In Fear of Rashi

Adventures in Rashi! (Been a while since doing one of these, but being woken up in the middle of a summer night gives me the time to have this kind of fun while I’m learning.)


וְנָשְׂאוּ עָלַיִךְ קִינָה… אֲשֶׁר-נָתְנוּ חִתִּיתָם, לְכָל-יוֹשְׁבֶיהָ.
And they shall take up a lamentation for thee… that caused your terror to be on all that inhabit the earth!

Ezekiel 26:17 (with JPS 1917 translation)

The prophet describes the downfall of Tyre. It was once a great city that all others feared, but it shall be destroyed.

The word חִתִּיתָם is translated here as “your terror.” This is inaccurate. While the Hebrew חתת means “terror,” the ם suffix means “their,” not “your.” While the prophet speaks to Tyre in the 2nd person (“they shall take up a lamentation for thee”), those lamenting speak of Tyre in the 3rd person (“their terror”).

Rashi translates חִתִּיתָם as לורדפריימנ״ט. I was curious to figure out what Rashi meant in French. I saw in the פריי part something that looked like it could be related to “fear,” “fright,” or “afraid.” The מנט ending is like the “-ment” suffix in English. It doesn’t change the meaning of the root much, just indicates a noun form. But what about the לורד part? “Lord”?

According to Google Translate, “fright” in French is “la frayeur.” “Terror” or “fright” are “effroi.” “Frighten” is “effrayer.” I eventually discovered that “effraiement” is translated as “scaring.” So that pretty much took care of the פריימנט part. But I was still stuck with the לורד (“lord”).

I thought maybe the ל was like L-apostraphe (l’), which is standard before a French word that begins with a vowel. So I’m trying to figure out what the ורד (“ord”? “ourd”?) is. That went nowhere.

I realized that while “effraiement” meant “fright” or “terror,” the word חִתִּיתָם still had that suffix meaning “their,” and Rashi may be translating the WHOLE word, not just its root. so I looked up “their” in French and got… “leur”! That took care of the לור. Now, what about the ד (“d”)?

Next I surmised that d-apostraphe (d’) is also a prefix before a word beginning with a vowel. So I punched this into Google translate — “leur d’effraiement” — and the result was… “their frightening”! BINGO! Thanks again, Rashi, for teaching me French!

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