Monday, March 27, 2006


On Tuesday, Israelis will be going to the ballot box - or as they say in Hebrew, the קלפי kalpi. This word has been in Hebrew since the times of the Mishna. According to Klein, it originates in the Greek kalpe, the collateral form of kalpis, meaning "pitcher, box or urn for drawing lots." Klein states that the origin of kalpis is unknown, and I have not been able to find any thing online discussing its etymology.

I have however found some sites that discuss the exact nature of the kalpis. In Greek times there were two types of urns used also as ballot boxes - the hydria and the kalpis. This site describes the differences between the two, and has illustrations as well. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, the kalpis "was curved at the shoulder and had a smaller vertical handle" (than the hydria).

Interestingly, the Greek name for Gibraltar was Calpe or Kalpe. This site claims they named the "Rock" after an urn because of the similar shape, and even more detail is given here.

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