Monday, March 1, 2010


ף פ
Find the peh's. I am beginning to wonder how useful this exercise is - but it will get my eyes working again after two weeks without looking at Hebrew. And I had better mind my peh's and qof's for I am so prone to error and incompleteness.  פ occurs somewhat rarely in the book of Ruth - about 42 times. We find it in the word for chapter, פרק and in the book or Ruth in some proper names: like אֶפְרָתִים Ephratites, עָרְפָּה Orpah and  פֶּרֶץ Perez. It begins our tale with its characteristic burst of air.(I had always thought it was an odd looking letter - an upside down G. No wonder I sometimes pick up a piece of paper with Hebrew text on it upside down.)

וַיְהִי בִּימֵי שְׁפֹט הַשֹּׁפְטִים
Now there was in the days of the judgment of the judges,

The word for family has two shared letters with the word for judgment. Worse than searching by etymology is my searching for relationships between words by letters alone!
מִּשְׁפַּחַת אֱלִימֶלֶךְ
from the family of Elimelek

This word for family (?) also occurs as handmaid in the phrase 'your handmaid' (Ruth 2:13), שִׁפְחָתֶךָ- more to investigate. Why are these two words seemingly related as to root?

Peh is the first letter of a few words in Ruth - like visit,
כִּי-פָקַד יְהוָה אֶת-עַמּוֹ
that יְהוָה had visited his people
and separate
כִּי הַמָּוֶת יַפְרִיד בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵךְ
for only death will separate me from you
and work
יְשַׁלֵּם יְהוָה פָּעֳלֵךְ
יְהוָה make full your work
and face
וַתִּפֹּל עַל-פָּנֶיהָ
And she fell on her face
(It's not Linus tripping on his blanket.)
and piece
 וְטָבַלְתְּ פִּתֵּךְ בַּחֹמֶץ
and dip your piece in the vinegar
For peh soffit, this letter at the end (סוף - hence soffit) of a word, we find a few also
כֹּה יַעֲשֶׂה יְהוָה לִי וְכֹה יוֹסִיף
this יְהוָה do to me and more
קְנֵה-לָךְ וַיִּשְׁלֹף נַעֲלוֹ
buy for yourself and he removed his sandal

Here are a pair of words identically spelled with reference to consonants but quite separate in their usage. The first (where) includes the word 'here', also used twice in Ruth 4:1-2. Where and here seem similarly related in English!
אֵיפֹה לִקַּטְתְּ הַיּוֹם וְאָנָה עָשִׂית
where did you glean today and where work

וַיְהִי כְּאֵיפָה שְׂעֹרִים
and there was about an ephah of barley
And there is a pairing of wings and spread - once relating to how Ruth has come to shelter under the wings of the Lord and once relating her invitation to Boaz.
וּפָרַשְׂתָּ כְנָפֶךָ עַל-אֲמָתְךָ
so spread your wings over your maidservant

נֶפֶשׁ is a common word with a peh but occurs only once in Ruth - in reference to the child Obed restoring the life of Naomi..

There are some rarer leftovers after this gleaning of words: Ruth 3:8
וַיֶּחֱרַד הָאִישׁ וַיִּלָּפֵת
and the man was afraid and turned himself
and Ruth 3:18
עַד אֲשֶׁר תֵּדְעִין אֵיךְ יִפֹּל דָּבָר
until you know how a thing will fall out
and Ruth 2:7
וְאָסַפְתִּי בָעֳמָרִים אַחֲרֵי הַקּוֹצְרִים
and gather among the sheaves after the reapers
Foolishly I found myself wondering if סוף and אסף were related (!) in that the soffit gathers the top of a wall to the roof as the wall and roof come to their respective ends. Lettrymology gone wild.
And there are a few more peh's: הַמִּטְפַּחַת - the cloak in Ruth 3:15
פְּלֹנִי אַלְמֹנִי - the coincidence in Ruth 4:1,
פֶּן - lest in Ruth 4:6
and לְפָנִים - before, in Ruth 4:7
and one final curious pair - Ruth 1:16 אַל-תִּפְגְּעִי-בִי do not force me and 
Ruth 2:22 וְלֹא יִפְגְּעוּ-בָךְ that none force you

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