The name עשׂו ESAW, Gen. 25:25

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Isaac Fried
Posts: 1024
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

The name עשׂו ESAW, Gen. 25:25

Postby Isaac Fried » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:46 pm

We read there
וַיֵּצֵא הָרִאשׁוֹן אַדְמוֹנִי כֻּלּוֹ כְּאַדֶּרֶת שֵׂעָר וַיִּקְרְאוּ שְׁמוֹ עֵשָׂו
ASV: "And the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esau."
Gen. 27:11
וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב אֶל רִבְקָה אִמּוֹ הֵן עֵשָׂו אָחִי אִישׁ שָׂעִר וְאָנֹכִי אִישׁ חָלָק
ASV: "And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man."
It is not immediately obvious from the Hebrew text that Esau's name is a reflection of his hirsuteness, but I have heard people say that ESAW reminds them of עשב ESEB, 'grass' and אזוֹב EZOB, 'moss'.
I suspect that the spelling of the name is obscuring a theophoric אישׁ-אב IY$-AB.

We are told that in the anxious moments before meeting his brother Esau, Jacob run into an אִישׁ that was no ordinary man. Jacob fought him all night, the result of which he won the right to a new name.
Gen. 32:25-29
וַיִּוָּתֵר יַעֲקֹב לְבַדּוֹ וַיֵּאָבֵק אִישׁ עִמּוֹ עַד עֲלוֹת הַשָּׁחַר. וַיַּרְא כִּי לֹא יָכֹל לוֹ וַיִּגַּע בְּכַף יְרֵכוֹ וַתֵּקַע כַּף יֶרֶךְ יַעֲקֹב בְּהֵאָבְקוֹ עִמּוֹ. וַיֹּאמֶר שַׁלְּחֵנִי כִּי עָלָה הַשָּׁחַר וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אֲשַׁלֵּחֲךָ כִּי אִם בֵּרַכְתָּנִי. וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו, מַה שְּׁמֶךָ וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב. וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא יַעֲקֹב יֵאָמֵר עוֹד שִׁמְךָ כִּי אִם יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי שָׂרִיתָ עִם אֱלֹהִים וְעִם אֲנָשִׁים וַתּוּכָל
ASV: "And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was strained, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there."
Now יעקב = יה-עקב is called ישראל = אישׁ-שׂר-אל. Armed with יה, אישׁ, שׂר, and אל in his names he is ready to meet his wayward brother עשׂו = אישׁ-אב.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1024
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: The name עשׂו ESAW, Gen. 25:25

Postby Isaac Fried » Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:07 am

I further suspect that
יצחק = איש-חק = איש-שחק
ישמעאל = איש-מה-אל
The ancient double plural ending היא-היא of אדוֹני =אדוֹן-היא-היא, אלוהי =אלוה-היא-היא and ישי = איש-היא-היא appeared also in שׂרי = שר-היא-היא until it was changed, by divine decree, to the secular שׂרה.
Gen. 17:15
וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל אַבְרָהָם שָׂרַי אִשְׁתְּךָ לֹא תִקְרָא אֶת שְׁמָהּ שָׂרָי כִּי שָׂרָה שְׁמָהּ
ASV: "And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be."
אֱלֹהִים = אלוֹה-הם with the multiplicity indicator HEM.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

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