Sunday, August 26, 2012

Berachot 24a: The definition of shok, part ii

As a follow-up to the previous post, it might be nice to see what shok means in Akkadian. This could shed light on the Biblical usage, which in turn could shed light on the meaning of the word in the gemara.

According to An Akkadian Lexical Companion for Biblical Hebrew, by Dr. Tawil, the following is the definition of שוק. (I've approximated the symbols for some of the below.) (See on Amazon, Akkadian Lexicon Companion for Biblical Hebrew Etymological, Semantic and Idiomatic Equivalence.)

שוק = Akk. siqu s. MA on (CAD 305b; AHw 1028a), thigh
The Heb. sequential hapax שֹּׁקַיִם -a בִּרְכַּיִם "knees - thighs" (Deut 28:35) may parallel the referent in ABL 453:6 in which siqu is a variant for birku in the same blessing formula, "marmareshunu sharru ina siqushu lintuh, "may the king (live to) lift their (his sons') grandchildren onto his lap" (CAD S 305b) = marmareshu sharru beli ina birkishu lintuh, "may the king, my lord, (live to) lift his grandsons onto his knees (CAF M 259a); Heb: (for a similar blessing formula), e.g. וּרְאֵה-בָנִים לְבָנֶיךָ: שָׁלוֹם, עַל-יִשְׂרָאֵל (Ps. 128:6 cf also Prov 17:6).
This might then help decide this dispute as to whether shok means thigh or calf. If it is used to mean lap, in parallel to birkayim, then it means the thigh area.

This is in accordance with the Mishnah Berurah, as well as, more recently, Rabbi Yehuda Henkin. In discussion shok be'isha erva, he analyzes the prooftext in sefer Yeshaya,
ב  קְחִי רֵחַיִם, וְטַחֲנִי קָמַח; גַּלִּי צַמָּתֵךְ חֶשְׂפִּי-שֹׁבֶל גַּלִּי-שׁוֹק, עִבְרִי נְהָרוֹת.2 Take the millstones, and grind meal; remove thy veil, strip off the train, uncover the leg, pass through the rivers.
ג  תִּגָּל, עֶרְוָתֵךְ--גַּם תֵּרָאֶה, חֶרְפָּתֵךְ; נָקָם אֶקָּח, וְלֹא אֶפְגַּע אָדָם.  {פ}3 Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen; I will take vengeance, and will let no man intercede. {P}

and writes:

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