Tuesday, August 01, 2006


On Tisha B'Av we will be reading kinot קינות (plural of kina קינה, although we also find the plural kinim קינים used) - lamentations, dirges. What is the origin of the word?

Klein states that the root of kina is קין (Radak claims it derives from קון), and writes as follows:

to fit together, fabricate [Whence Arab. qana ( = he fabricated, forged), qayn (= craftsman, worker in steel or another metal smith), Aramaic קינאה, Syr. קיניא, Akkadian qinay ( = metal worker), Hebrew קין {kayin} (= spear), קינה (= elegy, dirge), Syr. קינתא (of same meaning), קינה (slave girl who is a singer), Ethiopian qene (= song), Syr. קנקן ( = he sang), JAram קנקניתא (=musical instrument).

For sense development cp. Greek poietes (=poet; lit. 'a maker') from poiein ( = to make, produce).]

Cassuto explains that the name Kayin (Bereshit 4:1) also derives from the sense of קין as "to make, to form, to give shape," and so his name meant "creation".

Kaddari points out that while in Hebrew kina has a sense of mourning, in most Semitic languages it refers to singing in general.

What kind of singing is found in a kina? The last mishna in Moed Katan (3:9) defines a kina as:

When one leads and all respond after her. As it is said: And teach your daughters wailing and one another [each] lamentation (Jeremiah 9:19).

However, the mishna continues:

But as the future [days] to come, [the prophet] says: "He will destroy death for ever and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces. (Isaiah 25:8)"

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