Monday, March 13, 2017

Beasts in the Forest – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding the animals the Nephites found in the Land of Promise when they landed, and called: “cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat (1 Nephi 18:25). 
    As Reynolds and Sjödahl state: “Hebrew Classification of Animals. Nephi was a Hebrew, and the expression of his thoughts, naturally, conformed to the idioms of his mother tongue. The Hebrews did not always classify objects as we do. For instance, observing that the animal we call "horse" had a peculiar way of "leaping" or galloping, they gave him a name expressive of that characteristic and called him sus, from a root, meaning "to leap." The horse was the "leaper." But presently they noticed the flight of a certain bird and fancied there was some resemblance between that mode of traveling and the leaping of a horse. Then they called the bird also sus or sis, and the swallow, as far as the name was concerned, was put in one class with the horse.” For the same reason of classification a moth was called sas from the same root as the horse and the swallow.”
“Sus” from “leaping” is the Hebrew word used to describe and name “horse”
     Reynolds and Sjödahl act like this type of naming is unusual in Hebrew; however, the word "horse" in English comes originally from the word kurs of the Latin currere, meaning "to run," therefore, the thinking behind "to leap," and "to run," are quite similar and there is no mystery here, or hidden way of thinking or naming. Like "horse" in English means specifically "horse" and not "to run," so sus in Hebrew means "horse" and not some other animal.  In fact, the word “sus” means specifically “horse,” or “horseback,” or “horseman,” or “horses.” Yet, as in English, a word can have a distant or rarely used meaning, sus can mean “swallow,” “crane,” or even “swift.” But to put this in context, consider that the NAS Exhaustice Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries, sus is used in the Old Testament 140 times: horse 133, horseback 4, horsehoofs 1, and crane 2, i.e., horse 138 of 140 uses. In English, there are other uses, such as "sawhorse," "horse around," "horse's mouth," "horseplay,"none of which are referring to an actual horse that runs. Thus, it is inaccurate to say that sus means anything other than “horse” as Reynolds and Sjödahl want us to believe.
    On a Spiritual plane, the evolution of the circle is called the “evolution of natural order,” and the three letters of the word “sus” mean “samech, vav, samech,” with the first and last letter meaning “circle” and the middle letter meaning “line.” And in the Kabbalah, it translates to “a great circle.” The horse is also the image of a running creature—running is progression or evolution. The power motivating the evolution is the line, but the evolution itself, or the way that motion appears, is as circles. If you would film a horse running, the image you receive is of the two hind-legs and two forelegs appearing as circles with the motivating power between them (from GalEinai, “Revealing the Torah’s Inner Dimension,” Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh).
    On the other hand, the word שׂוּשׂ “sis” or “sas” means “rejoice,” “exult,” “delighted,” “glad,” “rejoice greatly,” or “be glad,”” great, joy,” and “make mirth,” which is how it is translated in the 27 instances this word is used in the Old Testament. And the word for the bird “swallow” is דְּרוֹר “deror,” and the word for “a leaping bird” is סֻס “cuc” which comes from a word meaning “to skip.” The Hebrew word for “skip” or “leap” is רָקַד  Raqad, meaning “skip” but is often translated in the Bible as “leap” or “leaping,” but also “to frolic,” and “to dance.” Moth in Hebrew is עָשׁ “ash,” and is translated as “moth” or “grass” in all 12 uses in the Old Testament.
Reynolds and Sjödahl also state that the Hebrews had at least six words for "ox." One of them was aluph, from a root meaning to be "tame," "gentle." It was used for both "ox" and "cow," because either could be "tame."
    This, again, is not true. Aluph, which never stood for “ox,” and does not mean “tame” in Hebrew, actually means “master,” “lord,” or “general,” “commander,” (the leaders in Edom were called “Aluphim,” which is plural, and translated as “Duke” from the Latin “Dux.”
    On the other hand, the word “ox” sometimes is related to “aleph,” which means the absolute unity of God, and the word “light” when spelled out using the ancient Hebrew pictograph appears as the “ox.” On the other hand, the word שׁוֹר “shor” means “ox,” “oxen” or “a head of cattle,” or ”bullock,” “herd,” but translated 65 times as “ox,” and 12 times as one of the others. It cannot be said there are six words meaning “ox” but the word for “ox” has other meanings.
     The word טָמֵא “tame” in Hebrew is pronounced “taw-may” which means unclean, defiled, etc. It is the word רַךrak” which means “gentle,” “tame,” “tender,” etc.
    Reynolds and Sjödahl also state that the word “aluph” might also mean a "friend," and sometimes it meant the "head" of a family, or a tribe.” This latter is the actual meaning of “aluph,” though as stated above, it is used more formally, like in “master.” As for “friend,” the Hebrew word is מֵרֵ֫עַmerea,” which means “friend,” “companion,” “advisor.”
Left: Gazelle; Middle: Antelope; Right: Wild Ox. These are three entirely different species and not related

    Reynolds and Sjödahl also state “Another word for "ox" is “teo,” translated "wild ox" on account of its swiftness, but the word also stands for a species of gazelle.” Actually, the word תְּאוֹteo,” means “antelope,” which is not a species of gazelle, but just the opposite, i.e., a gazelle is a species of “small” antelope.
    At the same time, the word for “wild ox” is רְאֵםreem” which is defined as both ox, and wild ox, but is translated in all King James Version verses as “unicorn,” which is defined as a “rhinoceros” (Numbers 22:8,22; Deuteronomy 33:17; Job 39:9; Psalms 22:21; 29:6; 92:10; Isaiah 34:7)
    While Reynolds and Sjödahl do not single out the “ass” meaning a domestic animal, they do identify it as one of the animals that were misnamed. The ass (Equus hemionus) always has been one of the most common domestic animals. It is a much more important animal in Bible lands than in England and America. The humblest peasant owned his own ass, and is associated throughout the Bible with peaceful pursuits (unlike the horse which was associated with war and armies). As a domestic animal it preceded the horse, which was first introduced into Egypt by the Hyksos about 1800 BC. The ass is ascribed no honor or power by the Jews, but considered a creatures that bears the burdens that they lay upon them. Five words were used to denote the ass: chamor (“peace and humility,” a male domestic ass; ridden); athon, (a she-ass) ayir, air (young male ass); pereh, pere (“wildness, lust,” a wild ass); aradh, or `arodh, mentioned only once in scripture (Job 39:5).
    It should be noted that the animals Nephi comments upon are those animals that were not only familiar to the Jews, but essential, and certainly what might be expected of a Hebrew. Thus, the passage is a strong proof of the truth of the record and certainly needs no explanation as meaning some other animals as so many LDS scholars try to make it.
    A great many years ago, long before Christ came into the world, the rich men and the judges used to ride upon asses: so we read in the Jude 5:10, "Speak, ye that ride upon white asses, ye that sit in judgment." After this time many fine horses were brought into those countries, and the kings and great men liked them better for riding.
The ass was then used by the poorer people who could not buy a horse. The Lord himself entered Jerusalem a few days before his death, riding upon an ass; showing not only his meekness and humility, but the importance of his peaceful pursuit and his tranquil, calm, and untroubled nature—the very thing that animal conveyed to the Hebrews.
    That still leaves the question as to what happened to them and why they were not found in the area of the Land of Promise when the Spaniards arrived.
(See the next post, “Beasts in the Forest – Part IV,” for more information regarding the animals and their names the Nephites found in the Land of Promise)

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