🏷  Bible name Semitic hidden ruler pun · name   —   by Gerry · Mar 2019 · 426 words

The Biblical name Ashkenaz, written ˀšknz, may be a pun with ˀyš-knz “hidden person”, or with ˀyš-gns “nobleman”, both being suitable spook puns. Ashkenaz is only a very minor character in the Bible, so these puns were probably developed later.

Ashkenaz as “nobleman”

All official “Jewish” texts are really encryptions of rules for the nobility. This becomes especially clear with Talmud tractate Peah, but also all other Talmudic texts.

The name ˀš-knz Ashkenaz can also be interpreted as meaning “nobility”, as it puns with ˀyš-gns “man of nobility”. ˀyš means “man”, and gns means “genus”, often used in compounds meaning “nobility” (see Shapiro).

Aramaic gns is a loanword from Greek genos for “family”. And in grammar forms like gennaios / gnesios / gennaiotes, it also means “nobility”, i.e. someone born from special families. The meaning “nobility” is also found in Aramaic variations of the same term. ˀyš-gns can therefore mean “nobleman”, and it puns with Ashkenaz.

People who publicly stress that they are not just any Jews, but “Ashkenazi Jews” may therefore be trying to signal that they’re from the aristocratic families who’ve opted to permanently disguise as “Jews” (see Josephus 1.61ff). Of course, since the term is often used to mean “European Jew”, it’s also used by regular Jews.

Note: This tendency of people to identify as “Ashkenazi” is a recent phenomenon, and the pun would rely on Greek loanwords. The original pun-meaning of the very minor character Ashkenaz in the Old Testament may therefore be something completely different, and the name may have been adapted later for this purpose.

Aramaic gns = family, genealogy, noble heritage, nobility

גנס gns : kind, species; family, familial origin; genealogy; race — Aramaic (CAL)

גנוס gnws : birth; noble heritage; Greek γένεσις — Aramaic (CAL)

גיניסיא gynysyˀ : descent, nobility of birth — Hebrew (Jastrow)

גניסייא gnysyyˀ : nobles, gentry — Hebrew (Jastrow)

Ashkenaz as “hidden person”

The actual spelling of the name ˀšknz Ashkenaz is with knz, which means “hidden”. It’s more often spelled gnz, and is usually explained as an old Persian loanword meaning “treasure”.

Many more derivations are attested for Aramaic, like “secrecy” or “misleading”. It’s therefore also possible that ˀyš-knz “hidden person” may be the spook meaning of the name Ashkenaz, perhaps referring to secret agents.

Aramaic knz, gnz = treasury, hidden, concealed

כנז knz : to hide something; to hide; to mislead — Aramaic (CAL)

כניזה knyzh : treasure; secret plan — Aramaic (CAL)

גנז gnz : to hide, to have hidden, to become hidden — Aramaic (CAL)

גניז gnyz : hidden, concealed, unknown — Aramaic (CAL)

גניזו gnyzw : hiding; secret nature — Aramaic (CAL)

גנזי gnzy : treasurer — Aramaic (CAL)

🏷  Bible name Semitic hidden ruler pun · name