воскресенье, 10 мая 2015 г.

Bareqet. The Etymology of theWord

M. L. Glikman,   Israel                 



     “Etymology (the study of the meaning of words) is a section of linguistics studying the origin of words and their history.”   

     Bareqet – is the name of the third stone on the hoshen (breastplate of High Priests).  Bareqet stone is mentioned three times in the Tanach: twice in the Book of Exodus and once in the Book of Ezekiel.   The word first appears at the time of Exodus, i.e. during the rule of one of the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom in Egypt. 
     Hebrew dictionaries contain information about the influence of other languages on the origin of the word bareqet.  In Akkcadian there is a word barraqtu, in Sanskrit –marakata and in ancient Egyptian –brgt (brKt ) (P. Barguet, 1953; Fr. Brown at al ,1979; E.Klein, 1987; A. Even Shoshan, etc.).  All three words are translated as “emerald”.
     Obviously, all the conclusions were based on ancient texts.  The only question was: how ancient these texts actually were?  Our task was to get acquainted with these materials in order to specify when they were written and what role they played in the originating of the word bareqet.
    The Akkadian word barraqtu is mentioned by R.C. Thompson (1936) as well as in the following dictionaries: CAD. B. 113, and   AHw, 107: “barraqtu (he. bareqet,  aram. bareqa,  sskr. marakatam; smaragdos) “Smaragd”, spB.,  BE 9, 41, 4-6.”
      These three publications (as well as all the subsequent publications related to the word barraqtu) use the same primary source, which dates back to the fifth century B.C. (to be more exact 464 – 424 B.C.) and is described in the book “The Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania. Series A: Cuneiform Texts ,  Ed. by   H.V. Hilprecht,  A.T.Clay. 1898, Vol .9, стр.30-31, lines 4-6 in the original text”.  It talks about a stone called “barraqtu” in a golden ring.   There is not even a hint in the text about the mineralogy or a color of the stone.  However, this did not stop the English translator from using the word “emerald” in his translation.  The time of writing of the Akkadian text allows us to conclude that the word was simply borrowed from Hebrew and barraqtu is a transliteration of the Hebrew bareqet.   
   The connection bareqetmarakata also failed the etymological test.  A. Weber (1857), R. Garbe (1882), H. Lewy (1895) wrote that the Sanskrit word “marakata” is borrowed from the Greek and constitutes a derivation smaragdosmaragdos.  These words, in turn, are borrowed from Hebrew.  Thus, the connection is reversed.  Professor Arun Kuma Biswas of the Indian Technological Institute (1994 , p.14)  came to the opposite preliminary conclusion:  “Indians imported emerald but developed and exported the etymology”.   He suggested his own etymology of the word marakata, which is not related to the word smaragd (maru – desert, kata = saikata – sea shore) and has no connection to Hebrew.  According to the author of the article, the Sanskrit word for emerald masAraka or masAragalu contributed to the emergence of the word smaragdos in Greek.  Moreover, the Sanskrit texts mentioning the word marakata in the meaning of emerald are dated AD.  In Sanskrit the word emerald has 21 names (based on the Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit).
     The ancient Egyptian word brgt does not appear in the following dictionaries: A.Erman und H. Grapow (1971), E.A. Wallis Burge (1920/1978), G.Takacs (2001).  It is mentioned only in publications dealing with Stela Famine by P. Barguet, 1953, J. Harris, 1961, M. Lichtheim, 1980, J. Davidovits, 1988, etc.  There is no explanation about the nature of the mineral in the original text.   According to J. Harris (1961) this is the only appearance of the word brgt in Egypt.   The text was carved on a cliff on the island of Sehel not far from Aswan, and dates back to the reign of Ptolemy V (about 200 B.C.).  Therefore, it is a case of another borrowing from Hebrew.  The classical translation “emerald” was used for this Egyptian word as well.  Harris (1961) and  C. Andrews (1990) also allow the possibility of the meaning being “peridot” (a synonymous with olivine and chrysolite).   However, all the translations are based on the Septuagint version of “bareqet-smaragdos”, which has been firmly entrenched in the word-stock of the translators.
     Thus, the word bareqet does not have any etymological roots in other languages, rather it was borrowed by these languages.   At the same time, all the researches without exception agree that the root of this word is the letter combination   brq – ברק.   Other nouns formed from this root include baraq meaning “lightning, glitter, shine”; barqai – ברקאי  meaning “morning star” (F.L. Shapiro, 1963).   A verb formed from the root is baraq meaning “to shine, to glitter”.   The word bareqet is translated from the Aramean as “morning star” (B. Krupnik, A.Silbermann ,1970).
     The word brg (bKt, read as barga) appears in all ancient Egyptian dictionaries meaning “glanzen, illumine, to give light, leuchten”.   The words balaga in Arabic, birqu in Akkadian and barqa ( ברקא) in Aramean all have a similar translation.   
     Therefore, the only possible literal translation of the word bareqet is “a shiny glittering stone” or “iskryak”, a term suggested by V. Severgin for aventurine (B.F. Kulikov, V.V. Bukanov, 1988).   Onkelos (second century AD) used an Aramaic word barqan to translate the word bareqet.     
     Another outdated term sounding strangely similar to the word bareqet is zeberget meaning chrysolite.   The name probably originates from the island of Zeberged in the Red Sea, where they used to mine precious chrysolites in ancient times ( B.F.Kulikov et all, 1988, p. 44).  However, the name of the island is most likely borrowed from another language.  Both zabargat in Persian and zebirget in Arabic mean “peridot”. 
     According to W.Pape (1908) the word smaragdos does not necessarily means emerald. 
It may also denote a light beryl, light green transparent fluorspar and any kind of green crystal as well as a free-pouring green liquid glass (Glasflusse) used to produce artificial stones.   Pliny the Elder described twelve types of smaragdum 
      The conclusion: the word bareqet derives from the root baraq (both are Hebrew words).  The information about its etymological connection with the Akkadian barraqtu and Egyptian brgt is correct in terms of the impact of the word bareqet on the origin of these words.   
      We could not establish any etymological connection to Sanskrit but it would be unfair not to mention the fact that one of many translations of the adjective “shining” into Sanskrit is bhrAja (bhrAjat).  If we add a preface su (which in Sanskrit carries the meaning “good, fair, very”), we will get new words: subhrAj and subhrAja meaning “shining brightly” and all this together means “shine, glitter, bright, light, transparent”.
      In Persian and Arabic there is another word zabarjat meaning “peridot”.  Peridot in Indonesian is batu zabarjat
Given that this stone has all the above characteristics, it is safe to assume that the name was taken from Sanskrit and later transformed into zeberget creating an illusion that this refers to the bareqet stone, i.e. peridot, olivine, chrysolite.
     
Bibliography.

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