הולל a quadriliteral root?

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.
kwrandolph
Posts: 906
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

הולל a quadriliteral root?

Postby kwrandolph » Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:07 pm

This gives an example of the difficulties faced by a lexicographer. Especially one like myself who is willing to question the definitions given by previous lexicographers.

When reading through Tanakh, I came across a verb written out as a quadriliteral verb in Isaiah 44:25, Nahum 2:4, Psalm 78:63, Job 12:17 and Ecclesiastes 7:7. Its not listed in previous dictionaries, but generally assumed to be a misspelling of הלל to boast.

There’s a derivative הוללות which is defined in other dictionaries as “madness”. But is that correct? It’s found only in Ecclesiastes, five times: 1:17, 2:12, 7:25, 9:3 and 10:13. In 1:17 it appears in a context implying that it’s a positive, good, not madness. In 2:17 it appears between wisdom and foolishness. In 7:25 it’s used adjectively, modifying foolishness. In 9:3 it can be read in more than one way and 10:13 indicates that it can be either a positive, or negative, as here it’s given an adjective to make it a negative.

It’s used as a participle, which can be a noun, four times: Psalm 5:6 (5), 73:3, 75:5 (4), 102:9 (8).

Above lists all the times I found that this apparent quadriliteral word is used.

Is it a derivative of הלל meaning “madness”? הלל has its basic meaning “to boast” and when boasting about another, that’s a form of praise. But boasting about oneself is considered a crazy thing to do. Boasting about oneself is in Hitpael binyan, and these examples above are not Hitpael. So does it fit? It doesn’t seem so to me.

From all these uses, I get the impression that this refers not to madness, rather to activity, forcefulness. It appears to be either positive or negative, depending on its context. From the parallelism in Psalm 75:5 it appears not to be from the root הלל.

So how to define it?

Karl W. Randolph.

Ps: a related question concerns the use of שכלות and סכלות—dictionaries list them as having the same meaning, but did they? Ecclesiastes is a united kingdom era book when samekh and sin were recognized as having different pronunciations, so I think it’s unlikely. Where those two letters had the same pronunciation was post-Exile Hebrew of Ezra, long after Biblical Hebrew ceased to be a natively spoken language. Part of my claim that this quadriliteral doesn’t refer to madness is based on this recognition.

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1039
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: הולל a quadriliteral root?

Postby Isaac Fried » Sun Aug 03, 2014 5:11 pm

There is no quadrilateral root הולל HWLL. Thinking so is, I am afraid, a fundamental misunderstanding resulting from confusing the Hebrew root with the Hebrew verb.

The raw root הלל HLL means 'pile up up.'

The act HALAL as in הללויה is 'heap praise, extol, exalt', as in Gen. 12:14-15
ויראו המצרים את האשה כי יפה הוא מאד ויראו אתה שרי פרעה ויהללו אתה אל פרעה ותקח האשה בית פרעה
NIV: "When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace."
The act HALAL is a variant of קלל QLL, 'curse', as in 2Sam. 16:7. Also of פלל PLL, 'pray', as in Ps. 5:(2)3
הקשיבה לקול שועי מלכי ואלהי כי אליך אתפלל
KJV: " Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray"
Also of ילל YLL, 'howl, wail, whine', as in Isaiah 65:14
הנה עבדי ירנו מטוב לב ואתם תצעקו מכאב לב ומשבר רוח תילילו
KJV: "Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit."
Also of מלל MLL, 'speak, recite, narrate, declaim', as in Job 33:3
ישר לבי אמרי ודעת שפתי ברור מללו
KJV: " My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly"
or as in Daniel 7:8
ופם ממלל רברבן
KJV: "and a mouth speaking great things"
or as in Ps. 106:2
מי ימלל גבורות יהוה ישמיע כל תהלתו
KJV: "Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? who can shew forth all his praise?"

HLL is also a variant of בלל BLL, 'mixup', as in Gen. 11:9
שם בלל יהוה שפת כל הארץ
KJV: "the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth."
and Hence the יהולל YHOLEL, 'mix-up, pile-up, confuse, confound , befuddle, bewilder', of Isaiah 44:25
מפר אתות בדים וקסמים יהולל משיב חכמים אחור ודעתם יסכל

HLL is also a variant of תלל חלל כלל XLL, KLL, TLL, 'include', and hence the YTHOLLU יתהוללו 'throng, surge, storm, prance, hurry', of Nahum 2:4
בחוצות יתהוללו הרכב ישתקשקון ברחבות
KJV: "The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against another in the broad ways"
It is related, methinks, to the מסתולל MISTOLEL of Ex. 9:17.

The ויתהולל WAYITHOLEL of 2Sam. 21:14 is ,erratic, wild, blatant, freakish, frenzied, eccentric, weird, irrational, or disorderly' conduct.
Since HLL is also a variant of גלל, חלל, כלל GLL, XLL, KLL, 'include', I may not discount the possibility that הוללות HOLLUT includes a hint as to a boisterous social behavior such as group revelry, partying, merrymaking or carousing.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

Mark Lightman
Posts: 80
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:33 pm

Re: הולל a quadriliteral root?

Postby Mark Lightman » Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:27 am

kwrandolph wrote:...I get the impression that this refers not to madness, rather to activity, forcefulness. It appears to be either positive or negative, depending on its context.

Hi, Karl.

The LXX would appear to back you up. It renders הוללות with περιφέρεια/περιφορά. The idea would appear to be "being carried around in circles, contortions, forceful activity." It does not appear that these words were used in Greek for madness or folly and there were plenty of other Greek words available if this is what was intended.

As a lexicographer, how much stock do you put in the LXX?
Isaac Fried wrote:HLL is also a variant of בלל BLL, 'mixup'...

Hi, Isaac.

Maybe also the נבל of 2 Sam 13:13, "foolish scoundrel, villain."
Isaac Fried wrote:...I may not discount the possibility that הוללות HOLLUT includes a hint as to a boisterous social behavior such as group revelry, partying, merrymaking or carousing.

The similarity in sound to "hooliganism" being interesting but probably coincidental.
Mark Lightman

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1039
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: הולל a quadriliteral root?

Postby Isaac Fried » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:20 am

Mark says
The LXX would appear to back you up. It renders הוללות with περιφέρεια/περιφορά. The idea would appear to be "being carried around in circles, contortions, forceful activity." It does not appear that these words were used in Greek for madness or folly and there were plenty of other Greek words available if this is what was intended.

says I
This is interesting. It suggests that the LXX actually made the connection of הלל to חול, חלל, כלל of HLL to XL, XLL, KLL, namely, the recognition that HOLEL is a XOLEL, 'a dancer, a prancer', included in a circle of other excited men rhythmically stomping their feet, swinging their bodies, animatedly flailing their hands, rolling their eyes, all the while singing with gusto: "she yibone beit hamikdash bimhera beyameinu."

Thus, "circle" here may either mean 'a circle of friends' having good time, or it may refer to an intoxicated or otherwise a senseless person staggering in a zigzag.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

kwrandolph
Posts: 906
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: הולל a quadriliteral root?

Postby kwrandolph » Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:43 am

Mark Lightman wrote:
kwrandolph wrote:...I get the impression that this refers not to madness, rather to activity, forcefulness. It appears to be either positive or negative, depending on its context.

Hi, Karl.

The LXX would appear to back you up. It renders הוללות with περιφέρεια/περιφορά. The idea would appear to be "being carried around in circles, contortions, forceful activity." It does not appear that these words were used in Greek for madness or folly and there were plenty of other Greek words available if this is what was intended.

As a lexicographer, how much stock do you put in the LXX?


To answer the LXX question: I treat the LXX like cognate languages—sometimes can give insights to word meanings, sometimes is wildly wrong. By the time the LXX was written, some of the fewer used terms had been forgotten, so the writers thereof were guessing, or relying on cognate language usage for their meanings.

As for περιφέρεια/περιφορά, I looked up its usages in online ancient Greek-English dictionaries and found that the “carried” was more often metaphorical than literal. Much like the following sentence, “Carried by her emotions, Pelosi showed her elitist tendencies when she belittled a fellow representative as a ‘little man’” where her physical actions were not the result of being physically carried. So the “carried” refers to deportment, as the driving around of chariots in Nahum 2:5 (4).

(In Nahum 2:5 (4) a different Greek word is used indicating confusion, but would a metaphorical carried around be a better fit?)

Thanks, this does add information to this discussion.

Karl W. Randolph.

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1039
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: הולל a quadriliteral root?

Postby Isaac Fried » Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:57 pm

The root חלל XLL is also a variant of the root תלל TLL, of which we have the תלול TALUL, 'high, tall, steep, precipitous', as in Ezekiel 17:22-23
כה אמר אדני יהוה ולקחתי אני מצמרת הארז הרמה, ונתתי מראש ינקותיו רך אקטף ושתלתי אני על הר גבה ותלול. בהר מרום ישראל אשתלנו ונשא ענף ועשה פרי והיה לארז אדיר
KJV: "Thus saith the Lord God; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent: In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar"

Hence every word of the root HLL may carry within it also a constituent meaning of 'excessive, extreme'.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

kwrandolph
Posts: 906
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: הולל a quadriliteral root?

Postby kwrandolph » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:14 am

Isaac Fried wrote:The root חלל XLL is also a variant of the root תלל TLL…


That’s all the further I read because it’s wrong. חלל “to make common” has no connection to תלל used once with the apparent meaning of “to lift up” though meaning uncertain.

This is an example of an extreme form of the etymological fallacy. The etymological fallacy has long been rejected by linguists because the facts don’t back it up. In fact, that’s why it’s called a fallacy.

Further, your response is irrelevant, off topic, because the topic of this discussion is the possible quadriliteral root הולל and its derivatives.

I have done tens of thousands of word studies in writing a dictionary. I didn’t copy any other dictionary for the definitions I give in mine, without first checking at least a sample of occurrences (for the most common words) to all occurrences to double-check what the previous dictionaries claimed. My word studies are also why I often give different definitions than other dictionaries. I also have comparisons with synonyms and a few contrasts with antonyms. It is on this basis that I find your theories half-baked fallacies, and why I almost never read your posts.

Karl W. Randolph.

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1039
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: הולל a quadriliteral root?

Postby Isaac Fried » Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:00 am

The primary meaning of the root TLL is 'extended up up', of which we have the תלול TALUL, 'high, tall, steep, precipitous', as in Ezekiel 17:22-23. Also the תל TEL, 'mound, pile, heap', of Deut. 13:(16)17
והיתה תל עולם
KJV: "and it shall be an heap for ever"
Also the תלתל TALTAL = TAL-TAL, 'curl' of Song 5:11
קוצותיו תלתלים
KJV: "his locks are bushy"

The root TLL is a variant of דלל, זלל, טלל, ילל, סלל, צלל, שלל, תלל The act שלל $ALAL, 'pile spoil', is of interest as it serves now in the negative --- the victor's gain is the loss of the vanquished. In today's usage מספר שלילי MISPAR $LIYLIY is 'negative number', and שלולית is 'puddle, pothole', namely, a negative תלולית TLULIYT.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1039
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: הולל a quadriliteral root?

Postby Isaac Fried » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:13 am

Mark says
Maybe also the נבל of 2 Sam 13:13, "foolish scoundrel, villain."

Says I
Yes. The נבל NBL (related to שבל $BL and שפל $PL) of which the נבלה NBALAH, 'villainy, base and lowly act', of Gen. 34:7, is a variant of נפל NPL, 'fall, drop'. We read in Lev. 22:8
נבלה וטרפה לא יאכל
KJV: "That which dieth of itself, or is torn with beasts, he shall not eat"
suggesting that NEBELAH is a נפלה NEPELAH, an animal that fell נפל dead by itself.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

Mark Lightman
Posts: 80
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:33 pm

Re: הולל a quadriliteral root?

Postby Mark Lightman » Wed Aug 06, 2014 8:11 pm

Isaac Fried wrote:The נבל NBL (related to שבל $BL and שפל $PL) of which the נבלה NBALAH, 'villainy, base and lowly act', of Gen. 34:7, is a variant of נפל NPL, 'fall, drop'.

The variants הלל נבל נפל all contain ל, the fundamental concept of elevation. (ASEHL p. 3) Before you can fall, you have to be elevated. Before you can be the type of נבל who would say אֵ֣ין אֱלֹהִ֑ים (Psalm 14:1) you have to be first raised up in haughtiness.
Mark Lightman


Return to “General Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests