Archive for the ‘Gǝ`ǝz’ Category

Reading challenge, April 2015   2 comments

The study of spoken and (ancient) written languages intersect perhaps less than might be desirable, but sic semper erat, sic semper erit. Nevertheless, I would like to take a cue from Olle Linge’s Hacking Chinese (http://challenges.hackingchinese.com/) and suggest an intentional, focused reading effort for ancient language students.

For the month of April 2015, let’s take an opportunity to push reading limits, or at least to re-kindle reading habits in this or that language. It is no secret that wide exposure to multitudes of lines is a boon to philological understanding and enjoyment. By “exposure” I mean reading with understanding. And there’s the rub. This is what makes it possible for an advanced student to do 100 pages of text (or more) in a month, and a novice to do much less: the novice requires far more frequent recourse to the lexicon, grammatical tables, perhaps a translation, etc. than the more experienced user. But the payoff is experience itself. Here is some counsel from the great sinologist George A. Kennedy:

The value of a reference work is its capacity to furnish facts quickly, and a good reference work must be a well-ordered affair. But the quickness with which these facts are appropriated depends in large part on the skill of the user. And this skill results only from diligent practice. It is not enough to know about a book of reference; one must handle it, thumb the pages, know where the index is, know what sort of information it gives. You are not qualified for research unless you can locate the facts that are available quickly.

DO NOT SKIP ANY SUGGESTED EXERCISE

MAKE UP MORE OF THEM FOR YOURSELF

from his Introduction to Sinology: Being a Guide to the Tz’u Hai (Ci hai), (New Haven, 1981), 1 (emphasis in original)

He has the 辭海 cí hăi in mind, here as a reference work for students of Chinese history, but his advice is equally applicable to textual experience in a language, or philological experience.

Here, then, is the challenge for the month: not a contest, but an individual exhortation to purposefully spend a given amount of time and effort moving — or more picturesquely, plowing, sailing, crunching, &c. — through a text or texts, with understanding. You pick the language, the genre, the text(s), the length. The unique thing is to read carefully more than you might normally do for this month. It might be an opportunity to work especially hard on a language you’re now closely involved with, or it might be an opportunity to return to a language you’ve not read in a while. Simply to be not too vague, here are some language suggestions in no particular order (I assume that if you know the language well enough to do this, you know some texts to read, but in any case, the Bible is usually a good place to start due to the accessibility of texts and the ease of comparison with other versions):

  • Armenian
  • Christian Palestinian Aramaic
  • Syriac
  • Arabic
  • Jewish Babylonian Aramaic
  • Greek
  • Sogdian
  • Persian
  • Georgian
  • Turkish
  • Coptic
  • Gǝʿǝz
  • Uyghur

Do more than one language, if you like. How about reading the same text in more than one language? Read from printed editions, read from manuscripts, read from chrestomathies, whatever suits you. Quant à moi, my reading goals for the month include the following texts:

  1. Persian. 10 pages in the so-called Persian Diatessaron
  2. Turkish. Ali Bey’s Bible: Jonah 1-2; Mt 4:1-11; 11:17-19; 15:21-28
  3. Coptic. “Marina” (pp. 27-33) and “Siebenschläfer” (pp. 21–24) in W. Till, Koptische Heiligen- Und Martyrerlegenden: Texte, Übersetzungen Und Indices, vol. 1, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 102 (Rome: Pont. Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, 1935); volumes available here. Further on this story in Coptic, see here from my hagiography bibliography.
  4. Georgian. The five texts on David & Constantine in I. Abuladze and E. Gabidzashvili, ძველი ქართული აგიოგრაფიული ლიტერატურის ძეგლები, წიგნი IV სვინაქსარული რედაქციები (XI-XVIII სს.) (Monuments of Old Georgian Hagiographic Literature, Vol. 4, Synaxarion Redactions, [11th-18th Centuries]) (Tbilisi, 1968), 359-366; and the Parable of the Man & Elephant in the two versions of Barlaam and Ioasaph.
  5. Old Turkic/Uyghur. The text on p. 53 of  W. Bang, “Türkische Bruchstücke einer Nestorianischen Georgspassion,” Le Muséon 39 (1926): 41–75 (cf. Gabain, Gr., p. 264); and the text in P. Zieme, “Ein uigurisches Sündenbekenntnis,” Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 32 (1969): 107-121.
  6. Arabic/Garšūnī. Epistle of Ps.-Dionysius to Timothy, SMMJ 263

If you like, share what you plan to read in the comments below. And any thoughts on this enterprise generally are welcome, too. Happy studying!

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Ethio-Hebrew Psalms (BL Add. 19342)   2 comments

While looking lately at the records for some Judeo-Persian manuscripts in Margoliouth’s Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the British Museum, I stumbled across the record for BL Add. 19342 (№ 158 in the catalog, p. 119), a manuscript with parts of the Psalter in Hebrew, but written in Gǝʿǝz script (Fidäl), something we can call Ethio-Hebrew on the pattern of the descriptors Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian, etc. (We could also call Garšūnī Syro-Arabic, but custom has deemed otherwise.) Until this, I had never encountered this particular phenomenon, but as Margoliouth notes, Wright had previously described the manuscript as part of the Ethiopic collection (№ 127, p. 81). It so happens that this manuscript is among the many already made available through the British Library’s digitization project: see here. Following Wright, Margoliouth dates the manuscript to the 18th century. It contains Pss 1-11:4, 51, 121, 123, 130, 140. Unlike most Ethiopic manuscripts, this one is on paper, not parchment.

The beginning of Ps 1 is in both catalogs mentioned above, but we can now look at the manuscript itself, and in its entirety, thanks to the BL’s having made the images freely accessible. Here are some examples (Heb text below from BHS):

Ps 1:3

וְֽהָיָ֗ה כְּעֵץ֮ שָׁת֪וּל עַֽל־פַּלְגֵ֫י מָ֥יִם אֲשֶׁ֤ר פִּרְיֹ֨ו׀ יִתֵּ֬ן בְּעִתֹּ֗ו וְעָלֵ֥הוּ לֹֽא־יִבֹּ֑ול וְכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂ֣ה יַצְלִֽיחַ׃

Ps 1:3 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 1r. Source.

Ps 1:3 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 1r. Source.

Ps 2:1-2

לָ֭מָּה רָגְשׁ֣וּ גֹויִ֑ם וּ֝לְאֻמִּ֗ים יֶהְגּוּ־רִֽיק׃ יִ֥תְיַצְּב֨וּ׀ מַלְכֵי־אֶ֗רֶץ וְרֹוזְנִ֥ים נֹֽוסְדוּ־יָ֑חַד עַל־יְ֝הוָה וְעַל־מְשִׁיחֹֽו׃

Ps 2:1-2 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 1v. Source.

Ps 2:1-2 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 1v. Source.

Ps 121

שִׁ֗יר לַֽמַּ֫עֲלֹ֥ות אֶשָּׂ֣א עֵ֭ינַי אֶל־הֶהָרִ֑ים מֵ֝אַ֗יִן יָבֹ֥א עֶזְרִֽי׃
עֶ֭זְרִי מֵעִ֣ם יְהוָ֑ה עֹ֝שֵׂ֗ה שָׁמַ֥יִם וָאָֽרֶץ׃
אַל־יִתֵּ֣ן לַמֹּ֣וט רַגְלֶ֑ךָ אַל־יָ֝נ֗וּם שֹֽׁמְרֶֽךָ׃
הִנֵּ֣ה לֹֽא־יָ֭נוּם וְלֹ֣א יִישָׁ֑ן שֹׁ֝ומֵ֗ר יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
יְהוָ֥ה שֹׁמְרֶ֑ךָ יְהוָ֥ה צִ֝לְּךָ֗ עַל־יַ֥ד יְמִינֶֽךָ׃
יֹומָ֗ם הַשֶּׁ֥מֶשׁ לֹֽא־יַכֶּ֗כָּה וְיָרֵ֥חַ בַּלָּֽיְלָה׃
יְֽהוָ֗ה יִשְׁמָרְךָ֥ מִכָּל־רָ֑ע יִ֝שְׁמֹ֗ר אֶת־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ׃
יְֽהוָ֗ה יִשְׁמָר־צֵאתְךָ֥ וּבֹואֶ֑ךָ מֵֽ֝עַתָּ֗ה וְעַד־עֹולָֽם׃

Ps 121 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 9r. Source.

Ps 121 in Ethio-Hebrew, BL Add. 19432, f. 9r. Source.

More could be certainly be said, but here are a few scattered observations:

  • The Hebrew h marking final or -e is written (e.g. ሀያህ, ያዓሢህ [ሤ?]).
  • Hebrew is spelled with Gǝʿǝz ፀ (e.g. ክዔፅ, ኤሬፅ) or ጸ (e.g. ይትያጽቡ).
  • Hebrew š is generally spelled with Gǝʿǝz ሠ (e.g. ሣቱል, አሤር, ሦምሬካ), as is Hebrew ś (ያዓሢህ [ሤ?]). In at least one place (Ps 121:6), though, the Ethiopic letter ሸ (not used in Gǝʿǝz, but used in other Ethiosemitic languages) is fittingly used for š: ሀሸሜስ häšämes, but note that the last consonant here, which should also be š, is here a simple s (not ś as usual elsewhere in the manuscript), so that we end up with a form like Arabic šams.
  • Spirantized Hebrew k is spelled with Gǝʿǝz ኀ (e.g. ውኁል, also note the vowel, wǝxul). Spirantization in the other BGDKPT letters is not marked (e.g. ያቦእ).
  • The Hebrew in yārēaḥ is written with Gǝʿǝz ሀ (ውያሬሀ).
  • The Hebrew impf prefix yi- is spelled with Gǝʿǝz yǝ- (e.g. ይቴን, ይቦል). The prefix ye- is spelled with Gǝʿǝz yä- (የሄጉ; note the incorrect vowel on the h).
  • The tetragrammaton is written ይሁዋህ yǝhuwah.
  • The Gǝʿǝz vowel i often appears where we expect e. The latter vowel is used for Heb segol (e.g. ኤሬፅ, ኤል, ኤት); for the pausal form ā́reṣ we have አሬፅ.
  • An Ethiopism is ሚኵል for Heb mikkol.
  • There are some mistakes, such as ወዓላሁ for וְעָלֵ֥הוּ. The first two words of Ps 2 are missing.

The education of Isidore of Pelusium; the martyrdom of Philo Persicus   Leave a comment

For your synaxarial enjoyment and entertainment, here are two passages from the reading for Amšīr/Yäkkatit 10 (Feb 4), each in both Arabic and Gǝʿǝz, with a rough English translation and some vocabulary.

On Isidore of Pelusium

(For Greek, see here.)

Arabic in PO 11: 814.10, 815.1-2 (here)

ولم يكن لوالده سواه فأدّبه بكل ادب نفساني وجُسماني وعلّماه كتب البيعة فأتْقنها ظاهرا ثم تعلّم العلوم اليونانية والدينية فأتْقنها وفاق على كثيرين فيها وكان مع ذلك ناسكا ومتواضعا

  • addaba to educate
  • adab education
  • ʿallama to instruct, teach
  • atqana to master, know well
  • ẓāhiran clearly, obviously, evidently
  • taʿallama to learn
  • nāsik pious, ascetic

His father had no child except him, so he educated him in every subject, spiritual and physical, and they [dual: the patriarchs Theophilus and Cyril] taught him the books of the church and he mastered them clearly. Then he learned the Greek and religious sciences and he mastered them, and he surpassed many in these things. In addition, he was pious and humble.

Gǝʿǝz in PO 45: 520.21-26

ወኢኮኖሙ ፡ ለአበዊሁ ፡ ውሉድ ፡ ዘእንበሌሁ ፡ ወመሀርዎ ፡ ኵሎ ፡ ትምህርተ ፡ መንፈሳዌ ፡ ወሥጋዌ ፡ ወመሀርዎ ፡ ኵሎ ፡ መጻሕፍተ ፡ ቤተ ፡ ክርስቲያን ፡ ወአጽንዖሙ ፡ ወዓቀቦሙ ፡ ገሃደ ። ወእምዝ ፡ ተምህረ ፡ ትምህርታተ ፡ ዮናናዊያን ፡ ወአእምሮ ፡ ከዋክብተ ፡ ሰማይ ፡ ወዘየዐውድ ፡ ኵሎ ፡ አጽናፈ ፡ ዓለም ፡ ወተለዐለ ፡ ላዕለ ፡ ብዙኃን ፡ በአእምሮቱ ፡ ወበጥበቡ ፡ ወኮነ ፡ ጽሙደ ፡ ወመስተጋድለ ፡ ወትሑተ ።

  • መሀረ፡ to teach
  • ትምህርት፡ teaching
  • አጽንዐ፡ to learn by heart
  • ገሃደ፡ plainly, clearly, openly, publicly
  • ተምህረ፡ to be taught, to be versed in
  • ዖደ፡ to encircle, encompass
  • ጽንፍ፡ pl. አጽናፍ፡ edge, extremity, confines
  • ጽሙድ፡ (ፅሙድ፡) pious, devout
  • መስተጋድል፡ fighter, combatant, ascetic
  • ትሑት፡ humble

His parents had no child except him, and they taught him every subject, spiritual and physical, and they taught him the books of the church, and he learned them by heart and kept them openly. Then he learned the teachings of the Greeks and the knowledge of the stars of heaven and that which encompasses altogether the edges of the universe, and he surpassed many in his knowledge and wisdom and was pious, ascetic, and humble.

On Philo Persicus

Arabic in PO 18: 815.11, 816.1-2 (here)

وفيه ايضا تنيّح القدّيس فيلوا اسقف ارض فارس الذي استشهد على يد ملك الفرس حتى لا يعبد النار ولا يسجد للشمس فعاقبه كثيرا واخيرا استشهد بحدّ السيف صلاته تكون معنا امين

  • tanayyaḥa to go to rest, die
  • ḥattá must be causal here (cf. Lane, p. 509a, “denoting a cause or motive”)
  • ʿāqaba to punish, torture
  • ḥadd side, edge

On this day, too, Saint Philo, bishop of the land of Persia (Fāris), went to rest [i.e. died]. He was martyred by the king of the Persians (al-Furs) since he would not worship the fire or bow down to the sun, so he tortured him a lot and finally he was martyred by the edge of the sword. May his prayer be with us! Amen.

Gǝʿǝz in PO 45: 522.8-11

ወበዛቲ ፡ ዕለት ፡ ካዕበ ፡ ኮነ ፡ ቅዱስ ፡ አባ ፡ ፊሎ ፡ ሰማዕት ፡ ወኤጲስ ፡ ቆጶስ ፡ ዘሀገረ ፡ ፋርስ ፡ ዘኰነኖ ፡ ንጉሠ ፡ ፋርስ ፡ ሶበ ፡ ኢሦዓ ፡ ለእሳት ፡ ወኢሰገደ ፡ ለፀሐይ ። ወሶበ ፡ ደክመ ፡ አምኵነኔሁ ፡ መተረ ፡ ርእሶ ፡ በሰይፍ ፡ ወነሥአ ፡ አክሊለ ፡ ስምዕ ፡ በመንግሥተ ፡ ሰማያት ። ጸሎቱ ፡ ወበረከቱ ፡ የሀሉ ፡ ምስሌነ ፡ አሜን ።

  • ኰነነ፡ D to punish
  • ኵነኔ፡ torture
  • ሦዐ፡ to sacrifice
  • ደክመ፡ to be(come) weak
  • መተረ፡ G/D to cut

Also on this day was [the death of] the holy Abba Philo, martyr and bishop of the land of Persia (Fārs). The king of Persia (Fārs) tortured him when he [Philo] did not sacrifice to the fire and did not bow down to the sun. When he [Philo] had become weak from the torture, he [the king] cut off his head with the sword, and he received the crown of martyrdom in the kingdom of heaven. May his prayer and blessing be with us! Amen.

Excerpta synaxarica   Leave a comment

For a diversion or language practice, here are a few lines from the synaxaria for yesterday (Jan 20), with English translation and a few notes.

Ṭūba 25/Jan 20, for Abadius, PO 11: 697

فقال مقدم القصر للنقيب ما ذا يستحق هذا من العذاب لانه قد سب الابلون فاجاب النقيب قائلا له هذا مستوجب عقوبة الموت فقال له القديس اباديوس ما دام حكمت عليّ بالموت فامضي وادفن ابنك لان العقرب لسعته ومات

  • imḍī wa idfin If impv, we should, of course, understand here (and below) imḍi, the 2msg impv, not the 2fsg. Basset thus takes both verbs as imperatives in his FT. Alternatively, we might read ʾamḍī wa ʾadfinu, “I will go and bury.”

فقال له مقدم القصر ايش هذا الكلام السحر الذي انت تقوله فامر ان يضرب بالسياط والقديس قال له امضي وادفن زوجتك لانها ماتت

  • al-kalām al-siḥr Either hendiadys, or perhaps read kalām al-siḥr or al-kalāmal-siḥrī.
  • sawṭ, pl. siyāṭ whip

فقال النقيب لكاتب الدرج اخرج واكشف الخبر ولما خرج من باب القصر وجد عبيد مقدم القصر وهم مشققين الثياب صارخين من اجل موت الصبي الذي لسعه العقرب وسمع البكا في بيت النقيب على زوجته

  • šaqqaqa to tear, rip open (also I, with sim. mng.)

فرجع بسرعة واعلمهم بما كان وقال لهم ان هذا الانسان رجل الله وللوقت امر ان يلقوا القديس في السجن

The castle overseer [muqaddam al-qaṣr] said to the leader [naqīb], “What kind of punishment does this man deserve, because he has cursed Apollo?” The leader answered, saying to him, “He is worthy of the death penalty.” Then Saint Abadius said to him, “As you sentence me to death, go and bury your son, because a scorpion has stung him and he is dead.” The castle overseer said to him, “What are these words of sorcery you are saying?” And he commanded that he be whipped, but the saint said, “Go and bury your wife, because she is dead.” Then the leader said to the secretary [kātib al-darǧ], “Go out and discover what happened.” And when he went out from the gate of the castle, he found the castle overseer’s servants tearing open their garments and screaming on account of the death of the boy whom the scorpion had stung, and in the leader’s house he heard weeping for his wife, so he quickly returned and informed them of what had happened and said, “This person is a man of God!” And immediately [the leader] commanded that they throw [the saint] in prison.

Ṭǝrr 25/Jan 20, for Sebastian, PO 45: 182, 184

ወበዛቲ ፡ ዕለት ፡ ካዕበ ፡ ስምዓ ፡ ኮነ ፡ ቅዱስ ፡ ስብስጥያኖስ።

ወየሐውር ፡ በጥበብ ፡ ወብአእምሮ ፡ ውይፌውስ ፡ በጸሎቱ ፡ ብዙኃነ ፡ ድውያነ ፡ ወይከሥት ፡ አዕይንተ ፡ ዕውራን።

ወእምዝ ፡ ሶበ ፡ ክህዶ ፡ ዲዮቅልጥያኖስ ፡ ለአምላክ ፡ አገበሮ ፡ ለቅዱስ ፡ ስብስጥያኖስ ፡ ይስግድ ፡ ለጣዖት ፡ ወሶበ ፡ ዓበዮ ፡ አዘዘ ፡ ይእስርዎ ፡ ውስተ ፡ ኦም ፡ ይቡስ ፡ ወይንድፍዎ ፡ በአሕፃ ፡ ዘአልቦ ፡ ኍልቍ ፡ ወተሐዘብዎ ፡ ከመ ፡ ሞተ።

  • ዖም፡ tree, forest, woodland
  • ሐጽ፡ pl. አሕጻ፡ arrow
  • ተሐዘበ፡ to think, believe

ወበሌሊት ፡ ረከብዎ ፡ ምእመናን ፡ እንዘ ፡ ሕያው ፡ ውእቱ ፡ ወፈትሕዎ ፡ ወወሰድዎ ፡ ማእከለ ፡ ደሴት ፡ ወአንበርዎ ፡ ህየ።

  • ደሴት፡ dasset island

ወሰሚዖ ፡ ዲዮቅልጥያኖስ ፡ ተመጠዎ ፡ ኀቤሁ ፡ ወአዘዘ ፡ ይዝብጥዎ ፡ በአብትረ ፡ ሐፂን ፡ ወዘበጥዎ ፡ ብዙኃ ፡ መዋዕለ ፡ ወእምዝ ፡ መጠወ ፡ ነፍሶ።

  • ዘበጠ፡ to beat, strike
  • በትር፡ pl. አብትር፡ stick, rod

And on this day, too, was the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian.

And he would act with wisdom and understanding, and with his prayer would heal many sick people and open the eyes of the blind. Then, when Diocletian had denied God, he compelled Saint Sebastian to worship the idol. And when [Sebastian] disobeyed him, [Diocletian] commanded them to bind him in a dry woodland and to shoot him with innumerable arrows. [They did so] and they thought he was dead, but during the night the faithful found him still alive and they led him to an island and established him there. Diocletian having heard this, [his men] took hold of [Sebastian and brought him] to [Diocletian], and he commanded them to strike him with rods of iron, and they did so for many days, and then he gave up his spirit.

And finally, from the Armenian yaysmawurk’, there’s a line that has vocabulary we also saw in this post.

Arac’ 13/Jan 20, for Euthymius the Great (յիշատակ Եւթիմոսի մեծի անապատականին եւ քահանայի), PO 19: 63

Էր կարճահասակ եւ մօրուսն երկայն մինչեւ ի ծունկսն։

He was short, with his long beard to his knees.

  • կարճահասակ short, little
  • մօրուս Why acc?
  • երկայն long

Three sälam-verses (Gǝʿǝz hagiography)   Leave a comment

It occurred to me that it’s been a while since we’ve looked at any Gǝʿǝz texts, so here are few lines with vocabulary and English translation for some saints (chosen relatively randomly). These are sälam-verses, the five-line rhyming poems that occur in the Ethiopian synaxarion.

Faith, Hope, and Charity/Pistis, Elpis, and Agape PO 9:450

These famous female martyr-saints named after the virtues are often, but not here, named with Wisdom/Sophia (BHO 1082-1085; cf. here).

ሰላም ፡ ሰላም ፡ ደናግል ፡ ሠላስ፤

ጲስ ፡ ጢስ ፡ አላጲስ ፡ ወአጋጲስ፨

አመ ፡ ኮና ፡ ስምዓ ፡ በእንተ ፡ ኢየሱስ ፡ ክርስቶስ፨

ኢያውዓየ ፡ ሥጋሆን ፡ ነበልባለ ፡ እሳት ፡ መብዕስ፨

ወኢያድመነ ፡ ላህዮን ፡ ጢስ፨

Greetings, greetings, three virgins,

Pistis, Elpis, and Agape!

When they became martyrs for Jesus Christ,

The harmful flame of fire did not consume them,

And the smoke did not cloud their beauty.

  • አውዐየ፡ to burn, consume (the form here i- + awʿayä > iyawʿayä [see Dillmann § 48.6, p. 92])
  • ነበልባል፡ flame
  • መብዕስ፡ (i.e. መብእስ፡) harmful, tormenting, severe
  • አድመነ፡ (also አደመነ፡) to cloud, cover with a cloud (i- + admänä > iyadmänä)
  • ላህይ፡ (i.e. ላሕይ፡) beauty
  • ጢስ፡ smoke

Matthew/Mattai/Matewos PO 9: 268

The sälam is straightforward in its details, but it is a good example of how the Gǝʿǝz word order can be moved around in this literary form. This Matewos celebrated here is associated with the conversion of the sibling saints Behnam and Sara.

ሰላም ፡ ለማቴዎስ ፡ ነቢረ ፡ ገዳም ፡ ዘአንኃ፨

አምሳለ ፡ በግዕ ፡ ጸጕረ ፡ እስከ ፡ ተሞጥሐ፨

ከመ ፡ ያርኢ ፡ ጽድቆ ፡ ወተአምሪሁ ፡ ስቡሐ፨

ሐፀበ ፡ በማየ ፡ ጥምቀት ፡ አባለ ፡ መርምህናም ፡ ርሱሐ፨

ወአባለ ፡ ሳራ ፡ እምለምጽ ፡ በህየ ፡ አንጽሐ፨

Greetings to Matewos, who dwelt in the desert a long time,

To the point that he clothed himself in fleece like a sheep!

To show glorious his uprightness and miracles

He washed the filthy flesh of Mar Behnam in the water of baptism

And there cleansed of leprosy the flesh of Sara.

  • አንኀ፡ (also አኖኀ፡, C √nwḫ) to do for a long time
  • በግዕ፡ sheep
  • ጸጕር፡ hair, fleece
  • ተሞጥሐ፡ to clothe o.s., wear
  • ሐፀበ፡ (ኀፀበ፡) to wash away
  • አባል፡ flesh, limb, body part
  • ርሱሕ፡ dirty, defiled, impure (antonym: ንጹሕ፡, from which root we have a verb below)
  • ለምጽ፡ leprosy
  • አንጽሐ፡ to cleanse, purify

Bikabes (spelled ቢከብስ፡ or ቢካቦስ፡) PO 9:499-501

The saint, a soldier, is said to come from Ašmūn Ṭanāh. His Christianity was revealed to a ruler. With others he confesses his Christianity before this ruler, who then gives them a chance to renounce their faith and to sacrifice to the gods: they don’t, and tortures ensue, which the saint survives.

ወለቅዱስሰ ፡ አባ ፡ ቢከብስ ፡ ኰነኖ ፡ ኵንኔ ፡ ዓቢየ ፡ ወብዙኃ ፡ ወሞቅሖ ፡ በሐጺን ፡ ወወደዮ ፡ ውስተ ፡ መንኰራኵራት ፡ ወሰቀሎ ፡ ቍልቍሊተ ፡ ወመተሮ ፡ መለያልያቲሁ።

As for Abba Bikabes, he tortured him severely and much: he chained him with iron, put on the torture wheels, hung him upside down, and cut his limbs.

  • መንኰራኵር፡ (pl. መንኵራኵር፡ and as above) (torture) wheel (see here)
  • ሰቀለ፡ to hang, crucify
  • ቍልቍሊተ፡ upside down
  • መተረ፡ to cut
  • መሌሊት፡ (pl. መለያልይ፡ and as above) limb, body part

Next, the ruler puts these Christians into a boat headed to Baramuni* for 27 days in which they had naught to eat or drink, followed by further tortures, which this time bring an end to the saint. A rich man takes the saint’s body, prepares it for burial, and sends it to Ašmūn Ṭanāh, where a church is built in his name. The sälam at the end is as follows:

ሰላም ፡ ለአባ ፡ ቢካቦስ ፡ ዘኮኖሙ ፡ ተባያጼ፨

ለ፺ወ፭ሰማዕታተ ፡ ክርስቶስ ፡ እንበለ ፡ ግጋፄ፨

ጣዖተ ፡ አሕዛብ ፡ ይዝልፍ ፡ ወንጉሦሙ ፡ ዓማፄ፨

ለዘ ፡ ጥቡዕ ፡ ኢመጽኦ ፡ ድንጋፄ፨

እንዘ ፡ ይመትሩ ፡ ሥጋሁ ፡ በማኅፄ፨

Greetings to Abba Bikabes, who became a companion

To the ninety-five martyrs of Christ without fear,

Reviling the idols of the peoples and their lawless king!

No terror came upon the steadfast [saint]

As they cut his flesh with an axe.

  • ተባያጺ፡ companion
  • ግጋጼ፡ fear
  • ዘለፈ፡ to revile, refute, disprove
  • ዓማፂ፡ unjust, lawless, wicked
  • ጥቡዕ፡ steadfast, eager, bold
  • ደንጋፄ፡ terror, dread, amazement
  • ማኅፄ፡ (i.e. ማሕጼ፡) axe

*For both toponyms mentioned here see Amélineau, Géographie, p. 88; (and note the story for John of Ašmūn Ṭanāh there; cf. p. 170 and 457).

“With the jawbone of an ass…”   Leave a comment

Many years ago I read F.F. Bruce’s In Retrospect, and among the anecdotes he relates that for some reason or other have remained in my memory is one about W.M. Edward of Leeds University. Bruce says (pp. 106-107),

My new chief, Professor W.M. Edwards of the Chair of Greek in Leeds, was an unusual man. He had been born into a military family and himself embarked on a military career, being an officer in the Royal Garrison Artillery until his later thirties. He then went to Oxford as an undergraduate, taking his B.A. at the age of forty and becoming a Fellow of Merton College the same year. Three years later he was appointed Professor of Greek in Leeds. He was an accomplished linguist, speaking Welsh, Gaelic, Russian and Hebrew as well as the commoner European languages. … On another occasion he came into my room to see me about something or other, and found me reading the Hebrew text of Judges. Immediately he threw back his head and recited in Hebrew, Samson’s song of victory, “With the jawbone of an ass…”

The Samson story is a good one, and well known. Students making their first forays into classical Hebrew prose rightly learn it thoroughly, and these two lines in verse 15:16 (בלחי החמור חמור חמרתים בלחי החמור הכיתי אלף איש), with the word play and the rhythm, make a good inhabitant of the memory’s palace. For fun, here they are in a few more languages, and some vocabulary in case students of any of these languages are reading.

Poster for Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (1949). Source.

Poster for Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949). Source; cf. this one.

Aramaic (Targum) בלועא דחמרא רמיתנון דגורין דלועא דחמרא קטלית אלף גברא

  • לווּעָא jaw
  • חמָרָא ass
  • דְּגוֹר heap

Greek Ἐν σιαγόνι ὄνου ἐξαλείϕων ἐξήλειψα αὐτούς, ὅτι ἐν σιαγόνι ὄνου ἐπάταξα χιλίους ἄνδρας.

Syriac (Pesh.) ܒܦܟܐ ܕܚܡܪܐ ܟܫܝ̈ܬܐ ܟܫܝܬ ܡܢܗܘܢ. ܒܦܟܐ ܕܚܡܪܐ ܩܛܠܬ ܐܠܦ ܓܒܪ̈ܝܢ܀

  • pakkā jaw, cheek
  • ḥmārā ass
  • kšā to pile up, heap (both verb and pass. ptcp. here)

Armenian ծնօտի́ւ իշոյ ջնջելով ջնջեցի́ զն(ո)ս(ա), զի ծնօտիւ իշոյ կոտորեցի հազա́ր այր։

  • ծնօտ, -ից jaw, cheek
  • իշայր, -ոյ wild ass
  • ջնջեմ, -եցի to destroy, exterminate
  • կոտորեմ, -եցի to shatter, destroy, massacre
  • հազար thousand

Georgian (Gelati; only the first half translated, and no mention of the ass!) ღაწჳთა აღმოჴოცელმან აღვჴოცნე იგინი

  • ღაწუი cheek
  • აღჴოცა to kill off (participle აღმოჴოცელი and finite verb both in the sentence)

Arabic (from the London Polyglot; there are other versions)

judges_15_16_london_polyglot

  • ṭaraḥa (a) to drive away, repel
  • ʕaẓm bone
  • ḫadd cheek
  • ḥimār ass
  • tulūl is a pl. of tall hill, but here, heap
  • fakk jawbone (cf. Syriac above)

Gǝʕǝz በዐጽመ ፡ መንከሰ ፡ አድግ ፡ ደምስሶ ፡ ደምሰስክዎሙ ፡ እስመ ፡ በዐጽመ ፡ መንከሰ ፡ አድግ ፡ ቀተልኩ ፡ ዐሠርተ ፡ ምእተ ፡ ብእሴ ።

  • መንከስ፡jaw, jawbone (√näkäsä to bite, like näsäkä, with cognates in many Semitic languages)
  • አድግ፡ ass
  • ደምሰሰ፡ to abolish, wipe out, destroy

NB: In Islamic tradition, it is not the jawbone of an ass, but that of a camel (laḥy baʕīr), that Samson employs:

وكان اذا لقيهم لقيهم بلحي بعير

(J. Barth & Th. Nöldeke, Annales quos scripsit Abu Djafar Mohammed Ibn Djarir At-Tabari, 1.II.794.7-8 [1881-1882]; available here) [More broadly, see Andrew Rippin, “The Muslim Samson: Medieval, Modern and Scholarly Interpretations,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 71 (2008): 239-253.]

Devils and fire-breathing jackals   Leave a comment

For this simple post, I just want to share a few lines from a memorable scene in the Life of the famous Ethiopian saint Täklä Haymanot (ተክለ፡ ሃይማኖት፡; BHO 1128-1134). It comes from the Däbrä Libanos version, as published by Budge (1906); for more details on this and the other versions, see Denis Nosnitsin in Enc. Aeth. 4: 831-834. For the setting: the people of a “high mountain” called Wifat (ዊፋት፡) are responding to the saint’s question of how they know when their god is coming to them.

ወይቤልዎ ፡ ይመጽአ ፡ እንዘ ፡ ያንጐደጕድ ፡ ከመ ፡ ነጐድጓደ ፡ ክረምት ፡ለቢሶ ፡ እሳት። ወተፅዒኖ ፡ ዝዕበ ፡ ወብዙኃን ፡ መስተፅዕናነ ፡ አዝዕብት ፡ እምለፌ ፡ ወእምለፌ ፡ የዐውድዎ ፡ ወኵሎሙ ፡ ያበኵሁ ፡ እሳተ ፡ እምአፉሆሙ።

f. 67ra-67rb (text in Budge, vol. 2, p. 39)

My translation (for Budge’s, see vol. 1, p. 97):

And they said to him, “He comes thundering like the thunder of the rainy season, clothed in fire, riding on a jackal, and many jackal-riders surround him on each side, all of the [mounts] blowing fire out of their mouths.

Notes:

  1. ክረምት፡ the rainy season is June/July-September
  2. ዝእብ፡ (pl. አዝእብት፡) jackal; hyena; wolf. Specific possibilities include:
  3. Budge’s text mistakenly has መስተፅናነ፡ for the correct reading መስተፅዕናነ፡.
  4. The text could mean that the jackal-riders are breathing out fire, but the image in the manuscript (BL Or. 728; see Budge’s pl. 38) obviously takes that predicate as referring to the jackals themselves.
Pl. 38 from Budge, Life of Takla Haymanot, vol. 1

Pl. 38 from Budge, Life of Takla Haymanot, vol. 1

 

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