Number 2

🏷  Egyptian Semitic numerology pun recommended · symbol   —   by Gerry · May 2020 · 2183 words

The number 2, written שן šn, also means “duplicate” & “copy” in Semitic & Egyptian, and even “imitation” & “disguise”. That’s not a coincidence, but an etymological derivation: two → second → double → copy → imitation → disguise. The spooks thus use the number 2 as a marker for a “disguise”.

Semitic šn as “two”, “copy”, “disguise”

In the Semitic languages, the number 2 puns with “disguise”.

The number 2 in unvowelized form is שן šn / תן tn in the Semitic languages. But that same word also means “second”, and by making a second item you create a “copy” or “duplicate”. It was thus a single word that had all these meanings.

Going further, the usage of šn as “copying” is also one Biblical expression for “imitation” and “disguise”. It’s not the most common one, but there are a few Biblical verses where the word is indexed and translated that way, so we can assume people understood that meaning.

The most famous term based on this “copy” etymology is the Mishnah, officially a written “copy” of oral law. For the spooks, it seems to be a text that is “disguised”.

Hebrew šn as “two”, “copy”, “disguise”

In Hebrew, the word root šn for “number 2” has 2 important clusters of derived meanings: The first is šn for “doubling”, “copying”, “imitating”. The next derivation is šn for “change” or “different”. All occur in the forms šnˀ / šny / šnh.

A key spook meaning of šn in Hebrew is “disguise”.

The overall derivation chain could be: two → second → double → copy → imitation → change / different / disguise

Hebrew šn = two, double, copy, disguise

שנא šnˀ shina : alter; change; changed; changing; different; disguise; disguised; pervert; transferred — Old Hebrew (Strong)

שנא šnˀ : to change; it changed; he changed; was changed — Hebrew (Klein)

שנה šnh shanah : alter; double, duplicate, repeat; change; be given to change; disguise; be diverse; pervert — Old Hebrew (Strong)

שנה šnh shanah : to change; he changed; he altered, he perverted (his countenance), he changed his place to another; he disguised himself; he was changed, was different — Hebrew (Klein)

שנה šnh shanah : to repeat, do again; to teach; he did again, repeated; he learned, studied; was done again, was repeated; was learned, was studied; he taught, instructed — Hebrew (Klein)

משנה mšnh mishneh : double; copy; second; duplicate — Old Hebrew (Strong)

שני šny : difference, variance — Hebrew (Klein)

שני šny sheni : second (ordinal number); two; another; other — Old Hebrew (Strong)

Aramaic tn for “double” & “copy”, šn for “change”, “disguise”

In Aramaic, there are many attestations for šn as “change”. We also have the meanings “to simulate” and “fable”, i.e. making things up.

However, in Aramaic the “number 2” and “disguise” are not pronounced & written exactly the same. They are still similar though, and thus valid spook puns.

Aramaic šn, = change, disguise

שני šny : to be different; to go away, to remove; to change; to move around from place to place, to disappear; to act in a strange way; to reply; to deprive of one’s senses, drive mad, to simulate madness; to distinguish; to clarify a legal tradition, to be clarified; to be changed, transformed, to disguise oneself; to be moved away; to be translated; to be insane — Aramaic (CAL)

שוני šwny : tale, fable, stories — Aramaic (CAL)

שוני šwny : removal, diversion — Aramaic (CAL)

שנות šnwt : differently — Aramaic (CAL)

שני šny : insanity; transmutation — Aramaic (CAL)

שני šny : exchanger — Aramaic (CAL)

שני šny : different, unusual; otherworldly, sublime — Aramaic (CAL)

משנינאית mšnynˀyt : in a changeable manner — Aramaic (CAL)

Aramaic tn = second, duplicate; trn = two

תנו tnw : copy; copy; double; number — Aramaic (CAL)

תנין tnyn : second; repetition; iteration; again, furthermore — Aramaic (CAL)

תניי tnyy : double — Aramaic (CAL)

תרין tryn : two — Aramaic (CAL)

Accadian šn as “two”, “duplicate”, “change”, “transform”

In Akkadian, the overlap of two šn the meanings of “change” and “duplicate” is most apparent. The 2 meanings were written alike, and likely also pronounced alike. The word is spelled with a glyph 𒌋𒌋 which simply shows 2 strokes, for “number 2”.

Akkadian šn = two, duplicate, change, transform

𒌋𒌋 šanû : other, different, else; strange, inimical, evil; pl.: outsiders — Akkadian (AAF)

𒌋𒌋 šanû : (road, border, position, work, appearance, price, disease, words, plans…): to be changed / modified / altered / transformed, to vary, to evolve, to develop, to be fickle / to change / to become different / to turn, to be transformed, to metamorphose — Akkadian (AAF)

šanû : to do twice, do for a second time; to repeat, to report, to narrate / to tell; to repeat, do again; to do again; to measure again, to be remeasured; to repeat yet again; to be duplicated; to duplicate; to double; to repeat, do again; to vary, to change / to be changed, to be modified — Akkadian (AAF)

šinītu : alteration, change, transformation, metamorphosis; frenzy, trance — Akkadian (AAF)

Egyptian sn as “two”, “copy”, “imitation”, “guise”

In Ancient Egyptian, the number 2 also puns with “imitation” & “disguise”.

The number 2, like some other numerals, was shared between Semitic and Ancient Egyptian. It was the same word, with the same derivation chain: two → copy → imitation → disguise.

Egyptian sn = two, copy, likeness, resemble, guise

𓊃𓈖𓈖𓍼𓏤 snn : guise — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓊃𓈖𓏕𓏏𓅓𓂧𓍖𓅱𓏜 sen-t : lie, false statement — Egyptian (Budge)

𓊃𓈖𓏕𓂻 sn : to make unrecognizable (r before enemy) — Egyptian (Hannig)

𓊃𓈖𓏕𓂻 zn : to make unrecognizable; to cut off — Egyptian (TLA)

𓋴𓌢𓈖𓇋𓇋𓀀 sny : alter ego, the other self — Egyptian (Hannig)

𓊃𓈖𓏕 ; 𓊃𓈖𓏭𓏕𓂻 sen : to copy, to make a likeness or transcript of anything — Egyptian (Budge)

𓊃𓈖𓏕𓏏 senit : model, copy, likeness, archetype (of a book) — Egyptian (Budge)

𓊃𓈖𓈖𓍼𓏤 snn : copy of document, document, archive document, register report — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓊃𓈖𓈖𓍼 znn : copy (of a document), record — Egyptian (TLA)

𓋴𓇑𓇑𓈖𓈖𓀾 snn : likeness, image, figure — Egyptian (AED)

𓊃𓈖𓏏𓏭𓀾𓏛 zntỉ : likeness — Egyptian (TLA)

𓊃𓈖𓏏𓏭𓀾𓏛 snty : likeness — Egyptian (AED)

𓊃𓈖𓏕 snỉ : be like, resemble, copy, imitate, conform — Egyptian (AED)

𓊃𓈖𓈀 znỉ : to come close to, to exceed, to resemble — Egyptian (TLA)

𓏮𓏌 snnw : second ordinal number, twin, equal — Egyptian (AED)

𓌢𓏌𓏮 snw : two — Egyptian (AED)

Attestations for Semitic šn as “disguise”

While the general meaning of “change” is well attested for šn, there are also attestations for that root to mean “changing clothes”, and even “to disguise oneself” and “to feign”.

Some occurrences use the explicit reflexive Hitpa‘el form štnh, with a T infix. But many use the more regular šnh forms, which are written exactly like number 2. The root form is the same in any case.

and changed his prison garments; and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life.

ושנה את בגדי כלאו ואכל לחם לפניו תמיד כל־ימי חיו

Jeremiah 52:33

So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard.

וישנו את־טעמו בעיניהם ויתהלל בידם (ויתו כ) (ויתיו ק) על־דלתות השער ויורד רירו אל־זקנו

1 Samuel 21:13

A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed. I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

לדוד בשנותו את־טעמו לפני אבימלך ויגרשהו וילך׃ אברכה את־יהוה בכל־עת תמיד תהלתו בפי

Psalms 34:1

and Jeroboam said to his wife, “Please arise, disguise yourself so they will not recognize you as my wife, and go to Shiloh. For Ahijah the prophet is there; it was he who spoke about my kingship over this people.

ויאמר ירבעם לאשתו קומי נא שתנוה ולא ידעו כי אתי אשת ירבעם והלכת שלה הנה שם אחיה הנביא הוא דבר עלי למלך על העם הזה

1 Kings 14:2

More occurrences are found in the Aramaic Targum versions of the Bible. These typically take the Hitpa‘el form with the T infix, štny.

And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.

ואשתני שאל ולביש לבשין אחרנין ואזל הא ותרין גברין עמיה ואתא לות אתתא בליליא ואמר קסמי כען לי בבדין ואסיקי לי ית דאימר לך

Targum 1 Samuel 28:8

And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and will go to the battle; but put thou on thy robes. So the king of Israel disguised himself; and they went to the battle.

ואמר מלכא דישראל ליהושפט אנא אשתני ואיעול בקרבא ואנת לבוש לבושך ואשתני מלכא דישראל ועל בקרבא

Targum 2 Chronicles 18:29

These are just a few Biblical attestations, yet the reflexive form hštnh found in 1 Kings 14:2 is cited in many dictionaries as “disguise”. (I think it’s also used for the puns Stein & Satan.)


  1. Did not remain as before, changed.
    • מה נשתנה הלילה הזה מכל הלילות? (Passover Haggadah)
    • המצב ישתנה רק אם הדימוקראטים ינצחו בבחירות לסנאט. (HaTzofe, Oct 31 1954)
  2. Biblical language: wore a costume, changed appearance for hiding.
    • וַיֹּאמֶר יָרָבְעָם לְאִשְׁתּוֹ: קוּמִי נָא וְהִשְׁתַּנִּית וְלֹא יֵדְעוּ כִּי־אתי (ק’ אַתְּ) אֵשֶׁת יָרָבְעָם. (1 Kings 14:2)

Hebrew Wiktionary: השתנה

שׁנה ᴵᴵ to change.
    — Qal - שָׁנָה he changed.
    — Pi. - שִׁנָּה 1 he altered; 2 he perverted (his countenance); 3 he changed his place to another.
    — Hith. - הִשְׁתַּנָּה 1 he disguised himself; PBH 2 he was changed, was different. [BAram. שְׁנָה, JAram. שְׁנָא (= it changed), Egypt.–Aram., Nab., Palm. שׁנא (= it changed), Syr. שְׁנָא (= was altered for the worse; was displaced, was dislocated; was changed in mind, went mad, raved), Akka. shanū (= to change). Prob. base of שָׁנָה (= year). cp. base שׁנא.] Derivatives: שַׁנַּאי, שִׁנּוּי, שִׁנְיוֹן, שִׁנְיָן, שׁוֹנֶה, שֹׁנִי, הִשְׁתַּנּוּת, מְשֻׁנֶּה.

Klein Dictionary: שׁנה

From the verses and the dictionary entries we may thus conclude that šn can indeed mean “disguise”. It may be the basis for some spooky pun-numerology.

Since the etymological derivation works in all Semitic languages, and even in Egyptian, it may have been a widely used pun even in very ancient times. It could, for example, explain why so many gods come in pairs.

Attestation for Egyptian sn as “guise” & “imitation”

For Egyptian, it’s less official: The sole entry of snn meaning “guise” in Mark Vygus’ dictionary was likely taken from Caminos’ translation of the Sallier papyros, based on Gardiner’s transcription in the Miscellanies. This “guise” occurs in an curious papyrus letter labeled “Complaint about the taking away of certain fields”.

A palace bigwig wrote that letter on behalf of a 2nd bigwig, whose lands had been reassigned to a 3rd bigwig. In the last paragraph, the recipient is ordered to list up those areas as “neglected” according to the wishes to the 2nd bigwig. That looks like fraud: Presumably they want that fake list to accuse the 3rd bigwig of “neglection” and get the lands back.

The fraudulent list is to be compiled in a form called snn ỉpw ḫr ỉnb. The term snn can mean both “document” and “imitation” (both derived from “copy”). Some Egyptologists translate this as “inventory list document”, others as “guise of an inventory list”. My personal guess is that it’s both: The fraudsters were being ambiguous on purpose, in case the letter was intercepted. Since it’s now in our museums, it probably was. As most extant papyri are scribe school copies, it may even have become a template for teaching pun-encryption.

But the giveaway is that Egyptologists would translate snn as “guise” at all. Most famous Egyptologist are bound to be spooks, and they may be influenced here by later spook use of the corresponding Semitic word šn.

You should have a copy brought to us of everything you do, which you will write down in the inventory record beneath the fortification (?).

m snn ỉp.w ḫrỉ ỉnb.wt

TLA: Sallier I, Dispute over arable land

Caminos translated m snn ỉp.w ḫr ỉnb as “in the guise of an incontestable legal document”. The word snn, however, appears to be the text designation here (see below, §11) instead of writing the word sn.t “likeness” (Wb III, 457).

Koen Donker Van Heel: Writing in a Workmen’s Village


Gardiner: Late Egyptian Miscellanies. pg 87. line 16

Other than that, attestations of sn meaning positive “imitation” & “emulation” are very numerous. However, it’s only a small step from there to deceptive imitation. This means the number 2 pun would’ve worked in Egyptian as well.

I shall be praised for my knowledge after years by those who shall imitate what I have done.


Gardiner: The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage, pg 86, citing Urkunden IV 58

No one will be able to emulate your high standard.

nn sn =tw r tp-ḥsb =k


TLA: The Eloquent Peasant (Version B1)

The wild lion gave up roaring,
he now imitates the wailing donkey.

mȝỉw ḥs{wt}(ȝ) ḫȝˤ.n f nšnỉ
snỉw =f ˤȝ ỉmw


TLA: The teachings of Ani (Version G)

🏷  Egyptian Semitic numerology pun recommended · symbol