CHAT: Writing on the wall (was Re: Re: CHAT: pacifism(
|Date:||Sunday, December 21, 2003, 8:46|
On 20 Dec, Ray Brown wrote:
> 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.
Rembrandt employed the tradition of "message on the wall
in matrix-form" in his well-known painting, "Belshazzar's Feast".
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". As I understand it,
the "mana" here referred to a standard weight of about 400 grams
and "pras" (word-initial [p], if following a vowel, [f] ) meant
"half of that" (in this case, half a mana or about 200 grams);
the total offering thus being "mana ufras" or about 600 grams.
likehsna rtem zuv tikuhnuh auag inuvuz vaka'a.
A word is an awesome thing.