Tag Archives: Etymology

Making Sense of Samson

By Joseph Manning

Probably one of the most bizarre stories in the Hebrew Bible is the story of Samson. The story of Samson is generally confused. The narrative is sketchy and full of riddles and often makes allusions the author seems to expect the reader to be able to connect but are meaningless to modern readers. It becomes much more clearer when viewed through the lens of ancient near-eastern mythology. Samson (שמשון) is related to ‘shamash’ (שמש) or “sun,” while his infamous wife’s name, Delilah (דלילה), is related to ‘lilah’ (לילה), the Hebrew word for “night.”  He is a solar mythic hero related to Gilgamesh, the hero of the Babylonian myth, and Hercules, the Greek mythic hero. (Indeed, Gilgamesh’s patron deity is the sun-god Shamash).

A statue of Samson in Ashdod depicting his toppling the pillars of the temple to Dagon in his dying moments.

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Filed under Ancient Egyptian, Biblical Archaeology, Classics, Hebrew Bible, Linguistics

Prometheus

By Joseph Manning

I saw the new Ridley Scott movie, Prometheus, this weekend. Over at Language Log there is an ongoing discussion in an attempt to translate a sentence spoken in the movie, which is thought to be proto-Indo-European.

The movie’s connection to proto-Indo-European language and mythology doesn’t end there, however.

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Luvian Linguistic Puzzle

By Joseph Manning

I found a set of linguistics puzzles on the web, which I’ve had a good time working my way through. Some of the later puzzles don’t have any available solutions, so I’m going to reduplicate one puzzle with its solution as well as the way I worked out the solution.

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Filed under Linguistics

Plastered Skulls and Teraphim

By Joseph Manning

In the early 1950s archaeologists were digging up ancient Jericho. This is one of the oldest cities on earth dating straight back to the prehistoric Neolithic era. In strata dating to about 7,000 BCE, the archaeologists found human skulls. But these weren’t just any skulls:

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Louisiana Law of Property and Proto-Indo-European Culture

By Joseph Manning

“[The Proto-Indo-Europeans] occupied a part of the world — the steppes — where the sky is by far the most striking and magnificent part of the landscape, a fitting environment for people who believed that all their most important deities lived in the sky.” (Anthony 99)

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Filed under Proto-Indo-European, Roman law

Sour Grapes

The Fox and Grapes

By Joseph Manning

I’ve got a version of Aesop’s fable “Fox and Grapes” for you today that I’ve abridged slightly.  This version introduces a mouse who taunts the fox.  You may have already seen the Greek word for ‘fox’ in another post.

A fox seeing a cluster of ripe grapes on a trellis was desiring to eat them, but was unable to find a way to eat as they were at some height. A mouse seeing this laughed aloud saying: “You’ll munch on nothing.” The fox not wanting to give credit to the mouse said: “They are sour grapes.”

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Roman Citizenship and the Edict of Caracalla

By Joseph Manning

Throughout the history of Rome, citizenship was a desirable status to have.  Wars were fought over this issue.  Even as late as the early part of the first century it seems like it was an uncommon and privileged status in the provinces.

In 212 C.E. citizenship was extended to every free person in the entire empire.

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Matthew chapter 1: Abraham to David

By Joseph Manning

Below is Matthew chapter 1 verses 2 – 6 describing Jesus’ genealogy from Abraham to David.

2  Ἀβραὰμ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰσαάκ, Ἰσαὰκ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰακώβ, Ἰακὼβ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰούδαν καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ, 3 Ἰούδας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Φαρὲς καὶ τὸν Ζαρὰ ἐκ τῆς Θάμαρ, Φαρὲς δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἑσρώμ, Ἑσρὼμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀράμ, 4  Ἀρὰμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀμιναδάβ, Ἀμιναδὰβ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ναασσών, Ναασσὼν δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Σαλμών, 5  Σαλμὼν δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Βοὲς ἐκ τῆς Ῥαχάβ, Βοὲς δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωβὴδ ἐκ τῆς Ῥούθ, 6  Ἰωβὴδ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰεσσαί, Ἰεσσαὶ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Δαυεὶδ τὸν βασιλέα.

Now let’s translate this starting with the first part.

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Filed under New Testament - Matthew