The many Hebrew roots of the Greek language
— scroll down for our list of Greek words that are actually Hebrew —
🔼Life and evolution
The Greek language is a miracle, but it's not like Madagascar: it did not evolve from a few primordial seeds on an isolated island (called a language "basin"). Instead, the Greek language is much rather alike the United States of America: it formed from several separate waves of immigrants, mostly refugees, that had evolved elsewhere, but came to what would become the Greek language. As in America, the immigrants first wholly overwhelmed the natives and then formed a kind of linguistic melting pot: a pidgin, a creole.
Language is really quite like life. Nowadays, living things only come from other living things, but in some distant past, the very first living things must have somehow been birthed by inorganic dust (Genesis 2:7). All creatures that came to life after that first genesis, derived from those miraculous primordial ancestors who, like Adam and Melchizedek, had no mother of father themselves. Language likewise, began from a tiny cluster of proper words (now long gone, like our own first baby babbles) that had crystalized slowly over a small eternity, in the interactions and vocalizations of proto-humans.
If a modern human child is to learn language, she must do so before she is about ten, because when that window closes, so will her capacity to understand the idea of language (called syntax). And she will learn syntax first and words later only from exposure to other people talking. That means that the rudiments of speech most likely emerged among children, who imitated each other and so gravitated toward shared expressions, but who naturally unlearned their childlike generosity when they matured and began to compete with their peers rather than to cooperate. Imagine how many generations of gradual "cooling" it must have taken for the first sense of language to dawn in adult proto-humans, who had nobody but their children to teach them (Matthew 19:14). But when it finally stuck, it stuck for good.
It's generally imagined that humans began to distinguish from animals when their non-verbal choir singing began to be much more complex than any comparable collective activity anywhere in nature. Humans began to sing most probably in pursuit of entertainment and communal joy. Singing humans probably began to play with improvised melodies, returning themes and harmonies of multiple voices. Somewhere in there, it is thought, early humans must have gravitated toward collectively appreciated vocal expressions: some sound — BOO! BABA! BOO! HEY! AYA! HEY! — that was repeated in a choral context, but was exported out and used as some novelty at home. Neighbors possibly began to hurl the proto-word at each other by means of greeting, and the recipient smiled and nodded to indicate that she recognized the privately uttered word as the same one settled upon by the whole community at last night's communal singing.
Speech is a baffling miracle, and demonstrates (besides the crucial importance of playfulness) a level of multi-generational cooperation that is unique in the animal world. Speech allows humans to blend their minds and thoughts and consciousness into a single experiential reality, and become like a multi-cellular beast or vast beehive. Animals that have no speech can't begin to imagine what speech is. And if, by some miracle, they would be able to sense that humans have a magical way to share complex and highly detailed thoughts among each other, they would certainly equate it to telepathy. And that, literally, is what speech is: "reading" someone else's mind from a distance — initially shouting range, but with script from any distance or time.
Before a human child learns to speak, she has no way to understand, or reason to suspect, that the family dog is not "one of us". But when she begins to speak, she immediately understands that the dog doesn't, and can't, and in some poetic way she is "born again" into a whole new existence of living words: a world of shared complex thought where the dog cannot ever follow.
Today, new words only come from old ones, but all words ultimately derive from the First Words that crystalized like miracles from the void of formless cries.
🔼The broad plain of the earth
By the time the Greek language emerged, human languages had evolved from the verbal equivalents of slimy prokaryotic colonies to the lumbering beasts of modern savannahs: huge complex organisms, with characters and intelligence, with memories and desires. The world back then was like a huge natural ecosystem, in which a great many languages and dialects existed and interacted like buffalos, rabbits, lions, giraffes, apes, wolves, horses and what have you: creatures that are much more alike than they are different. Said otherwise: to a fish or a flower, a rabbit and a giraffe smell alike and breathe alike, they see alike and feed alike, they fear alike and flee alike. Giraffes and rabbits may have evolved as far apart as Celtic and Semitic, but they are as alike as brothers.
A good portion of Greek's vocabulary came from the Indo-European languages from which many of its immigrants came. A modest smattering of words survived from the displaced natives (not unlike American English terms like igloo, moose, hickory, squash, and so on). But a substantial amount of Greek terms were adopted through exposure to their trading partners, and those were mostly their Phoenician neighbors, some of whom had actually peopled the Greek isles before the Greeks joined: Semites, who spoke Hebrew, or at least a language very closely related to Biblical Hebrew.
And now that we mention Biblical Hebrew, the story of the building of the temple in Jerusalem is not so much about a physical building but rather the Hebrew language (see our article on YHWH for more on this). And to be wholly precise: with the word Hebrew, we mean the entire cluster of Semitic languages that were spoken by "all the sons of Eber". The word Hebrew is the same as Eberite, and Eber was an ancestor of Abraham, six generations removed (Genesis 10:21-25). In summary:
- Eve is the "mother of all life" (אמ כל־הי, 'am kal-hay), what today we refer to as the biosphere (Genesis 3:20).
- Noah is the mind of language-capable man, a small subset of Eve.
- Shem (the Semites) is a small subset of Noah. His descendants mostly covered the Middle East. Shem's brother Ham provided languages to Africa, and Javan provided languages to Europe.
- Eber (the Eberites or Hebrews) is a small subset of the Semites.
- Abraham is a small subset of Eber.
- Jacob (the Israelites) is a small subset of Abraham.
- Judah (the Jews) is a small subset of Israel.
Late in pre-literate antiquity, in each their own language basin, travelling bards would proclaim the works of Homer, Moses and David, and a major part of their function was to teach the people a common vocabulary, and the symbolic and mythological vernacular upon which ultimately a people's collective identity depends. So doing, they taught their audience complex thought and thus complex consciousness (we humans think in words: no words, no conscious thought). What later the King James would accomplish for modern English, the world's foundational texts did for their respective language basins: they literally terraformed the world, and functioned much the same way as the cave paintings of old: they were essentially and quite literally conversation pieces.
🔼The innate intelligence of languages
All that melting-pot business had some curious, albeit predictable consequences. In English we have the verb to compute (to calculate or establish by algorithmic analysis), which allows us to immediately understand what a computer is, namely a thing that computes: invented in ancient Babylon, perfected by the Greeks, made programable by Ada Lovelace in the 19th century, made electronic in the 1940s and now on everybody's desk. But nearly all the world's modern languages have adopted the noun computer but not the verb to compute. That means that in many languages, the word computer means: an electronic box to watch movies on, and do Facebook with. But crucially, the computer is not explained by that language at large, and the thing remains as much an orphan and a mystery as the word that describes it. In languages that don't have verbs like to compute, dispute and repute, or to compress, compact and complain, a computer will always remain a black box: a UFO from another world.
All languages have innate intelligence, because they store information in the way their words relate etymologically. The more natural relations exist between words, the more intelligent a language is (and the less words it needs). Words correspond to real things in the world, and speakers of (and thinkers in) a language whose words relate through vast etymological deltas (like Hebrew), automatically see their world also as the same interconnected delta. A language that largely consists of imported orphan words, never has enough of them and also has very little means to store information about relations between things. Such a language has a low innate intelligence.
A language that imports so much that it manages to separate itself entirely from its own consistent core will literally turn to dust (Genesis 18:32). Speakers of such a language will live in a world whose elements don't relate, and will not experience much sense in the dust-bowl that is their world. They can't think in metaphors and won't keep the Sabbath, but drag on day after day in a featureless abyss of endless existential mist (physics calls this a "heat death", which describes a situation in which elements have drifted apart so far that they have no more relationships and thus that nothing can be stored between them). Such people won't be able to sustain social cohesion, and will fall apart as a nation and at best drift into more successful language basins. Their old language will die out, and its useless legacy will be forgotten.
Scientists hope to one day be able to describe the whole of existence in a single Theory of Everything. They hope this because they "believe" (no proof exists yet) that the whole of reality is ultimately a so-called closed system, in which all parts are connected to all other parts but nothing else. This is why what goes up must come down, and why things like momentum and electrical charge and baryon number and such always stay the same and must always balance out. Long before science woke up to that, the Bible declared that within creation, a perfect and impartial and unbendable system of justice demands that all bills always ultimately get paid (Exodus 12:49, Psalm 19:7, Proverbs 24:23, Isaiah 53:5, Luke 20:21, Romans 2:11, James 1:25: "But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it...").
And that is because the fundamental nature of creation is oneness. And that is because the fundamental nature of creation reflects the fundamental nature of the Creator (Genesis 1:2, Psalm 42:7, Romans 1:20), whose nature, you guessed it, is Oneness (Deuteronomy 6:4, Romans 8:28, John 17:21-23, Ephesians 4:3-6, 2 Peter 1:4; also see Hebrews 1:3, Colossians 1:15-17, John 1:18).
Oneness caused everything to be. Oneness governs the goings on of all reality today, and decides what remains and what is rejected. And Oneness is what the whole of reality strives for, what all evolution naturally gravitates upon. Oneness is what seeded us, what guides us, and what calls us home again.
A single seed may be microscopically small, but as long as it contains one single but complete copy of its genome, it may populate an entire planet. Some other seed many be the size of a shipping container, but if the genome it contains is incomplete, it will never germinate and never be more than a rusty box.
God's nature cannot be recognized by a language that does not reflect the Harmonic Oneness Of All Things. People who speak and think in a language that has a low innate intelligence (that comprises much more dust than consistent native core), cannot see God or comprehend his nature. Such people may be made to obey some religious order, but their "faith" is in the assertions of their teachers and their "belief" is wholly devoid of actual knowledge, experience or comprehension.
🔼Hebrew and the Gospel of Jesus Christ
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a story. It's not a principle, or a formula, or a process. It's freedom (Galatians 5:1). Not an anarchistic freedom, but a governed freedom: a freedom-by-law, what the Greeks called ελευθερια (eleutheria), and considered the democratic ideal. It's the kind of freedom that comes from a mastery of the rules that make the universe function. It's the freedom that comes from comprehending One. It's like the freedom that a musician experiences when she has thoroughly mastered the rules of music, and can now soar high above her own conscious will, without ever running the risk of accidentally violating the principles of harmony, balance and flow.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the freedom to say (i.e. to name the elements of reality and react to these elements; see Genesis 2:19-20) whatever you want and whatever crosses your mind but (1) in a language whose every element is confirmed by all the others, and (2) in the hearing of an audience whose every member whole-heartedly confirms what you just said, and can't wait to hear more.
Hebrew is a circle with many centers, like the soul of a multi-cellular animal. Your own multi-cellular body has hundreds of different cell types and broad variations within the types (and tens of thousands of "aliens": bacteria, fungi, that reside within you). But every single cell in your body interprets the very same DNA that makes you who you are. Cells as diverse as contracting muscle cells, electricity conducting nerve cells, transparent eye cells and acid producing stomach cells all interpret the same DNA as honestly as they can and to the best of their abilities. And the trillions of fellow cells that make up the rest of your body, all recognize their own genetic constitution in every other smiling face (unless they are cancerous). Freedom due to the mastery of Harmonic Oneness is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. And that's also where the Hebrew language comes from: from the Harmonic Oneness Of All Things.
The Hebrew language itself derives from the perfect system of justice upon which the whole of reality runs. That makes it rigorous and predictable, almost like a machine language. It has 22 letters, but every letter has its own nature like an atom of consciousness. And every two letters together do too, like a kind of small molecule. But like codons in DNA, virtually all words that are native to Hebrew comprise three letters (not counting conjugations, plurals and pronominal suffixes and such), which means that there are 22 x 22 x 22 = 10,648 base-words possible in Hebrew, and those cover all the names of all the entities and phenomena that can be named in the whole of existence (the actual number of words in Hebrew is much less, actually, because there are quite a few combinations that are avoided, but that's not the point right now).
Hebrew has a bunch of words that consist of three different letters. But the majority of Hebrew words, however, fit somewhere in the following scheme:
A so-called twinned or geminate root consists of one letter plus twice a second letter — like a silver coin with two copper ones attached to it: for instance אממ ('amam) or ספף (sapap) or פלל (palal). And although there are some rules that exclude certain combinations, in general, from a geminate like פלל (palal) follow words like פל (pl), פלא (pl'), פלה (plh), פיל (pyl), פול (pwl), נפל (npl), and some others. It's like the פ and ל and ל are skeletal, and the י, the ה, and the ו are the soul that breathes life into the skeleton — and sure enough, these three letters add up to the name of God: יהו or YHW(H). These three are sometimes vowels and sometimes consonants, which gives eight different ways to pronounce the three (from IIEEAAUUOO to YAHOO to YA-HU-WEY-HU). This is why the Name can't be pronounced, and when you do it anyway, you deny the seven other truths that are contained within the Name and you might as well not have bothered.
Some of these derived forms are usually verbs, some are usually nouns and some can be both. But all present a variation of the parent verb that is predictable and consistent, and the whole of it represents a huge chunk of actual observable reality that can now be understood by the unifying oneness of its elements. This is why people who are called to study Hebrew, study Hebrew every single moment of their existence (Deuteronomy 6:5, Psalm 119:97, Zechariah 8:23, 1 Thessalonians 5:17). But they don't merely study the language, they study the Oneness of All Things, and the Hebrew language is just the path to it (John 14:6, Isaiah 19:23, Acts 9:2).
And that's it. That's the basic set of building blocks with which you can name the entire world and universe and everything in it, plus their relation to all the other things. Any other system that deviates from this Hebrew one is less efficient, and will need more words and bigger ones to end up saying less and less.
🔼Dissolving floors of memory
Asian languages organize their words for numbers slightly more efficient than Western languages do — their words for numbers are very short and they don't have words like twelve or eleven, that hide the fact that they are ten-plus-two and ten-plus-one. That makes it easier to juggle numbers in those languages. And that is why (on average and in general) young Asian children are slightly better with numbers than Western kids. The difference goes away when these kids learn to depend on number notation, but by then, preferences have been established, and this is why math-related professions are peopled slightly more by speakers of Asian languages than Western ones.
Entirely likewise, the Hebrew language emphasizes the oneness of all things, which is why kids who grow up speaking and thinking in Hebrew are slightly better at comprehending closed systems. That makes them slightly better at science, governance, wealth management, philosophy, composition and thus art, storytelling and movie making. And this is why nearly half of the Nobel Prizes go to people who in their formative years were exposed to Hebrew culture and thought.
English, Dutch and German are closely related languages, and roughly of equal intelligence, although English is very Latin and Dutch is very Greco-Hebraic (thanks to Erasmus and the great many Jews that landed in Holland in the Spinoza years, when Dutch was standardizing), and German is, well, very German. Yet the innate worldview of these languages, and thus their most intimate character (and thus the basic character of those who speak and think in them), is not the same at all.
In English, the verb to starve means to die specifically of hunger, but the same verb native to Dutch (sterven) means to die in any which way (of old age, of thirst, of grief). In Dutch the word for sea is zee, but in German the word See means lake. The Dutch word for lake is meer, but in German the word Meer means sea. A German Winkel is an angle or corner, but a Dutch winkel is a shop (which, indeed, would often be on a corner). An English angle is a hook, a Dutch angel is the sharp end of a wasp. In English, an angel is a divine messenger and associated with broad wings and comforting words, whereas in Dutch an engel (means angel) sounds like eng, which means narrow or scarry (an engert is a scary freak).
All this suggests that if you choose your words carefully, you can say something that sounds like perfectly comprehensible Dutch, perfectly comprehensible German and perfectly comprehensible English at the same time (albeit perhaps with a funny accent and poor grammar), but which has a completely different meaning in each of these languages. Something like this is described in Acts 2:5-11, where it's suggested that deep within related languages there beats an identical ancestorial heart, and if you can cut through the fluff and verbal orphans, you can speak in all of them simultaneously.
This effect allows any gifted polyglot to store information in a text, subliminally in some second language. It may even be that certain obviously synthetic languages (Greek, but clearly also later Church Slavonic), are in fact deliberately designed to scramble the elements of a parent language, like a deck of cards, whose original reality can be easily pieced back together again by anyone who knows the rules of the game.
So where was the Ark of the Covenant buried, now?
🔼SOTP! Stay CLAM and HODL!
In English we have the verb to stop, and hence we natively understand the imperative command: stop! And so, the red STOP-signs that grace our streets are part of our language at large, and we understand what they mean in the context of the common verb to stop. But that same STOP-sign appears in countries whose languages don't also have the English verb to stop. There, the word STOP does not mean anything outside the very narrow context of a crossroad. There the word STOP does not mean "stop" but rather: "keep going, honk your horn, and get ready to make obscene hand-gestures!" In those languages, if you want someone to honk their horn, you yell: STOP!
And who doesn't remember the hilarious photo of that road worker, who had blazoned SOTP in dripping white letters across the road? To him, the terms STOP and SOTP were equally abstract, and SOTP may actually have resembled something that could have evolved naturally within his own language (say, if the element -TP was as common in his language as ST- is in English), which made his creative brain prefer SOTP over STOP. Such transposition of letters is remarkably common in languages that import many of their words from other languages, and adopt them as orphans, without their natural etymological parents or siblings. Take for instance the verb κτιζω (ktizo), to create. It stems from the PIE root "tkey-", to beget, but had its original "tk-" swapped into "kt-", perhaps even in big dripping letters on some temple wall somewhere.
On rare occasions, such bastardized words are imported back into their original language. Take the familiar verb HODL for instance. That miraculous verb came from the common English verb to hold (in the sense of to hold on), got misspelled by someone, and is now a highly specialized verb that describes one's sustained support for an emerging market (specifically blockchain), even when that fledgling market goes through a temporary phase of contraction. A "hodler" is not a commercial trader but a principled believer: someone who suffers loss of capital wealth rather than suspend participation.
🔼A flood, an Ark, and animals lining up
In roughly 1200 BC, the Bronze Age collapsed, and that resulted in a global flood of refugees — the Egyptians spoke of Sea Peoples (actually, we moderns call them Sea Peoples; the ancients gave them more specific names that came from their words for "sea" or "coast" or "island"). Modern commentators often assume that these references to the sea emerged because these peoples came via the sea. But some came by land, and rather more likely is that these people were named after the waves of societal chaos they embodied, and the societies they flooded. At least in the Hebrew Bible, the term "dry land" may also denote a centralized nation, whereas advancing seas and floods may denote the collapse thereof (Nahum 2:6, Matthew 7:24-27).
Up to the Bronze Age collapse, the world had consisted of massive palatial estates, in which an illiterate elite dominated a vast workforce that also included literate administrators who kept track of the global trades their masters were involved in. After the collapse, the estates had succumbed and the literate administrators had become dominant. The mass-dominated era had ended and the age of light commenced.
When the Bronze Age world collapsed, all its human languages were mature animals that all played their part, and were all pretty much equally dominant and smart and conscious. That changed when a particular but otherwise unremarkable language began to do a whole new thing. In our animal-metaphor, this language was not as strong as an ox, or as fast as a horse, or as ferocious as a lion. It was by no means a winner. It had no stately stature, and was not majestic in any way. It caught nobody's eye, was not in any way attractive, but rather despised and chased off by anything bigger and stronger, even by its own kind of which it was the silly runt.
But this unremarkable language began to invent the tools of social complexity, and over time the naked-apes-of-language created a whole new sort of melting pot: a very early farm, where apes and dogs and sheep and cows began to live in a kind of super-natural harmony that really only the apes understood and knew how to bring about and maintain. Apes instructed the dogs using simple commands, and the dogs controlled the herds by driving them, so that ultimately the herds were doing what the apes wanted done. The herds became a social manifestation of the will of the apes: like a painting of an artificial picture using natural paints.
Before there was writing, the Hebrew language(s), and African and Indo-European languages were all pretty much the same, and as closely related as all large animals are. Human societies were all largely similar: pastoral, agricultural and proto-urban, with partly overlapping specializations into priestly, military and royal social substrates. Their small vocabularies sufficed their purpose. They stored some history in their oral legacies. And they had all evolved in their own natural niches and borrowed and traded somewhat from their neighbors, but most of what they needed was available in their own environments, so much need for trade wasn't there. But then the Phoenicians and Israelites together developed and completed the alphabet. And that changed the world.
The alphabet was the tool that allowed the Hebrews to domesticate the languages around them. And like dogs and cattle at the beginning of the agricultural revolution, these language basins showed up eagerly, to learn the alphabet and become a human animal. Greek became to Hebrew what dog became to man: the first domesticated language and a best friend to boot (see our article on κυων, kuon, dog). Greek was first to adopt (and adapt) the Hebrew alphabet, and along with the alphabet, Greek absorbed a generous slew of terms that would help them jump start the later so famous Greek wisdom tradition that in turn would drive the Indo-European herds for many centuries to come. Directly after the formation of Greek literacy, Latin literacy followed (see our article on Aeneas).
|Vocabulary of a wild dog:||woof, arf, yelp, yip, growl, grunt|
|Vocabulary of a domesticated dog:||woof, arf, yelp, yip, sit!, fetch!|
|Vocabulary of a pre-literate Greek:||Greek-word, Greek-word, Greek-word, Greek-word, Greek-word, Greek-word|
|Vocabulary of a literate Greek:||Greek-word, Greek-word, Greek-word, Greek-word, Hebrew-word, Hebrew-word|
🔼Why reading is as crucial as breathing
Animals like cows and sheep, that live in vast herds on vast ranches, rarely actually see a dog or a human, and when they do, they see them as rather strange looking sheep rather than completely other beings, let alone as the beings that once created and still maintain the world the sheep call their own. That's because sheep simply lack the leverage to think outside the sheep-box. Sheep don't realize they're in one. Apes think outside the ape-box, but wooly sheep don't even understand that they did not evolve naturally, but are in fact artificial creations that would not have evolved in the wild and subsequently could not survive in the wild.
Most modern Indo-European languages are herd-animals, which still remain governed from afar by their Semitic shepherds (but not by some silly cabal). In quantum mechanics there's a rule that says: whatever can happen, must happen. In language there's a similar rule: whatever can be named, must be named. And since a word is only a word when it's confirmed by two or more speakers (or else it's not a word, just a private harrumph), all narrated reality is always a confirmed reality. Just like DNA is a natural blockchain that stores a record of every living thing that's ever lived, so language stores a record of every word that was ever a word (and thus a confirmed expression). All that exists in narrated reality today, but is not confirmed by anything that was real in the ancestorial past, will lose support until it's rejected from narration, loses consistency and reverts back to the void of empty cries it came from. There has ever only been one reality.
Should the Hebrew core of modern language ever be compromised, these modern languages would very quicky vanish from the earth (and read our article on the Cosmology of Consciousness for more on this). Domesticated sheep that are let loose in the wild would quickly drop in number, but a language peters out when its consistency wanes, and this is precisely what's happening today to modern English. People think we moderns are getting smarter, but nope, our minds are hyper-inflating against our smart phones. Said simpler: our world isn't getting smarter, we are getting stupider: less imaginative, less inspired, less free and less visionary, and we don't even recognize that we are. The English language is the verbal equivalent of the Dunning Kruger effect. And once we've slumped down to the awareness of a sheep, we can't for the life of us image that we might be missing out on something.
People like to believe that the purpose of written text is to convey information, and helpfully note that information can be conveyed much more efficient (and entertaining) by a talking head in a YouTube clip. But no, the purpose of written text is not to convey information but to generate imagination. When we read, we force our brain to image a picture for every word we read, and explain that picture from its relationship to everything else. Reading trains our brain to discipline our imaginations, to visualize our thoughts, so that we learn not simply to fantasize but to align our visions with (1) those of our neighbors, and (2) that of the Creator, so that even within our imagination whatever goes up comes down, and we don't violate the laws of preservation of momentum and baryon number and such. Reading trains us to imagine the real reality that exceeds the reach of our senses.
Words are little consensuses on how to call things, and a word becomes real when our agreement does (Matthew 18:20, Luke 17:21). Likewise, converging and bundled imaginations ultimately form one unified harmonious imagined reality that vastly supersedes the reality that can be experienced by our dog and sheep friends. This unified imagination is what John the Revelator called the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2). That's the one that allows mankind to rise up from the earth and enter the real, physical, tangible, observable and calculatable heavenly realm of the stars (see αστηρ, aster, star). The New Jerusalem is a place where dogs and sheep cannot follow, because to them, this place is invisible and unimaginable. To them, it simply does not exist, nor does it ever enter their minds.
🔼The Hebrew roots of Greek words
A Greek word may resemble a Hebrew one because it derived from it, or because it converged upon it, or simply by accident. But a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and some Greek word may technically derive from this or that obscure Sanskrit expletive but to all practical effect assumed the guise of a widely recognized Hebrew term. We may even wonder: if the word "fetch" sounds like "woof" to a dog and is for that reason remembered by the dog's brain, does the remembered term come from the canine "woof" or the human "fetch"? And who decides on these rules, anyway?
In the centuries before Greek became the world's lingua franca, the world's wisdom class spoke Aramaic, and Aramaic continued to be a global academic language until well into the Renaissance. Below is a list of Greek words that were either certainly derived from Semitic terms (for instance κερασ, keras, horn, from קרן, qeren, horn), or likely came from Indo-European stock and either deliberately or accidentally converged upon a Hebrew look-alike (like αλειφω, aleipho, to pour and אלף, 'aleph, to learn).
Between the Hebrew and Greek language basins, there was always a gray zone, a band of unclaimed terrain, where words lived that had a double nationality; words that functioned equally well in their native basin as in their host basin (where they were orphans), and meant loosely similar things in either. Even Greek words that have an obvious Indo-European pedigree may very well have absorbed additional meaning from a Hebrew homophonic counterpart, or achieved prominence and even longevity due to a more popular sound-alike.
The purpose of our list is to indicate commonly recognizable similarities that may have provoked poets of a certain leaning to spin banter from, and the solemn ones profundity.
Here at Abarim Publications we propose that the familiar but clearly artificial Hebrew name Nephilim either came from (diverged from), or was preserved because of (converged upon) its natural proximity to the Greek noun νεφελη (nephele), cloud (and see our article on that name for the argumentation). Likewise, whether by accident or not, the name Colossae obviously relates to the verb כלא (kala'), to shut in or shut up, as much as the name Corinth relates to the verb כרר (karar), to encircle and fill.
Reading and writing had of course always been the prerogative of specially trained priests, but God himself had ordered the entire population to be priestly (Exodus 19:6), and thus literate. A similar perceived step down, or vulgarization, came when pure-bred Attic was abandoned in favor of the über-mongrel that is Koine, in which the New Testament was written and which would ultimately evolve into modern Greek.
We also propose that the vulgarization of writing did not happen through some calamitous collapse or spontaneous degeneration (or fire-stealing Prometheus), but rather through a careful lowering of standards (like a basket, carefully lowered down a wall), so that creatures (i.e. languages) of lesser innate intelligence might still jump on board the greater Ark that was the Hebrew alphabet, and be saved and have their legacies preserved (Psalm 16:10). Here at Abarim Publications we furthermore propose that the Hebrew verb חלל (halal), to profane, also gave rise to the Greek verb χαλαω (chalao), to lower or relax in a controlled way.
|As said above: a Greek word may resemble a Hebrew one because it derived from it, or because it converged upon it, or simply by accident.|
|αγορα (agora), market place||אגר (agar), to gather (food), or to hire (laborers)|
|αινεω (aineo), to tell about, praise, extoll or recommend||עין ('ayin), fountain|
|ακρις (akris), locust||כרר (karar), a circular or repeated motion|
|αλειφω (aleipho), to pour||אלף ('alep), to learn|
|αμνος (amnos), lamb||אמן ('aman), to assure or certify|
|ανευ (aneu), without||נהה (naha), to lament or wail|
|αρα (ara), curse||ארר ('arar), to curse|
|αρπαζω (arpazo), to overpower and take away||ערף ('orep), neck|
|αρτος (artos), bread||ארץ ('eres), earth|
|αρω (aro), to join||ארה ('ara), to gather|
|βασιλευς (basileus), king||בצל (basal), onion or flower bulb (hence the turban)|
|βδεω (bdeo), to fart stealthily||בדומה (beduma), "in deadly silence", from דמם (damam), to be still|
|βοτρυς (botrus), cluster of grapes||בסר (boser), unripe grape|
|βρεφος (brephos), young baby||ברפת (berepet), "in the stall", from רפת (repet), stall|
|βρεχω (brecho), to rain||ברך (barak), to bless|
|βυθος (buthos), the deep||בהו (bohu), formless(ness)|
|γαζα (gaza), treasure||גנז (ganaz), treasure|
|γογγυζω (gogguzo), to wildly debate||גג (gog), rooftop (hence the names Gog and Magog)|
|διδωμι (didomi), to give||ידד (yadad), to love, דוד (dod), beloved (hence the names Dido and David)|
|δολος (dolos), a cunning contrivance for deceiving or catching||דלת (delet), a curtain door (hence the name Delilah)|
|δωρον (doron), a gift (from διδωμι, didomi, to give, see above)||דרר (darar), to flow freely and abundantly|
|ερειδω (ereido), to fix firmly||ערד ('arad), to be wild and free|
|ερις (eris), strife||רע (ra'), evil|
|ζημια (zemia), loss or damage||זמה (zimma), scheme or plot, from זמם (zamam), to consider or devise|
|ζιζανιον (zizanion), unwanted weed||זונין (zonin), false-wheat, from זנה (zanah), to fornicate|
|ηλιος (helios), sun (Ηλιου = of Helios = of Elijah)||אלה (eloah), god|
|θαπτω (thapto), to honor with funeral rites||תפת (the name Topheth), from תפף (tapap), to beat a drum|
|θραυω (thrauo), to break into pieces||תרע (taro') from רעע (ra'a'), to break into pieces.|
|θωραξ (thorax), thorax or breastplate||תאר (ta'ar), to outline or trace|
|καθαρος (katharos), pure, clean, fine-tuned||כתר (keter), crown|
|καιω (kaio), to burn, to convert by fire||כי (kai), a particle that expresses relation between clauses|
|καλυπτω (kalupto), to envelop, wrap or cover (of knowledge)||כלפיד (kalappid), "like a torch", from לפיד (lappid), torch|
|καμηλος (kamelos), camel||גמל (gamal), to invest in a new market|
|καπνος (kapnos), smoke||כף (kap), smoke censer|
|κεντεω (kenteo), to prick, goad||קנה (qana), reed, spear-shaft or goad|
|κερασ (keras), horn||קרן (qeren), horn|
|κεφαλη (kephale), head||קוף (qoph), round, round-head|
|κινδυνος (kindunos), danger or hazard||כנדת (kenudat), "like a being sick"|
|κοκκος (kokkos), kernel||ככר (kikkar), any round thing|
|κολλαω (kollao), to glue, stick together||כלל (kalal), to make whole or perfect|
|κολος (kolos), stopped, stunted or de-horned||כלא (kala'), to shut in or shut up.|
|κορος (koros), son, lad||כרר (karar), to amass within a circular enclosure|
|κοφινος (kophinos), large round container||קופא (qopa'), anything curved, hollow or containing|
|κραββατος (krabbatos), mattress made from twigs and leaves||כרביבים (krabybim), "like the many", from רבב (rabab), to be many|
|κρεμαω (kremao), to hang||כרם (kerem), vineyard|
|κυβερναω (kubernao), to govern a ship||כפף (kapap), to bend or curve|
|κυκλος (kuklos), circle||גלגל (galgal), wheel|
|λαλεω (laleo), to babble||לול (lul), to polish (to rub to make shine)|
|λαμπω (lampo), to shine or "to check for faults"||למף (l'mep), "onto Memphis"; see μεμφομαι (memphomai), to find fault|
|λεπω (lepo), to peel||לפה (l'peh), "onto knife-edge", from פה (peh), mouth or knife-edge.|
|μαργαριτης (margarites), pearl,||מרר (marar), to be strong or bitter, plus גרר (garar), to drag or drag away|
|μαρτυς (martus), witness||מור (mor), myrrh|
|μασσω (masso), to knead or mix with liquid||מסס (masas), to melt or dissolve|
|μαχομαι (machomai), to contend, wrangle, wrestle or fight||מכך (makak), to bring low or to humiliate|
|ματη (mate), folly or fault||מות (mut), to die or kill|
|μενω (meno), to stay, sustain or maintain||אמן ('aman), to affirm or support|
|μητηρ (meter), mother (tribe, people)||אמה ('ema), mother (tribe, people)|
|μιμος (mimos), imitator||מים (mayim), waters|
|μνα (mna), a unit of weight||מנה (maneh), a unit of account|
|μοσχος (moschos), calf||מסכה (masseka), cast image|
|μυριος (murios), innumerable, countless||מארז (m'erez), from ארז, 'erez, to be firm|
|μωλος (molos), the grind of battle||מלא (male'), to be full or a heap|
|μωμος (momos), blame, blemish||מום (mum), blame, blemish|
|νεφελη (nephele), cloud||נפל (napal), to fall down|
|νοσος (nosos), sickness or disease||נחש (nahash), snake|
|νοτος (notos), south wind||נתן (natan), to give|
|οθονη (othone), an item of silky fine linen||אטון ('etun), a kind of costly linen, from אט ('at), softly or gently|
|οινος (oinos), wine||יין (yayan), wine|
|ορεγω (orego), to try to get control over||ירך (yarek), genitalia|
|ορθος (orthos), straight||ישר (yashar), to be straight|
|οσφυς (osphus), loin||אסף ('asap), to gather or collect|
|ους (ous), ear||אזן ('ozen), ear|
|παλλω (pallo), to be a child, πυλη (pule), one of a double door, πηλος (pelos), mud||פלל (palal), to distinguish, intervene or intercede for|
|πασχω (pascho), to experience, to be driven by uncontrolled stimuli||פסח (pasah), to be incomplete or insufficient|
|πατασσω (patasso), to beat, strike, hit, πατεω (pateo), to tread or trample||פתת (patat), to break up or crumble|
|πηρα (pera), wallet, pouch||פרר (parar), to split and make more|
|πτυω (ptuo), to spit||פתה (pata), to be muddy (hence the name Japheth)|
|ραβδος (rabdos), rod, scepter or staff||רבד (rabad), spilled grease|
|ρεπω (rhepo), to sink or lower||רפה (rapa), to sink or lower|
|ρωννυμι (rhonnumi), to strengthen or be in good health||רנן (ranan), to loudly cheer|
|σαλπιγξ (salpigx), war-trumpet||שלף (shalap), to draw out|
|σαργανη (sargane), large braided basket||שרג (sarag), to intertwine|
|σβεννυμι (sbennumi), to quench or extinguish||סבב (sabab), to turn around|
|σημειον (semeion), mark, sign or token||שמע (shama'), to hear or obey|
|σηπω (sepo), to rot or be putrid||ספף (sapap), to make, mark or cross a threshold|
|σινδων (sindon), a sheet of fine linen||סדין (sadin), sheet of linen, from סדד (sadad), to join|
|σιγη (sige), silence||שגג (shagag), to mislead|
|σκηνη (skene) cover, housing or dwelling||סכה (sukka), booth, from סכך (sakak), to weave branches|
|σκολοψ (skolops), anything pointed||סכל (sakal), fool|
|σπλαγχνον (splachnon), inward part(s)||פלגך (pelugek), your division, from פלג (palag), to split or divide|
|σπυρις (spuris), coiled or braided basket, σφραγις (sphragis), seal||ספר (seper), scroll or record|
|στοιχος (stoichos), row of supporting minions||תחת (tahat), beneath or under|
|σφοδρος (sphodros), vehement, violent, impetuous, excessive||ספד (sapad), to wail or lament|
|σχοινιον (schoinion), rope||שכן (shakan), to dwell|
|ταπεινος (tapeinos), low||תפוצה (teposa), dispersion, from פצץ (pasas), to break apart or scatter|
|ταυρος (tauros), bull||שור (shor), bull|
|ταχυς (tachus), quick||תחש (tahash), hurrier, from חוש (hush), to hurry or hasten|
|τεμνω (temno), to cut or cleave||תאם (to'am), twin|
|τραχηλος (trachelos), trachea or windpipe||תרח (tarah), to breathe, from רוח (ruah), wind or spirit (hence the name Terah)|
|υλη (ule), elementary matter||סלל (salal), to heap up|
|υσσωπος (hussopos), hyssop||אזוב ('ezob), hyssop|
|υω (huo), to rain||חיה (haya), to live|
|φατνη (phatne), manger||פתן (patan), to protect|
|φθιω (phthio), to decay or wane||פתה (pata), to be simple or muddy-minded|
|φιαλη (phiale), vial or flat bowl||פה (peh), mouth|
|φιμοω (phimoo), to muzzle or gag||פם (pum), which is Aramaic for פה (peh), mouth|
|φρην (phren), midriff||פרר (parar), to split|
|χαλαω (chalao), to lower, relax or release in a controlled way||חלל (halal), to profane or pierce|
|χαλεπος (chalepos), difficult, hard to deal with||חלף (halap), to swiftly transit|
|χαλκος (chalkos), copper||חלק (halaq I), to divide or apportion, and חלק (halaq II), to be smooth|
|χαρασσω (charasso), to make pointed, to scratch||חרש (harash I), to engrave|
|χιτων (chiton), an undergarment||כתנת (kuttonet), tunic|
|χρυσος (chrusos), gold||חרוץ (harus), gold art|
|ψαρ (psar), sparrow, starling||שפר (shapar), to be pleasing or colorful|
|ψαω (psao), to touch lightly, to rub, polish or wipe||פסס (pasas), to spread out|