Thursday, February 17, 2005

Tel Dan and Garbini (ii)

The second in a series of posts arguing against Giovanni Garbini's article on the Tel Dan inscription.

(iii) Garbini says:
Another fact worthy of note is the use of the verb qtl "to kill", found twice in the Tel Dan fragment. Such a root is normal in Aramaic, while hrg (non-existent in Syriac) is less frequent. It should be remembered that hrg is the verb used in ancient Aramaic when talking of battles, as in our case, or in conspiracies (cf. the Sefire inscription I A,24 and the Yaudic inscriptions), while qtl carries a more generalised significance of "to kill" (Sefire III,11; Nerab I,11; the Yaudic inscription of Panamuwa, 8).
Garbini says that the root hrg is "used in ancient Aramaic when talking of battles." Significantly, he gives no reference, because there is no attested use of Aramaic hrg in the context of battles. In the Samalian or "Yaudic" inscriptions (KAI 214, 215) the root is used several times of personal murder, one man slaying another (Panamuwa 3, 5, 7, Hadad 26, 33, 34). In the Sefire inscription (I A 24), the entire sentence reads "let his seven daughters go in search of food but let them slay nothing (אל יהרגן)." Sound like battle or conspiracy to you? Me neither.

It is debatable whether the "Yaudic" material should even be cited, since some question whether it is Aramaic at all. The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon project, for instance, does not include it in its corpus of Old Aramaic. That leaves Sefire I A 24 as the sole example of this word in Old Aramaic. Not much to build a case on.

Garbini is trying to spin straw into gold, not only in this instance, but throughout his article. If the Tel Dan conspiracy theorists have nothing better than Garbini to rely on, their case is weak indeed.

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