Scriptural Semitic Homophones
Hebrew, Amharic, Ge'ez
The importance of studying the original biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek are that as the cliche goes, substantive matters are lost in translation. Nuance and context that hold meaning are lost. Translation is both paradoxically treachery and love. It is an act of treachery when you translate unfaithfully and with no hinting at or attributing the source. It is an act of love when you translate to paint a picture in the eye of the heart of your hearer.
In The Noahic Covenant Fr. Paul Nadim Tarazi invites his hearers to notice that in the Biblical Hebrew of the Hebrew Bible the word banally translated into the American Language as rainbow in Genesis chapter nine is the same word that is banally translated into the American Language as bow in Genesis chapter twenty-seven. When I heard this, I made an immediate connection to the Amharic vocabulary which I knew well, and passages which I had heard at least once before. Then, I checked the Ge’ez, which the Amharic writ large but especially Biblical Amharic is oft clothed in.
The same connection that exists in Hebrew, also exists in Ge’ez and Amharic. This should be no surprise. The Syriac and the Ge’ez biblical exegetes are not known for inviting the counsel of Platonic spooks to whisper to them what is good and what is evil. They were and are instead aided and abetted by their Semitic hearts. The heart, of course, to a Semite, especially an ancient Semite, is not the hall of feelings nor is it the subject matter of Hallmark cards set for sale on St. Valentine’s Day. The heart is the place of inner thoughts. The esteemed traditions of Ephrem the Syrian and Yaréd the Aksumite, stood parallel to the inception of Hebrew & Aramaic Targum; “the living tradition of oral translation and exposition” of Scripture.
Examine Genesis in assorted tongues.
Hebrew Brashyt 9:13
אֶת קַשְׁתִּי נָתַתִּי בֶּֽעָנָן וְהָֽיְתָה לְאוֹת בְּרִית בֵּינִי וּבֵין הָאָֽרֶץ
ét qeshteey nateteey beanan wehaytah lewt (lot) bereeyt béyneey ubéyn haaréts
Hebrew Brashyt 27:3
וְעַתָּה שָׂא נָא כֵלֶיךָ תֶּלְיְךָ וְקַשְׁתֶּךָ וְצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה וְצוּדָה לִּי
weetah so nai kéléyka téleyka weqeshtéka wetséi hasadéh wetsudah leey
Ge’ez Genesis 9:13
ለትውልድ ዘለዓለም ቀስትየ እሠይም በደመና ወትከውን ተአምረ ለኪዳንየ
letwld zelealem qestye isheym bedemena wetikewin teamire lekeedanye…
Ge’ez Genesis 27:3
ወይእዜኒ ንሣእ ንዋየ ሐቅልከ ወምጕንጳከ ወቀስተከ ወፃእ ሐቅለ ወነዐው
weyizénee nsai nwaye haqlke wemgwunppake weqesteke wetsai haqle weneaw
Amharic Genesis 9:13
ቀስቴን በደመና አድርጌአለኹ ፥ የቃል ኪዳኑም ምልክት በእኔና በምድር መካከል ይኾናል ።
qestén bedemena adrgéalekhu yeqal keedanum mlkt beiné ina bemdr mekakel yikhonal
Amharic Genesis 27:3
አሁንም መድኃኛኽን የፍላጻኽን አፎትና ቀስትኽን ውሰድ፥ ወደ ምድረ በዳም ውጣ
ahunim medhañakhn yeflatsakhn afot ina qestikhn wised wede mdre bedam wiTa
NKJV Genesis 9:13
I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.
NKJV Genesis 27:3
Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me.
In English, postfacto, you can see bow in rainbow but would not normally see a connection between these two words. In the Semitic tongues of Hebrew, Ge’ez, and Amharic as they are written to preserve the biblical literature, a connection is plain. No leap and bound is necessary. The same word is used within the same tongue, and the same consonantal root across the tongues.
In Amharic vernacular and popular music, rainbow is often the compound word qestedemena or bow of the cloud. You can see that this idiom is inherited from Scripture, as it is quoted above. In Amharic, qest means arrow, bow, and bow-and-arrow. It is as if they are inseparable. The one functions with the other, and vice-versa.
The Care Bears deceived a generation into thinking that rainbows are playful rays of light shot out of the bellies of bears. Another generation associates the rainbow with playful LGBTQAI+ culture. The God of Scripture is not being playful with his bow. His covenant is a very serious matter. He puts his might and power behind it. Already in Psalm 7 the bow of God is a sign of judgment.
The Ephesus School Network. Tarazi Tuesdays. The Noahic Covenant. December 2, 2019 A.D.