The Victoria Institute
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DISCUSSION ON BIBLICAL PROPER NAMES
By The CHAIRMAN (the Master of the Charterhouse)
(Journal of 1881-82 -- pages 152 to 168)
We observe, too, that these names are connected with the higher attributes and moral virtues we are accustomed to admire. This is the more striking, because sometimes it has been supposed that all these names were simply derived from the heathen gods; but in this paper it is shown that in some cases the names of the heathen gods and goddesses were derived from the attributes which the gods themselves possessed. This makes us think of the origin of pantheism. Probably the first idea of a god was derived from some great truths connected with, and symbolised by, the heavenly bodies. It is not simply that persons looking at those bodies, regarded them as very striking objects, and therefore proceeded to worship them; but, as the investigation goes on, we discover that the myths or legends that have been connected with the heavenly bodies are associated with something symbolical and deep in reference to the motions of the earth and to the stellar system, and also with the moral attributes and physical virtues and strength of human kind. • In this way we may go back to the fact that the first notions of religion which God was pleased to give to man were more pure and more widely separated from the worship of many gods which afterwards took possession of the world. We thus are able to see how religion was gradually perverted into the worship of a number of gods, supposed to exercise powers and attributes which, after all, belong only to the one Supreme Governor of the earth. This is what Scripture represents with regard to the origin of polytheism, and the very names that are thus shown to be connected with the attributes of the divine power, seem, to confirm what we learn from the Biblical source. We know very well, as the author of the paper has mentioned, that at one time, at a later stage of pantheism, it was the custom to worship the moral virtues, such as were symbolised in the well-known Temple of Concord, and in the other temples and altars which we find in the later periods of Roman idolatry erected to Pietas and Fides, and so forth-- the moral attributes in that later stage being personified and made into deities. This is an illustration of the same kind of process; and, as the author of the paper remarked, there are one or two traces of this in remote antiquity, which shows that the attributes of virtue and strength were by the pagans identified with separate beings by whom they were supposed to be personified-- those beings being constituted into distinct divinities, representing what really from the first were revealed as the attributes of the one true God. (Hear, hear.) These few thoughts have occurred to me in considering this paper; but it is one that is so fruitful of subjects for reflection, that I am sure those who have heard it read must have had many other thoughts suggested to them, and it is now open to any one wishing to do so, to express his opinions upon any of the points that have been touched on.
Mr. W. Griffith.-- The learned lecturer has traced many of the words he has mentioned to an Egyptian origin. He referred to the word "Asir," and connected it with "Osiris," another form of the Hebrew ----, the enricher. The readers of our great epic poet may remember the lines :--
"Nor did Israel 'scape
The infection, when their borrow'd gold composed The calf in Oreb; and the rebel king Doubled that sin in Bethel and in Dan."-- Milton, b. i.
The calf, Apis, was the emblem of, or sacred to (Diodorus, and Strabo, b. xvii.), Osiris, and Egyptian worship was repeated in aftertimes in Jewish history. Another etymology quoted by the learned lecturer was that of "Bath-Sheba." Here I differ from him and agree with Mr. Girdlestone that the word "Sheba" is derived from "Sheba," an oath, rather than from the words "Sbat" and "Seb," and for this reason we find "Beer-Sheba," the well of the oath-- the well at which Abraham entered into covenant with some of the surrounding tribes. If, then, we have "Sheba," signifying oath, and "Beer-Sheba" meaning the well of the oath, it seems that we have ground to say that "Sheba" in "Bath-Sheba" would also be of the same origin. Another interesting word that has been cited is the word "Sekhem," which means "possession." Being a barrister, I have been struck with the appropriateness to time and place of the juristical ideas which occur in the Book of Genesis. There is no doubt that that history does to a legal mind recall the period of what we may call the law of Nature when possession seems to have been, to use a homely phrase, nine parts of the law-- before society was definitely formed and stable. And so we find that when the different wells were built the different tribes took possession and thus came to have property in them. The well "Beerlahairoi," concisely tells the history of Hagar's desertion by her husband (Gen. xvi. 14). The wells "Esek, Sitnah, Rehoboth," show the non-contentious disposition of Isaac (Gen. xxvi. 17-23). Sir William Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the Law, shows what primitive legal ideas prevailed in those ancient times.
There are numerous words from the Egyptian which seem to have left traces in
the Hebrew Scriptures. I would call attention to the Egyptian name of Joseph,
"Zaphenath-paaneah," which, in Egyptian, signifies the "Saviour of the
World." But to pass on from the Egyptian times we should expect that, as
history progresses, the names would correspond to the periods coincident
in surrounding nations. In Numbers we find the name of Pethor, from ----
to expound; it seems to be reproduced in "Patrae" of Achaia, and "Patara"
of Lycia, and as an epithet of Apollo, the god of oracles, in Horace,
III. iv. 64. Some of the most striking coincidences are furnished by
the Phoenicians, who constituted undoubtedly one of the most commercial
races of ancient times. From Carthage they spread their commerce all over
Europe, and we ought to expect to find some traces of the Hebrew language
being carried by the Phoenicians to the different countries with which
they traded. We have the celebrated name of the god Moloch held up to detestation
by a poet greater than Homer or Virgil :--
"Moloch, horrid king, besmear'd with bloodOf human sacrifice and parents' tears ;Though, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud,Their children's cries unheard, that pass'd through fireTo this grim idol."
Come Astoreth, whom the Phoenicians call'd Aatarte, queen of heaven, with crescent horns.'
Whether it is possible to connect Astarte with Eostre, the idol of the ancient Germans, from which Easter, the festival, is said to be derived, is a problematical question; but I think there can be little doubt that the Astarte of the Carthaginians was connected with the Ashtoreth of the Scriptures. Passing on to a later period of history we ought to find many traces of these Hebrew names in the history of Babylon and Assyria, The word Babylon itself connects us with very early times if we look for its derivation. Of course two derivations are given-- one is "confusion," and the other makes it the gate of the god Ilu ; but, whichever is adopted, it certainly connects the histories together. In Jeremiah, 1. 2, the Prophet plays with the names Bel and Merodach :-- "Bel is confounded; Mero-dach is broken in pieces." In the Book of Ezra a number of Persian proper names, expressed in Hebrew characters, are found sufficient to enable the philologist to compose comparative alphabets of the two languages. I have but culled a few proper names from a few of the books of the Old Testament. But the fortuitous coincidences which may thus be shown between the statements of the sacred historians and other histories corroborate the truth of both. It is to be wished that some writer would take as a model Paley's Horae Pauline, and compose a similar work upon the Old Testament. Broad, obvious, and explicit agreements would prove little; but a plurality of examples would convince the incredulous, and the minuteness, circuity, or obliqueness of the undesigned coincidences would establish the genuineness of the writings and the authenticity of the narratives.
Mr. Hormuzd Rassam.-- I feel that I am labouring under a disadvantage after the learned lecture we have just listened to, and, therefore, anything I may say will necessarily be of a superficial character. In the few remarks I wish to offer I will endeavour to connect the past with the present usages in the laud of the Bible, because, knowing as I do from my travels and the discoveries I have made, I think every one, either in this or any other country, will be able to comprehend more forcibly the truth of the Bible by merely riding through the country and examining the languages of the different races, and seeing the marvellous connexion which still links them with each other. With reference to the question of Biblical names, we ought to remember that, with very few exceptions, all the Semitic languages, such as the Hebrew, the Chaldean, and the Arabic, contain words which have a meaning; and it is very remarkable that, if you begin with Genesis and end at the old dispensation, we shall find that every name has a connexion with an attribute of a God, whether it is connected with idolatry or the worship of Jehovah. It is the same way in the present day amongst the different nationalities referred to. We must take into account the three distinct sects which exist in the East, and which have occupied a conspicuous position in regard to the inspired Book. I allude to the Jews, the Christians, and the Mohammedans.
Amongst these nationalities we find that in most cases every person is named according to the tenet of his sect. Amongst the Christians, men and women are named after their saints; the Jews take their names from the Pentateuch or the Prophets, such as Isaac, Moses, Daniel, and other holy men; and the Mohammedans are named after their Prophet and saints, and also after some attribute of God, of which there are no less than a hundred. In the case of the latter, for instance, we have Abd-Alhameed, the name of the present Sultan of Turkey, which means "the slave of the Praiseworthy"; and the name of his late father was "Abd-Almajeed," or "slave of the Glorious one," while the name of his uncle, the late murdered Sultan, "Abd-Alazees," means "the slave of the Precious one." Whether we go to the centre of Africa, Central Asia, or the Arabian or African Sahara, we shall find amongst the Moslem races names such as these I have mentioned; but the Bedouin Arabs are sometimes called after animals, the heavenly host, or take other fancy names. There is also the name of "Mariami," which the learned lecturer mentioned, which means "my Mary," and is even now in common use, and appreciated by the females. With regard to the different definitions given to the name of Abraham, I need not remind you that the Bible has been very often assailed, especially in these latter days, and many excellent Christians have unwittingly (without reflecting whether such interpretation is confirmed or sanctioned by Holy Writ) preferred the explanations of the so-called scientific and learned men of the world for the meaning of Biblical names and mysteries, against what we are plainly shown in the Bible.
As far as I am concerned, I have always found the Word of God, after no end of assaults, to shine forth with greater brilliancy and truth, and exhibit to us the right understanding after all. It will be found, whatever scientific and literary men say to the contrary, that Abraham means the exalted father, as "Ab" means in the Hebrew and other Semitic languages, father; and "ram" high or exalted, which word is in Arabic an attribute of God. Then again as to the word of Beersheba or Bethsheba, I would prefer the Word of God before any other saying or writing. We have been told that "Sheba" means seven, and so it is, but the Bible tells us that it means "oath," and such I must take it, especially as it is understood in this sense in Hebrew. We now come to the word "Babel," which has always been understood by Christians, Jews, and Moslems, as derived from the word "confusion"; and the Bible tells us plainly that this is the meaning of it, but nowadays we are made to believe that the real meaning of it is the "gate of God," derived from "bab," gate, and "El," God, because, forsooth, these words have been discovered in some cuneiform inscription; and even the late Dean Stanley followed that anti-Biblical belief, by quoting this error in his History of the Jewish Church. Well, I ask you, gentlemen, would it be right to take that interpretation before the Word of God, seeing that if you go amongst the Arabs, who know nothing about the Bible, and ask them what "Babel" means, they will tell you that God had confused the tongue of the people of old, and that was the reason the monument of the first unbelief was called "Babel"? It is very remarkable that in the time of Nebuchadnezzar the Jewish names of Daniel.
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were changed into Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,-- which custom prevails up to the present day amongst the different communities which inhabit that country. If a Christian becomes a Mohammedan, his name has to be changed, even if he is called Georgis (George), which is regarded as that of a saint, both by Mohammedans and Christians; and so if I became a Moslem my name would be changed, though I bore a name acceptable to Mohammedans. So with regard to the conversion from Islamism to Christianity, though the person's name would be Abd-Allah, Abd-Alkareem, or Abd-Arraheem, all of which are attributes of God, with the "Abd" (slave) added to them, they would be changed to the name of a saint. Moses is considered by the Moslems next to Christ and Mohammed, and they call him "Kaleem Allah" (speaker with God,) yet if a Jew is named after him and turns a Moslem, Moses would be changed to Mohammed, Ali, or some other name implying a connexion with them. To show you how cautious a man must be in giving an opinion about the derivation of some words as they were used two or three thousand years ago, I will give you some illustration of some extraordinary coincidences that have come to my knowledge in the meaning of words. Of course, people must live some years in the country to know what many of these words mean. We have the word "telegraph" in Mesopotamia, as the telegraph system has been introduced into that country as well as in some other parts of the East. If you go, therefore, amongst the Arabs of that country and ask them what "telegraph" means, they will tell you that it means' "to know by wire," because it happens that in their Arabic "tel" means wire, and "araf" to know or expound.
The meaning of "telegraph," therefore, amongst these people is "to know by wire," or to obtain "knowledge by wire." So if Europe were to be destroyed and Arabic would be the only language extant, an Arab scholar might just as well give it as his opinion that the word "telegraph" was derived from the Arabic words "tel" and "araf"! I must also relate to you a very serious mistake which was made by a friend when we were guests of an Arab chief by not being able to pronounce the guttural kkaf or k properly. The chief had killed a sheep for us, of which a sort of stew was made, in which the head, the trotters, the liver, the heart, and other parts of the animal were mixed up together. It is considered polite amongst the Arabs, when a party is seated together, for one to offer the other the nicest thing in the dish; and so my friend, for civility's sake, picked out a bit of the heart and asked the chief if he would take a piece of that "kalib." Now, in Arabic the words "heart" and "dog" have the same pronunciation, with only this difference, namely, that the first letter of the word, k, must be pronounced more guttural in the word which means heart; and any one who cannot make the proper sound would be certain to say kalib instead of khalib; that is to say, dog instead of heart. You can well fancy, then, how disgusted our Arab friend was in having been asked to partake of a bit of a dog! But I soon set the matter right by explaining to the pious Moslem the unintentional mistake. Mr. Tomkins has alluded to the discoveries I have been enabled to make amongst the ruined cities of the East.
I am sorry I cannot, for the present, say much about what I have recently been doing, or I should have given you here, before this, an account of my discoveries. Indeed, with one exception, I have not much to tell you beyond what I stated in my lecture two years ago. I will, however, offer you a brief statement of what I have lately discovered. In the beginning of last year, while I was going about seeking for old ruins, as you know I am always doing, for the purpose of discovering something more of the old cities that lie buried there, I met an Arab who told me that he knew of an old ruined city, the remains of which were to be found within four hours' journey of Bagdad,-- that is to say, about twelve miles, taking the computation at three miles an hour. As I never refuse to act on any information likely to prove useful, I said I would go with him to the place indicated. I therefore accompanied him, and while we were riding along the route pointed out by my companion we came, at a distance of five hours from Bagdad, upon an old ruin of a great magnitude, which I had not seen before; so large was it that it must have been, indeed, three miles round. I at first thought that that was the place of which he had spoken, so I said to him, "Oh! this is the place." He replied, " No; this is not the place I told you of; it is further on." I then asked, "What is this place?" He answered, "I do not know." However, I made up my mind that I would certainly explore it when I returned from the other pursuit. We then proceeded onwards, and at length the Arab brought me to the site, which had a most wonderful ancient Babylonian wall. I at once set to work there, but found nothing of any value, and soon afterwards went back to the place I had first seen, and commenced a thorough search. The result was that after digging for four days the workmen came upon the top of some walls, which were found to belong to an extensive ancient building, in which we soon began to find inscribed objects and other relics. I may here remark that I am not an Assyrian scholar. I am only a discoverer of Assyrian antiquities, which I send to the British Museum to be deciphered by those who have made Assyriology a study. We first of all discovered four rooms, and then we came upon a fifth. The first four rooms were paved in what I should call the Assyrian or Babylonian style, i.e., with bricks or stone, but the fifth was paved with asphalte, the discovery of which brought to my mind the saying of Solomon that "there is nothing new under the sun." As this seemed to me a very singular discovery, I ordered the breaking up of the floor, and after we had dug about three feet into it we were rewarded by the discovery of an inscribed terra cotta coffer, with a lid over the mouth; and on taking off the cover we found therein two terra cotta inscribed cylinders and a stone tablet, minutely inscribed, with a bas-relief on one side of it.
These relics have been found to be the most important records of the oldest city in the world, known to the Greeks by the name of Sippara, and mentioned in the Bible as "Sepharvaim" (2 Kings, viii. 17, and xviii. 34, &c.). The ancient historians tell us that this city was founded by Noah (who is called Xisuthrus) after the Deluge; and according to tradition it was here that Noah buried the antediluvian records. (Applause.) Soon after I had discovered this new city, I had to come home; but I left some workmen under trustworthy overseers to continue the explorations at that place ; and I have been informed, since, that they have uncovered some more rooms, in one of which they found a channel built with bricks, inside which were buried nearly ten thousand tablets, some whole and some broken. These, I hope, will soon reach London. (Applause.) We cannot, of course, say, as yet, what they contain, but it is quite possible that they may be found to record something of even greater value than anything of the kind that has hitherto been discovered in the course of our researches. I shall be happy to give you further information concerning this very interesting discovery after I go oat and return again. I hope to be able to go out to Mesopotamia after another month, and then I trust I shall be able to make a still further advance upon what has already been brought to light. (Applause.)
Mr. W. Griffith.-- The mention of the word recalls a passage in the old Testament in which the decree of Cyrus for the restoration of the Jews was said to have been discovered in a coffer or earthen vessel (Achmetha) by Darius.
Mr. Rassam.-- Yes, in Ezra.
The Rev. H. G. Tomkins. -With regard to the words "Bath Sheba" and "Beer Sheba," I think Mr. Rassam has not apprehended my point. The word "Sheba" means "Seven," and the "oath" was celebrated by burning seven victims, or the cutting of a victim into seven parts; so that the word " seven " underlies the oath. My point was that Sheba was a numerical symbol of a god; but before it came to mean an oath it meant seven-- seven, being the numerical symbol of a god.
Rev. H. A. Stern, D.D.-- It affords me great satisfaction to follow Mr. Rassam. We have followed each other in many places, that were not very pleasant, but I am delighted to do so on the present occasion. Now, as regards the subject before us this evening, no one who reads the Bible carefully can doubt that many of the most distinguished names were bound up with important tribal distinctions, with certain localities, and with the worship of the true, and the worship of false gods. Thus the progenitor of the Jewish people is designated ''Abram the Hebrew." In Egypt, Joseph is continually called by that name. Now, the family of Abram at that early period could not have won a reputation that rendered their nationality familiar in a land considerably removed from Egypt. Ibri, from whence the word is derived, does not signify a Hebrew, but a stranger, a pilgrim, a foreigner, one who comes from a far country. This, to some extent, accounts for the condescending reception accorded to Joseph by Pharaoh, who was himself a Hyksos, or foreigner, one of the last of the Shepherd Kings. The mixed multitudes that came with the Jews out of Egypt are designated "ereb rab," which the Targum Onkelos correctly renders "nuchrain," strangers. In the interesting paper, to which we have just listened, reference is made to the name of Baal and Bosheth, and I was glad to hear Mr. Tomkins say that he took these names for two distinct deities. This the Bible plainly corroborates. It is only necessary to examine the passages, where Baal and Bosheth are mentioned, and the distinction is evident. Baal, like Bosheth, it is true, has in many passages in the Septuagint the feminine article; hence Biblical critics come to the conclusion that ---- and ----are one and the same deity. They overlook the well-known fact that the Greeks were fond of representing everything in the moral and religious life under that form. The statements in the Bible clearly indicate a notable distinction. I will only advert to one or two.
In Jeremiah, xi. 13, it is said: "For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah, and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to Bosheth. altars to burn incense to Baal." Again in Hosea, ix. 10, "They went to Baal Peor, and separated-- literally consecrated-- themselves to Bosheth." In Ezekiel there is an allusion to Bosheth under the name of Pi-beseth, Bubastis, mouth of the Bosheth. Bast and Bosheth involve merely the interchange of a dental letter, which, in the Hebrew, is of frequent occurrence. Now Bubastis was a goddess of the Egyptians, whom Herodotus compares with Diana. She was worshipped under the form of a cat, to which the prophet appropriately refers, when he declares "Bosheth hath devoured the labour of our fathers," &c., &c. There were festivals held in her honour, which correspond with those accorded to the Ashera or Ashtoreth, the Venus of Phoenician and Aramean mythology, whom, in every respect, she closely resembles. Thus the reference in the Bible to Bosheth, Besheth, or Bast of the Egyptians, indicates a far more corrupt and debasing worship than that offered to Baal (without any adjunct), the supreme divinity of the Phoenicians and Canaanites. Of course, there are other names mentioned in Mr. Tomkins' instructive paper, which deserve serious consideration, and I hope some members of the Victoria Institute will, on a future occasion, again take up the subject.
Rev. J. Fisher, D.D.-- I had marked two words which I wished to notice, but they have already been so fully referred to, that I hardly need go into that part of the subject. I may say, however, that one of them was "Abram." I do not think this name comes from "Ramu," but from "Ram," high, and that God changed it to mean "the father of a multitude." The paper, indeed, hints that it was perhaps changed because it was half-heathenish. God also changed the name of Jacob to Israel after the wrestling with the angel. With regard to Melchizedeck, I think, according to St. Paul, in the seventh chapter of Hebrews, the name does not come from Zedek, the Phoenician god, as St. Paul describes him as "King of Righteousness, priest of the most high God." Nor do I agree with Professor Smith as to the animal names. Mr. Smith gives a number of names, and says they are connected with Totem worship, his argument being that those who used them were Totem worshippers. I can hardly think he is right in this. We know that Jacob gave animal names to his sons on his death-bed-- Judah being designated a lion's whelp; Issachar a strong ass; Dan a serpent; Naphthali a hind; and Benjamin a wolf. This, however, has no connexion with Totem worship; and suppose, taking another view, the names common in our own country were to form subjects of comment three or four thousand years hence, any one adopting Professor Smith's argument would be inclined to say that such names as Bull and Bullock, Cow, Hart, Roe, Buck, Hind, Fox, Hare, Badger, Lion, Wolf, Bird, Cock, Hen, Duck, Drake, and so forth, indicated that those who bore them were Totem worshippers. I certainly cannot help thinking that Mr. Smith is wholly wrong in his argument.
Rev. J. W. Ayre.-- In the section of the paper referring to "Some other Egyptian Names," I observe the word "Hagar" is referred to as an Egyptian name. Now I have heard it suggested that as Hagar or Hadjar is the Arabic word for "stone," it was translated by Pliny as "petra," and the Romans, not understanding anything about Hagar, gave Arab el Hadjar the name of "Arabia Petreea," so that the name Petraea is really a witness to Hagar. There is a similar instance in the case of the Red Sea, or sea of Edom, where Edom, not being recognised as a proper name, was translated "Red"; and Esau, you may remember, was called Edom ("red") because of the incident of the red pottage he received for his birthright. There is also a somewhat similar instance in the case of the sea of Ashkenaz, which by the transposition of a letter became "Axeinos" (inhospitable), the Greeks giving it afterwards another name, Euxine, which, if this genealogy of the word be correct, stands as witness for Ashkenaz, the grandson of Japheth. I must leave it to the more learned to verify these suggested derivations.
Mr. Trelawney Saunders.-- I must apologise, and especially to the ladies, for rising at so late a period of the evening. However, I intend to pass rapidly over the notes which I have made during the meeting, and, as I have not come with any prepared discourse, I shall not detain you long. I observe a comparison between " 'Aujeh" and "Og, King of Bashan." Now " 'Aujeh" means "crooked," I wish to know whether the analogy to be drawn is that the King of Bashan was a crooked man, or hunchbacked? It may be added that the initial letter of both names is the guttural "ain," making their pronunciation "Gaujeh" and "Gaug." Is not the English word "gouge" equivalent?
I now come to the word "am," or "um," as a name of God. This name has exercised very considerable influence, and not only among the ancients. On page 7 of the paper it is said that the form Amon is purely Egyptian. I would here make the remark that the light acquired in recent years on these subjects has been obtained chiefly by turning to the east for interpretation. It is by the uncovering of buried records that so much light is now thrown upon these matters, it is by means of the long-lost riches that have been disinterred in Egypt and Assyria. Perhaps we may now go a step further east with equal, if not greater success, and in so doing we may even find existing among living men, the means of interpreting the remotest antiquity. I allude to Bactria and its surrounding highlands, especially the unsubdued and unknown recesses of Kafiristan. With reference to this word "am," I would particularly call attention to a well-known sentence that is understood, or, at all events, is used rather than understood, in the exercise of one of the most widely-extended religions of the world-- I allude to Buddhism. The Buddhist religion has a sentence somewhat equivalent to the famous Arabic sentence, which is a part of the ritual of every Mahommedan. The Buddhist sentence is "Om mani padmi hum." In this sentence the word "Am," or "Om," has been referred to the Deity; and therefore I should be slow to accept the assurance, even on the part of so learned a man as the lecturer, that the word is purely and wholly an Egyptian word.
The Rev. H. G. Tomkins.-- I beg pardon; I never gave such an assurance as that at all. I only traced the word "Amun" to Egypt, but I did not say how it came into Egypt. That is part of a very great question.
Mr. Trelawney Saunders.-- I look for the origin of the word further east. I am one of those who believe that the origin of the Egyptian language and religion is to be traced much further east than Egypt itself. The late Rev. Alex. Hislop, in The Two Babylons, has accumulated evidence of the Assyrian origin of the Egyptian rites. The Bible not only takes us to Babylon, but still further east. The first inhabitants of Babylonia, or Shinar, came from the east of that plain. If we go among the Hindus, and ask them whence they came, they do not tell us "from the east," but they say "from the north-west." One of the most interesting facts communicated to us in those instructive volumes, The Sacred Writings of the East, now being edited by Dr. Max Müller, has reference to the origin of the Chinese. The Chinese say they came from the west. Now, let us just for a moment lay down our bearings from these several points. There is the bearing eastward from the land of Shinar; the bearing north-westward from the land of Bramavarta; and the bearing westward from China. Where do these meet? They meet on the Pamir, the Roof of the World, among those mountains that overhang the ancient Ariana, and which I believe to be the original home of the Aryans. The ancient books of the Zoroastrians say that the people of Ariana "Viejo, or old Ariana, were driven away by the snow. When the population became too great in the valleys, and could not settle higher up because of the winter snow, they were obliged to emigrate.
Thus we are led back from Egypt to Assyria, and then to Bactria and the Pamir, or the Roof of the World, and Tibet, where we find "Am," the Invisible God, is still worshipped.
Passing to page 5, we are told that "Barzilla'i" is from "Barzil." This word stands for "iron" in Hebrew; but as "Bar" is a common word for son, and the other syllable is connected with a root signifying "to pour out," besides contributing to a word indicative of " violent heat," perhaps Barzil came to be applied to iron, because it is poured out with violent heat from a furnace. In the case of Barzillaï, who was one of David's friends, the word is supposed to be expressive of a hard or austere character when applied to a man; but, as applied to the Assyrian God, it seems to receive greater force from the suggested analysis.
My next reference is to "Báal Shalisha." The latter word is said to mean "three." Baal Shalisha is connected with another name, which has been extremely puzzling to me, and that is the "Land of Shalisha." I should be glad if the learned lecturer would only help me to understand why Baal has the attribute of trinity attached to him, or why that particular land should have been the land of the three, and what three. Perhaps we might then understand where the Land of Shalisha is, but up to this time we only know that it is one of the parts visited in the search of Saul for his father's asses.
My next reference is to the word " Maharaï," the name of one of David's valiant men. The Hindus have a ready translation for it. Its Hindu equivalent is "Maha-raj," also the identical word "Maha-Rai," both signifying a great king. Further, "Maharaï" may be traced through various other forms, as "Major," "Mayor," and "More," expressive of the comparative degree.
I now come to "Pi-nehas," only to say that there is another use for the word "nehas," which I cannot just at this moment recall.
The Rev. H. G. Tomkins.-- You do not mean "nâchâsh," the serpent, do you?
Mr. Trelawney Saunders.-- I am not sure about it. (My desire was to refer to the repeated use of "Nahash," or "Nachash," in connexion with the Ammonites, in the Bible, where the word means, besides a serpent, also an enchanter and a seer. But it is a different word from that which forms part of "Phinehas.") I would, however, in the presence of Mr. Rassam and Dr. Stern, put forward with great diffidence the suggestion I am about to make, that the word does not suggest the meaning of the "negro," as Brugsch has it, but its probable identification is with a term applied to princes in Abyssinia-- that of "negus." Thus "Pi-nehas" would mean "mouth of a prince." The accepted interpretation is "mouth of brass."
Here is another curious thing. I do not wish to make you laugh by any reference I may make, so I beg you will be serious. I allude to the word "hophni" ("hophni"), a pugilist. You all know that aleph, the first letter in the alphabet, may be pronounced in various ways. Well, then, I would ask why should not "khaf," which means a pugilist, be "khuf," and it is pure English, if you wish to say you mean to deal pugilistically with a man, to assert that you "cuff" him.
The Rev. H. G. Tomkins.-- I think it is probable. You know that kaph is the hand to smite with.
Mr. Trelawney Saunders. -- One of the previous speakers has alluded to the probable influence of Phoenician commerce in the distribution of these Oriental terms. I agree with him; and with reference to the word "Bosheth,"the meaning of which is "folly," is it not synonymous with the word we now so frequently use to express "folly,"-- the word "bosh"?
The Rev. H. G. Tomkins.-- I think that is quite right.
Mr. Trelawney Saunders.-- Then we have the word "Babel," which means "confusion." I quite agree with what Mr. Rassam said on that subject, in which I follow the leading of Holy Writ, though I also remember that "Babel" means not only confusion, but that "babbler," which is Johnsonian English, is still in use among us. Of course, I do not mean you to conclude from all this that we are part of the ten tribes, or anything of the sort. Well, then, there is an allusion to the "land of Naharina." This has always been regarded as Mesopotamia, between the Euphrates and the Tigris; but I believe it very seldom, if ever, occurs in that sense in the Bible. Whenever Mesopotamia is mentioned in the Bible, it is referred to the rivers of Damascus; but that is a very questionable point.
Then, again, we have a curious word in "Takhtim-Khodshi." "Takht" is a common word at the present day. On the borders of the Indus you have, looking down from the height of 12,000 feet, the Takht-i-Suleiman,-- the Throne of Solomon, which I take to mean the land of the high place.
Upon subsequent reference I find that the Hebrew has no connexion either with "thrones " or with "Kadesh." The latter is spelt with kaph, but "Khodshi" has cheth as its initial. The words appear to mean a "Reclaimed Lowland," and they are applicable to either of the plains on the borders of the Sea of Galilee. There is some reason to believe that neither of those plains existed at the destruction of Sodom, and their comparatively recent reclamation may have caused the descriptive name of Tahtim Kodshi to be attached to them in the time of Joab.
Then, again, there is an allusion made to the name "Cain." There is a Cain, a city of Judah, which I think is now pretty fairly identified. Upon reference, it appears that the Hebrew initial of Cain is koph and not caf. The city in Judah is spelt the same as the name of the fratricide. So also is that of the Kenite tribes. In that case the points vary in most passages, but not in all. The city of Kinah only differs in Hebrew in the final h, and the points.
With regard to the word "Totem," I take it to be something which we might compare to-day with patron-saints. It had very much the same sort of meaning and use,-- namely, the adoption of an animal as the emblem of the particular god to which the family should look.
At the end of the paper an allusion is made to what has been written by Professor Robertson Smith, to whom we should offer our best thanks for his learned works. I would also say, with reference to the Jews, that, if they have not shown a natural capacity for spiritual religion, they have, at any rate, displayed a great natural capacity in other respects. I would add, with regard to that race, that if we want to understand why they became the chosen people of God, we have only to look round at the present day and see what they have become amongst ourselves. When we remember that it was only as yesterday that one of those people was directing the destinies of this country, and when we find so many of this scattered race occupying positions of great influence and control in so many other countries of the world, I say that we have at this moment evidence of the superior capacity of the Jewish people, if they had chosen to use it in the light in which God had given it to them. But they have thrown God spiritually aside, and they have been thrown over by God themselves; but this has not been for any want of natural capacity, but rather through making too much use of their natural capacity, and forgetting their dependence on God.
Rev. H. G. Tomkins.-- My reply to what has been said must be chiefly by way of congratulation on having heard so much, since I sat down, from so many distinguished sources. I have only to defend myself against the imputation of falsifying what St. Paul says about Melchizedek. It is true that St. Paul speaks of Melchizedek as King of Righteousness and King of Peace, but not in the first instance, for it was notorious that Salem was the place of which he was King; and in a similar way St. Paul says he was King of Righteousness; but that does not falsify the primary use of the word "Zedek," and therefore it is not at all illogical for a Christian man to suppose that "Zedek," as a divine attribute, may have been compounded in the name of Melchizedek, just as Salem, which does mean peace in the abstract sense, was yet the name of a place, and was adopted by St. Paul in a secondary manner for his argument. No doubt there are many other points one might follow up with the greatest interest, such as "Aujeh" and "Og," which may have meant the crooked man; but I am not responsible for this. I can only add that what has been said has been extremely interesting.
The meeting was then adjourned.
Since writing my paper I had read the important papers of M. Maspero on some names in the lists of Thotmes and Shishak (Zeit., 1881, 119, et seqq.; 1860, 44 et seqq.), and had hailed with pleasure a more rigorous method of dealing with the question of identification of names than had yet been applied by Brugsch and Mariette. Some study of Parthey's list of Egyptian names from Greek sources had also led me to see the importance of checking transliterations where it is possible by Greek records. Honest students will gratefully welcome the kind pains bestowed by M. Maspero on my tentative and crude endeavours. Sooth to say, I was not quite convinced as to the native Egyptian origin of the fair queen Tii or Taïa on reading the learned Egyptologist's remarks in Recueil de Travaux, iii. 127, for is she not represented as blue-eyed?
To sum up briefly M. Maspero's criticisms on my paper, they are to this effect:--
Page 5. Sapi is probably the Larva-god represented as the mummified Osiris-Sapi, or Sopi (see references in my paper on "Joseph," Trans. Vict. Inst., vol. xv. 91).
Page 6. Hora must be struck out, as not derived from the Egyptian Horus (an oversight of mine), but the others remain.
Page 7. I will not epitomise the interesting note in which M. Maspero objects to the equivalence of Hophra with the Egyptian ----. It is worthy of careful study.
Si-aha seems to stand as the Egyptian "son of the Moon-god." I am much pleased to find M. Maspero of the same opinion as to Beth-ia. and gladly accept his correction as to the former elements in Kafenia or rather Gefenia, which if a Semitic name may mean "Vine of Jah" (see Gesen. on the use of ----.
M. Maspero objects with much reason to Brugsch's identification of Penuel, mentioned in p. 7. If the reader will revert to the text of my paper, he will be able to assure himself that these acute and learned criticisms do not affect more than a few of my tentative suggestions, and I am the more happy to find that the main line of my inquiry approves itself to so high an authority as "une bonne voie."