Talk:Benjamin

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Etymology[edit]

Please note that the traditional etymology of the name is "son of days" and not the 19th century revisionist etymology "son of the south" or "son of my right hand". Points to note in this regard:

1.) The dialect to which the names of the Jewish patriarchs belong from Abraham to Jacobs twelve sons is closer to Aramaic than to Hebrew but from a time when the two were not yet distinct languages - i.e. proto-Aramaic.The meanings of the names are closer to Aramaic idiom than later Hebrew. Yamin means days in Aramaic.

2.) No part of the word "yamin" means "the" or "my" or "hand" which immediately disqualifies nonsense like "the south" and "my right hand".

3.) The Hebrew adjective "right" is indeed a homophone of the Aramaic plural "days" - yamin. The direction right can also be used to indicate the compass direction "south". But an adjective does not fit the formula of the name which requires a noun and moreover the Aramaic dialect form is yaman not yamin. The ancient noun formed from this adjective is "te-yeman" However the name is "bin yamin" not "bin yaman" (which makes no sense anyway) nor "ben te-yeman".

4.) Ancient sources such as Philo explicitly explain the name as meaning son of days.

Hekwos (talk) 03:36, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

re: 1.) I doubt you will find a modern scholar of the Semitic languages who would agree with this. re: 2.) Only if you only allow strictly literal dictionary definitions and ignore the fact that doing so makes for really bad translations. re: 3.) This is all irrelevant, because the Aramaic word for son is בר‎ not בן‎. re: 4.) Given that Philo is just as distant from patriarchal times as we are from his time, folk etymology is a real possibility.
Before you make such changes, please provide references. The references I've checked, so far, agree with the etymology you replaced, and your explanation sounds like amateurish original research, so I've reverted you. Chuck Entz (talk) 07:46, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

Early Old Aramaic for "son" is also "ben" as in Hebrew, "bar" only comes into use later. For example one king of Aram during the divided monarchy was Ben-Hadad. Even in the New Testament era we have letters in Aramaic where ben is sometimes used instead of bar. Your dismissal of this information based on "references you checked" shows that you are doing amateurish research and are not familiar with the subect at all. Hekwos (talk)

Do you have a source for that first statement? The entries on bn and br, brˀ describe the former as an "Arabizing/Hebraizing form", which would indicate you have it backward. As for בן הדד‎, that's his Hebrew name. According to the Wikipedia article, בר חדד‎ is his Aramaic name. I realize that Wikipedia isn't an authoritative reference, but the article cites Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible, which is. I have an electronic version of Eerdman's on my computer, and here's the first part of the entry:
  • BEN-HADAD (Heb. ben-hăḏaḏ)
  • Likely a throne name taken by the king of Damascus (Aram. Bir-hadad).
As for your dismissing my research: at least I checked some references, while you've mentioned only Philo and made a lot of assertions about the Hebrew and Aramaic languages without saying what your sources are.
So far I've checked electronic versions of:
  1. BDB Abridged: A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (abridged) (BDB)
    Based on A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, by F. Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs.
    Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907. Digitized and abridged as a part of the Princeton Theological Seminary Hebrew #: Lexicon Project under the direction of Dr. J. M. Roberts.
  2. Kohlenberger / Mounce Hebrew: Kohlenberger / Mounce Concise Hebrew-Aramaic Dictionary of the Old Testament (KM Hebrew Dictionary)
    John R. Kohlenberger III, Editor
    William D. Mounce, Editor
    Originally derived from The Hebrew-English Concordance to the Old Testament by John R. Kohlengerger, III.
  3. Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Easton’s Bible Dictionary (Easton)
    M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897.
  4. Hebrew Strong’s Dictionary: Strong’s Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary of the Old Testament (Hebrew Strong’s)
  5. Online Etymology Dictionary (www.etymonline.com) in the entry for Benjamin
All of these explicitly translate בִּנְיָמִין‎ as some variant of "son of the right hand" and/or "son of the south". None of them even mention your interpretation, nor have I been able to find any that do. I'm assuming you're correct about Philo, though I haven't looked for the reference to confirm, but you're saying that all the scholars who contributed to the above are wrong and you know better. Forgive me if I'm skeptical. Chuck Entz (talk) 18:35, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

Hekwos -- Yamin in the meaning "days" would have an Aramaic/Arabic ending ("nunation") which is rather divergent from the Canaanite ending basically always used in Hebrew ("mimation"). I really don't know what 19th-century source has the "days" interpretation (as mentioned above, Brown-Driver-Briggs doesn't have it) or why it would take precedence over modern scholarship. As for Philo of Alexandria, Hebrew (to the degree he knew it) would have probably been his third language, and he was much given to allegorical and extended interpretations. (For that matter, the concept of triliteral root wasn't really fully developed until around 1000 A.D...) There's a whole country named with a Semitic word from y-m-n "right", so I really don't see what the problem is... AnonMoos (talk) 02:10, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

There are a lot of misconceptions floating around above from all contributors. I'll try to correct them all:
  • The dialect to which the names of the Jewish patriarchs belong from Abraham to Jacobs twelve sons is closer to Aramaic than to Hebrew but from a time when the two were not yet distinct languages - i.e. proto-Aramaic.
    • Firstly, if Hebrew and Aramaic were not yet distinct languages, then this proto language was just as much Hebrew as it was Aramaic. Secondly, the common ancestor of Hebrew and Aramaic existed long before Jacob was supposed to have lived. The Bible even makes reference to the fact that Jacob spoke Hebrew, while his father-in-law Laban spoke Aramaic (Genesis 31:47). Even if there is some uncertainty in this, there is still no better evidence for any alternative.
  • Yamin means days in Aramaic.
    • In Aramaic, "days" is yōmīn or yawmīn, not yāmin like the Hebrew plural stem (which would have been yəmīn in Aramaic anyway).
  • No part of the word "yamin" means "the" or "my" or "hand" which immediately disqualifies nonsense like "the south" and "my right hand".
    • This statement shows a clear lack of knowledge of Hebrew grammar. The word יָמִין(yāmīn) in many cases means specifically the "right hand", and this in fact may have been the original meaning. I'm not even going to bother explaining "the" or "my".
  • The Hebrew adjective "right"
    • The Hebrew word יָמִין(yāmīn, right) is a noun, not an adjective. Even if it were an adjective, adjectives are routinely nominalized in all Semitic languages.
  • This is all irrelevant, because the Aramaic word for son is בר‎ not בן‎.
    • Technically that's correct. But if you were to subscribe to the theory that this was actually the common ancestor of Hebrew and Aramaic, then it would have been bn, not br.
  • Yamin in the meaning "days" would have an Aramaic/Arabic ending ("nunation") which is rather divergent from the Canaanite ending basically always used in Hebrew ("mimation").
    • Actually, some Canaanite dialects did in fact have the -īn plural ending (Moabite, for example), as did Mishnaic Hebrew. Mishnaic Hebrew could of course have been influenced by Aramaic, but that is not the only explanation, it could have simply been inherited through a dialect other than Biblical Hebrew.
In conclusion, בִּנְיָמִין(binyāmīn) could theoretically have meant "son of (the) days", but that probably would have had nothing to do with Aramaic. Also, "son of (the) days" doesn't make much sense semantically. --WikiTiki89 19:57, 27 February 2017 (UTC)