Saturday, October 21, 2006


In my previous post I wrote:

Stahl writes that the spelling איד was probably influenced by another meaning of איד : "calamity, misfortune"
Klein writes that this meaning of איד derives from a Hebrew root אוד , meaning "to bend, to oppress". While he doesn't provide any examples of verbs with this root, he does say it may be the source of the phrase "al odot" על אודות meaning "because of, concerning". He writes:

Several scholars derive it from base אוד ( = to bend, turn, enclose) appearing in Arabic 'ada ( = he bent), SArab אוד ( = around, about). Compare Hebrew בגלל ( = on account of), which is related to גלל (= he rolled) and Medieval Hebrew סבה ( = cause) from Biblical Hebrew סבה (= a turn), from סבב ( = he turned, enclosed.)

As a side note, I find it interesting that Hebrew websites use the term אודות where English ones use "about". The meanings aren't exactly identical, but they have the same number of letters and a similar sound. It wouldn't be the first time English has influenced Hebrew this way (as we saw here.)

Steinberg goes even further than Klein. He gives the same definition to the root אוד ( to surround, to turn over) and agrees that איד and אודות derive from it. He also adds two more Hebrew words that have the same origin.

The first is ed אד - "vapor, steam" that we saw in last weeks parasha (Bereshit 2:6). He says that an ed is cloudlike, and the plant galgal גלגל also makes a cloud (Yeshayahu 17:13, Tehilim 83:14). Therefore there is a connection between ed and "to surround, turn over".

The other word that Steinberg connects is ud אוד - "firebrand, firestick". He writes that the fire is surrounding the stick. Amos Chacham in the Daat Mikra on Yeshayahu 7:4, while not discussing the etymology of ud writes that the purpose of an ud was to "turn over the wood and the coals in the oven in order to increase the flame". This also fits in with Klein and Steinberg's understanding of the root אוד .

Ben-Yehuda, in his dictionary (which I don't have regular access to unfortunately - it's a great resource), writes that there are those that derive ud from "to bend" while others connect it to the Arabic word for wood - also ud. This is the opinion of Klein and Stahl.

The connection between these various words is not clear. However, there is an interesting development from the Arabic word 'ud - "wood". From the meaning "piece of wood" came the musical instrument oud, whose name entered English. Additionally, the English word "lute" also derives from the same Arabic word:

from O.Fr. lut, from O.Prov. laut, from Ar. al-'ud, the Arabian lute, lit. "the wood" (source of Sp. laud, Port. alaude, It. liuto), where al is the definite article.

English seems to have a problem with "a" or "an" as a definitive article in foreign words, as we saw earlier with the word apron.

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