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Gaza is not an Arabic word

Reader comment on item: Gaza's Not the Key, Philadelphi Is
in response to reader comment: Interesting background on Gaza/ Aza

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Dec 15, 2012 at 08:40

Sara wrote


Hi Sara

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).

Well I do believe what we have here is the following

1. The Arabic word Gaza or غزة ghain zain teh marbouta is really from the Syriac form of the name ܓܙܐ or gazza as well as the Greek form of rhe name Γάζα also gaza

2. And yes the study of language in history in a risky business indeed but what we have here is clear line of demarcation where the Arabs invaded the lands of those ancient civilizations in the Middle East and had to Arabize the names that already existed and in the case of Gaza even the name is attested in papyri from ancient Egypt

3. So all the Arabs did was to Arabize names that were already in use and case in point the Arabic name of Egypt is masr and the Egyptians are masriyuun but you will only find in the early Arabic language literary sources the name Bilad al-Qibt or the countries of the Qipt or Copts or Egyptians and this is really a loan word into Arabic from Greek so it was not only Syriac but also from Greek. And I'm sure you are aware by now that the word Beirut is really from Syro-Aramaic for beer or well and the ut is the plural form of the word

4. So the question now becomes why do we have this ghain غ instead of the letter jeem (g) ج as we find it in the Greek as well as the Syriac form of the word and the answer is very simple: The letter ج is read and vocalized as jeem and not geem (except in Egyptian Arabic) and let me give you examples the name Margaret is Arabic مرغريت or Marghareet (and here the letter G is replaced by Arabic ghain) and Shanghai is شنغهاي has a ghain instead of the letter G and it was very interesting when a poster here whose mother tongue is Arabic Arabized the word bogus as بوغوس or boghos where he replaced the letter jeem for the letter ghain

5. So in the case of Gaza the Arabic form of the word is from the Syriac as well as the Greek forms of the word and the letter G becomes Arabic Ghain et voila we have غزة

6. So the only thing left here how about the teh marbouta? Well it is clear that the teh marbouta would make the word a feminine word but it is also read as alif and now we have غزة or Ghaza aka Gaza

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


Very good indeed

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)

Well I'm on solid grounds in Arabic, Greek and Syriac and the phenomenon of word decay is not unusual so could it be the case here?

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.

Interesting so if there is indeed the letter ayin in the Hebrew form of the word it would have the same form as the Arabic female name عزة where the letter ayin replaces the letter ghain

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.

See above

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.

This might be a little too simplistic because languages evolve like it or not and yes Origen was a great linguist he more likely than not was not the cause but he was just reflecting his readings of these words at that moment in time

Why? In Arabic there is a letter called ghayn as well as 'ayn.

I do believe that the letter ghain was the way out for Arabs because of the problem of the lack of the sound geem in Arabic which exists in Syriac and Greek (gamal and gamma) as I explained above but they are very different letters albeit have the same morhpology except the ghain has a dot and this is the Arabic ayin ع and this is the Arabic ghain غ

The ghayn is basically a harder version of the 'ayn, but not yet a hard g.

Not really and see above. Well to make matters even more complicated there is a form of the letter jeem that is called jeem mu3atasha or geem sound as one would find in Egyptian Arabic and you will find in Egyptian Arabic the letter geem written as ج but instead of one dot you have three dots and it is vocalized as jeem so the name George is not Gorg but Jurg

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.

This is what I told you before that the study of language in history is risky at best

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

There is no doubt that Aramaic is the mother language of them all


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Reader comments (101) on this item

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