[DWJ] Re: Hebrew names

Colin Fine colin at kindness.demon.co.uk
Wed Oct 4 18:10:47 EDT 2006


Chris R wrote:
> I've been away for a couple of days, so I'm sorry if this has been mentioned already and I missed it in the pile of messages, but my guess would be that names in -as were taken into Latin via Greek, which has -as as a regular masculine suffix for the first declension. /delurking
>
> Chris
>
>   
Ahh, I never thought of that (my Greek being rather limited). That seems 
quite compelling.
> Gili Bar-Hillel wrote:
>   
>> Names ending in "Allah" in Arabic are indeed equivalent to names ending in
>> "El" in Hebrew, but also to names ending in some truncated form of the
>> explicit name of the Lord, such as "ia" or "ja": Josia (Yehoshayahu), Elijah
>> (Eliyahu), Abiyah/Aviya, Hezekia/Ezekias (Hizkiyahu). The "s" at the end of
>> names like "Elias" or "Ezekias" is not from Hebrew at all, it's some result
>> of the transliteration; the "hu" which for some reason does not survive in
>> transliteration means roughly "he is", thus Elijah=Eliyahu=Eli+ya+hu=My God
>> Ya he is. Arabic Abdallah would be equivalent to Hebrew
>>   
>>     
and of course most of these names don't usually have -s in English 
anyway (Joshua, Hezekiah, Isaiah).

Colin

> I don't believe that origin for the -s at all. I'm pretty sure it comes 
> from the Latin version of the name. Hebrew names in -ah or -ahu were 
> generally taken into the first declension (-a stems). That normally ends 
> in -a in the nominative; but it's usually feminine. (The only 
> significant group of masculine first declension nouns is some 
> occupational words like 'nauta' (sailor) and 'agricola' (farmer).
> But Biblical names were taken over as -as rather than (or perhaps as 
> well as) -a. Why?
> Well, as the Latin for 'is' is 'est', I don't think that explanation 
> will work. My guess is that the -h (which sound didn't exist in Latin) 
> was heard as a fricative, and they substituted another fricative - and, 
> moreover, one that occurs in the nominative singular of the majority of 
> Latin nouns.
>
> Colin
>
>   
>> Obadiah/Obadias/Ovadya. I think in this context Abd/Oved is more properly
>> translated "worshipper" rather than "slave".
>>
>> And I concur, the name Abel is not Ab+el but rather Hevel, meaning breath or
>> vanity. But there are names such as Aviel and Eliav that mean roughly what
>> Sally thought Abel means.
>>
>>
>>
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