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Interesting background on Gaza/ Aza

Reader comment on item: Gaza's Not the Key, Philadelphi Is
in response to reader comment: The word Gaza does not mean Sting!

Submitted by sara (United States), Dec 13, 2012 at 17:38

Hi DNM,

I still have not found the reason that a 'G' was added to the original name of Aza (which as I indicated, means strong or bold -female in Hebrew/Aramaic).

But in the meantime, this page has a lot of interesting references, both historical and biblical

http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definition/Gaza

Oh wait -- here is something that makes sense. It is the same reason that Gomorrah was changed from the Hebrew Amorah (as in Sodom and Gomorrah)

From: onthemainline.blogspot.com/2005/07/aza-gaza-mah-zeh.html

" ... since Gaza is in the news, I thought it might be interesting to discuss why Gaza is called Gaza when it is spelled in Hebrew with an 'ayin. Now, it is hardly a secret to Ashkenazi Jews who do not distinguish between an 'aleph and an 'ayin that there is a difference. Many people know this and would suppose that this is why Gaza is transliterated with a "G". The guttural 'ayin becomes a hard g in English. Not so pashut. Moses' father, Amram, isn't Gamram.

In fact the reason why Gaza is Gaza and not 'Aza is because of Origen's Hexapla. Origen was a 2nd century Christian scholar who wrote an edition of the Bible in six versions side by side; Hebrew, Hebrew in Greek letters, the targum of Aquila, Targum Symmachus, the LXX and Theodotion's. The column of Hebrew in Greek letters is especially exciting to Bible geeks, because it gives us greater understanding of how Hebrew was pronounced. In the Hexapla, 'Aza is rendered Gaza, notably because the 'ayin sound does not exist in Greek.

However he didn't choose the "a" sound, as one would in English. One might think this was purely arbitrary. A guttural can go other way. Take it all the way to "g" or just leave it out. But no, his 'Amram gets the "a" treatment.

Why? In Arabic there is a letter called ghayn as well as 'ayn. The ghayn is basically a harder version of the 'ayn, but not yet a hard g. This letter doesn't exist in Hebrew. But perhaps, perhaps during the 2nd century, at least, there were some 'ayins in Hebrew* that were pronounced like a ghayn and some like an 'ayn. How would a speaker know which was which? Well, they'd just know intuitively. But we don't. It is for this reason that the twin city of Sodom, 'Amorah, became Gomorrah. Gaza, Gomorrah and Amram.

*Or maybe it was an Aramaic influence on Hebrew of the time. "

Submitting....

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