Stones of Heavens - Midrash and Yhoshua

(Vere, Stein Atle. ©2011. “Stones of Heavens: Midrash and Yhoshua”. brakha.blogspot.com.)

Due to time constraints this is an unfinished roughdraft to finish soon.

Remarkably, the list of the twelve gems in Midrash Raba by the Rabanim (Rabbis), in the book of Shmot Raba, seems identical to the list in the New Testament by the students of Yhoshua (Historical Jesus), in the book of Khazon Yhokhanan (Revelation of John).

The twelve different types of gems decorate the Khoshen חשן amulet that Kohen Ha'Mashiakh כהן המשיח (anointed priest) wears to enter the holiest area of the presence of God. Each is the official gem of one of the twelve tribes of Yisrael (Israel).

The list of the gem types that survives in Greek in the New Testament, in the book of Khazon Yhokhanan 21'19-20, is unusual. It differs from the Greek list in the Targum Hashivim (Septuagint Greek Bible), by updating the Greek gem names to Huakinthos υακινθος, Khalkėdȯn χαλκηδων, and so on. This list in Khazon represents the gem names that Yhoshua יהושע (Historical Jesus) and his students know during the Classical Age circa 00s.

About a thousand years later, during the Medieval Age circa 1000s, a similar list survives in Hebrew in Midrash Raba, in the book of Shmot Raba 38'10. The list is Hebrew, but its gem names derive clearly derive from Greek loanwords, such as Daykintin דייקינתין being a variant of Hebrew *Hyakintin הְיַקִינְתִּין from Greek Hyakinthos, and Bardinin ברדינין probably being a scribal copying variant of *Kardonin כַּרְדּוֹנִין , a contraction of *Karkdonin כַּרְכְדּוֹנִין from Greek Kalkhėdȯn. (For Hebrew Karkdonim compare the Latin variant Carcedonius in the Vulgate Latin Bible circa 300s to refer to the same gem name.)

Note: The copying variants in this list in Shmot Raba evidence, the Rabanim do not quote these gem names directly from a Greek source, but rather preserve their own list of gem names in Hebrew, that the scribes recopy a number of times, thus transmitting the names since ancient times. It is an independent Rabani tradition.

The medieval Rabanim and the ancient students of Yhoshua share this same Tora tradition to identify the twelve tribal gems.

Regarding the Rabanim, the list in the book of Khazon by the students of Yhoshua demonstrates the antiquity of the Tora tradition - already existing about a thousand years earlier.

Regarding the students of Yhoshua, this list in the book of Shmot Raba by the Rabanim demonstrates the Yahadut (“Jewishness”) of the Tora tradition that Yhoshua upholds.

The gem list in Shmot Raba that the medieval Rabanim copy is already ancient.

The Rabanim seem to preserve this list, generation after generation, for almost a thousand years. The list is in Hebrew, but most of these Hebrew gem names - probably all of these Hebrew gem names - derive from the Greek gem names. As such, the Hebrew names function as technical terms (somewhat analogous to modern scientific nomenclature) to specify the merchandise of the international gem trade across the Roman Empire.

This Hebrew list originates during the Classical Age, probably as early as circa 00s (first century CE). It uses the same gemological nomenclature as do the book of Khazon, the books by Titus Iosephus Flavia (Flavia Josephus), and as the encyclopedic books of Naturalis Historia (Natural History) by Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder). All of these writers flourish during the 00s, and the Hebrew list preserves this same terminology.

During the Classical Age circa 00s, the Temple of God stands in Yrushalayim ירושלים (Jerusalem), the capital city of Yhuda יהודה (Judea). Pilgrimage there from the across the known world brings enormous wealth to the city. Gold, silver, and the costliest gems adorn the aboriginal sacred traditions of Yisrael. Since the days of the Hashmonim (Hasmoneans), the Kohanim (priests) are the sovereign leaders of the Yhudim יהודים (Judeans), especially after the secular kings and governors are representatives of Rome. Moreover, Yrushalayim includes a significant minority of Greek-speaking “Hellenist” Yhudim. Note: The Greek gem names that actually derive from Hebrew - such as Greek Sapphiros from Hebrew Sapir ספיר and Greek To-pazd-ion from Hebrew Pitda פטדה - evidence the Yhudim to enjoy a significantly presence in the international gem trade since ancient times. The land of Yisrael is part of the links between Rome and Bavli בבלי (Babylon), and via the Red Sea even part of the links between Rome and India. Apparently, there are Hebrew-speakers during the 00s who know the Greek gem names because of their participation in the international trade for gems.

These ancient Yhudi lapidaries - gem dealers - are probably the authorship that ultimately produces the list of gem names that the Rabanim mention in Shmot Raba.

The Hebrew gem list is an independent tradition. It doesnt simply copy an ancient text, such as that of Khazon, Iosephus, or Plinius.

If the Hebrew list already exists during the 00s, then the book of Khazon Yhokhanan probably knows it, so that its gem names in Greek actually refers to the Hebrew international gem nomenclature as it pertains to the gems that the Kohen Ha'Mashiakh wears in the sacred Khoshen amulet.

The Hebrew list of these gem names seems to already exist by the 300s. At that time, Hieronymus (Saint Jerome) seems to refer to it for his Vulgate Latin translation of the Hebrew Bible. He lives in the land of Yisrael, in the coastal city of Caesarea. He frequently consults with the Rabanim there to explain obscure Hebrew words. It seems his original spelling in Latin, Carcedonius, with an -r- to represent the Greek gem name Khalkedon with an -l-, seems to derive directly from the Hebrew gem name *Karkdonin כַּרְכְּדוֹנִין.

Note: This particular gem, Karkdonin, derives from the name of the ancient city of “Carthage” in today Tunisia, and not from the ancient city of “Kalkedon” in today Turkey. Notably, both of these names come from the same Canaanite Kart-Khadsha קרת חדשה meaning “New Town” and referring to a colony of the seafaring Knaanim (Canaanites) of today Lebanon. It makes sense the gem corresponds to Carthage, since the same gems of that city also tend to exist in Mitsrayim (Egypt). The tribes of Yisrael get these twelve gems during the Bronze Age, from Mitsrayim.

During the Classical Age circa 00s, Plinius describes the gem of Carthage as a dark gem that gleams a fiery orange-red light when held up to the sun. Evidently, this is the same gem that today calls the garnet - a dark variety of it - and is identical to the same gem that Targum Hashivim (Septuagint Greek Bible) calls Anthraks, meaning an ember of burning “coal” in Greek. Moreover, this is identical to the Latin loan translation Carbunculus, which also means “coal”, and that Hieronymus uses elsewhere as the name for this same garnet gem.

Indeed the Mitsriyim (Egyptians) use garnets in their amulets during the Bronze Age.

In sum, the garnet stone in the Khoshen, that comes from the gems of Mitsrayim during the Bronze Age, appears during the Classical Age in Greek in Targum Hashivim as the name Anthraks, but appears in Greek in the New Testament as Khalkedon. Notably, this gem name apparently refers to the name of the city, Carthage, in today Tunisia that is famous for garnet, rather than to the city in Turkey that shares a related name. In the 300s, this garnet appears in Latin in the Vulgate Bible as Carbunculus that translates Greek Anthraks exactly and as Carcedonius that refers to Carthage. This Latin name Carcedonius appears to correspond to the Hebrew technical name for this garnet, Karkdonin, thus corroborates the existence circa 300s of the gem list that the later medieval Rabanim refer to in Shmot Raba.

In the Hebrew gem list, the twelve gem names are part of the living Hebrew language and evidence natural linguistic shifts. Its existence within a living Hebrew language also points to the early date.

Example: The name for the purple quartz - also known as amethyst - exemplifies the linguistic shifts that most of the gem names undergo in the Rabani Hebrew list.

Ultimately, the Greek name Amethustos αμεθυστος evolves into the Hebrew name *Hemesiyin הֵימֵיסִּיִין .

When Hebrew first borrows the Greek name Amethustos, the Hebrew lacks certain Greek sounds. The distinctive Greek -u- (rounded high front) vowel sometimes approximates as the Hebrew -u- (rounded high back) vowel or else the Hebrew -i- (unrounded high front) vowel, depending on the context of nearby sounds. Here, the -u- in Greek Amethustos approximates to the -i- in Hebrew Amethistos. But then Hebrew adds the suffix -in ין . This is the classical Greek diminutive suffix -ion -ιον , but signifies precisely the later pronunciation per the international Koine Greek as -in. (Klein. “ין”. Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language.) Thus the original Hebrew gem name deriving from Greek circa 00s, and serving as the professional nomenclature for the purple quartz in the gem trade, reconstructs as something like: *Ametistin אֲמֶתִּיסְטִין in Hebrew.

However this original approximation is unstable, and shifts.

The syllable stress from the -e- in Greek Amethustos to the final syllable -in in Hebrew *Ametistin causes a rapid succession of sounds.

Hebrew finds it awkward to pronounce two nearby -t- sounds in Greek loanwords and often reduces them to one. Thus in the context of resolving the shortened syllables, *Ametistin swaps the sounds of the consonant -t- and vowel -i- (metathesizing), tentatively *Ameitsĕtin אֲמֶיִתְּסְטִין with the vowels merging to a monosyllabic *Ametsĕtin אֲמֵיתְּסְטִין , and finally the aspirated -t- sound assimilating into the oncoming nearby -t- sound: *Amesĕtin אֲמֵיסְּטִין . To prevent contracting the initial ultrashort vowel into nothing, the initial syllable expands into a long vowel while assimilating into the oncoming -e- vowel: *Emesĕtin אֵמֵיסְּטִין . While expanding, the initial vowel also aspirates. Hebrew often does this for Greek loanwords. (Compare Greek Sunedros that becomes Hebrew Sanhedrin, when the addition of the Greek diminutive suffix -ion, actually -in, mark a Greek loanword, but shifts the stress of vowels, while the distinctive Greek -u- approximates into Hebrew as unstressed -i-, likely -ĕ-, whence -a-, and while -e- aspirates into -he-.) So far: *Hemesĕtin הֵמֵיסְּטִין . Probably later, this -t- weakens, assimilating (palletizing) among the -s-, ultrashort -ĕ-, and oncoming -i-, thus forming a -y-: *Hemesyin הֵימֵיסְּיִין .

The result: The Greek loanword Amethustos enters Hebrew as *Ametistin אֲמֶתִּיסְטִין but morphs into *Hemesyin הֵימֵיסְּיִין as part of the rhythm of the living Hebrew language.

The surviving form of the gem name in texts is, Hemesyon הֵימֵיסְּיוֹן . Probably, the -o- is a copying variant by scribe who is unfamiliar with the obscure Hebrew technical term and who visually reinterprets an ambiguous form of -י- as -ו- , thus an -o- instead of the original -i-. The accumulation of scribal variants evidences the passage of time. This list that the Rabanim cite appears many centuries old.

The gem list of the Shmot Raba evidences spoken Hebrew. Hebrew-speakers adapt these Greek technical terms as part of the rhythm of the everyday Hebrew language. Hebrew ceases to be a language of common speech circa 300, in the aftermath of the genocide of the Yhudim in Yhuda (Judea) that culminates the Bar Kokhba War circa 135. Thus the names probably derive before 300.

The Hebrew names in this list already exist during the 300s. One of the gem names survives as ברדינין , at first glance this looks something like Bardinim, a meaningless word. Most scholars agree this name must somehow be a scribal “garble” of the Hebrew gem name Kadkod כַּדְכֹּד . I agree, but the variant isnt as drastic as it seems. It seems obvious to me, the Hebrew letters ברדינין are a scribal variant of כרדונין . Rereading these letters this way is common in Hebrew even with the best handwriting. Thus the Hebrew Gem name is actually Kardonim כַּרְדּוֹנִין




(Jewish Antiquities)
Khazon Yhokhanon

(Revelation of John)

Vulgate Bible

/ Plinius
Reconstruct of original classical Hebrew gem names

Extent of later medieval Hebrew gem names

Shmot Raba

/ Achates
/ Perileucos