Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Some quaint 17th century English definitions of Hebrew words

1. From John Florio's Italian-English dictionary, "Queen Anna's New World of Words," 1611, הושענה:

Osánna signifies in Hebrew, saue or quicken vs now we pray thee our viuification. The Iewes called so the willow branches, which they bare in their hands at the feast of Tabernacles. Some vnderstand it for inexpressible ioy.

2. Another from Florio, תיו:

Tháu an Hebrew letter vsed often misteriously for the crosse of Christ, as also for the number of 400.

(See "X and Th," appendix to R. Saul Lieberman's Greek in Jewish Palestine which discusses the relationship between the paleo-Hebrew form of ת (which resembled an X) and the Greek letter Chi (also resembling an X) , remarked in several obscure midrashim. The Christians, of course, interpreted both ת and Chi for the sign of the cross. See also Ezekiel 9:4)

3. Edmund Bolton's "The Elements of Armories," 1610, מצרים:

MIZRAIM. The Hebrew, or MOSAICAL name of the ÆGYPTIANS, which I vse, the rather to signifie thereby those ÆGYPTIANS that were of the oldest times. HEB.

4. Randle Cotgrave's "Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues," 1611, שקל:

Cicle; m. A Sheicle; an Hebrew coyne, or weight of two drammes, worth about foureteene pence ster­ ling. Cicle du Sanctuaire. Was twice as much as the ordi­narie one; foure drammes in weight; in value, two shil­ lings foure pence sterl.

5. Edward Phillips' "The New World of English Words," 1658, קבלה:

Cabala, an Hebrew word, signifying receiving, also a science among the Jews, comprehending the secret wayes of expounding the Law, which were revealed by God to Moses.

6. Phillips, אלישבע:

Elizabeth, the proper name of a woman, from the Hebrew words Eli, and Shavang, i. e. the Oath of God.

This one is interesting, because he uses the /ng/ pronunciation for `ayin i.e. Western Sephardic.

7. Phillips, again, ממון:

Mammon, the God of wealth, the word signifying in the Syriack tongue riches, or wealth, and is derived from the Hebrew word Hamon, i. plenty, having M. Hemantick added at the beginning.

Interesting etymology!

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