Genesis 46:24: the eldest son of Naphtali; his siblings were Guni (גוני), Yetser (יצר) and Shilem (שלם).

Written with a central Yud (יחציאל) in 1 Chronicles 7:13.

cf Numbers 26:48.

Gesenius gives the meaning as "whom El allots", but this needs some explaining. The root is Nachats (נחץ) = "to urge" or "press". That root appears in a two-letter form as Chets (חץ) = "an arrow" in 
1 Samuel 20:20 et al, but in a three-letter form as Chatsats (חצץ), still meaning "an arrow", in Psalm 77:18. But there is also Chatsah (חצה) = "to divide", and this is presumably the source of Gesenius' definition. And then, to make it more complex, Chatsah is also used for small stones, specifically what we would call gravel (Proverbs 20:17, Lamentations 3:16, presumably because small stones were once large stones which became divided. The town, or shrine, of Chatsatson-Tamar takes its name from this meaning: the division, or pruning of the palm. I am unable to explain how the same root and meanings lead to the Chatsotsra (חֲצוֹצְרָה), the trumpet used for military and civilian purposes, as opposed to the shofar which was used for religious purposes (cf Numbers 10:2).

Either way, as we try to work out which deity, which jewel, and which constellation was associated with each of the tribes, we can look to the original biliteral root for guidance, and recognise the constellation Sagittarius rearing its head where it belongs, in the tribe of Naphtali. Archers are given in Genesis 49:23 as Ba'aley chitsim (בעלי-חצים) and Habbakuk 3:11 uses "arrows of God" metaphorically for the lightning; as lightning flashes of human calamity they are also used poetically in Deuteronomy 32:42, Job 6:4, Psalms 38:3 and 91:5, in Ezekiel 5:16 and in Numbers 24:8.

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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