Another Blindingly Obvious Realization

In On the Strong Woman, when St. Albert begins his chapters with a discussion of the “meaning” of the letters, the nonstandard meanings were not just pulled out of his monkish backside. They are perfectly accurate citations of Hebrew words which are spelled the same way, except for the vowels that didn’t come into Hebrew spelling. So “Beth” does mean “house”, but citing the meanings of “daughter” (“bat”) and “measure” (“bath”, which became Greek “batous”), are also correct. They are all spelled B-T.

(Or since Hebrew is written right to left, T-B.) 🙂

Sigh. Sometimes I am really dense. But in my defense, I think of “aleph” as meaning “ox”. I don’t know why “ox” isn’t cited; maybe because this is a text about a woman. (I probably should look up other acrostic poems in St A’s psalm commentaries.) But sure enough, “elluph” is about a leader or teacher (and I might have translated the Latin wrong, there), and also means “one thousand”. So yeah, the man knows what he’s doing, even if he only knows it from some other book by St. Jerome or St. Augustine, or from the Glosses.

The melancholy certainty comes upon me that ‘what medieval Catholic scholarship knew about Hebrew’ is the sort of Useful Thing I might have learned in college, had I taken the right classes or read the right books. Sigh. Well, you never know what you might need.

Anyway, I apologize to all the readers out there for this lapse in accurate translation. I will repair it as soon as possible.


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