Monday, July 03, 2006

So I've been visiting the CCF very often lately, I have to admit that I find that place more like an oasis. In fact, on Friday, I was all alone at home which is a good thing, but then there were no electricity, which was NOT good. SO I decided to go to Jounieh's CCF, but it was closed because of the summer schedule. So I thought to myself: "So what I'll just go to Beirut, there summer schedule's different. I stayed there for almost 2 hours there, checking the references and reading about different stuff. I even chose 5 books to take home with me. Not surprisingly one was about Phoenicians in general, the second about Phoenician mythology, the third about Etruscans, the fourth about Aramaic Apocrypha, while the fifth was for little G about early humans (he liked it but the book had more success with me, my dad and my elder brother lol). Now when I was checking the shelves I was shocked of the amount of references about the phoenicians, but also with the fact they were all small references nothing exhaustive or detailed. The book about Phoenician Mythology was very simplified, mainly directed maybe toward the European audience that knows nothing about the Phoenician culture. Not that the Europeans don't know about Phoenicians, in fact they were the ones that decrypted the Phoenician alphabet, the only Lebanese archeological excavations were done till very recently with Maurice Chehab (before the civil war) and the Solidere project (after the civil shit war). Other than that it was mainly French efforts, sometimes American (hey maybe that should be Hezbollah's new excuse to attack Americans! They stole our culture, where do you think they got the name of Phoenix from?).

Anyway for all and all, I have to say that the 2 books I have read (Book#1 and Book#2) only left me more depressed about my homeland than I was, maybe the Etruscan book would be make me feel better.

But I have got alot of cool info from all the recent days readings:

  • Byblos was the Greek name for Jbeil ( I lived near Jbeil for a while and I totally loved this awesome city). Many people love to refer to Jbeil as Byblos, as a sign of singularity. I always thought it would be the Phoenician name for the city, how could I be so STUPID! The name is so obviously NOT phoenician, it's not semitic, we never end names with IS OS US or anything like it... And besides, Byblos is obviously related to books (biblio-) in fact in greek it simply means Books.
    The Phoenician name for Jbeil was Gubal which is obviously the origin of the curent name Jbeil, I am not sure if an American/European reader would notice the connexion but for me it's very obvious because in Arabic G and J are very related to each other, in Syriac/Aramaic the third letter of the alphabet, Gomal, is pronounced G (it can also be pronounced differently, غ, but that sound has no Latin equivalent). In the Hebraic alphabet the third letter is Gimmel pronounced G (maybe Shlemazl can correct me if I am mistaking, my knowledge to hebraic is very limited, I never even finished memorising the alphabet). Now in Arabic however it's even cuter the third letter of the modern alphabet is ت or T but there is the an old, unused, way to put the letter in order, the أبجد هوز system, in which the third letter is the ج. No that's not the interesting part, the interesting part is that this letter is very differently pronounced around the Arab world, while we in Lebanon pronounce it as the French J, the Egyptians pronounce it like G and in the gulf it's like the english J, or maybe DJ lol (gulf people are weird haha).

    All this to say that J and G are related in the Arabic Language.

  • The head of the Phoenician Gods wasn't Baal (the latter being the strongest of all Gods), the God of all Gods was EL which is the origin of the word EEL that means God in Aramaic/Syriac, that's where the names Michael (Micha Eel: who's like God) , Gabriel (Gavro Eel: God's Man), Daniel (Dani Eel: God's Judgement), Samuel (Samoo Eel: Who's dedicated to God) and Ismael (Shmo Eel: God has heard; The transliteration of this word is difficult because of the absence of certain sounds in Latin). This is interesting because the Bible kept the name of Baal as the Phoenician God, often associating him with atrocities and demonology, the church kept that legacy to the point where Baal is an official Devil now, but hey Pazuzu remains the cutest Devil, right?

  • Away from Phoenicians and there names and stuff, I discovered the meaning of the name Rebecca, apparently it's Hebraic (or maybe derives from the Hebraic) for Together. Now I knew about Rebecca being Isaac's wife or something like that but I was interested to know the meaning of the name. As for the other origin of my name because in fact, Rebecca wasn't officially supposed to be my name, I was named after my grandmother who's name was Rafqa, Rafqa being a local saint, she was declared saint in 2000 and when the file was first opened her name was transliterated to Latin by the name Rebecca, probably because the two names were related or something, because from what I heard Rafqa is an Aramaic name meaning Good company, my source here is my dad who actually learned Syriac for 6 years in school (he used to learn 6 hours of Syriac, 6 hours of French and only 2 hours of Arabic lol), in addition the Arabic word رفقة means company. All three words are close enough to derive one from the other. But the Arabic version of the Bible, the one I had read of course, called Isaac's wife Raheel راحيل, which is transliterated I think to Rachel and not Rebecca, which is confusing!

Wow, this was probably as close as possible to my own taste and to the line of thinking that I love the most, I am almost 99% I bored you all to death.


jokerman said...

That wasn't by any means boring, but quite interesting i say, philology is very deep when you see how it links several languages together.
I didnt know that the name samuel too was like Ishamael & Israel, the el bit at the end so that was a new one for me, but i know that Gabriel means the Force of God or Might of God.
I enjoyed this alot.

shlemazl said...

Baal isn't just a Phoenician god in the Bible. In fact it's the god that the Jews worship during various relapses. It is the old god of all Chanaanites, including Jews.

Phoenicians created a wonderful civilization, but ... there is always a "but". Their tradition of human sacrifice and suicidal sacrifice wasn't my favourite.

Pazuzu said...

Jokerman: Thanks, glad to know you it wasn't so boring :D

You're right about the first part, but as for the sacrifice thing, I don't know the only reference I found about such behavior in thephoenician civilisation was in carthage, and it was written by the roman, the same romans that threw salt on the land of carthage after burning it, just in case something decides to grow again

If you have any links about it, I'd be very interested though