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Re: CHAT: Writing on the wall (was Re: Re: CHAT: pacifism(

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, December 21, 2003, 17:24
On Sunday, December 21, 2003, at 01:27 AM, John Cowan wrote:

> Ray Brown scripsit:
>> which is actually given in the KJV of verse 28. As for _Peres/ Phares_, >> I gather there is an Aramaic word _peres_ meaning 'divided'; but some >> have taken it as _paras_ (a weight of half a mna) and others have seen >> a connexion with _Paras_ (plural _Pharsin_) "Persians". > > Of course, a weight is also a monetary unit in the ancient world, and
Indeed, just as the Brit pound sterling was once a 12 ounces of silver (the old Roman pound weight being of 12 ounces).
> the _American Translation_ of 1931 by Cyrus Gordon et al. rendered the > phrase "You have been quartered, halved, and cent to perdition".
Neat :)
>> Hopefully, the Semiticists on the list can comment on the Aramaic. >> >> What we do have, of course, is Daniel's _interpretation_ of the writing. > > It's always been my impression that Nabu-kudurri-usur's wise men didn't > "understand it" not in the sense that the words were unintelligible, > but in the sense that the *sentence* was unintelligible. Similarly, > when Frodo says to Gandalf "I cannot read the fiery letters", he means > he can't understand the language, not that the letters themselves are > unrecognizable.
Yep - but verse 8 says they could neither _read_ the writing nor explain to the king what it meant. That seems to me to imply at least as great a difficulty as that felt by Frodo. ========================================================================= === On Sunday, December 21, 2003, at 08:50 AM, dansulani wrote:
> On 20 Dec, Ray Brown wrote: > > <snip> > >> Hopefully, the Semiticists on the list can comment on the Aramaic. > > I'm not really a Semiticist, but I'd like to add to the discussion > something of what Jewish tradition says on the subject. > In the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin, page 22), there is > a discussion presenting various opinions concerning the writing. > All seem to agree that the words were encoded in some way > (aleph written as tav, bet written as shin, etc; various > rearrangements of the letters; including writing in a matrix form; > some even opt for encoding _and_ matrix representation. > The debate concerned which code was employed.)
> In other words, before the king's wise-men could even > try to interpret the writing, they first had to decode it in order > to get the words contained in the message, something they couldn't do.
Yes, the passage does seem to me to suggest that there was a problem just reading the text before they could hope to attempt any interpretation. [snip]
> Also, the equivalent formula, in Hebrew, (albeit without "shekel") > can be found in the Mishna (admittedly codified much later than > the time of Daniel). In masechet Eduyot (chapt 3, mishna 3), > in a discussion of the weight of fleece to be given as an offering > to the priest, it states "mana mana ufras", meaning something > like " apportioned thus: a portion and half a portion".
That's very interesting - it's very similar to the Daniel passage.
> As I understand it, > the "mana" here referred to a standard weight of about 400 grams
I asume the same as the Greek 'mna'.
> and "pras" (word-initial [p], if following a vowel, [f] ) meant > "half of that"
...which is ne the meanings I suggested. Thanks - very interestin. Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760