Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Today's word isn't Hebrew, but is heard over and over again in the media. The infamous Katyusha rocket that is terrorizing the lives of the residents of the north of Israel, has its origins in Russia during World War II. From Wikipedia:

The 132mm BM-13, 82mm BM-8, and 300mm BM-31 Katyusha (Russian "Катюша") multiple rocket launchers were built and fielded by the Soviet Union in World War II (BM stands for for Boyevaya Mashina, 'combat vehicle'). These launchers acquired this name, unofficial but immediately recognized in the Red Army, from the title of a popular Russian wartime song, "Katyusha". The song is about a girl longing for her beloved who is away from her while serving in the military. Katyusha is a tender Russian diminutive of a female name: Ekaterina

From Katherine we got another name of a destructive force: Katrina - the deadly hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast of the United States in 2005.

Going back further, we see that the name Katherine has Greek origins:

From the Greek name Αικατερινη (Aikaterine). The etymology is debated: it could derive from the earlier Greek name ‘Εκατερινη (Hekaterine), which came from ‘εκατερος (Hekateros) "each of the two"; it could derive from the name of the
goddess HECATE; it could be related to Greek αικια (aikia) "torture"; or it could be from a Coptic name meaning "my consecration of your name". The Romans associated it with Greek καθαρος (katharos) "pure" and changed their spelling from Katerina to Katharina to reflect this.

And to give this some Hebrew connection, we see that in the Septuagint the word ekateros appears often as a translation for שניהם - "both" as in Bereshit 40:5. There are even those (if I understand correctly) who translate ekateros as "one and another", which connects it to the Sanskrit eka meaning one, and the Hebrew אחד echad.

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