🏷  Esther Persian Semitic pun recommended · symbol   —   by Gerry · Jun 2019 · 1508 words

The star is a symbol for “hiding” & “masking”. Various Bible characters were associated with stars, because their name puns with “star”, but also with “veiling” & “deception”: Esther puns with Persian str for “star”, but also with str for “veiling”. David puns with Aramaic ṭˁy(t) for “wandering star”, which also means “deception”. Solomon puns with Aramaic & Arabic mzl for “star sign”, but also with zlm for “oppression”.

Moroccan 4 Falus coin with star

Moroccan 4 Falus coin with star

Esther as pun with Persian str for “star” & “veil”

The Biblical character Esther is named after the Persian word استر astar which means “star”. In its spelling variant ستار‎ satar, it overlaps with the word for “veil”. The meanings “star” and “veil” are likely even related, as a punctured veil and a starry sky look very similar, so one may be named after the other. In any case, in Persian the word for “star” is a perfect pun with “veil”.

And the “veil” meaning has even been loaned into the Semitic languages, where the word root √str is used for many meanings related to “veiling” & “hiding”, even throughout the Bible. So Esther’s name puns with סתר str “hiding” in Hebrew, where it’s a very common word. It’s even one of the few officially admitted Bible puns: Esther is publicly admitted to pun with “veiling”, and is celebrated with a masking festival.

Spookery is all about “veiling”, so that may be one of the reasons why the star became a spook symbol. It may not the main reason though, since only the “veil” meaning was loaned into the Semitic languages, but not the “star” meaning.

Persian str = star

استر astar : star — Persian (Sulayman)

ستاره setareh : star; (fig.) fortune, destiny — Persian (Sulayman)

Persian str = veil, cover, hidden, concealed

ستر satr : covering, veiling, concealing; the privities; sitr: a covering, curtain, veil, screen; fear; shame; satar: a shield — Persian (Steingass)

ستر satr : covering, concealing; veiling — Persian (Sulayman)

ستر setr : a veil; a covering; a curtain; a screen — Persian (Sulayman)

استتار istitār : being hid; concealing oneself; concealment — Persian (Steingass)

تستر tasattur : being hidden, veiled, or covered — Persian (Steingass)

سترة sutrat : anything which covers or defends, as a veil, awning, shield, wall, and the like — Persian (Steingass)

ستار setar : the veiler, the concealer (of sins), i.e. God; a porter; one who keeps the curtain — Persian (Sulayman)

Arabic str = veil, cover, disguise

ستر str satara : to cover, to veil; to umbrella, to safeguard — Arabic (Wikt)

سترة strʰ sutra : anything by which a person is covered, concealed, hidden or veiled (a veil, curtain, screen, cover, covering) — Arabic (Wikt)

تستر tstr tasattara : to be covered, to be veiled, to be sheltered, to cover, to lurk; to dissimulate, to connive — Arabic (Wikt)

Hebrew str = hidden, secret

סתר str : to hide, conceal, cover, hide self, keep secret, hidden, undetected — Old Hebrew (Strong)

סתר str : to cover, hide; to conceal; to be hidden, protected; to hide one’s self; to retire under suspicious circumstances; secret things, mysteries; secret sins — Hebrew (Jastrow)

Star of David as pun with ṭˁy for “star” & “deception”

One of the most famous star symbols is ✡ the Star of David, a six-pointed star, associated with Judaism since medieval times. However, the Biblical story of David doesn’t feature any star at all. So how did it come to be associated with David? The answer is again punnery: David puns with star.

In the Bible, David is paired several obvious but not-so-similar puns. The ancient authors used words with an initial Dalet or Ṭet, where some forms then have a suffix Tav. So it’s the pattern Ṭ-(T), which is supposed to pun with the D-D in David. These puns are most obvious through the meanings, since they’re central to David’s stories: It’s dwy(t) for “weak” (vs. Goliath as “strong”), dwy(t) for “spying” (spy stories), ṭwy(t) for “spider” (spider story), and ṭwy(t) for “concealed” (spook pun).

The star is another one of those puns: It’s Aramaic טעי ṭˁy for “planet” & “star”, which you could also suffix to ṭˁy(t). The basic meaning is “wandering”, and planets were called “wanderers”, and stars “not-wanderers”. For the ancients, stars & planets were all similar to the naked eye, and therefore depicted by the same star symbols. So that’s how David came to be associated with a star symbol. This pun probably evolved long after the Bible was written, in an age when fixed & “wandering” stars were more commonly distinguished, and that’s why it wasn’t used in the Bible.

Through this pun, the Star of David also became associated with demon worship, because טעי ṭˁy for “wandering” also means “lost” & “errant”, and was a name for “errant spirits” & “idols”, i.e. ghosts & demons. A similar pun exists for the Seal of Solomon.

However, the word טעי ṭˁy for “wandering” also has another, spooky meaning: “wandering” means “going astray”, and the causative is “leading astray”, which is “deception”. That’s why טעי ṭˁy also means “deception” in some texts. That is likely the meaning that the spooks had in mind when they promoted the Star of David.

The full Hebrew name for the symbol is מגן דוד mgn-dwd “shield of David”, which is then probably supposed to pun with מגן טעיותא mgn-ṭˁywtˀ “shield of deception”.

We can conclude:

(Note: I previously thought it was supposed to pun with dwd “confusion”, which is closer to “David”. But that one doesn’t pun with “star”.)

Hebrew, Aramaic ṭˁy = wander, wandering star, errant spirit, go astray, lead astray, deceive

טעי ṭˁy : to wander, be lost; to err, be mistaken; to forget; to lead astray, to deceive; to be deceived; to be forgotten — Hebrew (Jastrow)

טעה ṭˁh : to wander, go astray; to err, be mistaken; lead astray, mislead, deceive — Hebrew (Klein)

טעיאית ṭˁyˀyt : deceitfully — Aramaic (CAL)

ܛܥܝܘܬܐ ṭˁywtˀ : misleading, deception, inaccuracy, half-truth — Syriac (AAF)

טעי ṭˁy : errant, lost; errant spirit — Aramaic (CAL)

טעותא ṭˁwtˀ : error, idol; idolatrous divinity; idol of such a divinity; a type of spirit — Aramaic (CAL)

טעי ṭˁy : wanderer; planet; heretic — Aramaic (CAL)

לא טעיא lˀ ṭˁyˀ : fixed star — Aramaic (CAL)

Seal of Solomon as pun with mzl for “star”, zlm for “oppression”

The Star of David is often also called Seal of Solomon, Solomon’s magical signet ring. Solomon is said to have controlled spirits & demons with it. But just like with David, Solomon is not associated with stars or demons anywhere in the Bible. So where does it come from? Again, it must be a pun: Solomon puns with star, and also with ghosts, that’s why he has a star to summon ghosts.

Note: Solomon is especially important in Islam, because both words “Solomon” & “Islam” are derived from the word root √šlm, with its various puns.

Aramaic mlwš = star constellation, zodiac, astrology

מלוש mlwš : sign of zodiac; horoscope — Aramaic (CAL)

מלושו mlwšw : astrology — Aramaic (CAL)

ܡܠܘܫܐ mlwšˀ : a sign of the Zodiac, horoscope, a constellation — Syriac (AAF)

Hebrew, Aramaic mzl = star constellation, star sign, planet

מזל mzl : constellation, stars; planet; star sign; fortune, fate, destiny; luck, chance, fortune — Hebrew (Wikt)

מזל mzl : planet, constellation; luck; fortune, possession — Hebrew (Jastrow)

מזל mzl : station of the stars; constellation of the Zodiac; planet — Hebrew (Jastrow)

Hebrew, Aramaic ḥdm = serve, servant; ṣlm = image, idol, ghost

חדם ḥdm : to make serve; to employ — Aramaic (CAL)

ܚܕܡܐ ḥdmˀ : a man-servant — Syriac (AAF)

צלם ṣlm : form, image, likeness, phantom — Old Hebrew (Strong)

ܨܠܡܐ ṣlmˀ : a picture, an idol, a false god; a fetish, a spectrum, a ghost — Syriac (AAF)

Aramaic, Arabic ktm = hidden; zlm = distort, oppress

כתם ktm : to be compressed, dark, hidden — Hebrew (Jastrow)

ܟܬܡ ktm : to hide oneself — Syriac (AAF)

كتم ktm : to conceal, to suppress, to repress, to hide, to restrain, to damp — Arabic (Wikt)

זלם zlm : to lead astray; to pervert; to distort; to be deflected — Aramaic (CAL)

ܙܠܡ zlm : to persecute, to oppress — Syriac (AAF)

ظلم ẓlm : to wrong, to treat unjustly, to oppress — Arabic (Wikt)

🏷  Esther Persian Semitic pun recommended · symbol