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The So-called Cuthean Words in the Samaritan Aramaic Vocabulary

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image of Aramaic Studies

The Samaritan Targum abounds in incomprehensible words, with no reasonable etymology. According to the dysphemistic name given to the new inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom in Rabbinic Judaism, scholars characterized the words in question as 'Cuthean' (cf. 2 Kgs 17). It is argued in this paper that many of these words are intentional changes that emanate from euphemistic reasons. Two ways in which the Samaritan Targum euphemizes are: (1) the use of foreign words, borrowed for this purpose, (2) intentional distortion of embarrassing words. Nevertheless, the term 'Cuthean words' might not have been coined entirely gratuitously: a small number of words might be called 'Mesopotamian', since the corresponding terms occur in Akkadian.

Affiliations: 1: University of Tel-Aviv


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