How iz millit spelt?

Ezekiel 4:9:

וְאַתָּ֣ה קַח־לְךָ֡ חִטִּ֡ין וּ֠שְׂעֹרִים וּפ֨וֹל וַעֲדָשִׁ֜ים וְדֹ֣חַן וְכֻסְּמִ֗ים וְנָתַתָּ֤ה אוֹתָם֙ בִּכְלִ֣י אֶחָ֔ד וְעָשִׂ֧יתָ אוֹתָ֛ם לְךָ֖ לְלָ֑חֶם מִסְפַּ֨ר הַיָּמִ֜ים אֲשֶׁר־אַתָּ֣ה ׀ שׁוֹכֵ֣ב עַֽל־צִדְּךָ֗ שְׁלֹשׁ־מֵא֧וֹת וְתִשְׁעִ֛ים י֖וֹם תֹּאכֲלֶֽנּוּ׃

Keep in mind I study in Hebrew, not English. As I read the above verse, I translate as follows:

“And you, take for yourself wheat and barley and beans and lentils and *SOMETHING* and spelt…”

The “something” that I did not recognize was the word דחן (dochan). I recognized the names of the other grains, but not this one. Naturally, I turned to Rashi.

The way Rashi is printed in my book, the verse is quoted as follows (in Hebrew of course): “wheat and barley etc., and dochan and spelt.” (I again leave dochan untranslated among the others, though as I’ve indicated, Rashi’s commentary is written entirely in Hebrew.) Rashi comments: פאני”ץ איאפיילטר”א. Rashi is offering a French translation for something, though it is unclear what, since he lists (in my edition) what appears to be all the grains.

Long story short, after scratching my head for a long time, I made the following discovery. The first word in Rashi transliterates into something like paniç, with the final c having an s sound. So I searched “panic etymology,” and aside from getting stuff about the English word “panic” (meaning fear), I found that panus means “millet” in Latin. I figured this was Rashi’s definition for dochan since I knew what the other ones were and none of them were millet.

Which leads to the next word. איאפיילטר”א. After more head-scratching, I thought maybe it’s the word after dochan, which is v’chusemim, meaning “and spelt.” I looked again and now saw in Rashi’s word something like ei apieltre. Ei must be the French et (pronounced “ay”) and apieltre is a lot like “spelt” without the s. As we have discussed before, the letter s comes and goes in languages, which is the case here. I then discovered the modern French word for spelt is épeautre. So that’s just about right. So Rashi was translating the last two grains in the sequence.

I then put “millet” into Google Translate, and translated to Hebrew. That also yielded דוֹחַן (dochan). That was nice confirmation for all my hard work.

THEN, I went to a couple of English Bibles and found that indeed, they translate “millet” as well.

Another satisfying study session.


One thought on “How iz millit spelt?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s