Hebrew Language/Ehud, Aharon



Thank you for all your answers! Two (2) questions that have been bothering me for some time.

1) Judges/Shof'tim 3:22 is notoriously hard to translate, having studied the 'Ehud passage' for Biblical Hebrew I at UIUC as an undergrad. The Hebrew reads
ויבא גם־הנצב אחר הלהב ויסגר החלב בעד הלהב כי לא שלף החרב מבטנו ויצא הפרשדנה׃
The key word I belieive is happarəḏōnāh, and I was wondering how you take the passage? Do you see the final word of v. 22 related to "hammisdərōwnāh" of v. 23, or do you see the entire phrase as corrupted somehow? Do you think the phrase 'and the dirt came out' (or 'fundament') is an accurate rendering, or do we simply not have enough information to accurately render this passage fully?

2) My name, 'Aharon'; I know you state as a disclaimer that you 'don't do name translations', but I wanted your input regarding meanings here, if you had any advice. I've seen it traditionally linked to the Hebrew root for 'mountain' and thus rendered along the lines of 'on the high mountain' or 'mountaineer'. I've also seen it related to 'light', which is why the plaque I got as a child read 'Light-bringer'. I've also seen people discuss that it is probably, like brother Moshe (Moses), a Hebrew rendering of an originally Egyptian name--but from there the talk gets as confusing as when one talks about Zaphenath-Paneah! The talk ranges from 'lions' to 'birth' to 'darkness' and 'death'! Help! There's got to be some way to make semblance of what is good scholarship and what is just make-believe at this point, don't you think?

ANSWER: Hi Aharon,

1. "Happarshadanah" appears only once in the Scriptures, thus opening itself up to various interpretations. The word itself is apparently not a Semitic word and is possibly borrowed from the Hittite. Strong's Concordance interprets the word to mean crotch or anus; the fact that it is followed by "Hamisderonah" in the next verse does not attest to its corruption.

The biblical scribes, writing about events hundreds of years after the fact, tried to find meanings behind the biblical names; in many cases I take what they offer with a grain of salt. Haza"l added to the confusion with their own midrashim and explanations. In your case, I can see a possibility that the name harks back to Jacob's family's place of origin, Haran.

Hope I've been of some help!


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the help! I hadn't known those things.

One final thing: Is there any significance to the final waw/vav ('-u') that appears some times at the end of certain proper names? (e.g. Yiremayah/Yiremayahu). Also, why do some words, especially in B'reshiyt/Genesis end with yod-vav ('-yw'), sans any vowel points that would make the vav/waw a mater lectionis, i.e. '-y' or '-y'?

There were certain spelling differences between Judah and Israel. The northern scribes tended to add a vav to names ending with 'iah'. As to the vowel points, they were added centuries after Bible had been put in its final form. The diacritical marks were developed in the 7-9th Century CE in Tiberias; all prior biblical copies (such as the Dead Sea scrolls) lack diacritical marks.


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What I don't do: NO NAME TRANSLATIONS. For that, try http://www.stars21.com/translator/english_to_hebrew.html

What I do: I'll help you understand Hebrew phrases or single words, as well as answer questions about Jewish customs and practices.

You may also try the Gooogle English-Hebrew translator, at http://www.google.com/dictionary?langpair=en%7Ciw&q=&hl=en&aq=f


I am a columnist for a Hebrew-language newspaper, and a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

D.Med MBA BA in the US, Grade school and high school in Israel

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