Cuneiform Translation

The main place for discussion the Hebrew Bible, its language and message.
Forum rules
Members will observe the rules for respectful discourse at all times!
Please sign all posts with your first and last (family) name.
User avatar
Kirk Lowery
Site Admin
Posts: 187
Joined: Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:03 pm
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Contact:

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Kirk Lowery » Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:16 am

Please sign all posts with your full name, please!

See viewtopic.php?f=2&t=378

You can put your name in your signature (you do this in your User's Control Panel).

Thanks!
Kirk E. Lowery, PhD
B-Hebrew Site Administrator & Co-moderator
blog: https://blogs.emdros.org/eh
#mb-hga

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

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Jim Stinehart » Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:06 am

Ray Harder:

1. You wrote: “Your reasoning here is solid and your citation of II Chron. 33:7 אָשִׂים אֶת-שְׁמִי לְעֵילוֹם. is relevant and proves that the ancient scribes made mistakes in spelling the Hebrew word translated “eternal.” It is possible to speculate therefore that at Gen 14:1 ‘YLM is also an ancient misspelling of the plene form which later evolved from the defective form ‘LM.”

Finally we’re getting somewhere. I appreciate the fact that you agree that the ‘YLM that we see in the received text may have originally been ‘LM in earlier alphabetical texts.

2. Now let’s press on and explore the two mainstream etymologies of the Hebrew name for “Elam”, and see if we can resolve this matter.

(a) Traditional Etymology of “Elam”: ‘LM “Conceal”. The traditional etymology of the Hebrew name “Elam” [which I suspect you will reject] is set forth at Strong’s as follows. “Elam” can be spelled either ‘YLM or ‘WLM, and in both cases it derives from the Hebrew common word “conceal”, which is spelled ‘LM. [Although Strong’s does not expressly say so in this connection, it is also true that ‘LM and ‘WLM are the two standard spellings for the Hebrew common word “eternal”, and that ‘lm is the Ugaritic word “eternal”.]

On this traditional etymology, it seems certain that the earliest alphabetical versions of Genesis 14: 1 would surely have had ‘LM as the early, defective spelling of either (i) the country name “Elam” or (ii) the Hebrew/Ugaritic word “eternal”. Perhaps you might agree with that. ‘YLM is simply later, post-exilic plene spelling of the earlier ‘LM. Yes, every manuscript has the plene spelling ‘YLM, but that’s simply because all manuscripts are post-exilic. Chedorlaomer’s title was, prior to the Exile, spelled MLK ‘LM.

(b) Modern Attempted Etymology of “Elam”: Hebrew Version of Elamtu, Hatalmti, Hatamti, elammatum and/or NIM? The problem with non-traditional etymologies of the name “Elam” as a country name is the notable fact that ‘YLM is not a sensible Hebrew spelling of any name used outside of the Bible in the ancient world for the country east of southern Mesopotamia. Ayin-yod / ‘Y at the beginning of a word or name implies a diphthong, being two vowel sounds, since an ayin is not silent [so unlike an initial prosthetic aleph, which often is silent]. But no non-biblical language ever shows a diphthong at the beginning of the name “Elam”.

Elamtu, Hatalmti, Hatamti, and elammatum are, along with the logogram NIM, the 5 Mesopotamian forms of this country name. [See, for example, p. 1 of D.T. Potts, “The Archaeology of Elam”, Cambridge University Press (1999).] Note that’s there no diphthong at the beginning of any non-biblical version of this country’s name. Rather, the name may begin with the single vowel E, as in Elamtu and elammatum. Or, for Hatalmti and Hatamti, the first vowel sound does not fit ‘YLM [even if the Hebrew ayin were somehow to be viewed as corresponding to H]; also, there’s no tav/T, so there’s no fit there.

If we drop the -tu in Elamtu, the expected Hebrew spelling of the remaining “Elam” would be: (i) in plene spelling, ’YLM, with an initial aleph [not ayin!], where the initial aleph is prosthetic and silent, and merely indicates that the following yod/Y is functioning as a vowel, namely the vowel E; or (ii) in defective spelling, ’LM , with an initial aleph [not ayin!], where the initial aleph is prosthetic and silent, and merely indicates that this name begins with a vowel sound, without any indication [in defective, unpointed spelling] as to what the particular vowel sound might be. The key is that the expected Hebrew spellings would begin with aleph/’, whereas in fact at Genesis 14: 1 what we see, rather, is ayin/‘. It’s hard to see how either ayin or ayin-yod could represent the Akkadian name for their eastern neighbour “Elam[tu]” [even after dropping the final -tu]. Why is the first letter ayin, instead of aleph?

(c) Jim Stinehart’s Proposed Etymology of “Elam”. The standard Biblical Hebrew spelling of the country name “Elam” eventually came to be ‘YLM. But nevertheless that is not a sensible spelling of the Akkadian proper name “Elamtu”. So why did it come about?

Here’s the most logical explanation of this ancient Biblical mystery. A post-exilic copy-editor did not want evil Chedorlaomer to blasphemously have the godly title “King Eternal”, which would be the normal reading of the MLK ‘LM that was in the early alphabetical versions of Genesis 14: 1. So he jammed an interior yod/Y in there to avoid that blasphemy. Later, the meaningless four letters ‘YLM that resulted were thought to be an odd, but attested [at Genesis 14: 1 only], spelling of the country name “Elam” [whether it is viewed as being an inexplicable spelling of the Akkadian name “Elamtu”, or it is viewed as the Hebrews uniquely referring to the country east of southern Mesopotamia as “[the] concealed [country]”]. After the Exile, the Hittites, the Hurrians and Ugarit were all virtually unknown; no one remembered the long-ago Great Syrian War. So instead of the originally-intended reference to Ugarit, the tradition began, in post-exilic times, that the ‘YLM in the received text of Genesis 14: 1 was a strange spelling of the country name “Elam”, when in fact, the older spelling ‘LM had originally meant “eternal” in both Hebrew and Ugaritic, having nothing to do with the country of Elam.

Otherwise, there’s no rhyme or reason for the Hebrew spelling of Elamtu, Hatalmti, Hatamti, elammatum or NIM to be ‘YLM. Why would Hebrew, alone among all the languages of the world, have a diphthong at the beginning of the country name “Elam”? Or, on the traditional etymology, why would only the Hebrews refer to that country as being “concealed”?

What in fact happened is that what started out as a plene spelling update in order to avoid blasphemy eventually had the unintended consequence of establishing a bizarre [but now standard] Hebrew spelling of the country name “Elam” as ‘YLM. But originally, Chedorlaomer’s title MLK ‘LM had nothing whatsoever to do with the country of Elam.

3. You wrote, as to my argument that the ‘YLM in the received text was ‘LM in earlier alphabetical versions of Genesis 14: 1: “ But you must then admit that this is speculation based on analogy and assumes your entire theory and is contrary to 100% of the scribal/textual tradition. This IS evidence for your interpretation, but you must be careful not to assume your conclusions in your analysis of the evidence.”

I am not doing “speculation”, as you would have it. ‘YLM is obviously plene spelling, and as such is post-exilic in nature; thus it cannot have been the original version of Genesis 14: 1. It is y-o-u-r view, in asserting that allegedly ‘YLM likely did not start out as ‘LM, that is “contrary to 100% of the scribal/textual tradition”, at least as to university scholars. I believe that most university scholars would agree that it is more likely than not that ‘YLM is a plene spelling form, which logically then started out as ‘LM in defective spelling. Yes, university scholars agree with the traditional, non-scholarly view that ‘YLM at Genesis 14: 1 is referencing the country of Elam [thus rendering Genesis 14: 1-11 non-historical, if not nonsensical], but that is not on the basis that it is unlikely that ‘YLM started out as ‘LM.

4. You wrote: “Let me clearly state that I agree that i.) context MUST be considered, (ii.) it is POSSIBLE that early alphabetical versions of Genesis 14:1 could have spelled this title ‘LM, and (iii.) it is POSSIBLE that the ‘YLM in the received text could have a meaning other than the country name “Elam” --IF AND ONLY IF we reject ALL manuscript evidence and accept your theory as “context” as you call it.”

All of the manuscripts are of course post-exilic, so there’s no surprise that there’s plene spelling all over the place. That applies throughout the Bible, including the received text of the Patriarchal narratives, and including in particular truly ancient chapter 14 of Genesis.

5. You wrote: “NOTHING in the evidence supports your assertion that “Chedorlaomer is a nasty Patriarchal nickname for Ugarit King Niqmaddu II.” Nowhere in either the Ugaritic or the Hebrew textual traditions are these two linked. In FACT Chedorlaomer is NEVER mentioned in the Ugaritic texts and Niqmaddu II is NEVER mentioned in the Hebrew bible.”

(a) I see kdr l ‘mr mlk ‘lm as being a nasty Patriarchal nickname that excoriates Niqmaddu II for selling out Ugarit’s independence to the dreaded Hittites. So of course, “Chedorlaomer” as the proper name of a king of Ugarit “is NEVER mentioned in the Ugaritic texts”. That’s for sure.

(b) Whether or not Niqmaddu II is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible depends entirely on whether or not kdr l ‘mr mlk ‘lm is a nasty Patriarchal nickname for Niqmaddu II. Later books of the Bible know nothing of Ugarit or the Great Syrian War, so of course they don’t mention Niqmaddu II.

(c) As to your claim that, allegedly, “NOTHING in the evidence supports your assertion that ‘Chedorlaomer is a nasty Patriarchal nickname for Ugarit King Niqmaddu II’ ”, consider that if “Chedorlaomer” is referencing Niqmaddu II of Ugarit, then e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g at Genesis 14: 1-11 is utterly redolent of the Great Syrian War. The Biblical text tells us, accurately, that in “Year 13” a league of five rebellious parties formed, and accurately portrays each party’s ethnicity. The Biblical text also tells us that in “Year 14” such league was crushed by a winning coalition of four rulers, each of whose ethnicities is accurately portrayed. Indeed, if I may say so, the one and only “problem” in matching the “four kings against five” at Genesis 14: 1-11 straight up to the Great Syrian War is precisely the issue that you and I are discussing on this thread at length: whether kdr l ‘mr mlk ‘lm is or is not a nasty Patriarchal nickname for King Niqmaddu II of Ugarit. That’s the relevant “context” I am citing.

Jim Stinehart

Dr. James R. Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Jim Stinehart » Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:52 am

Rktect:

While I disagree with your historical analysis of Genesis 14: 1-11, you do make an important point concerning cuneiform. Yes, indeed, there is a significant amount of evidence that the vast bulk of the Patriarchal narratives, including chapter 14 of Genesis in particular, was originally written in cuneiform, and only later transformed into alphabetical Hebrew.

Consider for example that no solid consensus has ever developed as to explaining the geographical name $N‘R [“Shinar”] at Genesis 14: 1, whose third letter in the received text is ayin/‘. If this name was originally recorded in cuneiform, then it would be little surprise if that third letter, written as Akkadian heth/X in cuneiform, was mistakenly viewed as meaning Hebrew ayin/‘, when it fact it meant Hebrew heth/X. This is part and parcel of the “confusion of gutturals” for which cuneiform writing is notorious. Cuneiform could not distinguish Hebrew ayin/‘ from Hebrew heth/X. So $N‘R in the received text was actually intended to be $NXR. Now there is an exact, letter-for-letter match for this previously mysterious proper name: $a-an-xa-ar, at Amarna Letter EA 35: 49.

Moreover, $a-an-xa-ar almost certainly means “Syria”, not “Babylon”, because slight variations thereon are frequently attested as a Hurrian man’s name. That Hurrian man’s name must mean “Mr. Syria”; the Hurrians were not in Babylon, and so would not be expected to frequently have a personal name whose Hurrian meaning is “Mr. Babylon”. Thus at p. 298 of N. Nodze, “Vocabulary of the Hurrian Language” (2007), we see the following attested Hurrian man’s personal name attested 21 times: $a-an-xa-ra.

If the references to “year 13” and “year 14” at Genesis 14: 4-5 are to historical Years 13-14, and if the “four kings against five” at Genesis 14: 1-11 is then the Great Syrian War, then the Amorite Aziru from Amurru in northern Lebanon is “Amraphel”, where the first two Hebrew letters of that west Semitic proper name recall both “Amorite” and “Amurru”. But why would Aziru, a native west Semitic-speaking Amorite from Amurru in northern Lebanon, be called “king of Syria”? In Year 13, Syria was dominated by Hurrian speakers, and was on the verge of becoming a series of Hittite vassal states pursuant to the Great Syrian War of Year 14.

As I have noted on an earlier thread, Amarna Letter EA 107: 26-28 ominously places Aziru, the west Semitic-speaking Amorite princeling ruler of Amurru in northern Lebanon, at Damascus, Syria. So historically, Aziru/Amraphel is linked to Syria/Shinar. Aziru being in Damascus, Syria was a disturbing development to many people at the time, as Aziru seemed to be threatening to run the table and link Damascus to Aziru’s patrimony of Amurru. From there this upstart princeling [who was in cahoots with the Hittites, for which unforgivable sin he is rightly excoriated by pharaoh Akhenaten in Amarna Letter EA 162] might possibly jeopardize the continued independence of Canaan itself. On the eve of the Great Syrian War [probably in Year 12, though the dating is not certain], that nefarious Amorite princeling Aziru had temporarily taken over Damascus [though he had no legitimate business being there], and he was viewed by many at the time of the Great Syrian War as being a bona fide threat to nefariously add Damascus and perhaps much other land in greater Canaan to his stronghold patrimony of Amurru. Aziru was an Amorite princeling who was nefariously united with Hurrian princeling Etakkama of Qadesh-on-the-Orontes, and both sold out to the dreaded Hittites.

The Biblical title “king of Syria”/“king of Shinar” is sarcastic and pejorative. It’s sarcastic, in that small-time princeling Aziru from northern Lebanon did not in fact control much of Syria, and then only at the sufferance of mighty King Suppiluliuma of the Hittites. It’s pejorative, in that the Biblical author is berating Aziru for the same sin as pharaoh Akhenaten berates Aziru unmercifully at Amarna Letter EA 162: iniquitously selling out to the dreaded Hittites. That’s part of the “iniquity of the Amorites” at Genesis 15: 16. That’s why the west Semitic name Amraphel is paired with Syria/Shinar: the Amorite princeling Aziru of Amurru was trying to operate in Syria, and in so doing was potentially imperiling beloved Canaan itself, as Aziru helped the Hittites conquer all of central Syria in a single year, just north of Lebanon and Canaan. Northern Lebanon/Amurru was henceforth a Hittite vassal state. The Biblical author worried that maybe Canaan itself would soon become, disastrously, a series of Hittite vassal states, as had just now happened in Year 14 in central Syria, western Syria and northern Lebanon/Amurru.

The linguistic point here is that if we recognize that all these names and titles of 9 contending rulers at Genesis 14: 1-2 were originally written in cuneiform, we can then begin to figure out otherwise mysterious names such as “Shinar”.

Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1029
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Isaac Fried » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:10 pm

This שנער $INAR is possibly a variant of שניר SNIYR of Deut. 3:9. The SI in these names is possibly שיא 'summit', as in שיאון of Deut. 4:48, and also in mount ציון CIYON. The SIN in these names is possibly שן 'tooth', as in mount סיני SINAY, and צין CIYN. The AR ער is, indeed, possibly a slurred HAR, 'mountain'.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

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

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Jim Stinehart » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:53 pm

Isaac Fried:

You wrote: “This שנער $INAR is possibly a variant of שניר SNIYR of Deut. 3:9. The SI in these names is possibly שיא 'summit', as in שיאון of Deut. 4:48….”

1. But surely Amraphel is not “King of Mt. Hermon”. What sense would that make?

2. Moreover, note that the author of the Patriarchal narratives is concerned about a nefarious scoundrel who has the following two key characteristics:

(i) his name is either “Aziru” or, what amounts to the very same name, “El-Aziru”, that is, the “Eliezer” of Genesis 15: 2; and

(ii) he is connected, suspiciously, to Damascus, Syria.

At Genesis 15: 2, Abram poignantly cries out to YHWH [per my paraphrase]: “If I can’t even sire a son by my beloved wife Sarai, then I might as well abandon all hope and give all my worldly goods to the most notorious scoundrel in all of greater Canaan: Aziru : El-Aziru : Eliezer, of Damascus, Syria.”

Historical Aziru, the Amorite princeling from Amurru in northern Lebanon who [per Amarna Letter EA 107: 26-28] suspiciously was hanging out in, and trying to gain influence over, Damascus, Syria on the eve of the Great Syrian War, is Biblical Amraphel of Shinar. As to the name “Amraphel”, the first three Hebrew letters of the west Semitic name “Amraphel” fittingly recall both “Amorite” and “Amurru”. As to the geographical name “Shinar”, if the ayin in the received text is a mistake, per the “confusion of gutturals” for which cuneiform is notorious, for a heth, then such name is attested as meaning “Syria”, per my prior post on this thread.

* * *

It doesn’t make sense for one of the winning rulers to be “King of Mt. Hermon”. But it does make sense for him to be “King of Syria”, in an ironic sense. The early Hebrew author is berating Aziru for insinuating himself into Damascus, Syria, courtesy of (a) Hurrian princeling Aitakkama of Qadesh-on-the-Orontes [Biblical “Arioch”, a Hurrian name], who already was a Hittite puppet; and (b) mighty Hittite King Suppiluliuma [Biblical “Tidal”, a Hittite kingly name]. The small-time Amorite princeling Aziru [Biblical “Amraphel”, a west Semitic name] was not really the king of Syria, of course, but he was hanging around in Damascus, Syria, trying to take advantage of his nefarious Hittite connections, and all of that did seem to imperil Canaan itself for a short period of time. In the end, Aziru ended up being the independent king of nothing, as Aziru was confined to his home base of Amurru in northern Lebanon, where he was but a Hittite puppet.

Both of the two leading Amorites in Year 13 -- Niqmaddu II of Ugarit [Biblical “Chedorlaomer”, whose primary meaning is in Ugaritic] and Aziru of Amurru -- iniquitously sold out their countries to the Hittites in Year 13, thereby potentially imperilling Canaan itself. The “iniquity of the Amorites” at Genesis 15: 16 does not refer to funky sex practices in Lebanon. No, it refers in large part to the iniquitous behaviour of the two leading Amorites in Year 13 -- Niqmaddu II of Ugarit, and Aziru of Amurru. In particular: kdr l ‘mr mlk ‘lm is a nasty Patriarchal nickname for Niqmaddu II, who was the king of Ugarit in Year 13; and “Amraphel king of Shinar” is a nasty Patriarchal nickname for Aziru, the princeling ruler of Amurru in Year 13.

Just think historical Year 13, and suddenly the entire text of the Patriarchal narratives becomes clear. The p-i-n-p-o-i-n-t historical accuracy of the Patriarchal narratives in the context of Year 13 is breathtaking.

Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Ray Harder » Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:36 pm

Isaac: regarding your post of Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:51 pm under the topic of “Cuneiform Translation” in the “General Discussion” area of the B-Hebrew forum:

Isaac Fried wrote:Examples for "etymological" and "non etymological" roots would be very helpful. I am still puzzled by this "etymological" thing. I am afraid that the confusion is due to a mixup of "etymology" and "meaning", as well as "root" and "word".


Yes, clearly we are having mostly terminological difficulties because of our different approaches and backgrounds in learning Hebrew.

It is indeed confusing to use the English word “root” to mean very different things such as 1.) the three consonants that form the “skeleton” of most Hebrew words as when we say the “root” of the word הַמֶּלֶךְ with a definite article and also it’s construct plural form מַלְכֵי is מלך. We are here speaking of what might be called its “morphological root.” 2.) Some lexicographers (aka “dictionary writers”) like Brown, Driver, and Briggs list both הַמֶּלֶךְ and מַלְכֵי under the form מלך and thus מלך is sometimes referred to as the “lexical root.” Not all modern Hebrew lexicons arrange words like this. 3.) When an early stage of Hebrew (before it broke off into mutually unintelligible languages like Akkadian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, Hebrew etc. AKA. the “proto-semitic” stage) had a word made up of the same consonantal skeleton MLK and having the meaning “king” we say that this root word forms the etymology of the later words. The triliteral root is therefore the “etymological root” when used with this meaning. When we list just the root/skeleton of this early word from the proto-semitic stage of the semitic languages this is said to be the “etymological root” of the later words that evolved from it. Usually these later words share morphological features (notably the triliteral root in the semitic languages) and also semantic features (aka “meaning”) as they evolve --though both the morphology (form) and the semantic domain (meaning) can change fairly dramatically over time.

Any of these features (morphological, lexical, or historical) can be called a “root.”

Part of your confusion seems to be that you seem to assume that I am saying that words that share a morphological root (i.e have three consonants in common) also share an etymological root. This is obviously not true as evidenced by your long list of unrelated (etymologically speaking) words sharing the morphological root KFR.

Therefore your statement is true when you say:
Isaac Fried wrote:There need not be a "horizontal" relationship among Hebrew words (words!) of the same root. The word דוברה DOBR-AH, 'raft', as in 1Ki. 5:23(8), and the word דיברה DIBR-AH, 'saying', as in Job 5:8, are not related, yet they are both of the same root DBR, 'collect, pileup, aggregate'.


There is indeed not necessarily a horizontal relationship among Hebrew words of the same morphological root. The words דוברה and דיברה do NOT share an etymological relationship (AKA an etymological root) though they clearly share the letters דבר in common. We can state that on the basis of this evidence that these two words evolved from different words which shared the letters דבר but not a similar meaning. I.e. they have different etymologies (they evolved from words with different meanings) because although they share morphological features (the same “root” #1 above) they did not evolve from words that share semantic features (the same “root” #3 above)

Isaac Fried wrote:Indeed, the root of מלכות MALKUT is MLK, but this root has certainly nothing to do with 'king'. A Hebrew root can not mean 'king'.


I do not understand your repeated assertions that “a Hebrew root can not mean” king/ox/lion or whatever. You seem to be saying that there is something wrong with the near universal practice of ascribing meaning to an etymological root, but then you state “The root ALP means 'tall and thick'” Do you accept that Hebrew words evolve (as in all other languages) from etymological roots that do in fact have meaning or not? Whence do you deduce that “The root ALP means 'tall and thick'”? (Which seems to imply that you DO accept that a root can have meaning --contrary to your assertions elsewhere) Can you cite a single dictionary or scholarly article that lists the meaning ‘tall and thick” for the root ALP? What is the evidence for this assertion that does not seem to me to be shared by ANY lexicographer, linguist, semitist, or Hebraist and goes against ALL of the hard evidence already cited?

Isaac Fried wrote:Indeed, the root of מלכות MALKUT is MLK, but this root has certainly nothing to do with 'king'. A Hebrew root can not mean 'king'.


It seems patently obvious that the words מלכות and א-מלוך and מלך and מלכה meaning ‘kingdom,’ ‘I will reign,’ ‘king,’ and ‘queen’ respectively all evolved from a proto-semitic “etymological root” made up of the phonemes that can be represented by and transliterated into מלך in modern Hebrew characters (i.e. they maintain something of the original form). It seems also patently obvious that words derived from the original proto-semitic root from which these words evolve share at least a part of a semantic domain aka “meaning.” So although King and queen are not the same word in hebrew they share an overlapping semantic domain aka “meaning.” Both their forms and meanings have evolved but they still share a meaning related to the concept of royalty and a form retaining all three consonants MLK. Their meanings are not the same, but the concepts overlap in meaning. All four of these Hebrew words have an overlap in meaning. They all carry within their meaning the concept of “royalty.” It seems obvious that they derived over time from an earlier word or words that shared not only a common “root,” but also a common meaning. This is universally accepted by linguists, lexicographers, semitists, and Hebraists that words derive both a form and a meaning from their ancient ancestors aka their etymological root. Further strong evidence that words evolve passing on both form AND meaning can be found in the fact that other languages that share a linguistic relationship to Hebrew also share words with the “root” form  מלך and the root meaning of “royal.” This root’s form AND meaning evolve into words in Akkadian, Aramaic, Ugaritic, Syriac, Arabic, Phoenician, etc. etc. which maintain both a modified form of the root AND a modified meaning of the root.

Put another way, words pass on both a (sometimes modified) form and a (sometimes modified) meaning as they evolve into “new” words. *All* of the scholarly consensus and ALL of the evidence thus goes against your blanket assertions that “A Hebrew root can not mean 'king'.” (Per your post on Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:51 pm) or “The Hebrew root אלף ALP has nothing to do with 'ox'. It is out of the question that a Hebrew root can mean ox.” (Per your post on Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:20 pm)
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."

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

Re: Stinehart post Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:06 am

Postby Ray Harder » Sat Feb 08, 2014 3:22 am

Jim, regarding your post of Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:06 am

OK, this is another long, rambling. speculative, and presumptive post but let me see if I am understanding your ideas accurately. You believe that 1.) Gen. 14:1 represents real historical events that were originally recorded before the Israelite monarchy in a non-alphabetic cuneiform writing system (or are you arguing that they were written in some form of Ugaritic or something? I.e. an alphabetic cuneiform?) 2.) This verse labeled Chedorlaomer as “eternal king” which was misunderstood as king of Elam because a later scribe misspelled a defective form of ‘eternal’ as a plene ‘YLM 3.) this was before any of the other biblical books were written/recorded because they ALL misunderstood this as Elam and borrowed this scribal error for their own rendering of the GN Elam based on the scribal error here. So 4.) Elam is mistranscribed with an internal yod throughout the Hebrew bible based on this one original error. 5.) You believe this is a better explanation of this throughout the Hebrew bible. 6.) You believe that an ע would have been replaced by an א if the scribes meant to write ‘Elam.’ In other wards, the universal spelling of Elamtu, Hatalmti, Hatamti, elammatum or NIM wouldn’t be עילם but would have been אלם throughout the Hebrew bible if it weren’t for ALL Hebrew scribes of the biblical texts universally misreading THIS verse as a misspelling of Elam which SHOULD HAVE BEEN אלם  but actually was “eternal.’ This is totally incredible (if I am understanding you correctly) and even the argument (whether we accept it or not) demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge of Hebrew/Semitic linguistics. Hebrews would have heard a name and done their best to represent what they heard in Hebrew characters. (The point about the semitic root for ‘conceal’ is therefore totally irrelevant. A Hebrew speaker would not “translate” the word in any sense, they would transcribe the word as they heard the sounds. א and ע had VERY different sounds and are generally NOT interchanged in the Hebrew textual tradition or any traditions derived therefrom.

You need to state your views succinctly and precisely if you wish them to be understood and discussed by others. I am frankly not even sure I understand some of your posts let alone finding myself persuaded by them.

Jim Stinehart wrote:As to your claim that, allegedly, “NOTHING in the evidence supports your assertion that ‘Chedorlaomer is a nasty Patriarchal nickname for Ugarit King Niqmaddu II’ ”, consider that if “Chedorlaomer” is referencing Niqmaddu II of Ugarit, then e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g at Genesis 14: 1-11 is utterly redolent of the Great Syrian War.


This is my point. This is ONLY evidence for your theory IF we presuppose your theory. This is a classic example of the circular reasoning that fills your posts!

Jim Stinehart wrote:If we drop the -tu in Elamtu, the expected Hebrew spelling of the remaining “Elam” would be: (i) in plene spelling, ’YLM, with an initial aleph [not ayin!], where the initial aleph is prosthetic and silent, and merely indicates that the following yod/Y is functioning as a vowel, namely the vowel E; or (ii) in defective spelling, ’LM , with an initial aleph [not ayin!], where the initial aleph is prosthetic and silent, and merely indicates that this name begins with a vowel sound, without any indication [in defective, unpointed spelling] as to what the particular vowel sound might be. The key is that the expected Hebrew spellings would begin with aleph/’, whereas in fact at Genesis 14: 1 what we see, rather, is ayin/‘. It’s hard to see how either ayin or ayin-yod could represent the Akkadian name for their eastern neighbour “Elam[tu]” [even after dropping the final -tu]. Why is the first letter ayin, instead of aleph?


Again see my point above. This is totally contrary to a basic understanding of Hebrew and Akkadian phonology and contradictory to the onomastic tradition throughout the Hebrew bible.

Jim Stinehart wrote:Whether or not Niqmaddu II is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible depends entirely on whether or not kdr l ‘mr mlk ‘lm is a nasty Patriarchal nickname for Niqmaddu II.


Exactly, only IF we accept your theory is this evidence for your theory. More circular reasoning and therefore unhelpful to your arguments.

Jim Stinehart wrote:I am not doing “speculation”, as you would have it. ‘YLM is obviously plene spelling, and as such is post-exilic in nature; thus it cannot have been the original version of Genesis 14: 1. It is y-o-u-r view, in asserting that allegedly ‘YLM likely did not start out as ‘LM, that is “contrary to 100% of the scribal/textual tradition”, at least as to university scholars. I believe that most university scholars would agree that it is more likely than not that ‘YLM is a plene spelling form, which logically then started out as ‘LM in defective spelling. Yes, university scholars agree with the traditional, non-scholarly view that ‘YLM at Genesis 14: 1 is referencing the country of Elam [thus rendering Genesis 14: 1-11 non-historical, if not nonsensical], but that is not on the basis that it is unlikely that ‘YLM started out as ‘LM.



You must accept labels like “speculation” if you are not going to adduce hard evidence and good logic in your posts. You should also refrain from using language like “obviously” when it is only obvious IF we accept your whole theory.

Jim Stinehart wrote:Yes, university scholars agree with the traditional, non-scholarly view that ‘YLM at Genesis 14: 1 is referencing the country of Elam


If university scholars accept it, it cannot be then labeled a “non-scholarly view.” Or are there scholars who accept your minority view who do not teach at universities? And by what criteria do you label them therefore as scholars?


Jim Stinehart wrote:The problem with non-traditional etymologies of the name “Elam” as a country name is the notable fact that ‘YLM is not a sensible Hebrew spelling of any name used outside of the Bible in the ancient world for the country east of southern Mesopotamia. Ayin-yod / ‘Y at the beginning of a word or name implies a diphthong, being two vowel sounds, since an ayin is not silent [so unlike an initial prosthetic aleph, which often is silent]. But no non-biblical language ever shows a diphthong at the beginning of the name “Elam”.


There is NOTHING about “Ayin-yod / ‘Y at the beginning of a word or name” that implies a diphthong. It is more likely that it represents a consonant followed by a long vowel. Ayin is indeed not silent. Aleph usually isn’t either when it represents another semitic aleph.
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."

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

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Jim Stinehart » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:26 pm

Ray Harder:

1. Your account of my view of the “four kings against five” at Genesis 14: 1-11 is almost right. With your permission, let me now quote your exact rendering of my views, while I add a few clarifications of my own in brackets, and I delete a few things that are not in fact my view:

“You believe that 1.) Gen. 14:1[-11] represents real historical events that were originally recorded before the Israelite monarchy in a non-alphabetic cuneiform writing system [that is essentially identical to the cuneiform of the Amarna Letters, except that Hebrew/pre-Hebrew words were recorded in cuneiform, not Akkadian words] 2.) This verse [Genesis 14: 1] labeled Chedorlaomer as “eternal king” which was misunderstood as king of Elam because a later scribe misspelled a defective form of ‘eternal’ as a plene ‘YLM. [That later scribe did that deliberately, in order to avoid the apparent blasphemy of evil Chedorloamer seeming to be called “King Eternal” : MLK ‘LM. It was not a sloppy “misspelling”, but rather was an attempt to avoid blasphemy by updating the alphabetical original to an ersatz plene spelling.] 3.) this was before any of the other biblical books were written/recorded because they ALL misunderstood this as Elam and borrowed this scribal error for their own rendering of the GN Elam based on the scribal error here. So 4.) Elam is mistranscribed with an internal yod throughout the Hebrew bible based on this one original error. [But that is somewhat overstating the case. There are in fact two attested Biblical spellings of “Elam”: ‘YLM and ‘WLM, with the latter spelling occurring at Ezra 10: 2 and Jeremiah 49: 36. Note that both of those spellings begin with ayin, not aleph, and are plene spellings.] 5.) You believe this is a better explanation of this throughout the Hebrew bible. 6.) You believe that an ע would have been replaced by an א if the scribes meant to write ‘Elam.’ [As I believe you would agree, in Hebrew plene writing the expected way to show E as the first sound in a word or name is aleph-yod, where the aleph is silent and prosthetic but has the important function of showing that the yod is not consonantal, but rather is the vowel E or I. In defective spelling, the word or name would start solely with aleph [not ayin!]. So if a Hebrew heard “Elam” and spelled it without regard to historical spellings, the expected plene spelling would be ’YLM, with the first letter being a silent, prosthetic aleph, not an ayin.] In other words, the universal spelling of Elamtu, Hatalmti, Hatamti, elammatum or NIM wouldn’t be עילם but would have been אלם throughout the Hebrew bible [that ’LM spelling is defective spelling; the plene version, which would be expected to predominate in later books in the Bible, would be ’YLM] if it weren’t for ALL Hebrew scribes of the biblical texts universally misreading THIS verse as a misspelling of Elam which SHOULD HAVE BEEN אלם but actually was “eternal.’ [I’m not sure I am following your exact logic there, so let me clarify. What the early alphabetical text said was correct: MLK ‘LM, with an ayin. That means “King Eternal” in Hebrew, but in Ugaritic, which was the primary intended meaning, the acquired idiomatic meaning of the phrase mlk ‘lm can be: “all the kings of Ugarit: past, present and future”. Originally, there was no reference to Elam whatsoever. Rather, the reference was, indirectly, to Ugarit. The original alphabetical rendering was ‘LM, having an ayin and no yod; out of context, that would normally mean “eternal”, though perhaps, out of context, it could mean “Elam”. By contrast, if the original alphabetical rendering were ‘YLM, starting with ayin-yod, which is your preferred view, then that could not mean “Elam”, because the linguistics simply won’t work in that case, whereas aleph-yod at the beginning would mean “Elam”. My main point is that such interior yod/Y wasn’t there in the early alphabetical versions of Genesis 14: 1. As such, MLK ‘LM works perfectly as the attested Ugarit kingly title mlk ‘lm.]”

2. You then hurry on to give your own basis for the etymology of Elam, which is what we should focus on in this post. You wrote: “This is totally incredible (if I am understanding you correctly) and even the argument (whether we accept it or not) demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge of Hebrew/Semitic linguistics. Hebrews would have heard a name and done their best to represent what they heard in Hebrew characters. (The point about the semitic root for ‘conceal’ is therefore totally irrelevant. A Hebrew speaker would not “translate” the word in any sense, they would transcribe the word as they heard the sounds. א and ע had VERY different sounds and are generally NOT interchanged in the Hebrew textual tradition or any traditions derived therefrom.”

(a) As I thought you would do, you reject the traditional etymology of Elam, which per Strong’s sees “Elam” : ‘YLM as deriving from the Hebrew common word ‘LM, which means “conceal”. O.K., you and I agree that that’s not the correct etymology of Elam.

(b) So here’s your theory of the etymology of “Elam” in a nutshell: “Hebrews would have heard a name and done their best to represent what they heard in Hebrew characters. ...[T]hey would transcribe the word as they heard the sounds. א and ע had VERY different sounds and are generally NOT interchanged in the Hebrew textual tradition or any traditions derived therefrom.”

I agree 100% with this key assertion of yours: “the sounds. א and ע had VERY different sounds and are generally NOT interchanged in the Hebrew textual tradition or any traditions derived therefrom.”

That then brings us back to the key point noted earlier. The Akkadian ending on Elamtu might be dropped in the Hebrew rendering, leaving in shortened form Elam. But the expected way to render the Akkadian true vowel E in Hebrew would be (i) in plene spelling, as aleph-yod [with no ayin!], or (ii) in defective spelling as aleph [not ayin!]. That’s my point. If the received text had either aleph or aleph-yod, then that could easily be how the Hebrews heard the Akkadian vowel sound E at the beginning of “Elam”. But No, what the received text has is ayin-yod, which just doesn’t fit any non-biblical name for Elam.

You seem to agree, based on what you wrote in #6 above, that the relevant non-biblical names for Elam are Elamtu, Hatalmti, Hatamti, elammatum or NIM. None of those names would begin with ayin-yod. You explicitly assert, in no uncertain terms, that “Hebrews would have heard a name and done their best to represent what they heard in Hebrew characters. ...[T]hey would transcribe the word as they heard the sounds. א and ע had VERY different sounds and are generally NOT interchanged in the Hebrew textual tradition or any traditions derived therefrom.” But how could a Hebrew hear ayin-yod at the beginning of Elamtu, Hatalmti, Hatamti, elammatum or NIM?

Scholars have recognized that, although not the most expected case, it is possible that “e in Akkadian could represent an ayin in Hebrew”. Dan Leven and Beno Rothenberg, in Ada Rapoport-Albert, Gillian Greenberg, “Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Texts” (2001), p. 107. But to the best of my knowledge, there is no support for the proposition that the Akkadian true vowel E could be rendered by ayin-yod in Hebrew.

‘LM, on its face, could be ambiguous, being the defective spelling of either “eternal” in Hebrew or Ugaritic, or of the country name “Elam”. So if you will admit that the interior yod/Y in the received text was likely added in post-exilic times, so that Chedorlaomer’s title was, in early alphabetical texts, MLK ‘LM, then we could both be happy with that. But you cannot realistically insist on ‘YLM being the first alphabetical spelling, because not only has no university scholar in writing ever made that claim [to the best of my knowledge], but more importantly, that simply does not correlate with any known non-biblical name for Elam. Ayin-yod is not possible as a Hebrew phonetic spelling of Elam [as a shortened form of Elam-tu]. Ayin alone might work [though aleph alone or aleph-yod would be the expected spelling of Akkadian true vowel E], but not ayin-yod.

Perhaps you and I can now agree that the alphabetical original was ‘LM. If so, then that fits my argument perfectly. MLK ‘LM is mlk ‘lm in Ugaritic, and Ugarit is the only place in human history where that phrase, mlk ‘lm, was routinely applied to kings. We know that, historically, the king of Ugarit was intimately linked to a Hittite king in Years 13-14, just as Genesis 14: 1-11 says. We also know that never in history did a king of Elam ally with a Hittite king to put down a rebellious league near Canaan. So the context strongly supports my view that MLK ‘LM primarily is referencing mlk ‘lm in Ugaritic, and is not referencing, non-historically and nonsensically, Elam. The linguistic key, which is the proper focus of the b-Hebrew list, is to note that ayin-yod simply won’t work as a reasonable spelling of Elam, although all of the following would work: ’LM, ’YLM, ‘LM. So please give up on your view that ‘YLM was the original alphabetical writing of Chedorlaomer’s kingly title. Such view is not plausible either linguistically or historically.

Jim Stinehart

Dr. James R. Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

Rktect
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:53 pm

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Rktect » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:12 pm

Isaac Fried wrote:Says Ray
I am not sure of your point or the relevance when you say “The Hebrew word EL אל 'god', is from the Hebrew uni-literal root L, 'up, lofty, elevated'. The Hebrew word AP אף 'nose, is from the Hebrew uni-literal root P, 'up'.” Look them up in any good dictionary and you will find that neither of these statements are correct. Neither word evolves from a uni-literal root. If they did, the second consonant would not simply drop out as the word evolved from its etymological root.

Says I Why are we always talking about Hebrew in discussions of written language that occur centuries if not millenia before Hebrew exists as a language and citing writing which includes textual artifacts of earlier languages such as Akkadian Logograms for Sumerian, Hittite, Hurrian, Egyptian, Phoenician and what the hey let's throw in Ugartic. In the ANE you have a melting pot of language families, Canaan is an Egyptian province, encroaching on it are Hittites in the process of developing an IE language and Mittani who may speak Hurrian. On the coasts there are Mycenean Greeks, trading for metals. Trade with places like Byblos,Sideon, and Tyre, have well established standards of measure which show up in contracts, boundary markers (Kuduru) using URU for place. Where is the Hebrew equivalent. The Bible is full of the names of foreign gods and rulers, why should their titles be given in Hebrew?

it is not clear to me what is an "etymological root". Are there roots that are not "etymological"? It is also not clear to me How the word אל EL "evolved" from its "etymological root". Will "any good dictionary" reveal this to me?


Says Ray
a proto-semitic root with the form אלף* and with the meaning having something to do with ox.


Says I Proto semitic roots or established afro asiatic roots. C 2000 BC you have the closet congruence for Al with Egyptian and Canaanite, c 1500 BC its Canaanite and Phoenician, Hebrew won't exist as a language for the better part of another millenia.Take a look at the Phaistos Disk and tell me what Hebrew roots you see? Hebrew el is linguistically equivalent to al, iah, yah, and a host of other combinations that refer to strength such as Egyptian Ka for bull and c 1000 BC its Aramaic and or Greek

A Hebrew (aka as the legendary proto-semitic) root can not mean 'ox'. This, in my humble opinion, is absolutely out of the question.


Says Ray
I would say that your example from Judges 14:5 is relevant where contrary to your assertion that “כפר KPR has nothing to do with 'lion’,” in fact it does and shows that its etymological root had the meaning lion. Those same root letters have the meaning ‘village’ in various semitic languages and therefore we an deduce that there was another root with same three consonants that meant village. Thus the place name Capernaum (‘village of Naum’) which shares the same three consonants as words meaning ‘lion’ has a different etymology.


Says I Where is there an example of a proto semitic let alone Hebrew writing contemporary with Judges 14 which begins by telling the story of the battle of Megiddo against the king of Kadesh that goes on for half a millenia in the 18th Dynasty.

Because the word for thousands in Dt 33:17 shares the consonants with the Hebrew aleph, ‘A’/Ox, they may or may not share an etymology, and even if they do, it can have a meaning that has evolved into something different and even unrelated to Ox.


Says I Not until c 100 BC do you get a Hebrew language capable of assembling the books of the Bible. Even then "eleph" the word for thousand is the same as "eleph" the word for clan

You are back to this "etymological root", that you assert "has the meaning lion". So does the "etymological root" KPR, one among many; the specific "proto-semitic" progenitor of 'lion', has the same meaning as the begotten ("evolved") KPIYR? Are you implying that every such word has its own peculiar "etymological root", consisting of the same consonant cluster, albeit of a "different" meaning? I am sorry, but this is mind boggling. It means that there are at least ten "etymological roots" KPR, to wit, for:
KOPER, 'pitch', of Gen. 6:14
כופר KOPER, 'camphor bush', of Song 1:14
כופר KOPER, 'ransom', of Ex. 21:30
כיפור KIYPUR, 'atonement', of Lev. 23:28
כפורת KAPORET, 'overlay', of Ex. 25:17
כפר KPAR, 'village', of 1Chron. 27:25
כפור KPOR, 'frost, hoarfrost', of Ex. 16:14
כפור KPOR, 'cup?, cover?', of Ezra 1:10
כפיר KPIYR, 'lion', of Judges 14:5


Says I I can't deal with you talking proto semitic roots and throwing a bunch of vowels in, where does that come from? I'd argue you could make as good a case for the root kpr is attested in the Akkadian base stem which has more to do with the Egyptian dung beetle kpr in the sense of to make to smear, make dirty or unclean, to cover with dung, pitch or bitumen, and then wipe clean, purify atone for ransom overlay or cover

and the post-biblical
כפירה KPIYRAH, 'denial, heresy'.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1029
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: Cuneiform Translation

Postby Isaac Fried » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:35 pm

Says Ray
When an early stage of Hebrew (before it broke off into mutually unintelligible languages like Akkadian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, Hebrew etc. AKA. the “proto-semitic” stage) had a word made up of the same consonantal skeleton MLK and having the meaning “king” we say that this root word forms the etymology of the later words. The triliteral root is therefore the “etymological root” when used with this meaning. When we list just the root/skeleton of this early word from the proto-semitic stage of the semitic languages this is said to be the “etymological root” of the later words that evolved from it. Usually these later words share morphological features (notably the triliteral root in the semitic languages) and also semantic features (aka “meaning”) as they evolve --though both the morphology (form) and the semantic domain (meaning) can change fairly dramatically over time.

Says I
I think I start to have a glimpse into this creationist-evolutionist linguistic dogma.
So it goes: In the beginning there was "proto-Semitic", the very basic of all (Semitic) languages --- the lowest strata of languages (namely, there was no "proto-proto-Semitic"). This root language (Ursprache) was the language the Semitic Adam spoke the moment he opened his eyes to contemplate the wonders of the brand new world around him. This "proto" language came replete with ready-made (since there was no "proto" to this prototypical tongue) words, all "built around" an invariant, meaningful in itself, "skeleton" (an icon?) of three consonants (invariably three?). These words are the "etymological" roots (roots!!! Eureka! I got it! or maybe not yet, but am at least on the way.)
As soon as Adam cast his eyes on his king, all resplendent in an ermine robe, and with a golden crown upon his head, he unhesitatingly exclaimed *AMEILEKUEY (or something to this effect.) The "original" pre-stored word just squeezed itself subconsciously from the long-term memory cells of the brain and propitiously dropped itself upon the tip of his tongue.

Later on, this word "evolved" (how, is not revealed to us) into the "Akkadian" MALIKU (or something to this effect), 'king'. Hence, the "proto-Semitic" *AMEILEKUEY, "built around" the invariant "skeleton" of the three consonants MLK, is the "etymological" root of the "Akkadian" MALIKU.

Then, the keen eyes of our Semitic Adam fell upon the mighty lion, and he instantly exclaimed *EMIEILIEKUEII. This word is the "etymological root" of the "evolved" word AMLEK, identically "built around" the "skeleton" of the three consonants MLK, yet being a "different" MLK, because a king and a lion are certainly not the same thing.

Isaac Fried, Boston University


Return to “General Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest