tags:  Semitic hidden ruler pun recommended spook name · name   —   by Gerry · Oct 2019 · 1051 words

The name Shapiro, with variants like Schaeffer, seems favored by spook aristocrats because Akkadian shapiru was a governor title, and Hebrew-Aramaic sopher for “scribe” may have been an equivalent.

Shapiro as a Jewish name

Shapiro is officially a Jewish name, yet once again has no clear etymology.

Shapiro, and its variations such as Shapira, Schapiro, Schapira, Sapir, Sapira, Spira, Sapiro, Szapiro (in Polish) and Chapiro (in French), is a Jewish surname which can be either Ashkenazi or Sephardi.

One theory suggests that it derives from Shpira, the Hebrew/Yiddish name for Spira (Hebrew: שפירא‎), pronounced Shpira (which is an Aramaic borrowed word meaning “handsome”). Another derives it from the medieval name of Speyer, Germany. The Jewish community of Speyer was one of three leading cities central to the development of Ashkenazi culture […]

Wikipedia: Shapiro

German Schaeffer as a governor title

We get a little closer when it is admitted that German Schaeffer, which has the same consonants, was apparently a manager title. At the same time, almost identical Schaefer is explained as “shepherd”.

Schaefer is an alternative spelling and cognate for the German word “Schäfer”, meaning shepherd

Wikipedia: Schaefer

Schaeffer is a distinguished surname, German in origin. Derived from the Middle High German “Schaffaere” meaning the manager or steward of the head of the household.

Wikipedia: Schaeffer (surname)

Akkadian šāpiru as governor title

Given all the other names that are really governor titles, we shouldn’t be surprised that we find šāpiru as a government title — in Akkadian. The title was used already in Old Akkadian, the most ancient language of that group. Since neitehr Akkadian nor Hebrew differentiate in writing between O & U, šāpiru is 100% equivalent to the name Shapiro.

Much like melek, the title is derived from “sending out messages” from higher-ups. The basic root √špr (including the sub-root √spr of šāpiru seem to have an even more basic meaning, of “emitting” things, but it gets fuzzy there.

But while there are many meanings, including the “handsome” meaning mentioned on Wiki, the most important one was that of a proxy governor.

Akkadian špr = sending messages, commanding, governing

šapiru : giver of instructions; “ruler” said of kings; “governor, controller” said of officials, gener. “administrator, boss”; š. māti/PlN/nārim “(provincial) governor; controller of land, city, canal”; “controller” of people, troops; esp. NB “overseer” of craftsmen etc.; < šaparu — Akkadian (Black)

𒉺 šāpiru : overseer; governor; šāpir māti: governor — Akkadian (AAF)

šāpir : overseer, governor, prefect, commander, chief — Akkadian (Huehnergard)

The title šāpiru occurs regularly in administrative texts. Here in the Laws of Eshnunna.

If a governor, a canal administrator, or an offical of any position catches a vagrant male slave, a vagrant female slave, a vagrant ox, or a vagrant ass that belongs to the palace or a commoner and does not bring it to Eshnunna but keeps it in his house for more than one month, the palace shall charge him with theft.

šumma šakkanakkum šāpir nārim bēl têrtim mala ibaššû wardam ḫalqam amtam ḫaliqtam alpam ḫalqam imēram ḫalqam ša ekallim u muškēnim iṣbatma ana Ešnunna lā irdiamma ina bītīšu iktala ūmī eli warḫim ištēn ušētiqma ekallum šurqam ittīšu ītawwu

David Wright: Inventing God’s law

(The similar text in exodus 23:5 likely contains puns, but that’s a different topic.)

Here’s an example from a grammar book where I couldn’t figure out the original source.

The general took that statement to Sin-Iqīšam the governor of Suhum.

UGULA.MAR.TU dabāb-am šuātu ana Sin-Iqīšam šāpir Suhi ublam

Poppe, Ariel Shisha-Halevy: Stability, Variation, and Change of Word-order Patterns Over Time

Connection of Akkadian šāpiru & Hebrew sopher

It has not gone unnoticed that Akkadian šāpiru, translated as “governor”, is very close to the Hebrew title sopher, typically translated as “scribe”. That both would be equivalent is, however, “contested”:

The Hebrew term for “scribe” is sofer, a participle form of the root spr, meaning “to count.” It is a Canaanite word, appearing in Ugarit (rb spr, “chief scribe”) as well as a loanword in an Egyptian text – sofer yodeʿa, i.e., “wise scribe” (Papyrus Anastasi I; late 13th century B.C.E.). It may be a cognate to Akkadian šāpiru, “secretary, official.”

Encyclopedia Judaica: Scribe

The discrepancy as to origin of Hebrew סופר = “scribe/official-incharge” between Gesenius-Buhl, which sees this meaning as an internal Heb. development of the pres. act. ptc. of the verb ספר vs. Mendenhall’s casual mention, again just hanging there, “city of the šāpiru = governor<7span>” (see pp. 9 & 10 above, resp.), is not a matter that need concern us here;

Yoël Arbeitman: A Semitic / Afrasian Gathering in Remembrance of Albert Ehrman

One point of contention is whether the Hebrew title ספר is a cognate of Akkadian šāpiru, “envoy, overseer, governor, ruler.” The difficulty evolves around semantic discrepancies between the two terms. It seems, though, that the Akkadian root špr, like the Hebrew root ספר, has a range of meanings that also encompass a writing component. For example, the verb šapāru, principally defined as “to send a person, a report, a message,” has an extended meaning, “to write (a letter),” attested from Old Akkadian through the Neo-Babylonian period; the substantive šipru can carry the sense “commission, report, messenger.”

Nili Fox: In the Service of the King

And I won’t even argue against that. The word root does indeed have a wide range of meanings (see √špr & √spr). There were likely both governors & mere copyists using the same title in different times & places. But if we ask ourselves why insanely powerful people would name themselves Shapiro, then what they mean is most likely that they’re “governors”.

The Wikipedia article about the title sofer describes the role of a “copyist” scribe who meticulously transcribes ancient documents, faithful to the last letter.

But the Wiki spooks give us a better clue about who the Biblical soferim scribes really were, in the separate article on scribes:

As early as the 11th century BCE, scribes in Ancient Israel, were distinguished professionals who would exercise functions which today could be associated with lawyers, journalists, government ministers, judges, or financiers. Some scribes also copied documents, but this was not necessarily part of their job.

Wikipedia: Scribe

Lawyers, journalists, government ministers, judges, financiers! That is an almost perfect list of the most spook-infested professions.

And that is also what all those modern spook Shapiros are: masked “government ministers” & “financiers”.

tags:  Semitic hidden ruler pun recommended spook name · name