The Siloam inscription (כתובת השילוח)

S1234

Senior Member
Urdu
Hi everyone

Below is an ancient Hebrew inscription:

𐤄𐤍 𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 𐤅𐤆𐤄 𐤄𐤉𐤄 𐤃𐤁𐤓 𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 𐤁𐤏𐤅𐤃 𐤌𐤍𐤉פ𐤌 𐤄𐤇𐤑𐤁𐤌 𐤀𐤕𐤄𐤂𐤓𐤆𐤍 𐤀𐤔ׁ 𐤀𐤋 𐤓𐤏𐤅 𐤅𐤁𐤏𐤅𐤃 𐤔ׁ𐤋𐤔ׁ 𐤀𐤌𐤕 𐤋𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁 𐤅𐤉𐤔ׁ𐤌𐤏 𐤒𐤋 𐤀𐤔ׁ 𐤒𐤓𐤀 𐤀𐤋 𐤓𐤏𐤅 𐤊𐤉 𐤄𐤉𐤕 𐤆𐤃𐤄 𐤁𐤑𐤓 𐤌𐤉𐤌𐤍 𐤅𐤌𐤍 𐤎𐤌𐤀𐤋 𐤅𐤁𐤉𐤌 𐤄
𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 𐤄𐤊𐤅 𐤄𐤇𐤑𐤁𐤌 𐤀𐤔ׁ 𐤋𐤒𐤓𐤕 𐤓𐤏𐤅 𐤂𐤓𐤆𐤍 𐤀𐤋 𐤂𐤓𐤆𐤍 𐤅𐤉𐤋𐤊𐤅
𐤄𐤌𐤉𐤌 𐤌𐤍 𐤄𐤌𐤅𐤑𐤀 𐤀𐤋 𐤄𐤁𐤓𐤊𐤄 𐤁𐤌𐤀𐤕𐤉𐤌 𐤅𐤀𐤋𐤐 𐤀𐤌𐤄 𐤅𐤌𐤀
𐤕 𐤀𐤌𐤄 𐤄𐤉𐤄 𐤂𐤁𐤄 𐤄𐤑𐤓 𐤏𐤋 𐤓𐤀𐤔ׁ 𐤄𐤇𐤑𐤁𐤌

Here it is in the Aramaic alphabet that Hebrew started to be written in after the exile :

הן הנקבה וזה היה דבר הנקבה בעוד מניפם החצבם אתהגרזן אשׁ אל רעו ובעוד שׁלשׁ אמת להנקב וישׁמע קל אשׁ קרא אל רעו כי הית זדה בצר מימן ומן סמאל ובים הנקבה הכו החצבם אשׁ לקרת רעו גרזן אל גרזן וילכוהמים מן המוצא אל הברכה במאתים ואלף אמה ומאת אמה היה גבה הצר על ראשׁ החצבם

My question is does הן הנקבה וזה היה דבר הנקבה בעוד מניפּם החצבם את הגרזן אשׁ אל רעו עוד שׁלשׁ אמת להנקב וישׁםעקל אשׁ קרא אל רעו כי הית זדה בצר מימן ומן סמאל mean

Here is the tunnel, and this was the story (lit. word) of the opening: while the miners were using the pickax, one toward the other, and while there no more than three cubits to dig, then the voice of each was heard calling his friend, for there was resonance in the rock coming from the south and the north.

Thanks
 
  • radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    Broadly speaking, yes, although the meaning of זדה is uncertain, ‘fissure’ being another suggestion.

    I wouldn’t translate the first הנקבה as tunnel, though, but perhaps something like ‘break-through’, referring to the break-through of the tunnel: “Behold it’s break-through, and this was the story of its breaking through.”

    Did you have a particular point of doubt?
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I would interpret מימן ומן סמאל as "from right and left" rather than as "from south and north".
     

    S1234

    Senior Member
    Urdu
    I had another question about this inscription:

    𐤄𐤍 𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 𐤅𐤆𐤄 𐤄𐤉𐤄 𐤃𐤁𐤓 𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 𐤁𐤏𐤅𐤃 𐤌𐤍𐤉פ𐤌 𐤄𐤇𐤑𐤁𐤌 𐤀𐤕𐤄𐤂𐤓𐤆𐤍 𐤀𐤔ׁ 𐤀𐤋 𐤓𐤏𐤅 𐤅𐤁𐤏𐤅𐤃 𐤔ׁ𐤋𐤔ׁ 𐤀𐤌𐤕 𐤋𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁 𐤅𐤉𐤔ׁ𐤌𐤏 𐤒𐤋 𐤀𐤔ׁ 𐤒𐤓𐤀 𐤀𐤋 𐤓𐤏𐤅 𐤊𐤉 𐤄𐤉𐤕 𐤆𐤃𐤄 𐤁𐤑𐤓 𐤌𐤉𐤌𐤍 𐤅𐤌𐤍 𐤎𐤌𐤀𐤋 𐤅𐤁𐤉𐤌 𐤄
    𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 𐤄𐤊𐤅 𐤄𐤇𐤑𐤁𐤌 𐤀𐤔ׁ 𐤋𐤒𐤓𐤕 𐤓𐤏𐤅 𐤂𐤓𐤆𐤍 𐤀𐤋 𐤂𐤓𐤆𐤍 𐤅𐤉𐤋𐤊𐤅
    𐤄𐤌𐤉𐤌 𐤌𐤍 𐤄𐤌𐤅𐤑𐤀 𐤀𐤋 𐤄𐤁𐤓𐤊𐤄 𐤁𐤌𐤀𐤕𐤉𐤌 𐤅𐤀𐤋𐤐 𐤀𐤌𐤄 𐤅𐤌𐤀
    𐤕 𐤀𐤌𐤄 𐤄𐤉𐤄 𐤂𐤁𐤄 𐤄𐤑𐤓 𐤏𐤋 𐤓𐤀𐤔ׁ 𐤄𐤇𐤑𐤁𐤌

    הן הנקבה וזה היה דבר הנקבה בעוד מניפם החצבם אתהגרזן אשׁ אל רעו ובעוד שׁלשׁ אמת להנקב וישׁמע קל אשׁ קרא אל רעו כי הית זדה בצר מימן ומן סמאל ובים הנקבה הכו החצבם אשׁ לקרת רעו גרזן אל גרזן וילכוהמים מן המוצא אל הברכה במאתים ואלף אמה ומאת אמה היה גבה הצר על ראשׁ החצבם

    Does

    ובים הנקבה הכו החצבם אשׁ לקרת רעו גרזן אל גרזן וילכו המים מן המוצא אל הברכה במאתים ואלף אמה ומאת אמה היה גבה הצר על ראשׁ החצבם

    mean

    Also, on the day of the opening the miners hit, one meeting the other, pickax against pickax. Then the waters flowed from the source toward the reservoir upon twelve hundred cubits, and one hundred cubits was the height of the rock above the head of the miners.

    It's interesting that the word יום is spelled without the mater, as is אישׁ.

    Thanks again

    [Moderator note: thread merged with previous one on the same inscription]
     
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    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    There is a translation of the text in the articles linked by Abaye. Did you have any particular points of doubt?
     
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    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    The spellings are normal for inscriptions of the time period.

    Or perhaps that is a circular claim, because what we see as normal for this time period is actually based on this inscription itself.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    It might help to look at the original inscription.
     

    Attachments

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    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    𐤄𐤍𐤟𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄𐤟𐤅𐤆𐤄𐤟𐤄𐤉𐤄𐤟𐤃𐤁𐤓𐤟𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄𐤟𐤁𐤏𐤅𐤃𐤟𐤌𐤍𐤉𐤐𐤌𐤟𐤄𐤇𐤑𐤁𐤌𐤟𐤀𐤕𐤟
    𐤄𐤂𐤓𐤆𐤍𐤟𐤀𐤔𐤟𐤀𐤋𐤟𐤓𐤏𐤅𐤟𐤅𐤁𐤏𐤅𐤃𐤟𐤔𐤋𐤔𐤟𐤀𐤌𐤕𐤟𐤋𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤟𐤅𐤉𐤔𐤌𐤏𐤟𐤒𐤋𐤟𐤀𐤔𐤟𐤒
    𐤓𐤀𐤟𐤀𐤋𐤟𐤓𐤏𐤅𐤟𐤊𐤉𐤟𐤄𐤉𐤕𐤟𐤆𐤃𐤄𐤟𐤁𐤑𐤓𐤟𐤌𐤉𐤌𐤍𐤟𐤅𐤌𐤍𐤟𐤎𐤌𐤀𐤋𐤟𐤅𐤁𐤉𐤌𐤟𐤄
    𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄𐤟𐤄𐤊𐤅𐤟𐤄𐤇𐤑𐤁𐤌𐤟𐤀𐤔𐤟𐤋𐤒𐤓𐤕𐤟𐤓𐤏𐤅𐤟𐤂𐤓𐤆𐤍𐤟𐤀𐤋𐤟𐤂𐤓𐤆𐤍𐤟𐤅𐤉𐤋𐤊𐤅𐤟
    𐤄𐤌𐤉𐤌𐤟𐤌𐤍𐤟𐤄𐤌𐤅𐤑𐤀𐤟𐤀𐤋𐤟𐤄𐤁𐤓𐤊𐤄𐤟𐤁𐤌𐤀𐤕𐤉𐤌𐤟𐤅𐤀𐤋𐤐𐤟𐤀𐤌𐤄𐤟𐤅𐤌𐤀
    𐤕𐤟𐤀𐤌𐤄𐤟𐤄𐤉𐤄𐤟𐤂𐤁𐤄𐤟𐤄𐤑𐤓𐤟𐤏𐤋𐤟𐤓𐤀𐤔𐤟𐤄𐤇𐤑𐤁𐤌𐤟

    הן הנקבה וזה היה דבר הנקבה בעוד מניפם החצנם את
    הגרזן אש אל רעו ובעוד שלש אמת להנקב וישמע קל אש ק
    רא אל רעו כי הית זדה בצר מימן ומן סמאל ובים ה
    נקבה הכו החצבם אש לקרת רעו גרזן על גרזן וילכו
    המים מן המוצא אל הברכה במאתים ואלף אמה ומא
    ת אמה היה גבה הצר על ראש החצנם


    (see here, here, here, and the fourth page of this)

    My quarrel with Puech's copy is his entire reconstruction of 𐤌𐤍𐤉𐤐𐤌 מניפם with a mater lectionis (see the fourth link above). A simple hollow root in the hif'il should not have had a yod mater lectionis in 700 BC. And there is another one below that is very dubious: 𐤌𐤉𐤌𐤍𐤟𐤅𐤌𐤍𐤟𐤎𐤌𐤀𐤋 מימן ומן סמאל in line three. As a reconstruction that's absolutely ridiculous. If you say מימן you're going to say מסמאל, not מן סמאל. (You could theoretically say מן הסמאל though.)

    At the very beginning he reads 𐤄𐤍 הן as partially visible. However, it could equally well be 𐤆𐤄 זה. Actually, probably not, because 𐤆𐤄 זה would not agree in gender with what follows, namely 𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 הנקבה. Unfortunately, there probably isn't enough space for three letters, so we can't have 𐤆𐤀𐤕 זאת. Maybe it is indeed 𐤄𐤍 הן but is pronounced הִנֵּה (i.e. it's missing the mater lectionis).

    By the way, are you sure 𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 נקבה means 'tunnel'? It didn't exist in biblical Hebrew, and neither did 𐤆𐤃𐤄 זדה.
     

    Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    By the way, are you sure 𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 נקבה means 'tunnel'? It didn't exist in biblical Hebrew
    Root נקב exists with a relevant meaning, similar words are attested in other Semitic languages, the inscription was found by a tunnel, its text is about a tunnel... I guess this is enough evidence.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    And as for what you say about מימן ומן סמאל, who are you to say what's "ridiculous"? Orthography is not always consistent. I may in one sentence write "are not" an in another "aren't", even though I might have the same exact pronunciation in mind.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    You're right, but I don't think we have yod as a mater lectionis appearing in this time period.

    By the way, some people have tried to reconstruct the beginning of the first line as 𐤃𐤁𐤓 דבר, but I don't think that's epigraphically plausible because I don't think there's room for three signs. When you look at how the second line starts it's pretty clear that we have the beginning of the line and we have one wide character and then two narrow, so there's no way you could get three wide characters at the beginning of the first line.

    Could 𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 נקבה be a nif'al infinitive construct?
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    Unfortunately, there probably isn't enough space for three letters, so we can't have 𐤆𐤀𐤕 זאת.
    I think there is space for three letters, and I would actually favour 𐤆𐤀𐤕 to reconstruct the first word.

    Could 𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 נקבה be a nif'al infinitive construct?

    The Niphal infinitive construct is 𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁 (note the preformative 𐤄), and that is actually how I interpreted the form הִנָּקְבוֹ = 𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 (hist. /hinnaqibō/), as the Niph. inf. cs. with a pronominal suffix, whence my initial translation (#2 above) as “Behold it’s break-through, and this was the story of its breaking through.”

    To me, the word 𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 refers to the breaking-through of the tunnel, and not the tunnel itself. The fact that the inscription was placed not at the entrance of the tunnel, but rather at the break-through point, where the two teams of excavators met, seems rather to support this interpretation, pace Abaye above.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    I think there is space for three letters, and I would actually favour 𐤆𐤀𐤕 to reconstruct the first word.



    The Niphal infinitive construct is 𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁 (note the preformative 𐤄), and that is actually how I interpreted the form הִנָּקְבוֹ = 𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 (hist. /hinnaqibō/), as the Niph. inf. cs. with a pronominal suffix, whence my initial translation (#2 above) as “Behold it’s break-through, and this was the story of its breaking through.”

    To me, the word 𐤄𐤍𐤒𐤁𐤄 refers to the breaking-through of the tunnel, and not the tunnel itself. The fact that the inscription was placed not at the entrance of the tunnel, but rather at the break-through point, where the two teams of excavators met, seems rather to support this interpretation, pace Abaye above.
    הֵן הִנָּקְבֹה וְזֶה הָיָה דְּבַר הִנָּקְבֹה בְּעוֹד מְנִיפִם הַחֹצְבִם אֶת
    הַגַּרְזֶן אִשׁ אֶל רֵעוֹ וּבְעוֹד שָׁלֹשׁ

    But if the word הנקב is followed by 3m.s. pron. suff., shouldn't it have been spelled with ו, the way it is in רֵעוֹ?

    By the way, although vb. hif'il נופ 'to swing, wield, wave' exists in the Bible, it is not used with גַּרְזֶן, which is only used with the root נדח (once in qal and once in nif'al).

    וַאֲשֶׁר֩ יָבֹ֨א אֶת־רֵעֵ֥הוּ בַיַּ֘עַר֮ לַחְטֹ֣ב עֵצִים֒ וְנִדְּחָ֨ה יָד֤וֹ בַגַּרְזֶן֙ לִכְרֹ֣ת הָעֵ֔ץ וְנָשַׁ֤ל הַבַּרְזֶל֙ מִן־הָעֵ֔ץ וּמָצָ֥א אֶת־רֵעֵ֖הוּ וָמֵ֑ת ה֗וּא יָנ֛וּס אֶל־אַחַ֥ת הֶעָרִים־הָאֵ֖לֶּה וָחָֽי׃
    (דברים יט ה)

    כִּֽי־תָצ֣וּר אֶל־עִיר֩ יָמִ֨ים רַבִּ֜ים לְֽהִלָּחֵ֧ם עָלֶ֣יהָ לְתׇפְשָׂ֗הּ לֹֽא־תַשְׁחִ֤ית אֶת־עֵצָהּ֙ לִנְדֹּ֤חַ עָלָיו֙ גַּרְזֶ֔ן כִּ֚י מִמֶּ֣נּוּ תֹאכֵ֔ל וְאֹת֖וֹ לֹ֣א תִכְרֹ֑ת כִּ֤י הָֽאָדָם֙ עֵ֣ץ הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה לָבֹ֥א מִפָּנֶ֖יךָ בַּמָּצֽוֹר׃
    (דברים כ יט)
     
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