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RE: [ANE-2] Unicorns and the Dating of Deuteronomy

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  • Amanda-Alice Maravelia
    I have gathered the following references to the unicorn , following the Hellenic (o ) translation of the Bible (Vulgata in paremthesis): 1. Numeri, 23, 22; 2.
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 10, 2006
      I have gathered the following references to the "unicorn", following the
      Hellenic (o')
      translation of the Bible (Vulgata in paremthesis):

      1. Numeri, 23, 22;
      2. Numeri, 24, 8;
      3. Deuteron., 33, 17;
      4. Iob, 39, 9-12;
      5. Psalmi, 21 (22), 22;
      6. Psalmi, 28 (29), 6;
      7. Psalmi, 77 (78), 69;
      8. Psalmi, 91 (92), 11;
      9. Damiel, 8, 5 (?).

      The doubted word being "r'aim" (resh-'aleph-yod-mem)


      Amanda-Alice Maravelia

      >From: "Yitzhak Sapir" <yitzhaksapir@...>
      >Reply-To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      >To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, biblical-studies@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: [ANE-2] Unicorns and the Dating of Deuteronomy
      >Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2006 13:04:21 +0300
      >Anyone visiting the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem will notice a very
      >significant omission. It might be understandable as these are
      >rare creatures whose capture and breeding in captivity is very
      >tricky. But still, one does not go to the biblical zoo in order to
      >see the common fly. Nevertheless, while there are no unicorns
      >in the confines of the zoo, the zoo did devote a monthly focus
      >webpage to the unicorn:
      >The Septuagint translates the word "r'em" as "monokerwtos" in
      >Num 23:22 (see:
      >Another verse in the Bible that may suggest the "r'em" is a unicorn
      >is Psalm 92:11, which says "wattarem kir'em qarni" -- "and you shall
      >exalt my horn like a r'em's [horn]". Interestingly, this verse spells the
      >word r'em as "r)ym", using a -y- for a vowel letter, which is consistent
      >with late orthography. It may thus provide additional and indirect
      >support for the reading of "r)m" = "unicorn" in post-exilic or Greek times,
      >the primary evidence being the translation of the Septuagint.
      >However, it is also possible to read this as "wattarem kir'em qarnay" --
      >"and you shall exalt my couple of horns like a r'em's [horns]" if one
      >pays no attention to the Massoretic vocalization. This verse just goes
      >to show that the Biblical Zoo webpage is not kidding when it writes:
      >"Any efforts to approach them have usually ended in disaster, for the
      >animal or for the researcher."
      >It probably goes without saying, that a unicorn has one single
      >horn. It would be silly to claim that two-horned beast is a unicorn.
      >In the Hebrew of the Massoretic Bible, horns, like other body parts
      >that normally come in pairs, are read as a dual: qarnayim. It is well
      >known, that Ugaritic has a much more extensive system for duals,
      >which affects not just "normally paired words" but even common
      >everyday words. Telling apart words that are duals in Ugaritic is no
      >simple matter. Sometimes, we just don't know, or we guess. Daniel
      >Sivan, in "On the Dual in the Ugaritic Nouns", Leshonenu 46/1: 65-71
      >(Hebrew), writes:
      >"At times, forms that have the -m ending will be considered dual since
      >their plurals have the ending -t: so thlxnm 'two tables' and in plural
      >'thlxnt', l$nm 'two tongues' and compare the plural l$onot in Hebrew,
      >li$a:na:tu in Akkadian, (nm 'two eyes' alongside the plural (nt
      >'fountains'. At times, the forms themselves are dual from their very
      >nature (for example, dual body parts, etc). So ydm 'two hands'; (nm
      >'two eyes', mtnm 'two hips', qrnm 'two horns'." On the last one, he
      >provides a footnote: "KTU 1.12, I,30, and compare the plural qrnt
      >KTU 1.17 VI,22."
      >It is not usually realized that these comments are useful for Hebrew
      >as well as Ugaritic. The words ydm and qrnm in Ugaritic are in
      >parallel to the Hebrew yadayim and qarnayim, and both have -t ending
      >plurals in Hebrew, yadot and qarnot. For example, "qarnot hammizbeax",
      >"horns of the altar". This can be compared to the "qrnt" of the Ugaritic
      >plural mentioned in Sivan's footnote. The dual in the Hebrew of the Bible
      >is very "flexible" as to what a "dual" means. In Jer 38:4, we find "ydey
      >)n$ey hammilxamah" in the sense that each man has two hands, even
      >though there are more than two hands in the total count (more than one
      >person * 2 hands each = at least four hands, and likely many more). In
      >contrast, where the subject does not have a pair of "hands", the word
      >"yadot" is used. For example, in the case of 1 Kings 7:32, it says
      >"wydot ha)opannim bammkonah".
      >Another good example is Deut 33:17: "bkwr $wrw hdr lw, wqrny r)m qrnyw".
      >The JPS translates this as "His firstling bullock, majesty is his; and his
      >horns are the horns of the wild-ox." What this translation does not make
      >clear is that the Hebrew uses the dual of the word qeren, thus making it
      >obvious that the subject -- the r'em -- is not a unicorn, no matter what the
      >Septuagint says. It might be argued that the r'em is used in the collective,
      >and that the words 'qrny' and 'qrnyw' are intended in the plural, whereby the
      >masculine is known to displace the feminine plural in many places in
      >Hebrew, but this appears to me to be really a forced and unlikely
      >interpretation. Besides, as the Biblical Zoo webpage says, "once one has
      >observed a true unicorn, one will never again make an identification
      >It is more reasonable to argue that the verse does not speak of a unicorn,
      >and it is only under Greek influence that the r'em was identified as a
      >unicorn. While one verse is by no means evidence, it appears that the
      >usage of "r'em" in Deut 33:17 predates both the Greek period and the
      >Septuagint translation.
      >Yitzhak Sapir
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