Honey

tags:  Semitic pun · symbol   —   by Gerry · Nov 2019 · 425 words

Given that the “hidden leaders” frequently style themselves as “bees”, it is possible that honey was a codeword for the same pun, because it may have been a synonym for honeybee in ancient times.

Aramaic dbš meaning “honey” & “honeybee”

In Old Aramaic and modern Syriac, the word דבש dbš debash for honey can also stand for bees.

Since the bee pun is so prevalent with the spooks, even though the vocabulary is only attested for Aramaic, we can assume that other Aramaic homonyms or synonyms have a high pun potential. This may be even if the terms are not attested for other Semitic dialects. The reason is that Aramaic dialects, and perhaps related Phoenician dialects, were used for a long time in the imperial bureaucracies along the Fertile Crescent, to which our modern spooks trace their lineages.

Aramaic, Syriac dbš = honey, honey-bee

דבש dbš : honey, syrup — Aramaic (CAL)

דבשה dbšh dabbāšā : honey-bee — Aramaic (CAL)

ܕܵܒܵܫܵܐ dabaša : a bee, a honeybee — Syriac (AAF)

ܕܲܒܵܫܵܐ dabaša : a bee — Syriac (AAF)

ܕܲܒ݂̈ܫܵܬܵܐ davšata : bees — Syriac (AAF)

Biblical dbš possibly meaning “honeybee” in 1 Samuel 14:26

There is also a discussion about the Biblical verse 1 Samuel 14:26. Some authors claim that the words יער yˁr ya‘ar in this verse actually refer to a “honeycomb”, and not the “forest”, since the word root has both meanings. That in turn would mean that the phrase הלך דבש hlk dbš helek debash mean “the honeybees had left”, and not “honey was leaking”. That would also make more sense in the context, presented as a dilemma: The oath forbids eating, yet there is a special opportunity to gather honey.

1 Samuel 14:26 (׳הֵלֶךְ ד; but read rather הָלַךְ דְּבֹרוֺ its bees had departed, We Dr after ᵐ5)

Brown-Driver-Briggs: debash

אֶלהַֿיַּעַר Samuel 14:26 (דבשׁ1 Samuel 14:25) and when the people came to the honeycomb behold its bees had departed (see ᵐ5 We Dr Kit VB);

Brown-Driver-Briggs: ya‘ar

97. and there was honey, etc.   There is some confusion here, perhaps caused by the fact that the Hebrew words for honeycomb and forest are spelt alike. Perhaps it originally ran thus: And there was honeycomb upon the face of the ground; and when the people came to the honeycomb, behold the bees had departed.

Michael Glazebrook (1923): Lessons from the Old Testament, Revised Version. pg 327

This is evidence that the root דבש dbš meant “bee” as well as “honey”, in Hebrew as well as Aramaic. Such a meaning could also explain the occurrence of honey in Samson’s riddle, and in the Mishnah.

tags:  Semitic pun · symbol