, per Genesis 13: 9, 11. That’s the Ayalon Valley, where “Ayalon” is spelled on three occasions in shortened, defective spelling as ’LN, at the beginning of the phrase ’LN -Y- MMR’ at Genesis 13: 18; 14: 13; 18: 1. [MMR’ is the Patriarchal nickname of the old Amorite princeling who, at the beginning of Year 13, ruled the Ayalon Valley and who, per Genesis 14: 13 (and historically), was in confederate relationship with the tent-dwelling first Hebrews. This old Amorite princeling’s historical name is honoured by appearing at Genesis 46: 17, immediately after the XBR root of “Hebron”. So in addition to the Patriarchal nickname “Mamre”, we are also given, in a slightly disguised manner, this Amorite ruler’s Year 13 historical name: “Milk-i-Ilu”.] The secondary meaning of KDR L ‘MR is that the “firstborn son” [KDR] is “to” [L] go the way of “Gomorrah” [‘MR]: that is, Ugarit will be ruined, just like Gomorrah. King Niqmaddu II of Ugarit was a firstborn son whose actions in calling the Hittites into Syria in the Second Syrian War in Years 13-14 caused Ugarit to lose its independence permanently. From a Hebrew point of view, it was ill-advised for Ugarit to invite the dreaded Hittites into Syria, because that potentially threatened beloved Canaan itself with Hittite domination. Genesis 14: 4 refers to “Year 13” and Genesis 14: 5 refers to “Year 14”, because those are the two years in which these momentous events occurred, historically.

KDR in fact has many different meanings in different Semitic languages and in different contexts. In order to figure out the intended meanings of KDR : kdr in the nasty Patriarchal nickname “Chedorlaomer” : KDR L ‘MR : kdr l ‘mr, one has to think Akkadian and Ugaritic, not just Hebrew. After all, Chedorlaomer [though he was a native west Semitic speaker] was an iniquitous foreigner from Syria, not a Hebrew.

Finally, please note that scholars are 100% in error in viewing the four attacking rulers at Genesis 14: 1-11 as allegedly being “kings from the East”. Two of them are mere princelings. But much more importantly, not a single one was from the East! One was a Hittite king with a Hittite Patriarchal nickname from Anatolia/Hatti; one was a Hurrian princeling/Hittite puppet with a Hurrian Patriarchal nickname from central Syria/Qadesh-on-the-Orontes; one was an Amorite king with a Semitic Patriarchal nickname from western Syria/Ugarit; one was an Amorite princeling with a west Semitic Patriarchal nickname from northern Lebanon/Amurru [who nefariously, as reflected in his Biblical title, was in cahoots with Hurrians at Damascus]; and none was from the East. Note that the word “east” never appears in chapter 14 of Genesis. That’s because no one in chapter 14 of Genesis is from the East. Just think “Year 13”, per Genesis 14: 4, and you’ll see right away what the historical setting of chapter 14 of Genesis is. It has nothing to do with “kings from the East”. In fact, Year 13 is smack dab in the middle of that 1,000-year period in which Canaan, blessedly, was never bothered by a king from the East. The Old Babylonians were 500 years in the past, and the New Assyrians were 500 years in the future. Year 13 was the time for the birth and flourishing of Judaism and the Hebrews. T-h-a-t is what the Patriarchal narratives are all about.

Jim Stinehart

Jim Stinehart
Posts: 325
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:33 am

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Jim Stinehart » Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:55 am

Corrections.

1. My apologies. My memory of the meaning of kdr in Ugaritic was faulty. Here is the corrected analysis. [For the meaning of Ugaritic words, I am using primarily Lete, G. del Olmo and Sanmartillin, J., “A Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition” (2003), translated by Wildred G. E. Watson.]

Whereas KDR is very rare in Biblical Hebrew, kdr is used frequently in Ugaritic literature. Indeed, three Ugaritic names begin with kdr -- kdrl; kdrn; kdrs -- whereas no Hebrew has a name that begins with KDR. Accordingly, a Biblical name that begins with KDR, like “Chedorlaomer”, has a Ugaritic feel to it, not a Hebrew feel. In Ugaritic, “Chedorlaomer” is: kdr l ‘mr.

Though kdr has various meanings in Ugaritic, one of the best-attested meanings of kdr in Ugaritic is a type of “trough” that was used in religious ceremonies. Hence kdr in Ugaritic can be translated as: “sacred religious vessel”. Rather than kdr, it is the Ugaritic word ‘mr that implies the concept of “fall”, in addition to meaning “ashes” or “dust” or possibly “excrement”. In order to see that combination of concepts, it is important to note that in Ugaritic, ‘mr is virtually interchangeable with ‘pr, a word that has a slightly milder meaning: “dust” or “ground” or “earth”. Of critical importance here, a common Ugaritic phrase is “l ‘pr”, meaning “[fell] to the ground”, or “[fell] to dust”. In fact, in Ugaritic the preposition l means not only “to” [in many senses], but also “certainly” or “oh”, as a means of emphasis. So the “l ‘mr” that we see as the last four letters in the name “Chedorlaomer” would be expected to mean in Ugaritic: “indeed [fell] to dust” or “indeed [fell] to ashes” or even “indeed [fell] into excrement”. Perhaps the best translation here is “indeed [fell] to ashes”.

So the Ugaritic meaning of the Biblical name “Chedorlaomer” : KDR L ‘MR : kdr l ‘mr is as follows: “the sacred religious vessel [kdr] [[that is, Ugarit’s independence]] indeed (fell) to [l] ashes [‘mr]”. That is to say, Ugarit King Niqamddu II forfeited forever Ugarit’s precious independence by inviting the dreaded Hittites into central Syria in Year 13.

2. I should perhaps also note that although the phrase mlk ‘lm is well-attested at Ugarit, scholars have not come to a consensus as to its precise meaning. The literal meaning is probably “king eternal”. Lete and Sanmartillin say:

“…mlk ‘lm eternal king, 1.108: 1 and par. [parallel], title of the divinized king….”

Another source says:

“[W]e must seriously consider the interpretation of the title mlk ‘lm in KTU 1.108 II. 1.21, 22 and 2.42 I. 9 as ‘everlasting king’.” Annuaire de la Societe orientale Ex Oriente Lux, Issue 34 (1997), p. 77.

It is my own opinion that when applied to Ugarit, mlk ‘lm has the implied meaning of “all the kings of Ugarit: past, present and future”, that is, the “eternal” line of the “kings” of Ugarit : “king eternal” : mlk ‘lm.

Accordingly, I see the Ugaritic meaning of the following 13 letters, being the name and title of Chedorloamer at Genesis 14: 1, as being as follows: kdr l ‘mr mlk ‘lm : “the sacred vessel [Ugarit’s independence] indeed (fell) to ashes (as to) all the kings of Ugarit: past, present and future”. That is, Ugarit’s former independence was forever forfeited by Ugarit King Niqmaddu II’s rash action in Year 13 of inviting the mighty Hittites into central Syria. That course of action immediately and inevitably led to the permanent loss of Ugarit’s independence. Thereafter [beginning in Year 14], Ugarit was a mere Hittite vassal state and, from an early Hebrew point of view, the Hittites could now potentially threaten Canaan itself.

Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1069
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Isaac Fried » Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:22 pm

I am sorry, but you are wasting your time on me; I know nothing, neither of "Akkadian" nor of "Ugaritic". We should keep only to what we know first hand.
The act קדר QADAR may meant 'bend over'. The post-biblical word קדרה QDERAH is 'cooking pot, vessel'. It is related to גדרה GDERAH, 'enclosure, holding pen', as in Nu. 32:24, because of it's encircling erect wall designed to contain and retain the cooked food.
The act חתר XATAR is related to חדר XADAR, 'penetrate, dig into', as in Ezekiel 21:19(14).

Isaac Fried, Boston University


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